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

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Jalakara: a boutique villa hotel on Havelock Island

We combined the best aspects of a boutique hotel and a holiday home, with seven private rooms set in one hilltop villa on Havelock Island…

By Marko Hill
Owner of Jalakara

At Jalakara, we combined the best aspects of a boutique hotel and a holiday home, with seven private rooms set in one hilltop villa on Havelock Island. Jalakara began because, after training as a chef and owning restaurants in the UK my entire career, I decided I wanted to live on an exotic island. A friend told me I had to go to the Andamans, which felt like a mythical destination to me, but when I arrived on Havelock, I knew it was the perfect place to build Jalakara.

Turning my dream into a reality was a long journey. I found a banana plantation bordering the rainforest on one of Havelock’s highest points, with a tropical breeze and ocean views. Then, I hired an inspirational Indian architect to create a rustic-yet-luxurious villa, with a restaurant and infinity pool surrounded by a garden where guests can mingle. We had to build a road to transport in the building supplies, it was a big job. My wife is a fashion designer so worked on the interior design, ensuring every room was unique – our ethos is that we want to make people feel like individuals.

Being a chef, food is a central part of our USP at Jalakara. We serve an Asian fusion menu, created by some incredible chefs. Since we’re a small property we can source our meat and fish locally, literally from our neighbours. We also grow fruit and veg on the property and make our own coconut milk. For the menu, think Thai meets India, with riffs on panipuri and fresh lobster rolls. Our chef is from Darjeeling so we also serve these unique black lobster momos. My other business is in sustainable wines and spirits, so meals are accompanied by a great cocktail list.

Sustainability was also a huge part of my vision for Jalakara. Tatler actually rated us as one of the 10 greenest hotels in the world; all our heating is from a biomass wood burner, we’ve got reed beds for our grey waste and the drinking water is purified from a well. It was important to me to hire local people and we’ve got a lovely team, many of whom have been with us for 15 years. Guests love them and are very passionate about Jalakara; many guests make friends with each other too and go on to holiday together.

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Alfred & Marko Hill

Marko Hill hails from London, where he started his career in hospitality, first training at the prestigious Leiths School of Food & Wine and then going on to found several award-winning restaurants and food businesses.  A regular visitor to India and longstanding lover of all things Indian, Mark chose the exotic Andaman Islands as the venue for his first hotel project - Jalakara.
Marko Hill, owner of Jalakara