I visited this boutique property on an off-season 2 day break, purely selecting it based on TripAdvisor reviews - and Man was I Surprised.
Prelude: We had to visit Kerala for a 2 days wedding at Thiruvalla and since I had already seen Munnar and Thekkady, I decided to spend 2 nights on backwaters. My first choice obviously were one of the houseboats, but since my better half is scared of insects (which are found in truckloads on any evening in an houseboat) - I decided to chose a star property bang on the lake. Though everyone convinced me to find something on Kumarakom side (Zuri or Kumarakom resort), I was bowled over by the pictures and reviews for the park. Since I am a lover of "peaceful" locales and less crowded hotels (this one has just 10 rooms) - my decision was instant.
Arrival: I had some problems reaching the place, as no cab drivers seem to know the exact location. Luckily I was using the directions on google maps, and I reached bang on without asking for guidance even once. I knew that the hotel would be less crowded being an off season, but was surprised to hear from the reception that we were the only guest for the first night. Our welcome letter and a gratifying front desk incharge (Mr Ajo) were waiting for us on arrival.
Lovely surprise: I had booked the lowest category room using a deal on the hotel website, where I got a night free alongwith free breakfast for two days and one dinner. I knew this room was priced the lowest and hence did not expect much, but to my utter surprise - we were upgraded free of charge to "The Suite".
The Accommodation: All rooms were indeed tastefully designed and were above average on all parameters. The lake view differed from each room, but was still a front for all rooms. The Suite on the other hand was bang on the lake (the only room so close to the water) and the view was breath-taking. The suite had a living area, a bedroom area, a terrace facing the lake - with houseboats and shikara's passing by every minute, a door less bathroom and a small sink/wardrobe area. The ambiance was amazing for my preferences (only thing I missed was a bathtub).
The facilities: There was a gym and a very pretty pool (about 5 feet depth - so no diving plz) alongwith a very good restaurant by the pool. Being a fitness freak, I loved spending my "leisure time" sweating it out in the gym followed by lying in the pool. The pool was so inviting that our last day, we got up at 6.30am inspite of a long drinking binge the previos night - just to get a last dip in the pool before the sun comes out.
The service: This was definitely the best part. There was a personalized touch and warm service (which I normally see missing in properties at good locations) throughout our stay. Right from the front office, to the restaurant, to the kitchen, to the house keeping , to the "Apsara House Boat" attendant, to the gardening staff - everyone was just perfect. I personally hate staff who will keep coming to you or sticking on to guests and keep pestering about their needs. The staff here instead just gave you the right amount of attention, and then left you to your reading or dining or swimming. As mentioned in other reviews, the chef/restaurant incharge will come to your room and take your preferences to get a personal meal cooked just for you. On our first night, we were also given an option for a special lakeside dinner table set up just for us, as it was a full moon night. They even took the trouble of setting up a temporary "live counter" for the appams we ordered - and asked us if we wanted to try our hand at cooking them. On our second day, we met Mr Karthik in the restaurant, who happened to be from our city (Mumbai). Unlike other staff who might stretch it too far talking about the city you are from, we would converse just around our personalized food orders, and he would leave us in our tranquility as soon as the topic was over. The best part was also that none of the staff (even gardening) would look (stare) at the guests when they are standing in boxers in the balcony, or swimming in a two piece in the pool (which is very rare in any part of the country I have visited so far).
Overall it was a very very perfect visit. My better half has been simply singing about the trip as being (so much) better then our honeymoon abroad.
Areas of improvement:
- I have a slightly different (angrezi) taste in food. I love my bacon and sausages and eggs in breakast, and need kilos of red meat during main courses at lunch and dinner. Being the 1st of the month (closed in kerala) on my first day, and a strike the next day - the kitchen staff could not source my preferential food from the market. We had to make do with what was available in the kitchen (I had eggs in the morning, fish for 2 meals and mutton biryani for 1 meal - Pork & Beef were sorely missed). But I am sure this might be a one off case only for me, as all the commercial tourist dishes (dosa/paratha for breakfast, chinese for dinner, chicken punjabi dishes, fish kerala dishes, appam - were well stocked). Since I was the only guest reserved, coming from within India - they maybe did not anticipate beef/pork/sausages/bacon requests (and neither could they buy from the market due to the 2 day closure). The Kerala Fish curry and The stuffed omlette were the best dishes I had. I just had to explain in two lines on how I wanted my eggs, and I got exactly the way I had imagined them in my mind on all 3 occasions (scrambled egg, half fried egg, stuffed omlette).
- VERY VERY IMPORTANT** - The hotel does not have a "liquor license". The hotel staff still is kind enough to buy whatever you want from the market and get it for you. I would still suggest visitors to get their own bottles from Kochi before arriving here. (As I could not get from the market - since Kerala was closed for two days)
- The pool is perfect, but a Jacuzzi / bathtub in the rooms is sorely missing (again maybe a matter of personal taste)
These points are definitely not deal breakers in anyway, and the positives completely outweigh and overpower any are of improvement.
Overall, it has been one of the best trips of my life (correction - THE BEST STAY of my life within India)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Park on Vembanad Lake in Kumarakom West, Kerala Backwaters is the sophisticated docking station for the Apsara. With a total of ten luxury rooms and a deluxe room lake view room, the resort exudes elegance and style.The Resort offer very private stay offer complete serenity.In food we offer traditional Kerala cuisine along with complete range of Indian and International gourmet to choose from.Aura Spa keeps one relaxed and helps in rejuvenation.The M.V.Apsara Built on two levels, the Apsara consists of eight rooms, a crew cabin, a galley, saloon and dining area, a sundeck and a picturesque forward seating area. The interiors of this luxury cruiser have been designed keeping in mind the luxury and comfort that the well-heeled tourists and leisure travelers require.Apsara Backwaters Cruiser offers contemporary and modern amenities offering inspiring design, innovative dining, sensuous entertainment, instant connectivity and edgy art. The onshore gym and the tented spa offer Ayurvedic and international treatments.The dining area and salon, situated on level 1, with their grand décor create an ambience of luxury. The corner sofas with cushions and tables on level 2 provide ample space for guests to sit back and enjoy the panoramic view of the backwaters. The impeccable services extended to the guests combined with the enhanced display of sophistication makes the voyage memorable.Enjoy this unmatched abode in a perfect eco-setting - a pleasant escape to the lap of nature. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Park On Vembanad Lake Hotel Alappuzha
- The Park On Vembanad Lake Kerala/Alappuzha