Marari Villas

Marari, Cochin & the Backwaters, India Book from Book from £75 per night

At Marari, within a whisper of the sea, these boutique villas for 2-4 offer a rare combination of luxury, personal service and private space
Before falling in love with this beautiful corner of Kerala, Rupert and Olga (an English-Russian couple) searched every inch of southwest India’s golden coast from Mumbai down to Trivandrum. They were looking for their dream beach: a mile or so of pristine white sands, fringed with cool shady coconut groves and more or less empty other than a few local fishermen working the surfy Arabian Sea. And Marari, they discovered, had it all.

They currently offer 2 serviced villas here. The first, Orchid Pool Villa, is a contemporary recreation of an existing thatched bungalow, set beneath the shady palms, within a few minutes' walk of the dreamy beach. The second, Hibiscus Pool Villa, sits alongside Orchid - this they designed and built themselves (Rupert is a trained architect) using the reclaimed framework of a traditional Keralan wooden house. A third villa is being constructed with minimal impact on the 2 existing properties. A short walk away, 3 beach villas also owned by the duo are waiting patiently while the local government constructs a sea defence to protect this delicate patch of paradise (guests will be welcomed back to these when works are completed). But this will never be a big resort. Rupert and Olga's mission is to keep it small but luxurious: with each villa offering a secluded haven - your own living space and your own garden with a pool - which is intimate, close to nature and local culture, and great value.

Highs

  • Orchid and Hibiscus have a reserved area on Marari beach (300m from the villas)
  • All the privacy of a villa, plus room service and a chef to look after you
  • All are homes from home with mod cons and lots of space (some have kitchens, too)
  • Dining by candlelight, on fresh, seasonal Keralan dishes, in your private garden
  • The friendly staff (Olga and Rupert, villa hosts, chefs, housekeepers, and beach attendant) are very much part of the experience

Lows

  • Strict cancellation policy
  • Tucked away down narrow back roads, the villas are a little hard to find - an airport pick-up makes it easier
  • Open-to-the-sky bathrooms tend to invite bugs and wildlife - if showering at dusk, use one of the mosquito coils
  • The beach villas are currently closed for bookings while the local government constructs a sea defence to prevent coastal erosion. Rupert and Olga are also adding a third pool villa, although it's unlikely you'll notice as no loud machines such as tile cutters are being used

Best time to go

The villas are open all year and can be booked by the night (minimum of 3 nights). The best time to visit Kerala is between October and March when temperatures hover around 25 to 32 degrees (you get occasional monsoon rains in late October/early November, but usually in the form of showers). Temperatures begin to rise in April, and by May, the weather can be uncomfortably hot and humid. The monsoon rains begin in June and continue through to late August, but don't rule this period out as there are great festivals taking place in the region (see below). Second half of August and September - the tail-end of the monsoon - is a good time to visit with lower rates and less tourists.

Our top tips

Try and coincide your visit with a local festival. One of the big events of the year is Alleppey’s snake boats races in mid-August. Kerala’s national holiday, Onam (a colourful harvest festival), takes place in late August/early September. February/March is temple festival season.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Villas
  • 2 Villas (for 2-4)
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

There are 2 villas set back from the beach with private pools.

Hibiscus Pool Villa (sleeps 2 + 2 children) is a beautifully carved old wooden ‘heritage' cottage, that has been updated to give a more modern feel. There’s a semi open-air bathroom with a monsoon shower under banana palms. Off the main bedroom, there’s the kitchenette; French doors open onto a small shaded terrace and a perfect little walled garden with private pool.

Orchid Pool Villa (sleeps 2 + 1 child) sits next door. Whiter, brighter and more contemporary, there is a small kitchenette, a living space and a sky-view shower bathroom. The terracotta pool terrace leads to a pool and small tropical garden.

Both villas are equipped with emergency supplies of candles and mosquito repellent (we found both useful), a torch, and a mobile phone with Indian SIM card (so you can call staff at any time). The fridges are stocked with complimentary milk and mineral water, and there’s tea and coffee (the latter grown in the Keralan hills). All bedrooms are air-conditioned.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Barbecue
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Kitchenette
  • Local SIM for your mobile
  • Safe box
  • Speakers for MP3/iPod/laptop
  • Stove (on request)
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Orchid Pool Villa and Hibiscus Pool Villa share an in-house chef who is always on-hand to prepare your meals and snacks from breakfast to dinner. Specialities are local Keralan cuisine, but they can cater for continental palates, too (sandwiches, for example, soup or chips). Many of the dishes are a fusion of both.

For breakfast, there’s a choice of eggs to order, toast, fresh fruits and juices, muesli and other cereals, or you can go native and order idli (savoury cakes), hoppers, poori (wheat flour puff served with a spicy masala) or rice-flour dosas served with a light potato curry - all typical of South India.

To ensure freshly cooked seasonal food, the lunch/dinner menu changes daily, and offers a choice of a fish, prawns, meat or chicken dish, served with vegetable or salad dishes plus rice and/or breads (appams, chappatis). Typical dishes include: fish mollee (white fish cooked in mild spices with coconut milk), prawn malibari curry (cooked in tamarind) or snake gourd vizhiki (fried in coconut oil with Kashmiri chilli powder, mustard seeds and curry leaves) among a variety of vegetable dishes using beetroot, okra, aubergines, cashews nuts, tapioca, green lentils and yam. On Sundays, you can try a traditional Keralan Thali - various dishes served with red rice on a banana leaf.

The continental menus feature tiger prawns in a honey sauce, pasta with fresh tomato sauce or fish and chips (king fish, pomfret, karrimeen or tuna). Finish off with pineapple crumble, sautéed banana with homemade ice-cream, or steamed rice flour balls filled with coconut.

Each villa has a kitchenette with sink, fridge and kettle (plus mobile gas hob, pots and utensils on request) and a barbecue. On request, they can also give a guided tour of the local markets, Keralan recipes and a private cooking class with advice on preparing local dishes. If you want to eat out, there are a few resort restaurants within walking distance or a short auto-rickshaw ride.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Barbecue
  • Breakfast
  • Chef on request
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Kitchenette
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Meal delivery service
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hang out on Marari beach: a private area reserved for the Orchid/Hibiscus villas’ guests is 300m from the villas and furnished with sunbeds, parasols, hammocks, a shower, a shelter and a full-time attendant (Ben also does lifeguard duties, though it’s generally safe to swim here - especially in the mornings)
  • Borrow the bicycles and potter around the beaches and village backroads of Mararikulam (Marari village)
  • Among various tailor-made activities, staff can organise Keralan cooking classes in an outdoor kitchen, visits to a local market, dance lessons, visits to spas, in-house Ayurvedic treatments, and personal yoga sessions with a local teacher
  • Explore the canals and lagoons of the region’s famous backwaters: you can travel from shore to shore on board a government ferry (like a floating bus), or you can rent a little country boat (with boatman) and do your own thing; staff can advise
  • Take a tuk-tuk into nearby Alleppey (also called Alapuzzha, 20 minutes). Known as the Venice of the East (thanks to its complex network of canals), the little town offers temples, coir factories, a magnificent cathedral (St Mary’s), a departure point for boat trips, and a fine beach
  • Take a day trip to Fort Cochin (it takes an hour - or longer if you take the scenic beach road) and visit the Bishop’s Palace, St Francis’s Church and the Matancherry’s Jew Town district with its 16th century Paradesi synagogue, spice and antique shops and heritage houses
  • Take a ferry across Lake Vembanad to Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, 14 acres of waterfront ornithology (from storks and egrets to night herons and native kingfishers)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Marari Villas are great for families as you have the privacy of a villa plus room service and a chef to look after you. There are plenty of kids activities and heaps of equipment provided.

Travel items can be purchased with a little notice such as nappies, wipes, sun cream, mosquito repellent, toiletries etc. A mobile phone and local SIM card is available in each villa.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Opt for the Orchid Pool Villa (2 adults + 1 child) or Hibiscus Pool Villas (2 adults + 2 children) for a private pool. The villas have fenced/walled private gardens.

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby listening:

Digital audio baby monitor available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Travel baby cots (with mosquito net covers)
  • Booster seat for dining
  • Baby bath
  • Changing mat
  • Mattress protectors and bed-side guards
  • Potty
  • Toilet seat adapter
  • Sunshades
  • Night lights
  • Children's beach chair
  • Car seat and window shades
  • First aid kits
  • Bottle warming & sterilising
  • Backpack baby carrier
  • Children's shampoo, baby oil and lotion

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The chefs usually prepare continental meals (pasta, chips, salads, fish, boiled vegetables etc.) for families with children, and a kids' menu is available 8am-8pm. Bibs and baby-proof crockery and cutlery are supplied. Each villa also has a simple kitchen or kitchenette.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Toys and books, colouring and activity books
  • Play kits
  • Inflatable dolphins, armbands, rubber rings, paddling pool, pool toys and games
  • Kids' DVDs, satellite TV with English family channels
  • Games including cricket, badminton, football and board games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Kite flying on the beach
  • Birding (bird book available)
  • Visits to a local school
  • Yoga and dance lessons
  • Play cricket or football on the beach with local children
  • Dolphin spotting
  • Cycling round local villages

Families Should Know:

Take care on the beach; the sea is prone to swells and strong undercurrents, so is unsuitable for young, inexperienced swimmers. There is a lifeguard on duty. There are unfenced pools; Hibiscus has a temporary fence on request

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5 hours by car (Cochin)
  • Hospital: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Marari Villas are set under coconut palms on Marari beach, close to Mararikulam and Alleppey in Kerala, southern India. They are 15km from Alleppey, and 50km from Cochin.

By Air
The closest airport is Cochin (Kochi) International Airport (70km), to which there are regular flights via the Gulf (for example you can fly from London via Dubai) and internal flights from Mumbai, Madras and Goa. Kerala's other international airport Trivandrum (151km) and easily accessed by road or rail. The staff at Marari Villas can arrange pick-ups from the airport, by taxi - see Rates.

By Train
From Ernakulam railway station in Cochin, take a train to Alleppey/Trivandrum that stops at Mararikulam Station (3km from Marari). Alternatively, head to Alleppey (15km), which sits on the busy mainline route between Trivandrum (3 hrs) and Cochin (2 hrs). You can jump in a rickshaw from either station.

Getting Around
Staff can arrange a car and driver, or a rickshaw, for day or half-day hire and there are bikes available for guests’ use.

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

More on getting to Kerala and getting around

Airports:

  • Cochin International Airport 70.0 km COK
  • Trivandrum International Airport 151.0 km TRV

Other:

  • Beach 0.3 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.3 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

Lovely personal service from villa hosts and charming relaxed owners who know how to host a party. Location perfect. Attention to detail and eco friendly. Maybe have mosquito nets available in the bedroom if you want to sleep without A/C. Kayaking trip on the backwaters good but relatively expensive.

10/10,

The quiet and leafy location was particularly lovely, and the heritage cottage a real pleasure to stay in. The beach by our villa (Hibiscus) was a short walk and was the most beautiful, cleanest, quietest stretch of beach on the whole coastline. It was more lovely than the other actual beachside Villas that Marari have - though they are very nice too.

10/10,

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Rates for Marari Villas

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