I had a planned a holiday at Vivanta by Taj at Bekal after reading a couple of reviews on trip advisor and fell in love with the hotel pics provided on the Vivanta Website. I got in touch with the front desk manager who provided me with a good deal for a 3 night stay in Feb 2012.
We landed at Mangalore Airport and took the airport pre paid non AC taxi (Rs. 1550/- includ taxes) to Bekal instead of the Airport transfers provided by the hotel (Rs. 3800 plus taxes one way!) It took us about 1.5 hours to reach Bekal with scenic views on the way.
Upon arrival, a welcome drink and cold towels were given to us. The lobby of the hotel with water ponds all around blew us away. Check in was completed within a couple of minutes and we were taken to our superior charm room in a cute 4 seater buggy. The property of the hotel is about 400 odd acres and almost impossible to cover the whole thing by foot! Since we had mentioned it was our wedding anniversary, the room was decorated beautifully with flowers on the bed, in the bath rub along with an absolutely delicious 1 kg chocolate cake and a welcome card.
The rooms are nice, extremely clean and spacious with a sit out balcony having a swing with views of the backwaters. On one side of the hotel are the backwaters and on the other side is the beach and the sea! Huge bathrooms, with 2 wash basins, 1 indoor and 1 outdoor shower area as well as a big bath tub.
However the indoor shower area has no door or a glass, resulting in water pouring on the bathroom floor and making a complete mess of the bathroom. It needs a door pronto!
Breakfast was included in the room rate and what a huge spread, ranging from fresh juices to health drinks, cereals, eggs and traditional south indian food. They have 10 different varieties of tea leaves imported from Germany! I tried the apple cinnamon tea and it was yumm. Freshly ground coffee gave our mornings a fantastic kick start.
The area in Bekal is still under development, so besides the hotel, there are no other restaurants or beach shacks. The hotel has 2 restaurants - Latitude and By the bay (a seafood restaurant on the beach, still under construction). Excellent keralite food as well as continental, didnt like the North Indian preparations much. I found my vegetable stew a little too spicy and was immediately given a huge bowl of curd and 2 complimentary desserts to pacify my taste buds that were on fire!
The housekeeping staff is excellent and take care of all your needs and comforts. Every evening the bath tub was filled with bubbles and decorated with flowers, the bed had fancy towel decorations in the form of animals. We were truly pampered to the hilt with a pillow service where one could request any of the 10 pillow selections!
The Bekal fort is just 5 mins away from the hotel by a taxi provided by the hotel.
Activities such as Kayaking, Archery and Cycling are complimentary by the hotel and should definitely not be missed out. We went kayaking in the backwaters twice - once in the evening around 5 pm and the other early morning at 7 am. It was magical, with birds and coconut trees all around us with all the peace and tranquility in the world!
The beach is 500 metres away from the hotel, and is absolutely clean with a lifeguard and lounge chairs provided by the hotel. However swimming in the sea is not encouraged as the waters can get very choppy and rough. Its a virgin beach with very few visitors making it almost like a private one.
The swimming pool is not too big and just 4 metres in depth but is in a fantastic location and swimming under the stars and the moon makes you feel like your not in the country any more.
The lawns around the backwaters are well maintained with coconut trees, hammocks as well as a couple of cute gazebos where they arrange for a private dinner on request.
The spa - Jiva Spa is still under construction and should be ready by next month. They also have a bar called the Ivory which at the moment unfortunately only serves wine and beer.
Its been less than 2 months since the hotel opened up, but the service the Taj provides is outstanding. Even the tiniest request is taken into consideration and executed efficiently, making me immediately think of the hospitality in Bali.
Am sure once the word spreads around about the property, the room rates will hike up.
I requested to see the Premium villas with the private pool and found that the plunge pool didnt have too much privacy and the bathroom of the villa half the size as compared to the superior charm rooms. I was informed that super premium villas are under construction at the moment.
On one of the nights, an outdoor party had been arranged for 100 odd members of a corporate group whose theme was Bollywood. Loud blaring hindi dance music played on till 10.30 in the night disturbing everyone else in the hotel having dinner as well as the tranquility of the place. This is definitely not expected by a Taj hotel and should have been carried out indoors rather than outdoors.
Overall we had a fantastic stay and were truly upset when we had to leave the hotel once our holiday was over! Would recommend this place to friends and family in a heart beat especially as a romantic getaway for honeymooners! Pictures dont do justice to the place and one has to see it to believe it.
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