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“Wonderful”
Review of Visalam

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Visalam
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Kanadukathan
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
95 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Wonderful”
Reviewed March 7, 2014 via mobile

We had a two night stay in this charming converted Art Deco Mansion.It is wonderful, the gardens and pool area were great and the staff especially Je-Je the manager.Our room was excellent, huge with a separate bathroom Nd dressing room. Our criticism would be the food, we were very disappointed with the selection and also the execution and as there is no alternative we think it should be much better than it was.Notwithstanding that a very enjoyable stay

Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank b80bb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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229 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (55)
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old windsor
Level 5 Contributor
68 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed March 6, 2014

After seeing the many 5 star reviews I felt confident that we would enjoy or stay here. We have travelled all over India and stayed in a variety of accommodation from the Oberoi in Calcutta, The Taj hotels, heritage hotels similar to Visalam, small hotels, guest houses and homestays. We had decided to stay at Visalam after 3 weeks travelling in Tamil Nadu hoping for a bit of luxury before we returned home.
There are many positive points
* the building is very attractive and well preserved.
*the rooms are large, comfortable and attractive....the T towel type towels not great but as most other guests did, you can use the pool towels.
*the pool is a good size, organically treated in a lovely setting.
*the village is wonderful , we used hotel bikes to cycle around each day...there is plenty to see and it is a friendly very interesting place.

the problems were
* the breakfast setting is grubby as are the pots of jam....breakfast is very basic, we stayed in a guest house in Pondicherry the week before where the breakfast was a feast with 4 generous portions each of fresh tropical fruit,curd, fresh juice, good bread, good jam, eggs, dosas all for a fifth of the cost of Visalam.
* the food for lunch and dinner was okay but a bit bland and not as good as many cafes and cheap hotels.
*this hotel is alcohol free, the first night they had two cans of tonic available and then ran out. They were unable to get any more for the next two nights. The excuse was that they were isolated. One day we took a local bus to the next town, a 15 minute journey, everything was available here
*Most of of the staff are delightful but some of the front of house staff are a bit ineffectual.

these complaints may sound petty but at £140 a night you would expect more.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank milksop
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Belgique
Level 4 Contributor
45 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed March 2, 2014

Imagine a beautiful house in which all the charm of art deco period has remained. Luxurious by the media used for its construction: White marble from Italy, black from Belgium, glass lanterns in Belgian Val St Lambert, teak wood from Burma.....but more than that for this Chettinad mansion cleverly converted into a 7 rooms hotel, is managed by a very helpful manager and his staff all extremely and naturally kind and ready to assist you whenever necessary and make you feel at home away from home. Worth mentioning is the refusal of a housekeeper to be tipped as there was, did she say a Tips box at the reception! This gives you the "Spirit" of that House !
Located in a very interesting area, would strongly recommend it. Enjoyed our three nights spent there.

Room Tip: I cannot compare but would recommend one at the back. Ours was I think 108
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank ethnos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
london
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
54 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 187 helpful votes
Reviewed March 1, 2014

I go along with most reviewers: lovely restored building. Smart rooms. Remember to bring beer with you (they will provide ice in a bucket). "Jiji" (manager) was very helpful. We had car and driver on our TN tour, but wish we had taken up the offer of one of the hotel staff as a local guide : there are so many little villages , its tricky to find these old mansions without local knowledge. (the brief morning village "tour" by bullock cart is a bit cheesy , but just go with the flow...)
Like others we found the "cobra/key" farrago on check-in a pain.
I must say we were underwhelmed by the food. Breakfast is pretty frugal and not exactly a leisurely experience. At dinner, the chef clearly likes to be "clever" , but creates rather weird concoctions. Rather amateurish to be frank (and not cheap). Again we were annoyed by a smoker . They really should ban it. We find the whole CGH "environmental" thing a bit irritating...just an excuse for mean minded petty things? Still , overall well worth a nights stay..

Room Tip: upper floor , some rooms have private balcony...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank alann6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed February 10, 2014 via mobile

We stayed here mid January this year and could not have been more delighted with every aspect of the hotel. The staff were delightful and attentive, the room very comfortable, the garden and pool beautiful, the building a beautifully renovated Chettinad mansion, the food excellent and a very interesting cookery demonstration from chef, Ramu was hugely informative about the area which is fascinating and the wifi worked fine for us. If you can't manage without a drink or super speed wifi then maybe India is not for you but if you want a really relaxing, comfortable and interesting stay I highly recommend this wonderful hotel.

Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank Peter D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LONDON
Level 6 Contributor
149 reviews
117 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 347 helpful votes
Reviewed January 26, 2014

CGHearth justly pride themselves on their green credentials and their commitment to the environment.

At Visalam this includes a policy of having no television, and no refrigerator in the room. Since the government of Tamil Nadu refused liquor license permits for hotels of fewer than 21 beds, the hotel now has no alcohol. It may be just a little austere for the guest looking for a few modern comforts along with nursing their ecological beliefs. It helps if you are aware of the facts before arriving. We had been mistakenly informed by our agents that wine and beer was available at meals. Alas no more.

As with all CGHearth properties the building has been sensitively and stylishly restored.

It is a beautiful property set in a small garden of flowering trees and shrubs and the sunbirds flocked to the shrubs outside our door. The region is famous for the traditional floor tiles produced in village workshops. The floor tiles in the foyer of Visalam are old traditional tiles of exquisite quality.

It is popular with American, French and English small tour groups.

Our room on the ground floor was spacious and airy. With a dressing room and bathroom we were well accommodated. The beds were very comfortable. The door opened onto a little terrace and garden that was a quiet and a pleasant place in which to sit.

The gardens continue to an excellent pool in an enclosed area. There’s a small bar and loungers.

The locally produced fine Chettinad cotton provides towels for the bathroom. They are thin sheets which are superb for hand towels but are not really adequate to dry a tall adult and ends up as a wet rag. We mentioned it to the manager who had them replaced on the second day of our stay.

The guest relations manager, Ramu, is a great asset to the hotel. As a local man from a Chettinad family he knows the history and geography of the area intimately. He has excellent English and great communication skills. We thought his guided tours on two days were as good as any we have ever had during our many years of travelling in India. We were privileged to be invited to his home, a traditional mansion of sixty-four rooms.

The village is a wonderful place in which to wander. There is much to see and local people are friendly and welcoming.

On our arrival at Visalam, as we mounted the stairs to the entrance of the hotel, a young woman standing on the top steps sprinkled us with water from what Catholics will know as an aspergillam. A bit of a surprise, but there you go. We accepted the traditional -looking scarves and began the check in.

We were invited to sit down on a low settee. We handed in our passports and voucher for the usual reception formalities. The young lady who stood in front of us delivered her welcome speech unrelentingly. It was all material that could and should have been given in a leaflet or on a single sheet of A4. The history of the hotel might more usefully be printed from the website. We felt rather like school children being instructed. The fact that we were sitting and she standing over us didn’t help. We didn’t enjoy it after our tiring day, we wanted to check in, get to our rooms and wash up. The introduction was unrelenting.
The climax came when she asked us, “Do you like surprises?”
We answered, “It depends” and “Not especially.”
She ignored the response and produced a wooden box.
“Here I have a live cobra. Put your hands on the front of my box.
Go on, it is a real cobra and I want you both to place your hands on the box here.”
Reluctantly and unenthusiastically we did so.
“Are you ready? Remember it is a live cobra.”
We looked at her.
“I am going to open it up. Keep your hands where they are…”
She teased a little longer and then opened the box.
It contained a large room key.

The fault was not with the receptionist, it is with whoever designed such an unappealing fey ritual, more suited to eight year old children than to the level of tourism to which the property aspires. She then gave us a tour of the property before freeing us to go to our room. We found it to be an unpromising start to our stay.

We hope the management will reconsider this unwelcome welcome routine.

Our first dinner at Visalam was a disappointment. We were rather taken aback at when, after waiting for fifty minutes for our fish grill, and after it arrived, a diner at a nearby table lit up, and we ate our meal accompanied by cigarette smoke. The reaction of the staff was to bring an ash-tray. It must have been difficult for them to challenge assertive Europeans, but some small no smoking signs in the dining area might have clarified the position. The hotel says it is a non-smoking property, and where is it more important than in the dining area during meals service? The food itself at our first dinner was frankly indifferent.

Though there was a considerable amount of cupboard space in the room there was no place where one could hang things. The space provided, with cut-out coat-hangers, was not deep enough to hang a shirt or a jacket. The manager said he would remove shelves under the rail and make a full-length wardrobe from the armoire.

These may be considered as trivial comments and we must add emphatically that when we drew the general manager’s attention to them he apologized profusely and immediately rectified those things that could be easily changed.

By the second day the situation was transformed. We changed from being unhappy guests to enjoying our stay.

We had the service and the charm that the many reports in TripAdvisor describe so enthusiastically. In fact we might have been in a different hotel. We had an excellent dinner with fresh and perfectly cooked seafood. The courses were all interesting, carefully prepared and it was all thoroughly delightful.

Wi-Fi in Visalam is free and reliable. It is peaceful and quiet.

We would recommend Visalem as a memorable place to stay and the region is certainly full of interest and unforgettable places.

On top of its game Visalam is superb.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Boulbon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed January 12, 2014

The premises are undeniably nice, but the hotel is located on a road with the usual honking beeping Tamil Nadu traffic and near a railway line. A room at the back is essential. The hotel is hugely overpriced for what is only 3 star, twice the price of much better hotels we stayed in during our tour of TN. The internet didn't work either in my room or the public parts and I had to sit on the floor outside another room to cadge off their signal. The rooms have no TV or minibar. The hotel is dry, as in no alcohol, not even beer with dinner. The food is good but again, very overpriced. The waiters are always saying "sorry, we don't have...." White bread, rolls, croissants, bacon, tonic water etc". I felt thoroughly ripped off, especially having been to two other hotels of this same group, which are much, much better.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Jsummer18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Visalam

Property: Visalam
Address: Kanadukathan L F Road, Kanadukathan 630103, India
Location: India > Tamil Nadu > Sivaganga District > Kanadukathan
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Kanadukathan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Visalam 3*
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Visalam ( A CGH Earth Experience) is where you would want to go to experience a unique Tamil culture. Located in Kanadukathan village in chettinad, Visalam has many a stories to tell of the heritage, culture, food and people of this interesting tamil community, the chettiars. Stay at Visalam for that journey back in time and for that warm tamil hospitality. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Visalam Hotel Kanadukathan

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