Marari Beach Resort

Alleppey, Cochin & the Backwaters, India Book from Book from £131 per night

Big but beautiful village-style resort of thatched cottages with a strong environmental ethos, behind an unspoilt sandy beach
This is the Spice Coast, where the Arabian Sea meets the Indian Ocean and where golden sands and brilliant azure waters form the backdrop to local fishing communities. Set in 36 acres of parkland and separated from the sea by a windbreak of tall, whispering palms, Marari Beach Resort is large enough to get lost in and, given the number of guests it can accommodate, remarkably tranquil.

Winding paths weave round lotus ponds and fruit trees to connect the 62 traditional palm-thatched cottages and everything required for your spiritual and physical well-being is provided: an enormous swimming pool, Ayurvedic treatments and yoga centres, ball sports, martial arts, nature walks, organic cookery and traditional dance demonstrations. It’s popular with couples, families and groups of friends, many of whom return year after year.

A strong emphasis on the environment is also evident throughout. Rainwater is harvested, water is solar-heated, plastic is avoided and mangroves have been planted. No trees were cut down to create the resort and only local materials were used during its construction. There’s even an ecology tour, when staff will proudly show you the organic and butterfly gardens (and the less-picturesque bio gas plant too!).

Highs

  • The grounds are spacious and tranquil, and the wide beach is empty and unspoilt - no smoke-emitting watersports are permitted and there are few hawkers
  • The comprehensive facilities include a large swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts, a club house and dedicated centres for yoga, meditation, martial arts classes and Ayurvedic treatments
  • The wide range of activities are all designed to foster respect for, and increase knowledge of, the local environment and culture
  • The 3 onsite naturalists who can walk you around the Butterfly Garden and the Kitchen Garden
  • The service is charming and the catch-of-the-day seafood from the restaurant and Beach Grill is delicious

Lows

  • It’s expensive by Keralan standards, especially in high season, but you do get lots of space and good facilities
  • The resort is larger than most places chosen by i-escape so it can feel less personal
  • Finding your way back to your villa can be confusing, though thankfully there are plenty of arrowed signs
  • Breakfast finishes at 9.30am, so it’s not great for lie-ins
  • When we last visited the rooms were looking a little dated, but they were spotlessly clean and well equipped with real coffee and tea and a really good minibar

Best time to go

You’ll find the best weather between the end of November and March, when it's dry, clear and not too hot, but this is also the busiest time at the resort. If you want more peace April and May are normally quite dry but getting rapidly hotter. There is a southwest monsoon in June and July and a milder northeast monsoon in mid October/November, though there is usually some respite from the wind and rain in August and September.

Our top tips

Stroll along to the coastal village of Mararikulam to gain an insight into local life - weaving, coir-making and fishing are the main occupations.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Spa
  • Beach Resort
  • 62
  • 3 restaurants and 1 bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
  • Badminton
  • Board games
Room:

Rooms

The 62 cottages have been designed to look like local fishermen’s huts, with palm-thatched roofs hanging low over raised verandas and traditional wooden-slat shutters. Step inside and you’ll find simple, elegant styling with the modern comforts of a smart Western hotel. Beds (either double or twin) are firm and comfortable, with crisp white linen or cheerful striped pastel throws. Chairs and sofas are cushioned wicker and the floors are tiled in warm terracotta.

The 49 standard Garden Villas each have a bedroom with a seating area, a private veranda and a bathroom which is partly open to the sky. The 10 Garden Pool Villas have the addition of a private 6x3m plunge pool, while the 3 larger Deluxe Pool Villas have a separate living room, a spacious bedroom, 2 bathrooms (one enclosed, one open-air) and a private 8x4m private pool set within a garden.

All cottages have air conditioning, WiFi, ceiling fans, minibars, safes, hairdryers, complimentary organic toiletries, phones, tea- and coffee-making facilities and insect screens. Additional thoughtful touches include fresh flowers dotted across the beds and towels prettily arranged into fans.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • WiFi

Eating

Large, open-sided Chakara restaurant serves up sumptuous international buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with tea and snacks in between and live Keralan music every evening. Bread is baked daily on the premises, seafood is bought fresh from local fishermen every morning and the vegetables, spices and fruit come straight from the resort’s organic farm. It’s all thoroughly delicious but beware: you’re so spoilt for choice that you’re liable to seriously overload your plate.

For something a little more intimate, the palm-shaded Beach Grill is open from October to April for lunch and dinner (though there's an additional charge and advance booking is required). It specialises in catch-of-the-day seafood (juicy lobster, king prawns, crayfish and karimeen) accompanied by aromatic vegetable stews, spicy chicken, tangy chutneys and salads. There’s also the Organic Farm Kitchen, where dishes are made using homegrown produce and the chef is on hand to talk you through the menu. Head to Palm Bar for pre-dinner cocktails or post-dinner nightcaps.

If you want to extend your culinary skills during your stay, there are thrice-weekly cocktail classes in the bar, as well as an open-air dining area at the farm with daily cooking demonstrations. Here, you can have fun harvesting ingredients, learning how to cook Keralan meals and consuming the results, with printed recipes for you to take away with you too.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Spend the day lounging by the pool with a book borrowed from the multi-language library (known as the ‘Book House’) or wander along the sandy beach (usually empty except for the odd fellow guest or local fisherman)
  • Book a massage or treatment at the Ayurveda centre
  • Kick-start your day with a yoga class, either in the yoga centre or on an open-air platform near the beach, and wind down again in the evening with a meditation session
  • Take in a movie: kids will love the daily child-friendly films, while grown-ups can enjoy Bollywood classics in the afternoons and Western movies in the evenings
  • Book yourself music lessons and learn to play the tabla, harmonium or flute
  • Get your heart pumping on the badminton and tennis courts, then finish off with a game of beach volleyball
  • Head to the free organic cooking demonstration and learn how to spice up your life, Kerala style; or enjoy the weekly cultural performance of dance and music
  • Hire a bicycle and go exploring - the resort can provide a map directing you around the local fishing villages
  • Enquire about the various tours on offer, including sightseeing in nearby Alleppey or Cochin (an hour’s drive)
  • Hire a paddle-powered or motorised canoe to explore the backwaters or take a day or overnight cruise on a traditional Keralan houseboat
  • Follow the Temple Trail, which takes in 5 of Kerala's most famous temples
  • Visit paddy fields, rubber plantations and coconut farms on the farm tour around Pulinkunnu (30km away); a Keralan lunch is provided
  • Catch a rickshaw to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (15km away), which has a wide collection of exotic inhabitants

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Badminton
  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Martial arts
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Marari Beach Resort has been described as "Mark Warner with Malayalam accents" - just so you know what you're getting here. It is a village-like resort with plenty of activities laid on and no reason to leave it. It's very popular with families.

Kids under 5 stay for free. Extra beds / baby cots can be added to all rooms.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can fit 1 or 2 extra beds for an extra charge. If you're a single parent travelling with 1 child, you can book a twin instead of double bed. The Deluxe Pool Villas are the largest and can fit 2 full-size extra beds.

Children's meals:

There's a buffet set up with snacks available all day long, plus barbecue food and restaurant food. It's all suitable for kids.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool
  • Board games and books
  • Kids' film screenings at 9.30am each day
  • Bikes for hire
  • Music lesson
  • Badminton and tennis courts
  • Onsite naturalist to guide you through birds and butterfly gardens
  • Martial arts classes

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The beach is just on the doorstep, but can be rough and shelves dramatically so not for non-swimmers
  • Kumarakom bird sanctuary makes a good day trip
  • Tour the nearby villages by bike

Families Should Know:

The paths can be slippery after rain; there's no fence around the pool; the sea can be rough and shelves dramatically; the pool is in full sun with no shade. Mozzies can be a problem in the evening.

Distances:

  • Airport 1.5-2 hours
  • Medical facilities: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Marari Beach Resort is a 2km (15-minute) boat or cab ride from the town of Alleppey (Allappuzha). It's 88km or 1.5 hours from Cochin in southern India.

By Air
Cochin International (90km away) is the closest airport.

From the Airport
The hotel can arrange a transfer from the airport.

By Train
Alleppey is easily reached by train from Cochin (2 hours) or Trivandrum (3 hours). The hotel can arrange pick-up from the station on request and taxis are readily available.

Getting Around
There's plenty to do at the resort, but if you want to explore staff can arrange taxis, boat cruises and guided tours. There are also bicycles for guests to borrow.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Cochin International 90.0 km COK

Other:

  • Beach 0.2 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 10.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
10/10
Overall

Marari Beach Resort was fantastic – just what as I was looking for – perfect for me on a solo trip for Christmas so the larger size of the resort worked for me as I blended into the background. They have a fantastic ethos to the environment and working with the local community. Thanks again for introducing me to Marari Beach – a perfect getaway for the UK winter

10/10,

A lovely garden villa, beautifully decorated with flowers on the bed on our arrival. The resort is at a great location by the lovely beach. Food - buffet style was good, lots of choice and tasty. Service overall was good, everyone was very pleasant - it could be a bit slow in the dining room if it was busy though. Overall a very nice stay. We would recommend it.

9/10,

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