Dune is the perfect retreat for families and couples who can either have a complete staycation here, or use the resort as a base to explore Pondicherry and other surrounding destinations that South India boasts of.
Fifteen kilometres off the Coromandel coast of northern Pondicherry, the Dune bears close resemblance to a small riverine village. You will find yourself walking on red soil pathways that lead to the cottages and houses, dotting the rolling green lawns. The neighbouring coconut groves, impart a plantation-like character to the resort, across which you can get around by the means of bikes provided by the resort.
The resort's working structure, lays immense emphasis on the complete mind-body-soul experience, rendering the property an oasis of peace. Conceived by a young French architect, with a love for all things belonging to the environment, each one of the resort's fifty rooms were built using reclaimed materials from erstwhile heritage houses, and Chettinad palaces. From modern, minimalist villas, to funky thatched huts by the beach, there's something for every kind of traveller. On the whole, the decor is eclectic, bursting with bright colours and locally-inspired kitschy artwork. Part-eccentric; part-zen, the aftermath is a sheer delight for the senses.
Doing their bit for the environment, the eco-village doesn't equip all its bungalows with air-conditioning, and instead, lets the bracing sea-breeze work its magic in the rooms. The property also incorporates solar energy, waste-water treatment, and the use of low-energy consumption light bulbs throughout the village's accommodation and machinery.
The eco-resort comprises of modern villas with clean lines, and wooden shacks that are right by the beach. Some are curated especially for families and children, while the others are more suited to couples. Here are a few houses, that are especially lovely.
The Art Deco House
Influenced by the structure of old Kerala's planter houses, the art deco house boasts of two separate rooms with attached bathrooms, and private gardens.
The Artist Studio 1 & 2
The entrance to Studio 1 is built from the reclaimed doorway to a Chettinad Mansion, and it is furnished with traditional Tamilian furniture, such as the type of chair called tinai. This house is also adorned with original photographs by the Parisian artist-photographer, Deidi Von Schaewen. The other studio's entrance was sourced from a merchant's house in Karaikudi of southern Tamil Nadu. With minimalistic designs, this building is decorated with several oil paintings by Pondicherry's local artist, Danasegar.
The Bangle House
Brought to life by the French designer Carol Arnaud-Goddet, the quirky Bangle House is bedecked with Mandala paintings and furniture decorated with broken pieces of traditional glass bangles.
The Flower House
This one is for nature hippies. Cradled by a large private garden, and fenced by swaying coconut palms, the Flower House is essentially an open gazebo that shelters the rooms that are furbished with colonial-style iron beds, and rosewood sofa sets.
The Tower House
Especially designed for the couples, the Tower House sitting at a lofty fifty feet, fans out over the entire Bay of Bengal. If you don't have a case of vertigo, this house is an experience in itself.
The eco-resort boasts of two in-house restaurants. FUN (Food U Need), serves up the most heavenly buffet breakfasts. Tables brimming with freshly-squeezed juices, home-ground organic coffee, homemade croissants and fresh brioches are usually the staples on offer for those looking for authentic French food. The South Indian fare includes the crispest of dosas, with ample potions of homemade chutneys. The à la carte evening menu also features flavoursome South Indian curries. The poolside Seafood Cafe serves lunch and the occasional BBQ after sundown. Private dinners can also be organised by the staff.
Standard double room without air-conditioning: ₹5,775
Standard double room with air-conditioning: ₹8,350
Luxury suite with private pool: ₹18,850
Daily breakfast and dinners (fixed menu), and usage of the swimming pool, activities such as yoga, meditation, pottery, kite-flying, farm visits are included in the tariff.
For more details, visit their website.
December to March is the ideal time to visit the eco-village. The days are usually sunny and the evenings, warm. May to June is an equally good time to visit, as these months see vibrant celebrations due to the numerous local festivals.
Located on the premises of the eco-resort, the Deepak Chopra Healing Center offers a plethora of Ayurvedic treatments and massages. Unique hot water therapies such as Watsu (Water Shiatsu) and Woga (Water Yoga) are also practiced here, with regular yoga and meditation sessions.
Hours can be spent just exploring the resort's organic farm that will welcome you with watermelons and pineapples and an array of animals. Dune also has a swanky gym, a vast workout area under thatched roofs, and tennis and beach volleyball courts. Early morning angling and horse-riding trips are also arranged by the staff in collaboration with locals. For the days you want to stay in and unwind, book yourself a pottery lesson, engage in the myriad of board games the resort's common areas have, or scour through the extensive DVD library.
Around the property, guests can make day-trips to the ancient Pallava port of Mahabalipuram, that is famous for its magnificent temples. To the west of the property, lies Gingee, a lesser known Tamil Nadu treasure. Fifteen kilometres away, on its south, is the former French colony of Pondicherry. The Aurobindo Ashram located in this city is a haven for those seeking spiritual learning.
By Air: The nearest international airport is in Chennai. The extremely scenic route via the East Cost Road (ECR) links Dune to Chennai and it takes around two hours to reach the resort from the airport.
By Rain: Chennai and Bangalore are connected to the Villupuram railway station, from where it will take you around an hour to reach Dune.