Marari Villas

Marari, Cochin & the Backwaters, India Book from

On the beach at Marari, within a whisper of the sea, these boutique villas for 2-6 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 now offer 5 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 dream 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. The remainder, Palm Beach Villa, Bougainvillea Beach Villa and Lotus Villa are cool, contemporary and right on the beach. The idea is to keep it small: each villa offering a secluded haven (your own living space, your own garden, some with a pool) with all the luxuries of a larger resort, but closer to nature and the local culture, more intimate and better value.


  • Marari beach really is a beauty. Palm, Lotus and Bougainvillea have private beach gardens, while Orchid and Hibiscus have a reserved beach area (300m from the villas)
  • Palm and Bougainvillea Villas have shared access to the pool in Lotus and they're right on the beach (usually safe for swimming). Orchid and Hibiscus have private pools
  • 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
  • Different accommodation options means there's something for everyone - couples, friends and families


  • Strict cancellation policy
  • Tucked away down narrow back roads, the villas are a little hard to find - an airport pick-up makes it easier
  • Orchid and Hibiscus' lovely open-to-the-sky bathrooms tend to invite bugs and wildlife - if showering at dusk, use of the mosquito coils
  • The neighbourhood can be a little noisy - though just the usual colourful cacophony of Indian village life (cockerels, car horns, barking dogs, drums, temple chanting and the like)
  • The Lotus Villa houses some communal facilities (e.g. swimming pool, massage rooms, yoga decks) so it isn't as private as the other villas

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...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Villas
  • 5 villas (for 2-6)
  • 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: Lotus Villa


There are 5 villas: 2 set back from the beach with private pools (Orchid and Hibiscus) and 3 on the beachfront with a shared pool (Lotus, Palm and Bougainvillea). It is also possible to book individual rooms or suites within certain villas (with shared access to the communal spaces).

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.

The 3 beachfront villas are larger and blend traditional and contemporary design. They feature open-plan 'seabreeze lounges', spacious bedrooms with contemporary ensuite bathrooms, lazy verandas and beach gardens with fabulous ocean views.

Bougainvillea Beach Villa (sleeps 4 + 2 children) has 2 bedrooms and a kitchen.

Palm Beach Villa (sleeps 6 + 3 children) is the largest, with 3 bedrooms and a kitchen.

Lotus Villa (sleeps 4 + 2 children) has 2 bedrooms, but lacks a private kitchen. Lotus also houses some communal spaces accessible to guests staying in any of the 3 beachfront villas (yoga decks, massage areas and a swimming pool), so it’s less private than other villas.

All 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
  • Barbeque
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Kitchenette
  • Local SIM for your mobile
  • Safe box
  • Speakers for MP3/iPod/laptop
  • Stove (on request)
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Orchid Pool Villa and Hibiscus Pool Villa share an in-house chef, and Palm Beach Villa, Lotus Villa and Bougainvillea Beach Villa each have an exclusive chef, 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 barbeque. Orchid and Hibiscus have kitchenettes with a sink, fridge and kettle (and can be provided with a little mobile gas hob, pots, pans and utensils on request), but those who’d like to do a bit of self catering should stay in Bougainvillea or Palm Beach Villa which have a gas hob and fridge. 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
  • Breakfast
  • Chef on request
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Kitchenette
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Meal delivery service
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Palm Beach Villa


  • 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). Palm, Lotus & Bougainvillea are right on the beach
  • 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, elephant rides, 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


Marari Villas are great for families as you have the privacy of a villa plus room service and a chef to look after you. They are also right on the beach and 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, or the Palm Beach Villa (6 adults + 3 children), Bougainvillea Beach Villas (4 adults + 2 children) or Lotus Villa (sleeps 4 + 2 children) if you want to be right on the beach. The villas have fenced/walled private gardens.


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:

  • Villa host can arrange local activities such as elephant riding and washing
  • 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. Orchid Hibiscus and Lotus have unfenced pools; Hibiscus has a temporary fence on request


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

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