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“Time for some Criticism” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Xandari Riverscapes

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Xandari Riverscapes
Certificate of Excellence
Toronto
Level Contributor
82 reviews
35 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“Time for some Criticism”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 10, 2014

A backwater trip with River Escapes is absolutely wonderful and this was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to India. All the positives have been covered in the many reviews from other travelers. I also point out that I would highly recommend River Escapes as the way to see the Kerala Backwaters. My criticisms relate to the whole experience and to River Escapes in particular.

The Kerala Backwaters are beautiful. Our boat was spotlessly clean and our cabins and the main area were comfortable. Our crew was attentive and the food was wonderful. After a hectic tour of North and South India, this was a stunning and relaxing way to end our trip.

The criticism is that the whole tour is like an amusement park ride. Almost everyone seems to arrive at the dock around the same time and the boats of many companies are outfitted and they all leave the docking area en masse, so you can barely get a photo without at least 3 other boats in the frame. Boats are literally moving 2 or 3 abreast down the canal and they don't separate.

The tour includes a basic dinner but you are soon presented with a choice of "chicken curry" or we can stop and pick up some giant prawns and fresh fish. All boats then arrive together at the hut of the prawn salesman. The quantities are limited and if you do not want it, there are many other buyers. The prices are absolutely exorbitant and non-negotiable.

Whether true or not, the impression is that the boat crew are getting kickbacks from the prawn guy. I think this is to the detriment of the entire Kerala Backwaters tourism industry and a massive negative to the whole experience.

In the morning we started moving very early and were beaning it back towards the dock. Breakfast was served on the move as every boat on the river headed towards the dock. We were docked before 9am and ushered off the boat.

All in all an amazing trip, an incredible experience and very beautiful. But be prepared for a big scam along the way. It is not the relaxed and isolated trip that I imagined. We did not travel more than an hour from the dock and the tour is broken up into a series of really short rides.

My suggestion to the Kerala Backwaters in general would be to have some competition in the market and to the boat operators like River Escapes, protect your customers by pre-negotiating a price for your customers or better yet compete with the prawn guy by selling directly to your customers.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank francetraveller2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XandariResorts, Manager at Xandari Riverscapes, responded to this review, June 5, 2016
Hello!
Our goal was to provide the luxury of calm and privacy in a beautiful, natural setting with friendly staff and delicious food. Lonely Planet recently noted Kerala's backwaters among the top things to do in all India – and one downside of that accolade is an increase of visitation. We agree that the increased number of boats on the backwaters is an issue, and are working with the authorities in attempt to minimize impact on the environment and guest experience.

We also take your comments about the prawn purchases seriously, as meals are included in the tariff. Many of our guests have requested the stop so staff attempts to accommodate them, despite the restriction. We appreciate your bringing it to our attention once again.

Since your travels we've rebranded as Xandari Riverscapes - so should your travels take you to Costa Rica, do look us up. And if Kerala is on your map again, we’d love to host you by the beach or on the harbour. More travels to you!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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272 reviews from our community

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  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Oregon
Level Contributor
18 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 2, 2014

Our back water trip with River Escapes was perfect. We were treated wonderfully, excellent food, sweet service, and the experience itself was amazing. My only regret is we were told by our tour agent that we wouldn't want to spend more than one night on the boat. We would have gladly stayed two more days. It was so relaxing. Watching life go by on the rivers is an amazing experience. Don't miss it.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank RosemaryFromOregon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XandariResorts, Manager at Xandari Riverscapes, responded to this review, May 31, 2016
Hello Rosemary!
We couldn't agree more that spending time in the calm of the Kerala backwaters is one of the best relievers of stress we know of! Gentle breezes, freshly prepared Alleppey cuisine and friendly staff are luxury indeed.

Since your travels we've rebranded as Xandari Riverscapes - so should your travels take you to Costa Rica, do look us up. And if Kerala is on your map again, we’d love to host you by the beach or on the harbour – or come back for that second or third day you’ve been dreaming about on the backwaters. More travels to you!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Israel
Level Contributor
125 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 1, 2014

This was the highlight of our holiday. If you are in Kerala and you want to splash out - this is how to do it. We had a boat to ourselves, with an upper deck. It was pure luxury and pampering from start to finish - I didn't want it to end!!!! The staff were wonderful - polite, attentive yet unobtrusive and always willing to help. The views were magnificent, especially the sunset when we stopped for the night. The food was fantastic! Have I used enough superlatives to make you want to do it? Good! You won't regret it!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Andrew W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XandariResorts, Manager at Xandari Riverscapes, responded to this review, May 31, 2016
Hello Andrew!
We couldn't agree more that spending time in the calm of the Kerala backwaters is one of the best relievers of stress we know of! The only thing you need to do when you sail with us is enjoy the backwater beauty. And we are glad you enjoyed doing just that. The rest is all up to us - from ensuring you savour the best the floating kitchen has to offer to making the perfect bed for blissful sleep!

Since your travels we've rebranded as Xandari Riverscapes - so should your travels take you to Costa Rica, do look us up. And if Kerala is on your map again, we’d love to host you by the beach or on the harbour – or come back for that second or third day you’ve been dreaming about on the backwaters. More travels to you!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
Level Contributor
99 reviews
94 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 20, 2014

It is hard to review River Escapes. Am I reviewing RE or the backwaters or both. They're intermingled. All I know is that when I got off the boat and got into the car to go to the airport, the guy doing the transfer with me asked me how I liked it. I tried to tell him and just got teary. It was without a doubt the best experience of my life. I will go back to the backwaters, use RE and stay more than 1 night. I was traveling alone and had the boat to myself. I wasn't sure if that would be weird with 3 Indian employees staying on the same boat, but it wasn't. They were extremely respectful towards me. They were also amazingly attentive but not in your face. They brought you a snack when you didn't realize that is what you wanted. But somehow you did. They smiled and just made sure you were comfy. The boat was extremely clean. The a/c was amazing. The employees of my boat and the other RE boats docked near us to sleep turned in when you did and all were very quiet, which was much appreciated. I just loved the boats, the employees, the food, everything. The hot water worked very well for a couple minutes and then stopped. I'm not sure why and I didn't bring it up to them. I only showered once and I was sort of hot so a luke warm shower was actually ok. Other than that it was perfect. For me one night was not enough. Also, if you want wine or beer, bring it. The staff will get it for you but the price was really high. They had to call someone to go to a store (which I'm sure wasn't nearby) and bring it somewhere the boat could get to in order to do the transfer. So I didn't get any wine but would bring it myself the next time. the tour company I worked with paid for the boat so I don't know how much it was but whatever the price is, I consider it a value because the service and boat and experience were that special almost any price would make it worth it. Thank you RE. You gave me a trip I will never forget.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank SusanilaChicago
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XandariResorts, Manager at Xandari Riverscapes, responded to this review, June 1, 2016
Hello!
It’s heartening to read of your memory of the great backwaters. No trip to Kerala, or even India for that matter, is complete without a journey along this amazing water network. And we complement the scenic views with what we bring to the table - fresh catch of the day cooked authentic Kerala style, a spread featuring rice and a host of Kerala specials. Incidentally, the cruise route is known as the Rice Bowl of India given the paddy cultivation here.

Since your travels we've rebranded as Xandari Riverscapes - so should your travels take you to Costa Rica, do look us up. And if Kerala is on your map again, we’d love to host you by the beach or on the harbour. More travels to you!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Orange, NJ
Level Contributor
24 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 16, 2014

My husband and I enjoyed our overnight stay very much in large part because of the wonderful crew who took care of our every need. Most of all the chef, cooking in a tiny galley kitchen produced brilliant food at every meal. We chose to have seafood at dinner and we were taken by boat to pick out our own giant prawns and crabs which were deliciously prepared. My only complaint was that we spent almost three hours anchored in the bay around lunchtime and we would have preferred to be on the river. As with much of India it was upsetting g to see so much garbage strewn all along the shore but seeing the school children walking along the river, watching the women beating the clothes clean and seeing and hearing the gorgeous birds was a lovely experience.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Michelle E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XandariResorts, Manager at Xandari Riverscapes, responded to this review, June 1, 2016
Hello Michelle!
Our goal was to provide the luxury of calm and privacy in a beautiful, natural setting with friendly staff and delicious food. On the Kerala's backwaters you enter a culture largely left untouched by time – with people going about their daily business of waterfront life. We're so happy to hear that you chose to experience it with us
And thank you for your comments about the timing – we appreciate your noting the points where we can improve.

Since your travels we've rebranded as Xandari Riverscapes - so should your travels take you to Costa Rica, do look us up. And if Kerala is on your map again, we’d love to host you by the beach or on the harbour. More travels to you!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cranbrook, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
72 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 12, 2014

This was something my wife and I wanted to try and were looking forward to. We picked up our boat Mozhiyar near Alleppey and were warmly greated by our crew of 3, captain, cook & engineer. We soon stopped off for a sumptuous lunch, mid-afternoon we decamped to a small boat for a tour of some of the narrow backwaters and could see how the locals live. The captain then took us away from the crowds of houseboats to a secluded area where we could watch a glorious sunset having sundowners before moving to our overnight mooring.The chef then produced a fantastic candlelit feast, from talking to other travellers we were expecting problems with insects and had visions of being in bed by 8:30, maybe we were lucky but it was close to 10 before we turned in and then it was because we were tired. Many thanks to the crew

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Diprose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XandariResorts, Manager at Xandari Riverscapes, responded to this review, June 1, 2016
Hello!
We couldn't agree more that spending time in the calm of the Kerala backwaters is one of the most wonderful experiences we know of! Gentle breezes, freshly prepared Alleppey cuisine and friendly staff are luxury indeed.

Backwater sunsets get better and better as the seasons change - you'll have to return to refresh your memory sometime soon.

Since your travels we've rebranded as Xandari Riverscapes - so should your travels take you to Costa Rica, do look us up. And if Kerala is on your map again, we’d love to host you by the beach or on the harbour. More travels to you!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pune, India
Level Contributor
76 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 23, 2014

The boat picked us up from our hotel on the lake-front at kumarakom. it was a single bedroom rice houseboat, with a staff of three to look after us, a chef, a houseboy and a 'driver'.
we spent 3 nights of bliss, cruising around the backwaters beyond kumarakom. the boat itself was luxurious, with an a/c cabin, a good bathroom, a sit out in the front of the boat, and the galley at the aft.
it was maintained beautifully, squeakily clean...all the woodwork polished, every rope in place... a really 'tight ship' . the care given to the detail of build, user friendliness and the courtesy and efficiency of the staff was admirable. The detail to variety and taste in the foods was remarkable. they made an extra effort for our anniversary, with balloons, Langostines and a flambéed pudding! all on a little house-boat in Kerala!
The backwaters were presented beautifully by this cruise...the major water-ways, teeming with life, the back-alleys so to speak where village life showcased itself, the bird life, the quiet sunsets.... i could go on
JUST DO IT!

Room Tip: if you are just a couple choose a single bedroom boat, though 2-5 bed roomers are also available for...
See more room tips
  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank LailaFreddy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
XandariResorts, Manager at Xandari Riverscapes, responded to this review, June 1, 2016
Hello!
Our houseboats, what we fondly call kettuvallams, are our prized possesions and we are glad you noticed. Beyond being vessels of transport, they are a piece of history in themselves. Here's why: made of jackfruit tree wood, they are hand-stitched by local craftsmen using coconut fibre rope (coir) and strengthened with fish oil. This technique pre-dates industrial engineering techniques and we are committed to keeping this tradition alive. By choosing us, you've shown your support to the local community and a dying craft.

We’re honoured that you chose to spend your anniversary with us and are so glad we could make it memorable!

Since your travels we've rebranded as Xandari Riverscapes - so should your travels take you to Costa Rica, do look us up. And if Kerala is on your map again, we’d love to host you by the beach or on the harbour. More travels to you!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Xandari Riverscapes

Property: Xandari Riverscapes
Address: A.C. Road | Near Pallathurathy Bridge, Alappuzha 688003, India (Formerly River Escapes)
Location: India > Kerala > Alappuzha
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 150 Specialty Lodging in Alappuzha
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:3 star — Xandari Riverscapes 3*
Number of rooms: 23
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Xandari Riverscapes Life on the backwaters has a different set of rules. First, since there are no roads we depend on canals, rivers and lakes for our travel routes. Most families have a boat of their own. Children often learn to swim at least as early as they learn to walk-you are likely to see kids splashing in the local equivalent of a playground. Their school buses float, as do the postal vessels delivering to homes here. Even the supermarket floats!River Escapes provides an experience of the backwaters of Kerala in a vessel whose history harkens back to the ancient rice trade of this region while also providing modern comforts. These vessels are designed to balance authenticity and innovation. They are engineered to balance comfort and environmental responsibility - we pioneered the technology now considered the gold standard of emissions reduction. Most importantly they are staffed by members of the local community who are proud to showcase their corner of God's Own Country to visitors.A unique set of waterways in our state's central region allows us to showcase three districts that represent the "rice bowl" of Kerala - all by boat. We started operating our houseboats in 2006 and are now the respected leader on the backwaters in terms of environmental responsibility, commitment to the communities where we bring visitors and in terms of guest satisfaction. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Xandari Riverscapes Kerala/Alappuzha, India

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