As Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kerala was the choice for Prince Charles’ 65th birthday, then it’s probably good enough for us too!
Although, in our opinion, you’d never elect to choose India if you simply wanted a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle of work or daily life in the West, our visit to Kumarakom Lake Resort on the banks of Lake Vembanad in Kottayam, Kerala, had us seriously questioning this premise.
The attractive handmade wooden gate at the entrance to Kumarakom Lake Resort marks the boundary between hectic Indian streetscene and a tranquil paradise. It’s as if you have slipped into a blissful semi-consciousness, gone deaf even, as the gate closes behind you and you enter a world where you set your own pace of life, rather than being hurried through it, as one so often feels in India.
The cool wood-rich reception acts as a picture frame for the wonderfully inviting tropical panorama in front of you that leads to lush lawns, meandering pools and the palm fringed lake itself.
We’re almost oblivious to the warm welcome and the large coconut passed to us with a fresh fruit drink inside, in our desire to just immerse ourselves in the scene before us.
The scene is so tropically idyllic you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in any exotic destination other than India, as it has the natural charm and ‘chill’ that you’d expect in the Caribbean, Maldives or Pacific Islands. The fact that you can cosset yourself in luxury within Kumarakom Lake Resort but expose yourself to India outside the gate is a real bonus, as you can experience the best of both worlds.
Our villa is a careful reconstruction of ‘Manas’, Kerala’s traditional 16th century homesteads but modernised to mix architectural charm with luxurious, modern comforts. Many Manas have actually been transplanted from their original locations and reassembled painstakingly by hand to create the luxurious villas at Kumarakom Lake Resort. Stylish, open-roofed bathrooms set in small, pretty courtyards are a common feature to the villas and suites and our villa has its own private pool – a real bonus.
We’ve arrived here in Kerala after a tour of the north of India and are only too ready to relax on our veranda overlooking the sparkling channel of water that’s refreshed regularly by an ingenious sluice gate from the main lake; only a stone’s throw beyond where traditional Keralan houseboats are moored alongside.
Although Kumarakom Lake Resort has the usual complement of distractions for those who wish to pamper themselves, Cherrie finds that an early morning Yoga session in the cool of the Pool Pavilion is sufficient salve to her conscience after sampling the delights of each of the attractive restaurants at the Resort.
I make do with sitting by the lakeside watching the local fishermen before an amble outside of the grounds around the sleepy little village of Kumarakom.
Complimentary afternoon tea on the lawn by the Thattukada, Traditional Tea Shop, gives us the time to simply absorb our surroundings; watching pond herons stand motionless above the silvery waters, butterflies flit amidst the palms and sunlight glint on the ornate embellishments of the traditional wooden villas clustered around the meandering stream that mirrors the famous Keralan backwaters.
There’s just time to enjoy a short sunset cruise on the lake before heading back to dinner.
The speciality restaurant, Ettukettu, is a substantial old mansion wooden house that, again, has been transported timber by timber to this site and rebuilt to become a focal point of the resort.
The equally attractive Vembanad Seafood Bar not only provides a wonderful array of delicately prepared seafood but also an enchanting vista of twinkling lights out on the lake as dusk settles.
Kumarakom Lake Resort is a fairly large capacity ‘village’ but don’t let that put you off – its cleverly designed and landscaped gardens almost hide the villas among the tropical palms and greenery to give privacy and the feeling of calm wherever you go. Yes, you can mingle with other guests if you wish but we found that if we wanted our own space it was easy to find.
The large infinity pool overlooking Vembanad Lake blends seamlessly with the tranquil water scenery around us, with the added bonus of a cool glass of beer brought to our sun lounger. The adjacent Pool Pavilion can also be reserved for private dining if you’ve a mind, which must be a lovely experience for a family group or honeymoon tryst.
No wonder Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall chose to stay here – there’s no doubt it not only encompasses much of the environmental and design ethos dear to his heart, but it’s been voted India’s leading resort and leading green resort on several occasions. The BBC also featured it as one of the most luxurious holiday destinations in the world and we’d find it hard to disagree.
Friends with us felt that although we’d stayed in some magnificent hotels and lodges on our travels that Kumarakom Lake Resort was truly special.
If you’re not familiar with Kerala, visiting Kumarakom Lake Resort is like being transported to an old Polynesian island village, with all the natural charm but none of the inconveniences, yet delivered in a way that doesn’t seem overly contrived or synthetic – it’s not at all ‘Disney’ but simply delightful and highly recommended by us.
If you simply want more information on this wonderful resort then follow the link here – or why not ask us to arrange your own tailor-made travel to India – see below.
Why not download the TLC World guide brochure or give us a call today on 01202 030443, or simply click ‘enquire’ to submit your own personal itinerary request