A resident of the millennial city of Gurgaon, I often find myself seeking opportunities to travel to warm and picturesque holiday destinations. The chance to spend a few days by a waterbody, breathe in clean air and eat fresh food is a rarity in the faced paced city life, that I seek from time to time - fuelling my mind, spirit and body.
More often than not, for reasons unknown, I find myself in God’s Own Country - Kerala!
What’s not to love? The picturesque state has it all! From sea-side resorts to hill-station retreats, backwater holidays to bustling city staycations, there is something for everyone! After seven or eight visits over the last ten years, it’s safe to say that for me, visiting Kerala is like ‘coming home.’
And so, when the opportunity came for me to travel in these COVID-19 times, the first destination on my mind was naturally, Kerala! Having visited Kumarakom in 2015 with a wonderful experience at the popular Zuri, Kumarakom, and thanks to a previous wonderful experience at the Niraamaya Retreats property in Kovalam, I decided to book my stay at the picturesque Niraamaya Retreats Backwater and Beyond Property in Kumarakom this time around.
Two weeks later, the memories from one of the most perfect holidays I have ever taken are still fresh; prompting me to write about my experience at this relatively new and breathtakingly beautiful property by the backwaters:
Niraamaya Retreats Backwater and Beyond
The Niraamaya Retreats Kumarakom is a fairly new property that came into existence as recently as 2019. It is one of the most beautiful waterfront retreats in Kumarakom, situated on the banks of the Lake Vembanad - the longest lake in India!
The word ‘Niraamaya’ is a Sanskrit word meaning a sense of well-being. Niraamaya Wellness Retreats are committed towards offering that sense of well-being to guests by providing a healthy, holistic and mindful ambience. This is delivered effectively via carefully curated healing therapies, yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic practises.
At the Niraamaya Retreats, privacy and space is found aplenty by all their guests, making it the perfect place to be in during these COVID times, when one wants to travel, yet practice social distancing. What fascinates me is the thoughtful way that these properties have been designed, thereby showcasing how much they value a guest’s need for space and privacy. The property is spread over eight acres of land and has a limited number of rooms per acre, which means that the number of guests per acre is absolutely minimal and also the number of staff required to service these rooms, fewer. Although the number of staff attached towards the service of these rooms is relatively less, there is no dearth in the comfort, luxury and service provided here. It is truly unparalleled.
The retreat has 27 luxurious rooms that offer unobstructed views of the lake. Interestingly, no two villas are alike - each villa has a different structure and décor, with state-of -the-art furnishings and fittings, offering the ideal space for families, couples and solo travellers alike who seek a relaxed and enjoyable holiday. The rooms at the retreat are divided into the following categories:
Superior Lake View Villas
These villas at the retreat are located above ground level and offer spectacular views of lake Vembanad and the backwaters beyond. Every Superior villa has a private balcony offering a wonderful view of the backwaters.
Luxury Private Pool Villas
These luxurious villas have a private plunge pool and a sun deck. They offer a view of the tropical gardens at the property and are at a short walking distance from the main swimming pool and the backwaters.
Premium Waterfront Villas with Private Pools
The premium villas have a direct access to the lake and also come with a private sun deck and a plunge pool.
Presidential Suite and Presidential Villa
This luxurious two-bedroomed suite is located above ground level and has an elevator access. The suite has a private dining area, pantry and a private balcony that overlooks the backwaters.
The lower level of the Presidential villa has two interconnecting rooms with stunning views of the backwaters and two private plunge pools as well. This is where we stayed!
Dining at the Retreat
The retreat has two restaurants - Café Samsara, which is an all-day dining restaurant offering global and Pan-Indian cuisine and Essence, a speciality restaurant offering signature regional dishes. The dishes here are truly delicious and lip smacking. The In-room dining menu is also quite extensive, offering a wide variety of dishes from regional thalis and local seafood to global choices and a tempting array of desserts.
One can never truly get the ultimate experience of Kerala without trying the local fare and the exotic seafood that Kerala has to offer. Chef Anish, the executive chef at the retreat was extremely courteous and helpful and went out of his way to understand our taste and requirements and whipped up scrumptious preparations for us at each meal. Our favorite items were dishes prepared in local flavours.
Over the four days that we spent at the retreat, my family and I feasted on the regional dishes- rasam, sambhar with red rice, seafood preparations like the Mahi Mahi and Karimeen fish, appam stew and Malabar parathas. I truly recommend trying out Chef Anish’s delightful local preparations at the retreat to sample authentic Kerala cuisine at its best!
Spa and Wellness
The USP of the Niraamaya Retreats is its world-class, award-winning wellness and spa centres that offer a wide range of traditional Ayurvedic and contemporary therapies like Panchakarma, Rasayana, stress management and weight loss programs. The wellness centre at the retreat although operational, is currently providing limited services in these Covid times so as to adhere to the Covid related protocols and norms of social distancing. The retreat also offers carefully curated wellness packages for three, seven or even 14 nights for serious wellness enthusiasts.
Experiences at the Retreat
Niraamaya offers a plethora of enriching experiences for its guests. From exclusive dining experiences at various locations around the retreat, to a dinner by the pool under the stars, or even a tea by the lake! Consider booking cooking classes or a backwater cruise when at the Niraamaya Retreat, Kumarakom. The hotel staff will go above and beyond to curate the most enjoyable and perfect experiences for you and your family on request. Just say the word.
Covid-19 Protocols at the Retreat
This review would not be complete without a mention of the immaculate steps taken to follow Covid-19 regimes and protocols. From the time we checked-in, till the time we checked-out - each and every member of the staff at the retreat took utmost care to keep up with the required standards of safety without compromising on service and comfort of guests.
Apart from the private plunge pools, the retreat also has a large outdoor swimming pool which is currently not operational due to the pandemic. A fully equipped gym and a business centre are also available for your use should you be inclined to balance some work and play time!
Do check out this property when planning your next vacation - a perfect haven to relax and unwind after the past months of intense work and stress.