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All reviewsfresh flowersevery morningnorth cliffdelightful gardenbeautifully presented and delicioushis teamprivate balconyroof terraceplace to stayarabian seatop floorpalm treeshomemade breadboutique hotelfew minutes walkstayed longerayurvedic massage
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Reviewed January 3, 2010

I chose Villa Jacaranda because of all the wonderful Trip Advisor reviews -- how could 80+ people be wrong?! And frankly, a lot of the things people say are true, but I also think that this place has some serious problems that are overlooked by many.

First, I was positively stunned to find that Villa Jacaranda offers no protection from insects in a part of the world where such horrible diseases as malaria, dengue fever, elephantiasis and japanese encephalitis are all transmitted by mosquitos. As another reviewer mentioned, the windows at this guesthouse have no glass or screens (only wooden shutters) and there are no mosquito nets covering the beds. This was the only place in all of India where I found this to be true -- a bit difficult to accept when the fees were 3-4 times what I was used to paying. I feel like this is extremely irresponsible, especially when it could be so easily remedied.

Second, the location is really pretty mediocre... it is right on the road and as another reviewer mentioned, every honking vehicle that goes by can be heard through the glass-less windows. A sliver of the ocean can just be seen from the balcony but it's certainly not right on the water and the beach that's safe for swimming and patrolled by lifeguards is a good 15 minutes away. The walk is pleasant of course, but it means you're not going to pop back up to your room for a quick rinse off or a nap.

Third, there were several problems with the amenities provided: the hot water was very sporadic (not surprising for India but shocking at this price!!) and the free wifi never worked in my room and did not function at all for half of my stay. Furthermore, the advertised "laptop for hire" did not exist which meant that we had to go to the cliff area (15 minute walk) to use the internet.

And finally, the exorbitant mark-up on things like taxi rides and excursions was simply outrageous. If you're on a budget, you'll do much better booking these things on your own.

It was the end of our trip and we wanted to splurge for a romantic boutique hotel experience after 3 months of traveling in India's less than glamourous guesthouses. For $100+ (usd) per night, I expected more. Although the rooms were pleasant, the bathrooms spacious and nice touches like fresh flowers were abundant, I was quite disappointed in the overall experience. I think there are MUCH better values to be found -- and not just on the busy cliff area of Varkala. For example, the adjacent Seashore Hotel offers screened rooms with consistent hot water for approx. $30 (usd) per night and has much nicer and spacious grounds as well as beach access. Next time, I'm in Varkala, I'll definitely be staying there.

  • Stayed: November 2009, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank adventure-4-two
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2010

I did do a lot of research before traveling to Varkala and was already recommended Villa Jacaranda by other Indian Hotel owners in Goa, India earlier may 2009.
I was happy with what was recommended and loved the attentive,caring nature Ajay and his team gave me. Nothing was a problem and all my questions were answered thoroughly making my stay in the area much easier and restful...you dont always get a straight answer in India or a sometimes " faux" answer to questions when asked.
The room was pleasant, quite and no air conditioning is needed, it has direct sea breezes and a wonderful cooling garden that shades most areas. Loved the detailed bowls of water placed around the Villa with flower petal patterns. The breakfast was healthy and delicious, I had read another review which stated no Indian breakfast was offered? I actually asked for a southern Indian breakfast and it was no problem, actually I recommend it. I can always get a western beakfast but never a southern Indian breakfast back home.
Easy acess Wifi was handy as I own a business and "easy" internet access is crucial to it.
The taxi and driver that was arranged for me I traveled with up to Cochin and further, I did pay a little more but the vechile was "modern", very comfortable unlike the characteristic "older" vechiles of the area, which are no where near as comfortable on longer road trips. The driver was at my beck'n'call when ever I needed to go somewhere, which made my trip SO easy.
Beach access was easy....all acomodation in Varkala is placed on top of cliffs, so a walk down and back up is always needed when staying in this town, but its totally worth it!
Ask Ajay on his recommendations for local shops selling Indian arts and crafts as you will get better priced goods (I did shop around to compare).
Its not the cheapest placet stay in Varkala but you only get what you pay for...India can be hard traveling so staying here helped me relax so much. I just didn't experience the same thing anywhere else, I would say its because Ajay has lived abroad for many years and understand westerners very well.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled solo
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2  Thank liddlesneak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2009

We chose Villa Jacaranda after reading the reviews on TripAdvisor and in Lonely Planet. We were so glad we stayed here. The guest house is located in a quiet part of Varkala, ten minute walk to the beach and about 10 min to the main strip, it is up a hill from the beach but anyone who complains about this should probably hit the gym a little harder, it is not bad. We stayed in room two which had a view of the Arabian Sea and was nice and breezy. Other reviewers mentioned that there was not air conditioning but it is truly not needed. The location on the top of the cliffs gives it constant sea breezes, we actually switched off our ceiling fan because it was too cold. Every morning breakfast was served on our varanda. We started with fresh banana shakes, delicious home made bread and eggs cooked to order. Our host, Ajay, was a pleasure to talk to and he had great recommendations of things to see and do. Not if but when we return to Varkala, we will absolutely stay there again. Some of the other reviews mention that there are more affordable options closer to town but from what we saw nothing compared to Villa Jacaranda and the hospitality of the staff. Ajay keeps lovely gardens carefully manicured, there is free wifi available and he made us welcome even after we checked out and were waiting for our train providing us with shower facilities before we headed out.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Gordon S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 31, 2009

After travelling in Kerala for 10 days I was so happy to end my trip with a few days in Villa Jacaranda. It wasn't my first stay. I seem to come back to this little slice of quiet and beauty time after time. Ajay, the owner has now become like a friend and he is so helpful arranging massages for me, suggesting restaurants and also helping me to find places to shop in town. His staff are friendly and always willing to bring tea, lime water or whatever else I might ask for. I love the large bathrooms, the great breakfasts, and the small touches like fresh flowers in the rooms. It is truely a place to go and calm yourself after all the chaos of India.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled solo
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4  Thank shellina
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 29, 2009

After reading all the incredibly positive reviews here on TA, my wife and I were very excited for our stay at Villa Jacaranda. We had been traveling through India for 6 weeks staying in mostly mediocre accommodations and decided to splurge with an expensive boutique experience as a finale to our journey. We were both eager and curious what made this place so well reviewed and expensive, it had to be all the extra service and details, right? Could so many other content traveler reviews really be misleading? In years of reading reviews, it has not been often that a Trip Advisor rating has deceived us. Until now...

The most obvious characteristic of Villa Jacaranda is that it is a nice, clean place that has a pleasant understated style. However, we also felt that it is very overpriced and overrated, especially considering what they offer and several alternative lodging choices. Varkala is full of other pleasant and more reasonable options at much better values, shop around. (See interesting reviews of the Sea Shore Resort. Notice that it comes recommended by Villa Jacaranda). We stayed here also and actually preferred the value.

The positive element at VJ (which many others seemed to also enjoy) is the fact that there are some nice design/atmospheric style details which are not common in most other Indian lodgings. These are mostly imported touches, probably from the UK , like nice sheets, modern soap dishes and large tea pots with cozies and an English speaking owner. Secondly, the traditional European breakfast is large and enjoyable with eggs, porridge and toast, but sadly no Indian option was offered.

The negatives are more plentiful and not mentioned in many other TA reviews.

1. The building is located up a steep road far from most restaurants and has no beach view or access (min. 15 minute walk). It is set back far from the cliffs and has a somewhat busy road that wraps around 2 sides so that every passing/honking (they ALL honk in India) vehicle is heard from any of the rooms; not so nice if you are here for tranquility.

2. The ambiance is more similar to a guest house experience, where one is a visitor in someone's home. It sort of felt like our payment was funding the owner's Indian vacation retreat from the winters of Europe. Additionally, there is no common indoor area to lounge in and several areas are marked "private" since it is a residence.

3. We had sporadic hot water in our spacious bathroom, and no wi-fi in our room -- only in the hallway and even that rarely worked. This is a far-cry from what's advertised on the VJ website.

4. This was the first accommodation in all of our Indian adventures that did not provide a few of the following: glass windows, mosquito screens, bed nets, nor A/C in the room(at quadruple the price!). This was also the only one that required a rather restrictive "full, non-refundable deposit with minimum 2 night stay" agreement.

5. During our visit, no one really checked in on us to see whether we were enjoying our stay or if we needed anything. When we approached the staff about resolving the wi-fi and hot water issues, the owner was too busy getting a massage to assist us and his workers did not speak enough English to help us.

6. We usually expect the management of our hotels to be working for us, to make appropriate recommendations in our best interest -- especially in a place like India where things can be more difficult to figure out. However, when we inquired about a taxi to the airport the owner offered "his" driver for 1500 Rs. and suggested that most other operators have poor vehicles and drive dangerously. We decided to take care of this arrangement on our own and found an educated, well traveled, English speaking driver who had a new (5 day old) Ambassador car and who drove us there safely for 850 Rs. We later learned that Villa Jacaranda does not actually have its own designated driver and that many of the better taxi drivers won't even work for them because they mark up the fee so much. Obviously, the extra 750 Rs goes directly into Villa Jacaranda's pocket. Was the owner really assisting us, or just trying to make a few more rupees?!

I am sure there will be others who will have pleasant visits to Villa Jacaranda, but my review is not the only one to be critical of it's value. Sometimes the Trip Advisor system fails to paint an accurate image of the product being offered. Maybe this review will help compensate for the inflated standings.

  • Stayed: December 2009, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank savvyreviews
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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