We had made all the arrangements for hotels, houseboat and car for our 10 day tour of Kerala almost 2 months ago. I used Deepak Dayanandan to arrange the car and houseboat. Deepak is listed as a "destination expert", is a frequent poster here, and was highly recommended.
Unfortunately, Deepak has been absent here since January 7th, and we could not reach him to reconfirm the arrangements. We then booked a houseboat directly with Spice Routes, and with great trepidation we used Silver Lake Tourist & Travelers to book an SUV and requested an English speaking driver. Shina, from Silver Lake posts often on this forum. She gave us a competitive price for a Mahindra Xylo SUV for our 10 day trip including a flat rate for the use of the vehicle without limits on mileage.
Shina contacted me several times before we reached Cochin. Upon landing at the Cochin airport, we were met by a representative and the driver. The SUV was almost new as promised, and the driver said he spoke English. All seemed well as we drive off to the Trident Hotel, an hour away.
It became apparent that communication was going to be an issue as the driver, was having a hard time understanding me and responding. Upon reaching our hotel at 10 pm, I called Shina who answered promptly. I explained my concerns to her and she said she would call me back. Ten minutes later she called me and promised me a new, highly experienced driver the next morning.
The driver arrived promptly, and he spoke excellent English. In addition, he is a safe driver and knows the routes well. We set off to Munnar and have spent 2 days in Munnar so far. Hanish, our driver, is also a great tour guide and suggests our itinerary for the day. Shina also called me the evening that we arrived at Munnar to make sure we were happy. Her parting words were "call me if you have ANY problems".
We could not be happier with how this turned out. Issues are likely to occur, but it takes a good company to promptly make corrections. I would not hesitate to recommend Silver Lake to others - I often see posts of people looking for advice on car/drivers, and I would suggest they get in touch with Shina who posts here as "silverlake16".
I am going to post a trip report in several parts in the coming days.