Six of us colleagues from different countries, were looking for a holiday that would provide respite from work and afford plenty of R & R. Punnamada Serena Spa Resort on Kerala’s backwaters came highly recommended by a local friend.
We hired a Sumo SUV from Kollam to Alappuzha where the resort is located. As the Sumo exited Alappuzha town’s well-planned roads, I kept looking out of the vehicle window for signs of the backwaters. After traveling a couple of kilometers from the town, I was beginning to feel disappointed when the SUV took a sudden turn to a non-descript village path. At the end of it, I spotted the Punnamada Serena Spa Resort, floating on the quiet backwaters, hardly 5 Km from the buzzing Alappuzha town.
At the resort, we took the lake-view room, which was spacious and well lit and overlooked the backwaters. I would recommend them over other types of rooms at the resort, as these alone have direct view of the backwaters. All rooms, built aesthetically, had a very comfortable bed and all other modern amenities and opened to a short stretch of lawn that ended at the backwaters. The view from the bed in the mornings was awesome- with the rising sun as the backdrop, the boats meandered through the still backwaters into the horizon, as the birds flapped by to start their day's work.
The housekeeping kept the rooms spotlessly clean and serviced. The bathroom was unique, opening partly to the skies, but safely tucked away. The bathroom tried to create a natural feel with very good drainage system. Except for the slight problem with our bedroom lock and the bedside lamp, the rooms were in perfect order and provided absolute comfort.
The restaurant served mixed cuisine buffets including sea food and local food, all of which were mild on the palate. We chose ala carte at times. Over lunch, once we tried the Kerala sadya (traditional, vegetarian feast), which had over 20 different items typical of Kerala cuisine. The restaurant is yet to get its liquor license, which some may find limiting on a holiday.
The best part of our stay at the resort was the traditional Kerala massages we had at its spa. It was managed by an Ayurveda doctor and experienced masseurs who helped us feel comfortable and relaxed. I liked the fact that the doctor and team suggested massages that suited our individual needs and medical conditions and refrained from an over kill! The massages were priced at regular spa rates but not exorbitantly high for resorts.
As for me, no vacation is complete without a bit of physical activity and adventure. The resort had its own row and pedal boats and arranged for someone to row us around the backwaters in the evenings and mornings. I did get to try my hand at rowing. We discovered that Sports of Authority of India's Water sports training facility was in the island across the waters. And we got to see India's Kayak team to the next Olympics practicing in Punnamada backwaters!
There were also bicycles for free on the resort premises. One morning I took a morning ride around the village in search of the boat building yard that constructs the traditional Kerala boats (kettuvallams), but in vein. (Later I found the yard by the nearby waters). Besides, there were indoor game facilities including a pool table, table tennis and board games. The resort had a spacious swimming pool, including a kid's pool. It was kept clean at all times.
The resort had an in-house souvenir shop that primarily stocked products for tourists. The prices were slightly higher than in the market. The resort had a house boat for hire, but we found its rates high. Our local friend arranged us another excellent deal for a large, deluxe boat with three, air conditioned bedrooms and a very large deck with 3 meals for Rs. 12,000/- / per night. It was a bonus that we could board and alight the houseboat from the resort.
Overall, the resort staff was very friendly and catered to all our needs including special requests for meals and boats. They could do better to facilitate smooth and quick checkouts. The entire resort was very clean and green and probably has the most idyllic view on the backwaters. There was so much to be soaked in two days, that I never turned on the TV during the entire stay.
Whether you are looking for a holiday for absolute rest and relaxation or one that mixes it with some activity, Punnamada resort makes an ideal place for both. The best part is that it is not too far from town, while being completely tucked away from it. Stay upto 2 nights would be quite enjoyable, after which the city birds may begin to miss their crowded nests. We did bargain hard for the room rates well in advance, where the local connections helped and brought it down to Rs. 6500 per night (around USD 140), and I found it worth the money paid for.
Date of stay March 2009
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Punnamada Resorts is nestled on the serene banks of Vembanad Lake and gives a world of heritage and luxury. The divine ambiance and the hospitality lead to a total relaxation of mind, body and soul and it highlighted the rich heritage and the essence of Kerala in its true form with a focus on the eco system and being an environment friendly resort by taking initiative in various fronts. The green leaf certified Ayurveda centre at Punnamada puts a new life into yourself and to regain vigor and vitality and lead a stress-free life. The essence of Kerala and its magical backwaters can be experienced aboard Punnamada’s exclusive 'Kettuvallam' (houseboats) by the resort, the houseboats of Punnamada equipped with the best of luxuries. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Punnamada Hotel Alappuzha
- Punnamada Backwaters Hotel
- Punnamada Resort Kerala/Alappuzha, India