We stayed here for 3 nights over Mon, Tue and Wed. We were a family of four that included two kids of 7 and 2. I had expected that being the fag end of the summer vacations, staying weekdays and just before monsoon was to start, the hotel would have been running less full. I was really surprised to find that it was almost full; lots of the travelers being from Bangalore going by the car license plates. But I met a couple and they had come all the way from Udaipur, Rajasthan. Even when we checked out, hotel was running full!
I think what this hotel has going for it is that it has been amazingly well designed and kudos to the architects and team that came up with it. It's a large property spread over 18+ acres and just 60-70 odd keys I think.
We stayed in the deluxe delight villa which is a self-contained hut in itself. It comes with a room comprising of a nice big bed, tv, closet, etc. The room opens out to a deck that has a lovely ceiling-hung day bed covered by a gazebo. There is an outdoor bath-tub for those who want to have a soak in the sunny outdoors and a surprisingly decent plunge pool that's about 4'9" in depth and runs the length of the deck, I guess about 20ft or so. There is also an outdoor shower area and this connects to the bathroom which has access from the room and from the deck. The entire area is partially walled and then landscaped with shrubs such that you have almost complete privacy while you are out on deck.
It seems to be tailor-made for couples to spend quality time together and I guess that may be why a lot of honeymooners visit here.
But we had a great time as a family and we saw many other families with young kids during our stay. We did have some boisterous youngsters in the adjacent villa but I didn't think it was too much of a bother. The kids had a marvelous time in the pool - first thing in the morning, then after breakfast, then after lunch, then again in the evening and later at night. Once it rained, so we all had a great time enjoying the pool in the rain too! In fact, as a first, I didn't even visit the main pool or try out their other activities. The fact that it is so self-contained means you could just spend quality time enjoying as a family for long stretches of time in the room itself without going anywhere else. And that for me was what worked about this hotel - the room isn't a place to stay the night and then go out the whole day sight-seeing or adventuring. Instead, its a room where you can spend lots of time without necessarily needing to go anywhere! Since I had read in the other reviews about the pool depth, we carried tubes and floats for the kids and so that wasn't an issue for us.
The Kappil beach is just a walk down with access from within the hotel property. It's a rough beach and the hotel doesn't advice swimming there. But it's nice to just sit there and watch the waves while the kids play in the sand. There is a small outcrop of rocks a short walk away on the beach. The hotel has cycles which you are free to use and they are really handy to move around the place. Be wary of the slopes though especially if you don't cycle regularly, I saw one lady and her daughter cycling and the lady had a nasty fall, injuring herself by falling on a curving slope.
They do have a small kids room with a TV and some toys, a small outdoor play pen and another recreation room with TT and an xbox console. But I wouldn't say the staff in the kids room are well equipped to deal with small children and the activities are basic; we couldn't really leave our two-and-half year old there.
Regarding the food, the first morning we had a difficult breakfast because it was completely full and chaotic. The manager says everyone comes at 9:30 although they start breakfast at 7:30 or something and thus they aren't able to handle the rush. But I thought that if they knew this happens regularly, they could have definitely handled the situation better by having extra staff, etc at that peak time. The next two days, we planned a bit and reached a little earlier so that we could have a table without so much chaos. For other meals, we decided to order a-la-carte instead and had a much better experience and the food was good. I must here mention our server Amitabh who attended to us during all the other meals; he was very amiable and although had just started there twenty days ago, was very enthusiastic and friendly. There aren't too many other dining options outside the hotel, we ate once at the Nirvana resort at Bekal beach and that wasn't bad either for one different meal. There is not much to see nearby other than the Bekal Fort I would say.
The service has already been commented upon. My first day saw many requests unfulfilled such as for newspaper, mosquito repellent, fruits, room cleaning, etc. These were ironed out after I made my unhappiness apparent to a member of the staff. But I didn't give the five stars for this reason, they have such a lovely hotel and friendly staff - I just think they need to raise the bar that small bit more to go from delight to ecstatic!
Small other kinks: the bathroom access from the room is through a sliding door that doesn't latch easily which means you have to be more careful when kids are around. I think they need to provide mosquito repellent standard and not when you ask for it. I also think they need to provide a few outdoor repellent coils (the green tortoise thingies) so that you can spend time comfortably outdoors on the deck in the evenings. Since there is a pool in the villa, a clothes horse or stand or hooks are a surprising miss in the villa.
I believe the next higher room temptation has a bigger deck area but we were advised by the hotel and also from the reviews here that those rooms have less privacy because there is a line of shrubbery instead of a wall between villas and they have another room on top so residents above could see below.
To sum up, I highly recommend the hotel for couples and for families as well. You can spend three nights easily without really needing to go anywhere; and I think minor enhancements can really earn the hotel a top place in my list and the five stars!
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