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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Contemporary flair meets heritage style at Palais de Mahé

This French Quarter hotel has a surprising history that you wouldn’t guess from looking at it…

By Dinu Ramakrishnan
General Manager at Palais de Mahé

Palais de Mahé has a surprising history that you wouldn’t guess from looking at it. It may seem like a heritage property, but it actually dates from 2012; it was built from scratch with the help of INTACH,  the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Their architects helped us create an authentic-looking Franco-Tamil mansion complete with a beautiful courtyard, deep verandas, colonnades and so on. It’s become one of Pondicherry’s iconic properties and at weekends especially there are always people taking photographs of the outside of it.

The hotel is in the heart of the French Quarter, close to the shops, art galleries and the ashram and a few footsteps away from the promenade and the beach. You can’t hear the sea from here, but you can definitely feel the breeze, which is particularly welcome in the summer. The whole property has an airy feel, from the 18 rooms with their high white-beamed ceilings and colonial-style furniture to the courtyard swimming pool surrounded by potted palms. 

Overlooking the pool, Earth Café is open during the day for coffee – grown in South India and roasted locally – cold drinks and snacks. Our restaurant, Les Alizés, is on the rooftop so you can enjoy the beautiful views over the French Quarter while you have breakfast, lunch and dinner, especially from the terrace. The style of cooking is what we call Progressive Cuisine, which is a fusion of Pondicherry influences. The seafood is especially good; the chef goes to the harbour every morning to buy whatever is best and creates the day’s dishes around it. Like all the CGH Earth properties, we are into ‘local and fresh’.

It’s not only the food that we try to get locally, it’s everything from soaps and shampoos to fabrics. The staff, too – one of our core values is preserving the local culture and ethos, so most of the people who work here are from Pondicherry. The guests often say good things about the service, so I can say I’m very happy with my team.

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Alfred & Dinu Ramakrishnan

For more than 30 years, Dinu Ramakrishnan has worked for CGH Earth, a group of ‘experience hotels’ with a strong environmental and community ethos. He joined in 1990, beginning at Spice Village as a front-office assistant. From there he moved to Coconut Lagoon before swapping Kerala for Tamil Nadu in 2008, joining Maison Perumal in Pondicherry. He transferred to Palais de Mahé in 2012.