Family Hotel Review: Marari Beach Resort, Marari, Kerala, India
This coastal resort lies on a golden stretch of Keralan sand and offers everything you need for a family beach holiday.
Best For: An easy family beach holiday; kids of all ages
Reviewed by: Victoria Westmacott
Why You’ll Love It
Eco-friendly Marari Beach Resort is an extremely easy, luxurious family getaway. The coastal retreat lies bang on a golden stretch of Keralan sand and offers everything you need for a beach holiday, whether you want to fill your days with activities or simply while away the time swinging in a hammock.
Sixty-two traditional thatched cottages sit across 36 acres of flower-filled gardens. The grounds overflow with frangipani and bougainvillea as well as coconut, rose, apple, fig, rain, mango and neem trees. The three acres of organic gardens provide much of the resort’s produce including herbs for the Ayurvedic centre. Take a tour of the veggie patch and then help prepare (and enjoy) dinner in the garden’s Farm Kitchen restaurant.
The resort has everything you need including a lovely central swimming pool, organised activities, friendly staff and plenty of space to simply relax and be. Yoga lessons are held daily and an Ayurvedic centre offers everything from simple massages to more in-depth treatments. The location, near Alleppey and the heart of the backwaters, is also ideal for tagging on a day or two on a houseboat.
Why The Kids Will Love It
Family-friendly Marari Beach Resort is a wonderful place for children of all ages and a holiday here is – quite simply – very, very easy.
The gardens offer plenty of space to roam and daily walks with the naturalist will introduce you to the 350 species of plants, 40 types of dragonfly, 10 kinds of frogs and literally hundreds of birds that live here. Particularly popular with kids are the two resident cows that wander the grounds munching on grass. The butterfly garden, home to 92 species, is also a hit with children; kids aged 10 and over can take part in a course to learn more about these colourful critters.
There’s a fantastic central swimming pool and a clubhouse with board games, bicycles to borrow for trips through the neighbouring villages and daily games of beach volleyball. There are tennis courts, badminton rackets and even cricket gear for playing an over or two. And every afternoon the chaiwallah (tea man) arrives to pour cups of Keralan brew from his ‘meter chayya’, served with delicious banana fritters.
Parents of young children should note that there is a central, unfenced lotus pond.
There are 62 cottages divided into three categories, Garden Villa, Garden Pool Villa and Deluxe Pool Villa. The cottage design is based upon traditional fishing homes of the area and boast thatched palm roofs (that are changed annually), terracotta floors and lime washed walls.
The walled, open-air bathrooms are similar to those found in traditional Keralan villas. Organic bathroom products include a traditional Inja body scrubber, which is quite unusual! Additional touches such as the small bowl outside where you can wash sandy feet and the fresh flowers on the beds add to the homely feel.
Garden Villa There are 49 Garden Villas and these simple but charming rooms are a welcoming place to retreat at the end of the day. There’s plenty of space, private verandas and no television so you can truly switch off from the outside world. There are four inter-connecting Garden Villa rooms.
Garden Pool Villa The 10 Garden Pool Villas (three inter-connecting) are similar in design to the Garden Villas, the only difference being that they enjoy a small private pool (4ft x 2ft) positioned in a walled courtyard. This space has sun loungers and plenty of flowers.
Deluxe Pool Villa The Deluxe Pool Villas have two bathrooms (one inside and one open to the elements) and there’s a separate living room. The private garden and pool are both larger than those found in the Garden Pool Villas.
Best Rooms for Families: The three categories of room all work well for families but the one downside to Marari Beach Resort is its extra bed policy; only one extra bed is allowed per room (children aged five and over are required to have their own bed).
The Garden Villas and Garden Pool Villas both offer inter-connecting rooms and if you are a family with two or more children (aged 5 or over) you will be required to take two rooms. There is no age limit for children staying in the Garden Pool Villas.
The main restaurant, Chakara, is an open-sided Malayalam building at the centre of the resort. Breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are served here offering a vast selection of Keralan, vegetarian, North Indian and international dishes. Much of the produce is grown on the grounds or sourced locally. Live Keralan music is performed every evening.
There’s a Beach Grill open for lunch and dinner during the main season (October to April) that serves freshly caught seafood. Advance booking is required. Located in the organic gardens is the Farm Kitchen, open for dinner only (maximum 10 people), where guests can harvest, chop and help cook Keralan dishes under the watchful eye of the resident chef (children must be aged 10 and over to participate).
Breakfast is served in the main restaurant and is a buffet with both Keralan dosas and French pastries on offer. Hot and cold dishes, cereals, fruit, juices, tea and South Indian coffee are in plentiful supply.
Lunch and dinner are served both in Chakara and the Beach Grill. Chakara is a buffet affair with oodles of choice and Beach Grill is a smaller, table-service restaurant. The Farm Kitchen is also open for dinner and well worth experiencing – make sure to book your place early!
The chaiwallah has been serving his special ‘metre tea’ for the last 50 years in the local villages. He serves tea for guests at Marari Beach every afternoon, accompanied by delicious banana fritters.
For Kids: There is no official children’s menu but there is a lot to please children here, as the buffets in Chakara are so extensive. The staff are also incredibly accommodating and will do their best to make sure children are happy. The resort has highchairs.
Activities for Parents
Take part in an early-morning yoga class, enjoy an Ayurvedic treatment or simply swing the day away in a hammock.
Visit the organic garden and see if you can tell the difference between the 13 varieties of banana! Book a spot for dinner at the Farm Kitchen and learn to prepare a traditional Keralan dish with freshly picked veggies.
Explore the inland canals on an hour-long cruise in a traditional wooden country canoe.
Grab your binoculars and set off with the resident naturalist for a tour of the property. You might not spot all 350 species of endemic plants…but you can try!
Enjoy a half-day guided tour to the five major temples in this corner of Kerala that includes the serpent god temple at Mannarshala.
Wander – or pedal – to the neighbouring villages and watch the fishermen haul in their daily catch or learn the art of coir making. Stop off for a glass of coconut toddy on your way back but be warned, it’s strong stuff!
Activities for Kids
Explore the grounds making sure to look out for the three different types of turtle along the way.
Did you know that butterflies never fly at night? Learn this and more at the Butterfly Park, home to over 90 different species of butterfly.
Watch a movie – kid-friendly films are shown daily at 9.30am – and then learn to play the tabla or harmonium with a music lesson.
Swim in the pool, jump waves in the sea and then munch on banana fritters when the chaiwallah arrives with his ‘metre tea’.
Have a game of tennis or badminton, try your hand at beach volleyball, cycle around the local countryside or take it easy with a game of backgammon or chess instead.
Learn how to play carrom, a traditional table game popular in India. The Club House has carrom, chess and backgammon boards…and WiFi.
A/C, babysitting available on request, common rooms (The Club House), cots, doctor on call, nearest hospital is 10km away, 1 extra bed allowed per room, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ activities, 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. They generally start from approximately INR 18,000 / night (approx. US $290). Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
Marari’s weather is warm and humid throughout the year. The area sees two monsoons pass through, the heavy southwest monsoon between June and September and the northwest monsoon from October to December. The best months to visit Marari Beach are from late December to March, when the days are dry and sunny. This is also the peak tourist season, however, so make sure to book well in advance and be prepared to pay a premium.
Location & Travel:
Marari Beach Resort is located on Marari Beach in Kerala.
Kochi (Cochin) International Airport is the closest airport and is 72 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. The resort can arrange transfers between the airports and the hotel.
Alleppey Railway Station is the closest train station, 15 km (25 mins) away.
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) Visit off-season and make the most of discounted rates. If you plan to visit over Christmas and New Year, make sure to book well in advance.
2) Note that the resort is spread over a large area. If you have little kids you may want to bring a pushchair or backpack.
3) Make sure to pack Arundhati Roy’s beautiful Booker Prize-winning book The God of Small Things set on the backwaters of Kerala.
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