Family Hotel Review: Kumarakom Lake Resort, The Backwaters, Kerala, India
The most luxurious resort on the backwaters is this beautifully designed property that offers an indulgent break for parents and dozens of activities for kids.
Best For: Luxury loving style set; kids of all ages
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Immerse yourself in a luxury backwaters experience at this award-winning resort set on the banks of Kumarakom Lake. This beautifully designed retreat is both a family-friendly resort and a member of the Small Luxury Hotels group, which means that everyone in the family is sure to enjoy themselves.
The resort offers 59 rooms, divided into five categories including a fleet of superb houseboats, and these are spread out among the hotel’s 25 green acres. The leafy lawns are criss-crossed by small canals and bridges and peppered with palm trees and tropical flowers. Much of the accommodation has been built from old homesteads (illam) that were sourced from around Kerala, dismantled and reassembled here at Kumarakom.
Activities range from sunset cruises on the lake and canal trips along the backwaters to cycling, yoga and swimming in the sublime infinity pool. There’s also an excellent Ayurvedic centre with an extensive menu of treatments. Or, you may choose to simply relax in one of the strategically placed hammocks and do nothing at all.
Why The Kids Will Love It
This is a wonderful place to come with children, particularly big kids and teens, simply because there is so much for them to do. There are small wooden canoes for exploring the backwaters, a speedboat for racing around the lake, bouncing banana boat rides and water skis too.
Back on dry land creative activities include pottery making and mat weaving and there are bicycles to borrow and fishing rods to cast. And if kids still find themselves at a loose end, a daily activity co-ordinator is on hand to keep them busy.
The main infinity pool overlooks the lake and has a shallow area for younger children. If you choose to stay in one of the Meandering Pool Villas, however, then kids can zigzag along a 250-metre pool of sparkling turquoise water that winds its way through the grounds. Not surprisingly, these rooms are hugely popular with families.
Parents with little kids should be aware that there is a lot of water here so you will want to keep a close eye on adventurous tots.
Kumarakom Lake Resort has 59 rooms in five categories; Meandering Pool Villas, Heritage Villas, Luxury Pavilion Rooms, Presidential Suite and Houseboats. Much of the accommodation has been built around old homesteads (illam) and many of the rooms feature the heavy wooden doors, brass door locks (some shaped as elephants) and wooden ceilings and walls that are typical of traditional Keralan architecture.
The interiors are modern with traditional flourishes; terracotta tiled floors, whitewashed walls and wooden ceilings are common in most rooms and many boast a colourful mural depicting scenes from Hindu mythology. Crisp white linens cover the kingsize beds offset by cushions and throws in yellows, greens and turquoise. The teak furniture is a mix of old and new. The rooms all have TVs, tea and coffee making facilities, minibar and central air-conditioning.
Meandering Pool Villas It’s not hard to see why these rooms are so popular; double doors open from the living area onto a small terrace with steps leading down into shared 250metre river-like-swimming pool that snakes its way around the villas. Palms and bamboo shade the pool entrance giving a sense of privacy and you can choose to splash here or swim the length of the sparkling turquoise waters. This pool is only available to guests staying in the Meandering Pool Villas. There are 26 of these rooms, four of which are duplex.
Heritage Villas with Private Pool As the name suggests, the 15 cottage-style Heritage Villas with Private Pool all have a private plunge pool. These triangular-shaped pools are positioned in small, walled courtyard, which can be accessed from sliding doors in the bedroom or via the outdoor bathroom. These rooms face inland, towards the centre of the resort and there are an additional seven Heritage Lake View Villas with Private Pool that face the lake.
Luxury Pavilion Rooms The eight Luxury Pavilion Rooms are positioned in a two-storey building near the spa. There is an additional Luxury Pavilion Room located near the Meandering Pool Villas that has disabled access. These rooms don’t have direct pool access but they certainly offer with lot of space. The bathrooms are equally generous and come with a Jacuzzi bathtub.
Presidential Suite Positioned near the lake are the two Presidential Suites that come with their own private front garden. Inside the view over the lake from the spacious living room and bedroom is sublime. Sliding doors open onto a private deck with an infinity pool and sun loungers – undoubtedly the best spot to see the sunset.
Houseboats There are four luxury houseboats, three doubles and one single, for overnight cruises on the backwaters. The boats have been built according to traditional methods with timber, bamboo and cane. They are well equipped with solar energy, an outboard motor, sitting and dining area, kitchen and sundeck. All bedrooms and dining areas have AC, a LCD home theatre system, satellite TV, and intercom facility. The bedrooms are furnished in a similar style to those on the resort. A crew of three, a captain, chef and assistant, look after you while on board.
Best Rooms For Families: In terms of space, the Luxury Pavilion Rooms are ideal for families as they can easily accommodate two extra beds. However, if you’re looking for a fun family place to stay then the Meandering Pool Villas are perfect. There are four duplex Meandering Pool Villas, which offer more space and can accommodate two extra beds (maximum). Parents travelling with young children should be aware that the double doors from the bedroom lead directly out onto the small terrace and the pool.
There are no inter-connecting rooms, however the hotel can offer adjoining rooms, which would work well for families travelling with older children. There are two Heritage Lake View Villas that share a veranda (numbers 111 and 110). Baby cots are available and babysitting can be arranged upon request.
Kumarakom Lake Resorts has two restaurants, the main restaurant The Ettukettu and the seafood speciality restaurant The Vembanad. Located near the main swimming pool is the Pool Pavilion that serves drinks and snacks throughout the day.
The Ettukettu The eight-sided ettukettu building (ettu means ‘eight’ and kettu means ‘built up sides’) was once the home of the King Marthanda Varma’s martial arts guru – King Marthanda Varma is credited as the ‘founder of the modern Kingdom of Travancore’. The building was shipped from its original location and reassembled in the heart of the resort. It is a multi-cuisine restaurant with extensive menus and an even larger buffet. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here.
The Vembanad Located on the edge of the lake, the open-air Vembanad is the resort’s speciality seafood restaurant. In season the fish tanks hold live lobsters and crabs providing entertainment for mini globetotters and fresh seafood options for you. Vembanad specialities include the Fish Platter, Prawns Platter and Seafood Platter. Traditional Keralan fish curries are also served along with Malabari Prawn Biryani and Konju Roast (backwater prawns prepared in a tangy onion tomato gravy). The Vembanad is open for lunch and dinner.
Breakfast is served in The Ettukettu and is a buffet with continental and South Indian options.
Both The Vembanad and The Ettukettu serve lunch and dinner.
For Kids: The Vembanad has a ‘Kids World’ menu with kid-friendly dishes including fish and chips, fish fingers, butterfly prawns, burgers, pizzas and pastas on the menu. Similar options are available at the Ettukettu as well as rice, dhal, kedgeree and curries.
Activities for Parents
Relax and rejuvenate with an Ayurvedic massage at Kumarakom’s excellent centre or embark on a complete Ayurvedic package under the guidance of the qualified doctors.
Take a sunset cruise on the lake and meander your way through the backwaters or spend a night on one of Kumarakom’s houseboats.
Lounge by the infinity pool perfectly positioned on the water’s edge and watch life on the lake go by.
Take a trip to the bird sanctuary at Kumarakom, 14 acres of ornithological paradise. It’s a favourite haunt of migratory birds like the Siberian stork as well as local birds including the cuckoo, water duck, egret and heron.
Enjoy the nightly cultural shows including Bharathanatyam, a South Indian dance and traditional music performances.
Activities for Kids
Get your hands dirty during a pottery session, learn how to weave or try fishing with bamboo rods off the various bridges that link the property.
Paddle through the backwaters in a traditional wooden canoe or go for spin in the resort’s speedboat.
Try standing up on water skis or bump along the lake on a bouncy banana boat.
Mini globetotters can swing on the small wooden kiddie swing near the reception and then frolic on the grassy lawns; bigger kids can borrow bicycles to explore the local area.
Join the activity co-ordinator every day from 9am for games, activities and distractions.
Swim in the infinity pool or glide along the winding river-like pool that snakes between the Meandering Pool Villas.
A/C, babysitting available for an additional charge, common rooms, cots, doctor on call, nearest hospital is 21km away, Max. 2 extra beds permitted per room, kids’ activities, kids’ activity co-ordinator, kids’ dining facilities, kids’ swimming pool, laundry, pushchair-friendly, shop, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, wheelchair access, WiFi.
Rates vary considerably according to room type, extra bed requests and date of travel. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
Tropical South India is hot year-round but the best time to visit is between October and March when it’s relatively dry and cool(er). During these months temperatures average around 30C. December and January are peak season and this is often reflected in hotel rates. From March the temperatures and humidity increases in the build up to the monsoon, which arrives in June.
Location & Travel:
Kumarakom Lake Resort is located in the Backwaters, Kerala, India.
Kochi (Cochin) International Airport (70 km) is the closest airport and the journey to the hotel takes around 2.5 hours. Trivandrum Thiruvananthapuram is 170 km away. From Kochi there are regular daily flights to domestic destinations including Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and Chennai. International destinations include Dubai, Muscat, Colombo and Singapore. Kumarakom Lake Resort can arrange transfers between the airports and the hotel.
The nearest railhead is at Kottayam, 14 km away, which is well serviced by trains to Ernakulam and Trivandrum.
From Kottayam guests are transferred to the Muhamma boat jetty where one of the resort’s speedboats ferry you across Lake Vembanad to the hotel.
Contact The Hotel
For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1) Opt for a Meandering Pool Villa if you can, the winding pool that snakes around the resort is great fun for kids!
2) Be wary of all the water (rivers, lakes, pools!) if travelling with adventurous tots.
3) Make sure to pack Arundhati Roy’s beautiful Booker Prize-winning book The God of Small Things set on the backwaters of Kerala.
Add your own review!
Help other families by sharing your thoughts below.