21st May 2014
This is only my second hotel review and a tough one to write. I mean how do you review a resort where the Royals from the House of Windsor spend their time?
The first thing I noticed when I was checking in at the exotic patio cum reception of Kumarakom Lake Resort was a picture of smiling Prince Charles. Some time back the longest in waiting Prince of Wales along with his wife Duchess of Cornwall – Camilla, stayed to celebrate the 65th birthday of the Prince. I think finally the prince had the courage to tell his mom the queen “Mom I am now a big boy, I will celebrate my birthday with my wife, and I want to go as far away as from you.” Poor Queen Elizabeth, I am sure she would have shed a tear or two, to let her little Prince, who is now a grandfather himself, to celebrate his birthday in the land far away. She would have blamed her “Bahu” Camilla, on taking her son away, akhir Queen bhee to Saas hai “ ( apologies for non Hindi readers- this refers to a popular Hindi Soap opera- After all Mother in Law was also Daughter in law once upon a time- Kyunki Saas Bhee Kabhi Bahu Thee” ) My twisted theories apart, the resort was chosen for many reasons like exclusivity, luxury, etc. but one of the primary reasons given was the traditional Kerala style architecture of the resort. Those of you who have an interest in the Royal Family of England would know that Princes Charles of England has a keen interest in Architecture and works around the world for restoration of heritage properties.
When I checked in to the Kumarakom Lake Resort, sun was about to set, so I just gave my luggage to one of the staff members to take to my villa, while I moved around to click some sunset pictures. One of the pictures I clicked is of this old couple spell bound by one of the most psychedelic sunset I had ever seen.
The resort resembles a Kerala style Mansion from an era bygone; the main dining hall is actually part of an earlier mansion painstakingly restored over a period of months. The Resort is built to offer maximum view of the lake as well as the surrounding greenery to the guests. Whether you are in your villa balcony or walking in the lawns you can always look at the lake Vembanad, and some other man-made water bodies within the resort. You need to cross a small bridge to reach the villas and another one to reach the Swimming pool and the Ayruveda Center, where I took my first Kerala Ayurveda Massage. These little water bodies and the bridges add to the charm of the spread out tropical paradise ambience of the resort and make you feel you are in a real village in the backwaters of Kerala.
Kumarakom Lake Resort is on bank of tranquil Lake Vembanad, but underneath the placid water there is a flurry of activity happening. A cormorant is fishing, only to appear once in a while with a struggling for life fish in his mouth. Some Cormorants, an Egret and a pond Heron patiently wait on the houseboat for a passing fish, as a fisherman is putting his net to catch some crabs.
“Where else in world do you find nature, local communities and tourist in such close proximity and harmony except in the backwaters of Kerala? The scene I witnessed on a morning in 21st century is being played on these waters for hundreds of years, hence I processed the picture to look a bit like antique.”—-desi Traveler
Lake Vembanad is like a chameleon it changes color as the day passes, it lazily slithers out of dense fog breaking the darkness, and glows to the golden hue with rising sun, as the day passes the water in horizon changes to blue, while closer to you it reflects the greenery around it. But it is in the evening the most beautiful spectacle of nature treats you, it is almost watching a movie in Eastman Color, the water and the horizon rapidly change colors from golden, to fluorescent orange before giving a flush of red-hot iron, with cool waters of the lake engulfing the sun for the night. Then the lights from the resort start playing hide and seek in the calm serene waters of the lake Vembanad.
Just before dinner I went back to room and was happy to find that it is actually a duplex villa with a meandering pool that I can enter directly from my room. But the best part was my first partly open to air bathroom, attached to the villa. So while the area you use is covered, there is a small patch with grass and a banana tree that opens to the sky. Hmm if only the Bulbul had not come to play peek boo while I was taking a leak, it would be have been perfect morning. You see I don’t like bulbuls making fun of me in their songs while I try to solve world problems in the morning. But you never know I may get used to it, after all Bulbuls make better morning sounds than honking of cars below your balcony in the city you call home, every day dreaming of the day when you will move away.
The highlight of the evening was a special performance of Ottamthullal dance drama; by Maruthorvattom Kannan. Now on the face of it Ottamthullal looks like Kathakali, but it is very different. The action and movements are more vibrant and the solo artist uses vigorous movements of both limbs and facial expressions. Ottamthullal originated as a rebel art form and satire plays a major role in the same. Kannan made enough fun of me and my pot belly making me laugh so much during his performance that I had no choice but to become a fan of him.
In the night I roamed around the property with my camera and a tripod to click some pictures of the lights around the lake and the resort. Though I also wanted to make sure I burn some calories I gained by trying the countless dishes, and 12 different desserts on offer in the buffet dinner. Gosh! I need a Hajmola just by remembering that dinner.
I stayed at the Kumarakom Lake Resort only for one night, but I would suggest you have a longer stay to truly enjoy the luxury they have to offer from the villas with private pools, house boats to live and cruise and one of the most authentic Ayurveda Spas you will find in Kerala and the surreal beauty of Lake Vembanad right at your doorstep with hundreds of local and migratory birds for company.
How to reach: Kumarakom is 90 Kilometers from nearest airport Cochin and 13 KM from nearest train station in Kottayam.