Beyond the luxury of the retreats, a world of discovery and exploration await guests, offering an opportunity to couples and families to bond and create irreplaceable memories.
Holidays to Kerala are all about wellness and relaxation—indulgent massages, dining on delicious regional dishes steeped in local spices, outings to intoxicating forests and wildlife sanctuaries, backwaters cruises, relaxing on the beach, and much more. Ideal for families, as much for young couples, the retreats offer a series of carefully curated immersive experiences that enhance a traveller’s stay.
Here are 10 ways in which you can enjoy the three Niraamaya Retreats that cut a chic swathe across God’s Own Country.
Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Kovalam
Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, Kovalam, a luxury abode atop a seaside cliff, is part of the global Relais & Châteaux inventory.
Secrets of Chandra Beach
When in Kovalam, you have to take a trip to its golden beaches. The Niraamaya flagship retreat offers a leisurely afternoon High-Tea, at the far end of the secluded Chandra Beach on which it is located. An enchanting experience, beach butlers will set up a cozy sun mattress and umbrella for guests to relax under. Learn about the secret origin of this beach as you walk down to this stretch, just below the retreat. Enjoy delectable nibbles, ranging from tuna samosas to tropical fruit tartlets and Cardamom cashewnut biscotti, to pair with a selection of superior teas.
Besides offering the world spices, coconut, tropical fruits and vegetables, and tea, Kerala is also fish and seafood country. The retreat offers a customised plan to visit the local fish market at 7 am with Executive Chef Prakash Nayak. The open-air fish market is situated at Vizhinjam harbour, where the boats come to unload. Visitors can watch the ancient custom of fish auctions as each boat arrives back from a long night fishing at sea. Ancient Vizhinjam was the capital of the kingdom of Venad. Very atmospheric, it offers endless camera-friendly moments. The view across the harbour looks past a big old Catholic church right on the beach and two distant mosques at the far end. You can choose the fish that you want the chef to cook for your three-course dinner with the freshest fish that you selected.
Sparkling Sunset Cruise
Kerala, situated on the west coast of India, offers spectacular golden-hued sunsets, the perfect time to cruise the magical realm of the backwaters. The Retreat offers a sunset cruise at the Poovar estuary, at just a short 20-minute drive south of the Retreat. Guests are transferred in the late evening to a motor boat that cruises through unspoiled coconut groves on either side of the river, offering glimpses of rural life. The boat leads them up to the Golden Sand Beach, where they can see the point where the backwater meets the mighty Arabian Sea. Guests can opt for chilled sparkling wine as they enjoy the sunset from the comfort of the motor boat and a selection of deluxe canapés that the chef team put together. The boat meanders through pristine mangrove forests, a stretch full of aquatic birds busy hunting for fish. At the boat jetty, a transfer back to retreat awaits.
Niraamaya Retreats – Backwaters & Beyond, Kumarakom
Kerala’s backwaters offer various ways in which guests can engage with the destination. Niraamaya Retreats – Backwaters & Beyond, located amidst eight acres of lush tropical gardens, offer a lot in the way of activities for the young, the young-at-heart or even couples.
Cooking with chefs
Kerala’s cuisine is vast and varied and makes extensive use of local ingredients, from fish to coconut, jackfruit and an unmatched range of local spices. Guests can join the chefs in cooking delicious local dishes. The Niraamaya Culinary School was set up with the aim of preserving traditional regional recipes. These recipes are shared with Niraamaya guests who wish to seek a deeper cultural immersion, and would like to take back more than just photographs and great memories.
For all who have been head of Meen Pollichathu or Moilee—Kerala’s favourite fish-based curry or even regional delicacies such as Nadan Chicken Curry, Beef Coconut Fry, Banana Flower Thoran, Crabmeat Rasam, and several such can learn about them, the ingredients used and even how to cook them from the chefs. The retreats also offer bespoke cooking classes that include any dish that has delighted you during your stay.
Explore Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Among all the travellers who make their way to Kumarakom, the birders are in for a special treat. The Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, just about three kilometres from the retreat and spread across 14 acres by Lake Vembanad, is a sanctuary for many wetland birds such as the Indian darter, little cormorant, different species of egrets and herons, white ibis, cuckoo, owl and moorhen, and several species of kingfishers. Between November and May, the bushes and woods of the sanctuary also host rare migratory birds from as far as the Himalayas and from the remote lands of Siberia, such as the Siberian crane, parrot, teal, lark and the flycatcher. Also, at hand, are waterfowl such as the pin-tailed duck, garganey teal, spot-billed duck and birds of prey such as osprey, marsh harrier and steppe eagle. Bird lovers can also take a boat trip to nearby regions such as KaipuzhaMuttu, Pathiramanal, Narakathara, Thollayiram Kayal and Poothapandi Kayal to watch local birdlife and migrants which could easily account for more than a hundred species.
Shikara boat ride through intricate backwater canals
No visit to Kumarakom is complete without a boat ride on the spectacular Lake Vembanad. Enjoy a ride in a small traditional boat or canoe, generally used by local fishermen, which takes you through the canals that criss-cross the villages and farms and bind them together in an intricate network.
It is the most beautiful way to not just enjoy the placid lake and the birdlife, but also witness quintessential village life — colourful homes, lush gardens, verdant green fields, captivating islands with swaying palms, and people going about their lives. These waters support a rich diversity of wildlife. Did you know that, here, people use different boats for different purposes—from transporting rice to people to fishing?
Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club, Thekkady
Cocooned among Kerala’s verdant tropical rainforests, the Niraamaya Retreats Cardamom Club, Thekkady is your chance to connect with nature. Located amongst misty mountains, this hideaway has a uniquely charming setting amidst a verdant cardamom plantation, after which it is named the.
Elephants and You
If you love elephants, Thekkady is the perfect destination to explore. Elephants are a symbol of Kerala, and these majestic animals have a special place in the culture of the state. If you simply wish to ride an elephant or even bathe and feed them, visit the Elephant Junction for a unique experience, at just 6 kilometres from the retreat.
Cost: Per guest, ₹420 (30 minutes, ride + photo), ₹1,050 (1 hour, plus timber dragging, feeding, 30 minutes ride), ₹1,365 (1.30 hours, plus bath and feeding, 45-minute ride), ₹1,575 (2.00 hours, plus 1 hour ride; Vehicle rent: ₹1,500).
Gavi jungle jeep safari
The topography of the region around Thekkady is hilly and deeply forested, offering some wonderful jungle safaris. Popular with guests and travellers to this region is a safari to Gavi, a hilly region part of the lush, dense Periyar Tiger Reserve. Located 40 kilometres from the Retreat, a full-day excursion includes traversing through spectacular jungle landscapes. The activities span pedal-boating, trekking, spotting wildlife and flora and fauna. The trip, which includes breakfast and lunch, is an ideal way to create memories of a lifetime
Home to Indian spices
Kerala is home to the best of Indian spices, but have explored just how they are grown? The spice gardens in the neighbourhood offer a chance to take an up, close and personal look at the way a vast variety of spices endemic to region —cardamom, pepper, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg as well as turmeric, coriander, chilli, cumin, eucalyptus, snake plant, mint, betel nuts, brahmi and many others, are grown. Several of these plants and spices are used in traditional medicines. Indulge your senses on a spice tour with experts guiding you through the plantations full of exotic spices. Visit a spice garden 2.5 kilometres from the Retreat to learn more about the transformational power of these plant and spices.
Martial art: Kalaripayattu
Kalaripayattu, often called the ‘Mother of all Martial Arts’, is the oldest martial art in existence—dating back to third century BCE, it originated in Kerala and is intrinsically entwined with its history and social life. Kalaripayattu aims to develop the ultimate coordination between mind and body. It encompasses three schools —Arappa Kayy, Pilla Thangi, and Vatten Thiripp, which are distinguished by their attacking and defensive patterns. The impossibly fluid arms movements are entrancing, making for yet another unique Kerala experience. A performance centre, located 6 kilometres away, has shown for an hour between 6 and 7 pm.