Famous for its unsurpassed natural beauty, the coastal village of Poovar in Thiruvananthapuram has gazillion attractions for those who prefer staycations during the COVID times. 'Poovar' was named by Marthanda Varma Maharaja which means a stream of flowers (Poo-aar).
Located on the banks of the lagoon is the island resort, Estuary Sarovar Portico, from where you can see the rendezvous of Neyyar River and the Arabian Sea. A whiff of fresh air -- a privilege now -- is in no short supply here. The property, spanning 16.5 acres, with two swimming pools and 109 rooms has so much to offer.
Estuary Sarovar Portico is a sprawling resort that exudes a relaxing beach vibe. The resort is understandably elegant from the outside. Inside, the property is full of greenery and all the thoughtfully designed cottages and rooms have been given a whimsical touch. The staff here are highly attentive and ensure to make you feel at home.
Spoilt for choice
There are all sorts of sleeping options - Pool villa, Private pool villa, Estuary view rooms, Standalone leisure villas/cottages, Garden view rooms and Garden view cottage. Estuary view rooms with balcony let you enjoy the panorama of the beautiful landscape of the backwaters and the sound of the thundering sea beyond.
While some rooms make the most of the spectacular views with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, some have loungers where you can sit and relax in the evening.
The luxurious private pool villa (perfect for an early morning dip) is best for those who look forward to privacy and a relaxing holiday away from the crowd amid the pandemic.
Anyone travelling with a gang needing two or more bedrooms can check into the cottages if they are worried about getting in contact with others.
Even the smallest room has an armchair to curl up –- where you can relax and read a book – in the backdrop of posters of scenic Kerala landscapes and vintage lampshades.
All the rooms are seamlessly spacious, stylish and carefully curated. Bathrooms are also big and most modern.
Tariff: The price starts from Rs 4,000. Day packages at Rs 1,200 per head are also available for those who come in groups and plan to spend a day here. “ We will arrange boating and other facilities for those who book the day package. They can even avail a room to freshen up,” says Ayyappankutty, the General Manager of the resort.
For a happy tummy
The restaurant named 'Ripples' fits effortlessly into the scenery. Huge utensils hanging from the wooden ceiling, beautifully arranged buffet setting, neatly tabled seats with the view of the serene backwaters -- it's all meticulously planned.
On entering the premises, a delicious strong smell of freshly ground spices hits you immediately, promising a good start to the culinary journey.
Dining options range from the buffet to a-la-carte and the best authentic Kerala cuisine awaits you. At the same time, it surprises you with the small twists they create while preparing your food so that the flavours waft in you.
We were really impressed by the chef's special garlic prawns soup. On the menu are mini pathiri and chicken stew, or the Kerala special karimeen, appam, porotta and chicken roast. Desserts were elaborate and the tender coconut mousse was top-notch.
As suggested by Justin, the F&B manager, we also tried their sumptuous mini Kerala sadya for lunch and needless to say, we just loved it.
For breakfast, dosa, idli, omelette, batoora, chana curry, juice, shakes, tea, coffee and more are on offer.
The outdoor 'chayakada' (tea stall) set in the evening has a sensation cool vibe as you can watch the sunset painting the sky crimson red.
Must-try: Garlic prawns soup, mini pathiri and chicken stew, mini Kerala Sadya and wheat idiyappam with quail egg roast. These were the dishes that we couldn't resist ordering at once, lingering on our taste buds seductively.
Other than Kerala food, the restaurant also serves up a variety of continental and Indian fare.
We also found a kitchen garden where the chef grows vegetables like ladyfinger, banana and gooseberry, which find their way to the kitchen. We were the lucky ones to try the pickle made from those gooseberries.
Indulge in these experiences
Not everyone can let out the stress as soon as they check-in to a resort but one can straight-away head to the 'vaidyashala' for a quick Ayurveda treatment/massage. Trust us, it's a much-needed respite and you will love it! Helmed by Dr Thasneem Nizar, the Ayurveda centre also provides healing and hypnotherapy apart from other treatments. It all feels quite 'Zenish' and relaxing once you do a massage!
Set aside some time in the morning to take a boat ride through the backwater and indulge in some bird watching while you explore the mangroves. Birds like snake-headed cormorant, eagles, waterfowl, egrets and pelicans can be spotted throughout the journey. Also, head to the beach in the evening to watch the sunset. Here, you will get to see the river embracing the Arabian sea.
If you are with your children, the resort will make sure to keep them busy with an array of fun activities like cycling and swimming. Though the common pool is not suggested by the resort, private pool rooms are one option. What's more, indoor activities like snooker, table tennis, chess, and foosball make this a perfect escape for your family from the daily routine.
While the resort has no dearth of distractions, there's plenty to do with a number of trips that can be planned from the property.
Adventure junkies can opt for scuba diving or parasailing in Kovalam, those interested in understanding cultural and historical significance can explore the Thiruvananthapuram fort area and more.
The charming space with swings and hammocks facing the backwaters is magical. We were even tempted to take our cup of tea to our lantern-lit patio as it rained in the evening. What more can you ask for!
Travellers have learnt what it means by comfort and Estuary Sarovar Portico tries its best to help travellers relax in the era of pandemic travel. Masks are compulsory inside the resort and all the staff follow the basic COVID guidelines. For those who need a solid holiday that fits the bill, Estuary is the place to be.
How to reach
The resort is a 45-minute drive from Thiruvananthapuram city.
By Train: The nearest railway station is Thiruvananthapuram Central and Poovar is just 27 km from here. You can take a cab or a bus.
By Road: If you are driving from Kollam, it's hardly 90kms to Poovar. One can either drive through Kanjiramkulam or through Balaramapuram. KSRTC buses are mostly available and the resort is just five minutes from the Poovar bus stand.
Ambience: A feel-good place
Rooms: Neat and comfortable
Staff: Friendly and down-to-earth
Food and Drink: The best
Experience: What more can you ask for!
In a nutshell: A serene retreat with the best view
To book your stay: Estuary Sarovar Portico
(The writer was at Estuary Sarovar Portico by invitation.)