17th April 2014
This post is a bit of Nostalgia (with a big N), so please bear with me.
There was a time when I lived in hotels and airport lounges; I traveled for 15-20 days in a month. But most of the time I was too tired to check any of the hotel amenities. My typical schedule would be to take an early morning flight to my city of destination which could be any major city like Bombay, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Kathmandu etc. go straight for business meeting, either try to take the last flight out of the town, or if still some work was left I would stay overnight in a Hotel. When I will check in to the hotel the staff would explain about their gym, sauna, night club etc; and all I would be looking forward was to go to my room, call home and crash. Get up early morning pack and leave. So like many business travelers I never enjoyed any major facility in Hotels, except for the occasional use of business centers, or if I was in US sometimes I would use their laundry facility if my stay got extended beyond the planned days.
It was only after I got married and started traveling with my wife that I discovered the various facilities offered by hotels right from Spas, to pools, to different restaurants on roof tops to beach facing etc. But I was still many years away from becoming a regular travel writer, and even after that I never did hotel reviews on my blog, except for some odd reviews on Tripadvisor.
So after my recent trip to God’s Own Country, I thought of writing my first formal review of the hotels I stayed in. I thought a lot about which hotel to write first, and struggled between chronological writing, to theme based writing like beach properties etc. In the end I decided to ditch all smart ideas and write a small brief review about Vivanta By Taj- Kovalam in Trivandrum. For me writing an objective review of a Taj hotel is a little tough, as I have always loved Taj Hotels, because the first time I entered in a 5 star hotel in my life was the Taj Palace in Diplomatic Enclave in Chankyapuri Delhi. It was an environment awareness quiz that Taj was hosting for students of Delhi University and I along with my class fellow Anita K, were representing our college. But instead of focusing on quiz I developed and instant crush on a participant from another college; needless to say we lost the quiz. Not only we lost the quiz but this simple middle class boy was too awed by the grandeur of the most majestic of Hotels in Delhi. (Note to my Missus: This anecdote appears only to make post interesting no crush happened, we lost the quiz because the Samosas and sandwiches offered by the Taj were too good to worry about quiz.Sachee 😉)
I had no idea in those days that in a few years I will visit Taj Palace so many times that I will lose count. One of my dear friends and colleague Sri, loved their coffee shop and would drag me along, and since most of the times he would pay I did not mind going with him. I have never stayed in a Taj Hotel in Delhi but we had colleagues coming from US who were regular at Taj Palace as well as Taj Mansingh. I compensated the same by staying in Taj Hotels in other cities, though my dream of staying in Taj Bombay is still unfulfilled till date, hopefully I will stay there sometime soon in future.
Any ways we will talk more about Taj Hotels in some other post, let me write more about Vivanata by Taj Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram.
After a hectic day learning about Ayrurveda, we reached the hotel around dinner time and received a warm welcome by senior management of the property present.
I also enjoyed my first Kathakali show in Kerala (I have seen Kathakali earlier but not in Kerala, where it started), sitting next to their magnificent infinity pool.
We were invited for a dinner in their sea-side restaurant called Bait. When the chef learned that I am a vegetarian by choice, he smiled and wanted to know what I would like to have. So I just said “Why don’t you surprise me? Anything that did not move before you cook it is fine with me”.
He did indeed surprise me with one of the most delicious veg platter I had in a long time. The highlight of the veg platter was a dish made of Paneer (I am still not much into food blogging to care for names of exotic dishes), that had layers of Paneer ( cottage cheese) with spices stuffed between the layers. Paneer never tasted so good before. The paneer had company of some veggies and soup and etc; I polished the plate. The other bloggers present on the table too thoroughly enjoyed their meal, which was one of the best we had in Kerala. As it was dark with only this beautiful lamp to give us light on the table I did not clicked many pictures of the restaurant, but walked to the Bait next day again in morning to do so.
But the best part of the evening was the 8 of us travel writers from around the world (I was the only one from India on this dinner), chatting about travel, culture, food etc. Ashik Joseph, Assistant Sales Manager of the hotel joined us for dinner and explained about the property, the seasonal beach and the hundreds of the birds that the backwaters near Vivanta by Taj Kovalam gets during winters.
In the morning I decided to take a walk around the property and clicked the backwaters as well as some pictures on the beach of the hotel that appears only during winters.
The hotel looks like a continuous garden cum forest as it is so green. The property built in layers rests on a small hillock, with a tropical island with water bodies like falls, pools etc giving a jungle kind of look, though a very well-managed jungle.
You will not find a twig out-of-place in the manicured gardens and trees. There are sitting areas next to the water bodies where you can enjoy nature without sitting in tropical sun.
I would not say much about the room and let these pictures say, it. What I loved the most was that you are surrounded by greenery, and just had to open window to see greenery around all around, the bird songs come along with the greenery complimentary.
But more than the rooms, I loved the bathroom, for the simple reason that it had a shower cubicle, bathtub and even a desi mug for those wanting to pour water on them. I guess they don’t want you to move around without taking a bath, so now with three options to take a bath you have no reason to escape that bath.
We wound up our brief stay with Vivanta by Taj Kovalam with a hearty breakfast sitting next to the pool overlooking the coconut palms and the blue ocean beyond them.
Right next to the pool I clicked this picture of awesome photographer and blogger Inma Gregorio of Spain, who loves to travel, photograph and blog about her travels, though I am sure she would be equally successful in front of camera. Check her cool travel blog: A world To Travel.
If you are in Trivandrum, I strongly recommend you check out Vivanta By Taj, Kovalam it is a wonderful hotel both for business as well as leisure or luxury travelers.