May 2017

Last but not least, here’s the final part of my India trip! The last sustainable hotel I stayed at in Pondicherry: Palais de Mahe by CGH Earth.

My first day at Palais de Mahe began with a 6am yoga class taught by a local teacher.  (Yes, yoga plays a big part in my life, and it played it even more so in India!) The class was taught at the hotel’s bohemian-looking rooftop. Picture this: pots with flowers and plants everywhere, ocean in front of me and sun rising above me while doing yoga. It was perfect! This cute French Colonial boutique hotel is known for its eye-catching architecture and interior design, and also because of its practices protecting the environment and supporting local communities.

Our room was astonishing. High ceilings, traditional roof beams, a small living room, and a gorgeous bathroom full of natural, local, and sustainable bath products bottled in tiny clay containers made by artisans in Auroville (India’s self-sustainable village only 30-minutes away from Pondi). The tall heritage wood doors, which we opened with a big bronze key like the old days, were one of my favorite things about our room!

After yoga, we had breakfast at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant with breathtaking views of the ocean and Pondi's colorful streets. (A plus of Palais de Mahe is that it is located two blocks away from the ocean!) This was our last day in India, so my brother and I chose to pay Auroville one last visit. In case you didn’t read my last travel post, Auroville is an Indian city centered on acceptance, coexistence, sustainability, mindfulness and love. One where the powerful roles of religions, politics and money ceased to exist. A city with a population that helps each other, works on barter, feeds everyone's mouths with organic vegetables and fruits they harvested from their own plantations, makes their own cups and dishes out of clay and natural dyes, produces their own spirulina, and practices meditation on a daily basis! A city with houses and buildings built with handmade mud bricks, and powered by solar and wind energies with huge communal kitchens and cafés offering organic vegan and vegetarian options. Incredible, isn’t it? A little piece of green heaven, and a great reason for us to spend our last day walking its streets.

After Auroville, we went back to Palais de Mahe for a much-deserved swim in the hotel's pool. The temperature in India in April ranges between 90-100F, so it was either a swim or a heatstroke! The pool, the bar behind it, and the hallway next to it full of green plants were breathtaking. I stood there, in the refreshing water drinking a really cold Indian beer, contemplating everything around me for about an hour. I felt part of a movie. It was priceless!

We concluded our stay at Palais de Mahe, and our visit to India, with a philanthropic tour Dinu –friendliest hotel manager EVER- arranged for us. He took us to Atelier Shanti; a rehabilitation center that helps and provides jobs to locals with leprosy or disabilities. These are humans who are normally rejected by their own families and forced to live in inhumane conditions. Atelier Shanti provides them with workshops on handloom weaving, and a safe place where they can live and work creating colorful fashion and lifestyle pieces out of cotton fabrics. The techniques, the machine they used, and their weaving movements were mesmerizing! This is a must-visit if you are ever in Pondicherry. It’s also a great place to buy gorgeous souvenirs with a story, and help heal our world with every penny you spend. To read more about them and donate, click here, or contact volont@volontariat.in. To read more about my 2 week trip to India and the eco hotels I visited, click here

Things to know about Palais de Mahe:

-They have vegan and vegetarian options in their menu

-They provide yoga classes on their rooftop upon request

-You can walk to the beach, and almost everywhere, from the hotel. Or can also rent a scooter near the market.

-It’s super safe (Pondi as a whole felt 101% safe!)

-They have great WiFi

-They offer local tours

-The hotel staff will welcome you with a delicious ginger lemonade and a necklace of fresh flowers!

-Ask for Dino for help and tell him I say hi!