This is undoubtedly the BEST Homestay experience I have ever had. And I have been to quite a few of them in my travels.
Host Wilson and her mother - Ponnamma Rajan treated us like family. Wilson went to the local fish market at the crack of dawn to get us the fresh water fish- Karimeen ( Pearl Spot) through an auction; I generally don't eat fish but the Rajans made me a fan of Karimeen!!
Their sister who was visiting the family from Bangalore - extended her stay just to give us company. While the place is in a small village of Sooranad North in Kollam - this is a destination in itself with village walks, boat ride on the largest fresh water
lake of Kerala - the Sasthamkotta Lake that takes its name from the Sasthamkotta temple.
Wilson arranged walks to the paddy field, took us to the cashew processing unit where we saw the full step from roasting to peeling to grading of the cashews.
We did a trip to the local market and also had a demo of rubber collection. All in all this was a perfect village homestay for me and our family ( includes our gadget obsessed son of 14 years)
For those looking for a meaning holiday, I would strongly recommend this homestay.
Of all the food I had in India nothing compares to eating Ponnamma's food at my homestay with The Spice Circuit
She grows and produces all her own organic spices, has chickens that call to her when they've laid an egg, and is one of the sweetest women I've ever met.
The homestay started when Ponnamma's husband died and her son wanted to create a way for her mother to be able to stay in the family house and flourish. She welcomes people with such warmth and says they light up her house.
Each day we went out on an incredible excursion that I could have never found on my own. Whether it be to a cashew factory where they process it all by hand or the canoe ride in the Monroe Islands - I've traveled al over the world and it's rare to experience something like this. If you are a foodie you have to come here.
My experience at Palamootil Pandakasala was so very worth the detour from the west coast. The family was so welcoming and glad to immerse us in the area. We ended up at a nearby temple, called Anyadi Temple. The festival was great and i was invited in and shown what we are permitted to do! Super cool!
At the homestay I discovered several things I wasn’t expecting: Their backyard is an organic garden, and they went to a market to get fish for dinner. The pearl fish was from the largest lake in Kerala. They are working on making the homestay as sustainable and low tech as possible, yet really comfortable to westerners!
It’s easier to organize meals here with Wilson and his sweet mother, than to figure out where to get a meal nearby. Sitting outside with the family, for a cup of tea was wonderful—felt like I was living daily life with Wilson’s family.
I’m thinking about going back to Kerala, next January, I’ll stay here!!!
The property is centrally located within the village and has all the amenities you could desire. Comfortable sleeping quarters with luxe baths. Wilson the owner and his mother embody the meaning of hospitality! Not only did we enjoy unique and locally sourced foods but we visited off the beaten path sites (temples, rice paddies, locals homes) which allowed me to see India through the interactions with locals something I highly value when travelling. During our visit we were treated to motorcycle rides, a local drumming group which was astounding, tours of local pottery-metal working-silk weaving studios. I couldn't recommend this homestay more highly. I have been fortunate to travel to many countries and this visit was special and transformative. With gratitude to Wilson for his care and wonderful ability to meet his guests needs!