Property review – Barefoot at havelock

The mention of Andaman brings forth a pretty picture of turqoise blue waters and silky white sands of Radhanagar – beach 7 in Haveleck .Barefoot is synonymous with Havelock and their location of  and staff on the Island. It is situated right on Beach no. 7, Radhannagar beach, voted as the best beach in Asia. 

have never been to Hawai but I have always imagined it to have thick cover of forest in an island, surrounded by emerald green (or turqiouse blue water) water, white powder like sand and a chilled out vibe. We got all of this and more in the Havelock Island of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
Its not easy to reach Havelock Island. First you have to reach Port Blair and there are no direct flights from Delhi or Mumbai. There will be a transit from Chennai or Kolkata. Port Blair is your entry point in A&N islands and given fixed ferry timings you have to spend a night here (both ways). From Port Blair, you take a 2.15 hour ferry to Havelock Island and then another 20 minute car ride to the Barefoot property in Havelock.

We took an early morning ferry (operated by Green Ocean) and reached Havelock by 10 AM. There was bus waiting to go to Beach no. 10 and we jut hopped on thinking, it will drop us somewhere close to beach no. 7. We were right, we had to walk for ten minutes to reach the property from bus stand and also got the falvour of travelling likc locals. Else, local auto would charge 250 and a private taxi will charge 600. Bus ride cost us 10 rupees per person.
You are welcomed to Barefoot by John, an affable and courteous manager to the property. First thing he tells you is there will be no internet connection, no intercom, no televesion, no wifi and no phone signal and you look back at him in denial, saying phone has signal when you last checked. He will then say in his “heard it before argument” voice, check it again sir, it would have died, when you came into the property. He was correct.
I rejoiced at the thought of no connection with outside world, no checking of emails, no opinion on ramdom tweets, no streaming of unsolicited videos on my timelines. it just felt like, we have signed up for social detoxification. Our rooms were not ready and we were suitably adivsed to check out the ocean. We gleefully obliged and were

Barefoot is one of the places or experiences which shake you up and remind you that you are part of this beautiful mother nature and it is way better than your conference calls, customer meetings, investors, products.. whatever you do.

The moment i stepped in, i was greated with every jolly and a great person Mr Jhon and he gave his ‘Jhatkas’ which he fondly calls the policies very nicely:

1. Remove your footwear for entering lobby, resturant and inside the rooms.
2. No wifi, No Airtel, No vodafone, no phones, no network.
3. In case of emergency there is a physical bell which will ring and you gather at lobby.

Okay what you get in return as the resort took away above mentioned things:

1. A beautiful property name anything : The lobby, The resturant, Rooms, the pathways. anything you name it is so well maintained and it is beautiful.

2. You stay litreally in a jungle, yes jungle the cottages are in thick tropical forest!

3. A Professional team, I emphasize a PROFESSIONAL team (Mr Jhon and Team you guys rock!) to serve you and take care of you in very personal manner.

4. You are at 2 minute walk distance from Radhanagar beach which needs no explanation.

5. Believe me you will love walking barefoot in resturant, lobby and the rooms. Great concept!! i never saw such thing anywhere in world.. what a way to remind us that we belong to nature!! absolutely amazing!

I stayed here with my wife for 3 days and absolutely loved it. I can never forget the feeling of lying on recliner oustside the room at 4.30 am in the morning and listening to chirping birds and watch they day light break through the leaves and the tropical greenry appears from nights darkness in front of your eyes!! Absolutely Amazing!

Barefoot can you give me a job at your resort, i will be more than happy to resign from my current job and stay there forever!

Hats off to the team Mr Jhon and Team, and Our active friend Prem at resturant.. you all Rock!!

You taught me that one does not need money or a hectic life to be happy!! he needs something else.. he needs nature, he needs barefoot!

 

It belongs to a new trend of “trek to reach property”, where you have to descend into the valley for good 20 minutes to reach the property. It is at this very moment, you realise how peaceful it is to not be surrounded by the constant rush of a city life. Time stands still here.

THE PROPERTY

Itmenaan Estate is rustic resort in a peaceful rural setting in the Kumaon Himalayas , close to the small Chalni cheena market.

The 100-year-old traditional Kumaoni style stone house in the resort has been restored to retain its original architecture. Material comforts such as a comfortable bed and a large state of art bathroom are added for guests. The property offers 3 tastefully designed en suite bedrooms. Near to this house is the Deodar cottage – a large two-story independent cottage built in traditional style.

The 10-acre property has deodar and rhododendron trees; terraced fields laden with seasonal fruits and vegetables; and a small natural waterfall. The resort offers panoramic views of the Himalayas including the majestic Nanda Devi.

 


THE SETTING

Property is 50 meters from Chalni Cheena Village market ( 5 shops and an ATM). You blink and miss the point. There are no sign-boards, you have to look for an old man with two walking sticks waiting for you. So clearly no walk-ins preferred. This will be your first interaction with the property.  He is fondly called “Chachu” and he serves as porter, naturalist & guide.  The estate is a 20-minute walk from the road head, which ensures complete tranquility and seclusion from the usual urban cacophony.

The closest village Naugaon is a charming little village where time has stood still. Most people are farmers and happy with their simple lives. On our trek to this village, every house invited us for a tea.


THE SERVICE

There is no formal reception desk , but the staff is always available to make your stay comfortable.We received a very warm welcome with hot rhodendrum juice followed by 2 days of comfort and lot of personal attention. Staff wear many hats. Navin assumes role of cook, bartender and manager as per the situation and Chachu is your man friday for everything else. It is hard to forget our dinners, which were served outside on cold night ( on our request)  under the starlit sky.  Bonfire under the table used to keep us cosy and food used to come pipping hot on the table.

 

The staff is mostly local , but well trained to maintain their impeccable hospitality standards. On our way back , due to road repair our driver got stuck , Chachu  (our walk guide ) quickly organised a car for us within minutes using his excellent relationship with the village sarpanch . Money was never discussed , they were truly interested in helping us , a pleasant surprise from the usual ” fleece the tourist ” attitude .


THE FOOD

Chef Navin cooked simple , delicious meals which were served on the open terrace.  The cuisine is local or continental , using fresh produce from adjoining farms. Meal experience was heightened by the setting , food was laid at a scenic stone table amidst the resort’s vegetable garden and orchard

 

Breakfast had eggs, fruits and bread, as per preference. Loved the hot breakfast of parathas with local pickle. Lunch and dinner were 3 course set meals with starter ( soup /salad), main course and desert. Packed lunch is organised on request. Loved the bhang chutney and Bhatt Ki dal ( both traditional kumaoni fare) .The Banofee pie was a delight given the remote setting.


THE FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES ON OFFER

Itmenaan estate offers the following activities to make most of your stay there .

Indoor : A library and game room.

Outdoor: Although, the resort conducts village walks with a couple of halts at their other guest houses, Thikalna and Ganghet. Two days is too short a time for the same. We just wanted to enjoy the scenery at hand. So on day 2, we did a 3 hour trek to the waterfall and neighboring village of Naugaon with Chachu .

Other excursions: The resort is well connected to Almora, Mukteshwar, Jageshwar, Binsar, Bhimtal, Nainital and Corbett National Park.

 

 


WHAT STOLE THE SHOW?

Clean mountain air, mesmerising views of the mountains and fresh food. Now that you are convinced, lets bring you up to speed with the practicalities. Know more about Itmenaan estate

Getting there
The property is a 3 hour drive from Kathgodam and then 20 minute trek to reach the property.

Hole in your wallet
Expect to pay around Rs 6,500 – 11,000 per night for the room.

Internet / Television
There is no TV and Wi-Fi in the room. However, signal is strong on your phone and you can use hotspot.

What else
– This is a village guesthouse , do not expect 24/7 room service or an elaborate ala carte menu.
– Be prepared to relax and enjoy the simple life
-The property is located about 1 km down hill walk which takes about 15-30 mins- they have porters to carry luggage. So travel light.

The author of this article only profiles properties he has visited and where he would like to go again, without blinking an eye or changing anything about it. We were hosted by Itmenaan Estate. Any property is reviewed on five parameters, which are:

Setting:- The property needs to have its own personality.
Service: I like being looked after, without the staff being intrusive.
Food: Has to be sumptuous, even if there are limited options.
Facilities: No minimum requirement but should have basic comforts that should add to the character of the place.
USP: There has to be one unique quality, which makes it different than the other offerings out there.
Thanks to Barefoot for making our vacation a dream holiday.. This is a really nice place with really good staff.. Special thanks to John at front desk (our kids really loved him !) , Prem and Laxmi at restaurant. This hotel is at Radhanagar Beach which is the most beautiful beach in Asia .. This beach is breathtaking !! The hotel itself is the closest that you can get to nature.. There is no phone , TV or internet.. And that makes you spend more time with family.. I would love to visit this place again.. !!!
Words cannot express this place. Hats off to the person who thought of this resort. Surrounded by forest and tall trees with access to one of the of the best beaches on the continent. Rooms are unique and spread across the property. All the buildings are made of wood and we did not see any concrete at all. The tents are away from the restaurant but the difference in cost is worth it. The restaurant location and food is amazing. The staff are mostly local and well trained. NO TV, newspaper or the net and it is for the good. I would love to go back and stay here for a long holiday during my retired days. TRULY one of the best resorts in INDIA. Dont think twice it is worth the amount they charge. JUST GO and you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Stayed here for 2N-3D in Feb 2010 for our Honeymoon. Resorts is on bit expensive side. But every thing seems to be so perfect there. Resort is basically on the beautiful Radhanagar beach whose water is crystal clear. Cottages are beautifully appointed. Service is great. As per my husband’s request they even baked a cake for my birthday. Breakfast was great. No TV no telephone in the room. Can wake up to the sound of sea waves and chirping birds every morning. A perfect paradise. Hope to go back and stay for few more days.
Make a home in the lap of nature with beautifully done cottages in the midst of natural landscaping, birds and debatably one of India’s most beautiful beaches.

The positives:
The location is pure bliss with romantically designed cottages.
The landscaping has been mostly left to its natural form
You might get to sight some exotic birds right form inside your room
You have a private access to the Radhanagar beach, once rated one of the most beautiful beach in Asia.
The property extends way beyond the cottages, into a nice walk through trees, on to the beach or uphill for a trek. You can take your pick.
The cottages are luxuriously designed with wooden flooring, Nicobari style roofs and a private verandah. (We stayed in the Nicobari Cottage also called the Andaman Villa)
Innovative bar with home grown cocktails
Good food, good restaurant service

The negatives:
NO CELLPHONE CONNECTIVITY (though i considered this a positive!)
you might get some sketchy network at the reception, which also houses the bar.
No room service
No wifi
No room phone. If you need anything, you either walk up to the reception or wait for an attendant to pass by so you can call out to them. If you go during rains, this can be quite a challenge.
The cottages have no real views other than the general hotel landscape
It’s a good 1-1.5 hour drive from the jetty and the roads are very bumpy.

Easily the most premium property in Havelock and deservedly so! If you’re going all the way to the islands, might as well make it to Barefoot.
Visited here in October 2015 …I will only say that this resort is a jewel in havelock… .. . It’s actually a one solution for all plans like scuba, snorkelling,island tour,… Very able and helpful staff…Plus the services are second to none… Food is woooow… High quality rooms…Excellent bar and above all – Radhanagar beach… What more u want… I wish that I will come again and stay here… Tnku very much havelock .., u made my trip awesome… If it’s havelock.. Then it should be barefoot.

Room Tip: AC tented cottages are best
See more room tips
Stayed October 2015, travelled as a couple
5 of 5 stars Value
5 of 5 stars Location
5 of 5 stars Service
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Couldn’t have been better. The cottage was stunning, the staff couldn’t do enough to help you, the bar was absolutely perfect and the food was great. The beach really does deserve all the accolades but watch the waves – they are pretty aggressive. I would recommend not going in the sea on this side of the island if you are not a confident swimmer.
Stayed November 2015
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stayed in this resort with my wife for 3 days, this is one property which will be etched in my mind for lifetime .

cons n pros ( according to my opinion )

CONS –
– location which is in a forest n full of grenary.
– beach is just 30-40 metres.
– excellent filly stocked bar n restra.
– u have to carry torches to ur rooms which adds to the excitement of the eco themed surroundings.
– total 100 % peace , outside ppl are not allowed to enter the room premises for privacy of the guests.
– everything is available , dey also arrange scuba , snorkelling etc at reasonable rates .
– ac rooms with nice eco friendly themed furniture without compromising with the class .

CONS –
– no intercom so u have to be sure that ur plans are in place .
– booking has to be done well in advance as its having full occupancy most of the times.

Happy holidaying folks !!!

Stayed November 2015, travelled as a couple
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kcyadav0812
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
25 helpful votes
“Enjoy to the max”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 3 weeks ago
Stayed 2 days/1 night on 20-21 Oct 2015.
I had to check-out from Barefoot Scuba and Check-in to Barefoot@Radhanagar beach as I had distributed my stay to enjoy both the scuba and beauty of Radhanagar beach. It was around 20 mins journey with serpent like narrow uphill road, not in so good condition in the middle of tropical rainforests, but the view were very good.
Check-out time is 10:00AM and Check-in is 12:00 PM, When we arrived at reception, we were greeted, by the resort staff, informed about the hotel. We were told there is no connectivity in the resort, no intercoms, no room service and the only way to communicate with the front desk is to come to the front desk. We were also given torches to use at night (were warned about snakes). The warm welcome with tender coconuts was refreshing our cottages “AC tented Cottages” were ready which is almost half a kilometer further from reception on the side from where you enter the resort. There’s a bar adjacent to reception and some local prep were extremely good. Worth trying some local flavors.

Open air bathroom in the tent cottage was magnificent and the beds were prepared with great taste. There was 3 sections in the tent entrance lobby, bedroom and utilities with mini-fridge, wardrobe etc. Bedroom and the extra bed both had net provisioned. Floor mounted AC along with Fan was perfect to cool the tent to desired temperature. By evening housekeeping guys prepare the bed fully covered with net. Tea/coffee/water/toiletries are amply replenished. Beach towels and umbrellas are available in reception.

Five minutes’ walk and you reach the Asia’s second best beach Radhanagar (beach# 7) clear water with green and blue shades, lovely white sand, with tall tropical trees surrounding the beach. It’s so serene and calm that anyone can fell in love with this place. Fun time with family friends in the clean and crystal clear water in the evening thoroughly enjoyed.

Only BSNL phone works, in the resort, however if you move towards beach Airtel comes live but in the resort it was no connectivity on my Airtel for 2 days.

Morning a long walk on the sea beach makes you refreshed, we were able to see Rajan the only elephant who swims in sea.

A free shuttle service is provided morning and afternoon between the Resort and Barefoot Scuba this is to facilitate travelers who opt for Scuba and other activities conducted at Barefoot Scuba, sister resort at Beach#3. Even packed breakfast is made available in the morning for people going for Scuba.

Accessibility to the other parts of the island becomes an issue and the in-house restaurant becomes the only option hence we had all our meals Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast at the resort itself. Food was good and the staff takes all the care to satisfy your taste buds.

Fun-filled lovely stay, worth mentioning John, Julie who were always there to help.

Only thing which will help is to have lights on the walkways.

Top-rated Attractions Nearby
Radhanagar Beach
Blue Corals Dive
Neil Island
Amenities
Restaurant Bar/Lounge Beach Free Parking Spa Free Breakfast
About the property
Beach
Things to do
Restaurant Bar/Lounge Spa

Discover India’s best kept secret – the Andaman Islands – at the Barefoot Group’s first eco-retreat called ‘Barefoot at Havelock.’ Located exclusively on what TIME Magazine in November 2004 rated as the best beach in Asia, our small resort is set in rain forest and tropical fruit trees behind a pristine 2 km white-sand stretch of the quirkly named Beach No. 7 at Havelock Island.
Additional Information about Barefoot at Havelock

Address: Radhanagar Village (Beach No 7), Havelock Island 744101, India
Region:India > Andaman and Nicobar Islands > Havelock Island
Price Range: ₹ 7,000 – ₹ 16,000 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Barefoot at Havelock 4*

 

 

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