A little bit of luxury doesn’t hurt anyone and every traveler, even a budget one such as myself, deserves a bit of luxury travel sometimes. Early this year I got my chance when we had our office offsite in Kerala and that too in one of the best luxury properties there i.e. The Leela Kovalam.
We flew into Cochin from Mumbai and then took the hotel coach for the short 20 – 30 minute ride to the property. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed in the traditional manner with tikkas (vermillion bindis), seashell necklaces and fresh coconut juices. Since our rooms were not ready and lunch was, the staff invited us to have lunch and then relax around the hotel till they could get the rooms arranged for all of us. So we had a sumptuous lunch and generally walked around the property to get a feel of it.
My first impressions of it – the property is huge with wooden slanting roofs, that is the local design for all traditional Kerala houses. It can also be divided into two parts – one part is on the hill with a view of the beach and the second part has villas at the beach level. The rooms are at some distance from the lobby and there are small buggies that take you all around. The property has a spa, a gym, swimming pools, yoga classes and all kinds of beach activities available too. However the thing that immediately strikes you here is the beautiful views of the sea and the beach from every window that you look out of.
We got our room on the hill (within a short buggy ride) with a view of the entire beach. Some of us had the standard room that everyone felt was very small. And the bathrooms were also old and definitely needed renovation. Still the room had a certain quaintness about it and the stunning views, so we quite liked it. We also had a small seating space outside the room.
After quickly freshening up, we all got together and went for a backwater cruise to Poovar. You can read more about it at – Backwaters of Poovar.
Post the cruise we all got back to the hotel, had dinner at the restaurant, spent some quiet time at the beach and then a small group of us ended up chatting away to glory till early morning. 🙂
Early the next day we set off for the business part of the trip and spent the entire morning till lunch at work. The business facilities here are good and they have an entire section for it. After this we all had lunch and then we split. Some people swam in the pool or dozed away in the afternoon while the more enterprising ones, went shopping for spices. I being part of category 1, chose to relax in my room :). Trivandrum is pretty close and you can take a local bus to it from the main gate of the property. Also the hotel provides cars to drop you till the main gate (as it’s about a 10 – 15 minute walk). However there is a small market even near the main gate and if someone doesn’t want to go all the way to Trivandrum, they can easily shop for some gifts from there.
We then spent the entire evening (till dinner time) alternating between the beach and swimming in the sea. While this is a long beach and open to the public, a small section of it (adjoining to the property) is kind of being maintained as a private beach for the Leela. Just after the beach, they have a beach side restaurant with sun beds and umbrellas and a small space for all beach activities (beach volleyball, etc). After all this fun, we spent this evening too like the previous one – dinner, some-time at the beach and long chats going all the way into the night. 🙂
Now, dining at the Leela was a great experience and we had nearly all of our meals at the poolside restaurant – The Terrace. The food here offers many options in buffet – Indian (North and South) and Western, but it’s also possible to order an a la carte. The spread always had numerous items right from condiments, starters to main course and deserts, and the food was good. The staff was very courteous and went out of their way to accommodate the guests. One night at dinner we wanted to try a Malabar parantha, but it was not in the buffet or on the menu. So we just asked the chef about it and they especially made it just for us. Its these small things that I guess just kind of seal the deal for a property.
Along with dinner, the hotel also organizes some type of entertainment every night; and during our stay we saw a Kalaripayattu performance, a Kerala martial art form and the oldest fighting system in existence. And it was amazing. The performers were so light on their feet and jumping so high that I was spellbound. Their clashing swords would send sparks and made the whole performance pretty realistic.
The next morning I woke up early and managed to complete some shopping from the local market and some photography around the property, before it was time to leave for Mumbai. Overall we had a good weekend stay in one of my favourite places, Kerala. You can read more on The Leela Kovalam here.
Things that I Liked about the property
- The amazingly courteous and accommodating staff that will go out of their way to help / accommodate you.
- The stunning views of the infinite expanse of the blue sea and the beach from all around the property.
- The good food and the coffee, both in terms of variety and taste.
Things that could be improved about the property
- The standard rooms are very small and the bathrooms need to be refurbished, as it was cracking in many parts.
- Since the property is huge and widely spread, you need a buggy to reach the lobby, the restaurants, etc and at times that service gets very slow. Once we ended up waiting for 25 minutes for one.
- The beach is meant to be private but since its part of the larger public beach, it’s not private at all times.
Have you stayed at the Leela Kovalam anytime then do comment on your experiences below or tweet at traveler_budget. 🙂