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“Almost faultless luxury hotel with the Indian specificity.”

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The Leela Kovalam Beach
Ranked #3 of 52 Hotels in Kovalam
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed February 12, 2008

We stayed in Leela in club room. At first to us have offered room Cliff view. It was on an ground floor and the view was only on a small lawn. No sea view in general. Though I specified wishes at reservation a top floor and a direct sea view. The female personnel on reception (generally not so kind, after one of room cleaning we haven't found the bathrobes. They have answered my question by question - "bathrobes are necessary to you?", but bathrobes haven't brought. Though they should be in the room!) has told me it is necessary to wait till tomorrow, after till evening. As a result desirable room was at once. The truth not in a quiet wing as I asked, but above the restaurant. But on it all misunderstanding have terminated and we still had only the most favorable memoirs about service in this hotel. Such what should be in luxury hotel. Very good restaurants (especially in club), ayurvedic SPA. We ordered many excursions in hotel (ask necessarily the skilled and good driver! Traffic in Kerala is awful and with the bad driver you will not be in time anywhere and will spend nerves).
In last but one day there was very unpleasant event. Directly on a private beach is flowed out the sewer waters and for 10 minutes the sea became black and fetid (the photo see)! But next morning the green flag already hoisted - bathing is possible. But probably such is the Indian specificity.

  • Stayed: January 2008
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2  Thank Aion
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,648 - 2,654 of 2,899 reviews

Reviewed February 8, 2008

Me & my boyf stayed at the Leela from 26th Dec to 14th Jan and overall had a fabulous time.
The flight (with First Choice) was good, with plentry of leg room, even through we were in "goat class".
Transfer (we went by coach as we were staying in the main part of the hotel, rather than in the club) was good and well organised. Only complaint was the Rep - totally unsuitable for a resort of this type, more suited to 18-30's in Magaluf. We had only been on the coach 5 minutes when he told us the hotel was massively overpriced and they would charge us twice for everything!
The hotel looks beautiful on arrival and check in was very smooth and swift
Room was.....above average but i had hoped for a bit better. It was a bit small and dark, but the view was suberb and it was spotlessley clean. The fixtures and fittings were also of a very good quality. The bathroom being outside was a bit offputting, but only because of the mossies. I got bitten quite badly, which is unusual for me and no matter how much we sprayed the bathroom and used plug ins etc, they always seemed to get me in the shower!!! Having said that we had a lovely sunken bath and the shower was out of this world.
The food was extremley good, both on the buffet and a la carte.
We went on a half board basis, which i would recommend and ate at the buffet most nights - it was so good and there was so much choice we didn't really feel the need to eat a la carte very often (we did 3 or 4 times and it was very good).
Breakfast was v v good with lots of yummy things freshly cooked, as well as fruit, pastries, meats etc. Also the restaurant on the beach, Tides, serves excellent Thai food - i can certainly recommend the pork dumplings!!

The beach was good - clean and not too over crowded. We only had a problem getting a bed in the 2nd week of our stay when loads of Russians arrived. I think they got up at 5am to put their towels on the best beds and they were generally a bit rude and, well, a bit loud and lairy. They were so horrid to the staff that i was embarrased - lots of shouting, finger clicking and pointing, no "Thank you" or "Please" anywhere, which is a shame because the staff in general are very good. They try exceptionally hard to please you and if the service isn't quite a quick as you would like well so what, you are on holiday to relax and not rush.

There is not doubting that the hotel is expensive, especially for India, but i don't think it was £7 for a drink = £5 maybe, which is still expensive for India, but the setting alone made it totally worth it - the Skye Bar is in such a fabulous location that we were happy to pay the prices

I had to see the Dr when i was over there (like an idiot i left some medication i needed at home) and the service we received was good. However, and maybe i am over sensitive, requests were definatley acted on, and service was quicker, when the request was made by my boyfriend rather than by me. I'm not sure if this a totally understandable cultural thing, or maybe i am being a bit over the top, but see what you think. A prime example was the service we received from the hotel Dr. I called him on 3 seperate occasions over 2 days to request this medication and he kept saying yes, he would come, etc etc, but never turned up. Finally my boyfriend rang him and he was at the room with the tablets within 10 minutes! Similarly if i asked for anything (salt, ashtray etc) most of the time the staff would just forget until my better half requested it. By the end of the holiday i had stopped asking for anything and got him to do it all!!!
That is really the only negative thing i can say, but don't let that put you off in any way - all the staff were polite and courteous overall.
As for the Mosque - eeerrrr - you're in India, what do you expect. I never found it woke me up or anything and i quite enjoyed the cultural experience, but i know other guests did complain. I suppose it depends on what you want from your holiday. Although this hotel is very westernised and caters extremley well for tourists, you are still in India and it shows, but we loved that - if i wanted Britain with sun i'd have gone to Tenerife!!

The flight back was a bit nasty though - they ran out of food and then served sandwiches which were out of date!!! Consequently we got of the plane after the 11 hour return flight ready to eat a horse!! Still......

Overall we had a fantatic time here and would not heistate to go back and recommend it to others. One more thing, i sort of adopted a stray dog on the beach (skinny looking light tan coloured mongrel with part of her ear missing - i named her Madras!!) If anybody is going out there please take some titbits down to the beach for her (sausage is her all time favourite!!) and give her a big kiss from me (I de-fleed her as well!!)

Have a fab time

Katy & Fraser

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank KatyBrum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2008

Just returned for 2 weeks at this hotel.

Our stay did not get off to a good start as our private transfer was 30 mins late!

It was our honeymoon and my husband had asked for flowers, chocolates, fruit to be placed in the room. Nothing was put out for us.

We opted to stay in the Club part and was not impressed. The rooms are small and dark with a tiny en suite bathroom. The balcony was small with a huge table which was far too big and as we were at the top we lived for 2 weeks with pigeons and crows.

The birds are a real problem at this part of the hotel as they are noisy and when you are eating breakfast they zoom in and take food from your plate. Obviously, they leave their mess everywhere,including on your shoulder if you are unlucky.

80 odd rooms in the club and 30 sunbeds. In fact there are not enough sun beds at all. People get to the beach at 7:30 to reserve a sun bed. Although the management do not accept they need more beds.

My husband had a terrible stomach bug and we had to call a doctor who prescribed antibiotics,which he had to take for a week. He contracted this after swimming in the sea. The next another guest told us that he had informed reception that the beach should have a red flag flying as he saw sewage in the sea.

Be aware that Kerala is a communist state and 90% tax is added to all 'luxury' items. Hence, a short and mixer is £7. Hour and half massage £65!

We have stayed at other hotels in this chain. If Kerala had been our first experience it would have been our last.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank BusterLondon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 28, 2008

I don't need to say too much as by and large I agree with many of the recent reviews. But a few points:

All staff friendly and helpful though the concierge staff were not quite up to the same standard on either front. Organising a trip to Trivandrum and our onward transport had some annoying moments - but I was probably still jet-lagged and could have been more patient I guess.

I wasn't that fussed about Kovalam beach area (i.e. the tourist beach front). I found it to be quite dirty and more or less identikit with many other destinations in South East Asia etc. It didn't feel particularly Indian to me. However, the jet-lag could also be to blame for this slightly jaded view so others who were at the Leela for longer might be more trustworthy reviewers.

The hotel was fantastically positioned with a view from our balcony onto the Leela/public beach. Unlike another reviewer, I really liked the call the prayer from the Mosque as I found it to be atmospheric - especially as the sun was setting. The Sky Bar was great - jutting out over the sea, playing some indo-western chill out sounds and pouring a mean GandT.

We also stayed in the older part of the hotel. The public areas are lovely and had great 'drive up appeal'. I did think that our room was just getting to the point where some refurbishing was necessary. Scuff marks here and there - nothing to get in a frenzy about but perhaps needs some decorating in the off season.

I found the Ayurvedic experience a bit weird if I'm honest. As a softy Westerner, I'm not used to lying on a slab of hard Teak for an hour so I got bad backache .... hence not finding it that relaxing. I had the treatment where you have oil poured on your head. It was interesting though I wasn't mad to repeat it. You need to know that it will take at least 15 washes to get the oil out of your hair and I thought it smelled quite strongly of fried tomatoes and onions - before I realised it was my hair, I thought I was being followed around by BBQ smoke! Anyway, original at least.

Food was great. We went for the a la carte rather than the buffet and received good advice on Keralan specialities which were delicious. Indian wine was just about drinkable, although barely I have to admit.

I definitely feel positive about this hotel. Not cheap particularly but a very pleasing start to our trip around Kerala.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank VCR29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2008

The hotel is split into 3 areas Pavilion overlooking beach (and nearest the Mosque), Terraces which is now the main body of the hotel and a seperate Club area where the rooms sit atop the cliff top overlooking the Arabian Sea. By booking a Club room we had private 4x4 transfer which greeted us immediately clearing customs and straight to the hotel. In the car we were given cold towels and bottled water much appreciated after the journey.

Checkin was quick and efficient, rooms are not huge but well laid out and quality finishes. I cannot fault the service but we tended to tip daily rather than weekly or just at the end of the holiday as sometimes you don't see the people that looked after you most.at that time.

Prices are 5 star but the ambience, number of staff and hotel itself you can understand to a degree. The Sky Bar is very atmospheric and you can relax under the stars on your own divan seat. It is well thought out so each group/couple can relax.

The Terraces bar is fairly standard and does operate a happy hour (2 for 1). Not great very limited choice.

Beach buggies are avail to take you up and down to the hotel beach.

The beaches on either side of the hotel (Lighthouse Beach and don't know the name of the other one) have restaurants where we ate both lunches and dinners and had no side effects. Recommendations from me are Molly's (english lady owns this), Lobster Pot (my favourite), Rock something and Fusion. Prices varied from less than a £1 (79 rupees to the £ at the time) for a main meal. Average price would be 150 - 300 for fresh seafood.
All walkable but after dark get a taxi but agree fare before getting in.

The main thing is relax and enjoy the cultural differences and don't be put off. Most people are very friendly and welcoming.

Have fun

  • Stayed: November 2007, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank ludlum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2008

We stayed at the Leela over new year - Dec 2007/jan 2008 and it was excellent. On arrival the Leela Hotel pleases immediately and doesn't disappoint during the stay.Good facilities, nice colonial style room in the main building, spotlessly clean, well equipped and very good service. The prices for food and drinks are expensive by local standards but they can be avoided by eating in the village, however you would miss the best food we had during our stay in India (we were also in Rajasthan) – The Terrace offers great buffets featuring local Keralan specialties, including great fish dishes. There's also a good a-la-carte choice which is very well done. In context - food prices at the Leela are less than you would pay at home even if you could find the level of quality.Breakfast was good too, again with Keralan specialties such as masala dosas and sambar that were wonderful.The Sky bar is a great outside bar for evening relaxation in a great setting.We were there over new year and the new years eve event was excellent. The food was superb - a vast choice of Asian and western dishes, barbeque lobster, grilled lamb, south Indian specialties and (lots) more. Add the beach setting, great service and the entertainment (music a bit iffy though) and we had a night to remember.It was sometimes difficult to get a bed by the pool but there was always spare at the beach. Internet access is available and for those who have to, Wifi is available in the hotel so you could keep in touch with the office or home news.The gym, whilst not big – has enough to help take away the guilt of over eating (which is easy to do here)Kovalem is not big but the village is now heavily geared to tourism, with a mix of western and Indian visitors. Despite this it does have a nice feel and has a growing number of restaurants and shops all touting for your business. Touting is not too pushy though - generally polite and responsive to a "No". The tourist business mixes sometimes uncomfortably with the old business of the area - fishing. Watching the gangs of Muslim fishermen pulling the nets in - chanting old mantras, is a big draw for the tourists, but a frustration for the fishermen as they often get in the way.This does mean though that fish lovers are spoilt for choice, with great fish dishes in all the restaurants - all very fresh and mostly well cooked.Some thoughts on the restaurants.GarciaGreat fish kadai and grilled prawns. Spice VillageGreat value vegetarian food cooked a variety of ways. At lunchtime watch for the kingfishers in the adjacent wetland (swamp)Waves (above the German bakery)Modern Indian cooking with a western twist - excellent and whist not the cheapest still great value for moneyCoconut GroveGreat butter fish cooked Tandoori and very good prawn biryaniFusionVaried menu - good fish curry (in coconut) but noodles just OK.Sea View Good beach location and very good Fish Kadai Trivandrum is worth a visit, particularly if your stay in India does not involve a big city - it really gives you a taste of the contrasts you find in India, plus better value shopping than Kovalem.Kovalem majors in Ayervedic treatment, an ancient Indian philosophy and treatment to balance the body. There are clinics everywhere, many looking a little ropy so you need to be careful. The Leela has it's own clinic and qualified doctor and is an impressive facility. Treatments can last for weeks but my wife chose the three day "relax" package which she found amazing.All in all, the Leela was very good, the 5 star rating really applying to the all-inclusive wing, the main hotel a good and enjoyable 4 star, we would definitely return.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled as a couple
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16  Thank muffaletta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2008

My wife and I booked this hotel as part of a First Choice package and found that it exceeded our expectations in every way. Certainly it merits it's 5 stars throughout. Couple of quick points:
There are really two parts to this hotel - the original part overlooking the beach and the newer part which overlooks the sea. The first part is especially good value and this is where we stayed, the rooms and public areas were all excellent. The newer block is more swish and substantially more expensive - it has it's own restaurant, pool and public areas making it virtually a separate hotel. My further comments do not relate to this newer area.

Standouts were:
Quality and friendliness of the staff - yes I know it's a cliche, but they were much nicer than the other guests(!) - was excellent; nothing was too much trouble.
Food is superb, especially the Indian cuisine. Chef is one of the best in India and it shows. Plenty of choice and desserts were almost too good.
Decor in the hotel - it's decorated very nicely using many "antiques" from around India. The effect is very good.
Facilities were good without being over the top. There is a gym, games room and a decent pool (though not really for serious swimming).
Local dentists associated with the hotel (you could use a hotel car to visit them, gratis) are well worth checking out.

I can't think of many downsides except that the other guests were a miserable lot - mostly downmarket Brits - who really looked out of place.
The only other thing was the mosque. Whatever one's views of being in a largely Muslim area, the chanting through the day calling the "faithful" to prayer, is easily heard throughout the hotel at all hours. Not a pleasant sound.

One note of warning if planning your trip from the UK - the Indian High Commission are very slow and beaucratic in dealing with visa applications. The process is complex and not for the faint-hearted but provided enough time is put aside and one is organised the system can be negotiated. Quite why the Indians make it so hard is puzzling especially given that they are, supposedly, keen to build their tourist business. One might wonder why a country keen to portay a modern image even bothers with visas especially twith regard to a country that has such close ties as in the case of the UK.

That last point notwithstanding I would recommend the hotel wholeheartedly.

  • Stayed: December 2007, traveled with family
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9  Thank Zimri-Lim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Leela Kovalam Beach

Address: Kovalam Beach Road, Kovalam 695527, India
Phone Number:
Location: India > Kerala > Thiruvananthapuram District > Kovalam
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Business Hotel in Kovalam
#3 Spa Hotel in Kovalam
#3 Luxury Hotel in Kovalam
#4 Family Hotel in Kovalam
#6 Romantic Hotel in Kovalam
Price Range: $160 - $412 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The Leela Kovalam Beach 5*
Number of rooms: 183
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Leela Raviz Kovalam - Indulgence is an art you will perfect at The Leela Raviz Kovalam while staying in any of our 183 rooms and suites. With a seamless blend of modern technology and traditional grandeur, the soothing décor of each room whispers warm aesthetics. Each room opens out to a breath-taking view of either the ocean or garden. All rooms are provided with luxury amenities to cater to discerning tastes. Unwind with exquisite facilities like an HD LCD television and a broadband connection for hi-speed internet. The Club rooms offer valet services, a gourmet corner with a fine selection of spirits, softdrinks and snacks and have luxurious bathrooms with a walk-in shower and a private infinity pool. Awake to auburn sunrises in the horizon or soak in the sun under azure skies at the infinity pools. Get a taste of the vacation of your dreams at The Leela Raviz Kovalam. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Leela Kovalam Beach Hotel Kovalam
The Leela Kempinski Hotel Kovalam
Hotel Leela Trivandrum
The Leela Kovalam Beach Kerala

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