Anything that is scarce is valued. That is the reason why one might appreciate lunch at Taj Vivanta than in Mangalore or Bangalore. If you are driving towards Mangalore from Kannur or Kasargod, there are hardly any nice places to stop for lunch other than some very pedestrian places. But if you are looking to splurge or want to go to a more fancy (and comfortable) place for lunch, head for Taj Vivanta in Bekal. It is delightful to step into the luxury of the hotel’s premises after hours on the road and be able to visit its restaurant, which offers buffets and a la carte. The staff is understanding and guide visitors first to the restrooms. The interiors are done up the Kerala way with pillars and a few Theyyam dolls. The way to the restaurant from the lobby is relaxing with water, fishes and a living room-like space (with booklined shelves) flanking it. The buffet itself is good as in other Taj hotels though the spread is not as varied. For instance, the desserts are certainly not as varied as it would be in, say, Taj Westend, Bangalore. But then the hotel probably does not get as many customers in the wilderness of Bekal as it would in Bangalore. There is vegetarian and non vegetarian buffet and I took the vegetarian buffet, which had the usual suspects: peas pulao, dals, vegetables, white rice and a variety of rotis made in real time. There was a fairly good range of salads and for diehard “curd rice” fans, it was there too. Desserts included one sugar-free pastry, some flavoured cheesecakes, a brownie and a ‘payasam’ made of saboodana (sago) and vermicelli. At over Rs. 1000 a person, it was a little overpriced but then it is a five-star and if you consider remaining hungry for another two hours till you reach Mangalore, you will settle gladly for it.
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