“Dreamy bungalows set amidst swaying palm groves and silvery canals beside Lake Vembanad”
Spread among 10 acres of flower-filled gardens and palm-lined canals, the wood-walled, red-tiled cottages have been assembled using materials reclaimed from old illam homesteads, or in some cases transported whole from other parts of the state. Some were sold by owners unwilling to make structural changes to support electricity and running water, but that did not deter Kumarakom’s developers, who installed everything from air conditioning to power showers without losing the charming feel of a historic homestead. Intricately carved doors, murals of Krishna and elegant wicker chairs make them feel extra authentic.
You can choose between a standard Heritage Villa, which overlooks the lotus canals, or a larger Heritage Lake View Villa or Presidential Suite, with views of the lake. All have their own pools, an area of lawn and a private courtyard. Within the courtyard is - wait for it - your bathtub, sunk into the ground and open to the blue skies but hidden from prying eyes. Bathing under the warm monsoon rain is an experience never to be forgotten.
Water babies may want to opt for one of the newer Meandering Pool Villas, set around a huge shared pool (250m long) which snakes through the grounds, with direct access into the water from their private sit-outs. Some of these villas are duplex and have sitting rooms inside. There are also several Luxury Pavilion Rooms, hidden among the lush foliage in the gardens with an indoor bathroom and Jacuzzi tub.
If you want to take to the lake, you can stay in one of the resort’s traditional Keralan houseboats (sleeping 2-4). Each has a private dining room, a personal onboard chef and a crew of 2 to pilot you around the waters. You decide where to moor for the night and even the most hardened landlubber will find it hard to resist the lure of floating along serenely, watching life on the banks passing by while your every need is catered to.
The ettukettu (eight-sided) restaurant overlooking the gardens has no walls, just wooden columns and a pitched, beamed ceiling. Plus about 50 square wooden tables, elegant and polished, with wicker chairs, neat place settings and service which is equally elegant.
In addition to extensive menus, there is a magnificent smorgasbord dinner buffet of unpronounceable local delights, from dahls and curries to salads and veggie stews, allowing you to try out whatever catches your eye and to go back for more of whatever tickles your taste buds. We sampled various dishes but it was the delicious prawn mappas in coconut milk and spice marinade that had us going back for seconds and, dare I say it, thirds too. Don’t miss out on the freshly-cooked appams, fluffy breads like chapatti but infinitely lighter, and thamarappam, which is the same with soft, warm rice.
Snacks, juices and cocktails are available all day at the Pool Pavilion bar, which can also be reserved for private dinners with the lapping lake as a backdrop, and there is a tea shop serving local brews under the shade of a tree in the garden. Since our visit, the hotel has also opened a seafood restaurant and bar called The Vembanad, set on the banks of the lake. We can't vouch for it ourselves, but the food - centred around fresh catch of the day - sounds tantalising.
Meals are excluded from the room rate, but are very reasonably priced. If you like the sound of them and don’t want to fiddle with cash, you can prebook them along with your room.
Children are welcome and those under 5 will be accommodated free of charge. Cots and extra beds are available upon request. Babysitting can be arranged and there is a (rather basic) children’s playroom, but there are no organised group activities for children.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
All accommodation can take an extra bed or baby cot. Duplex villas have additional space for larger families, Lake View Heritage Villas and the Presidential Suite have private pools. There's also the Houseboat for 4 for families with older children who want to go on a backwaters cruise
Babysitting is available by arrangement
Baby listening and monitors are available on request
Baby cots are available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
You're right on a lake