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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

Heritage Madurai: a leafy oasis with a rich history

Our biggest luxury is space – the resort is spread over 17 acres of grounds filled with trees…

By Gopakumar M
General Manager of Heritage Madurai

When you stay at the Madurai Heritage, you don’t feel you’re on the edge of a busy city. Our biggest luxury is space – the resort is spread over 17 acres of grounds filled with trees so that even on the hottest days you can go for a stroll in the garden and it feels quite cool. And there’s also the history of the buildings, which have been carefully conserved and give the hotel an individual look and feel.

What is now the Heritage Madurai was created in 1923 by textile company Madurai Mills, later Madura Coats, as a social club for its staff. Later on, in the 1970s, famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa was invited to design a new clubhouse, incorporating parts of the older building, which he did using local materials such as honey-coloured granite from the nearby hills. That building is now our restaurant, which is called The Banyan Tree in honour of the 200-year-old banyan that grows next to it – we’re very proud of how big it is, and it’s a particular feature of the hotel. This is where we have our buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there’s also an open-sided coffee shop where people can sit outside and have coffee, snacks, sandwiches, whatever they like…

There are 72 rooms altogether, which are well spaced out around the grounds, so you get a real feeling of privacy. Some of the bungalows date from the 1920s and the 1970s, but even the newer rooms have a luxury heritage look. Other newer additions include the swimming pool, which is another distinctive feature: its design is based on that of the tank at the famous Meenakshi temple that’s just four kilometres from us, so it doesn’t look like a conventional pool at all. There’s a spa and a fitness room, and because we have so much outdoor space there’s also room to play games such as box cricket, use one of our bicycles for a quiet pedal or just go for a walk and listen to the birdsong.

As I said, the gardens form a big part of our USP along with the history of the site – and I like to think that the thoughtful and generous service from the staff also helps to make a stay here a memorable one. 

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Alfred & Gopakumar M

Originally from the city of Cochin in Kerala, Gopakumar M has devoted his working life to the hotel business. Armed with qualifications in Hotel Management, he started his first job in hospitality in 1993. Since then, he has worked for several leading brands, including Welcome Hotels, Best Western, CGH Earth and Zuri Hotels & Resorts, starting as general manager of Heritage Madurai in February 2022.