Family Hotel Review: Marari Villas, Marari, Kerala, India
Located in Marari Beach are these three very stylish villas guaranteed to deliver a truly boutique beach holiday that the entire family will love.
Best For: Families travelling together, stylish beach holiday goers; kids of all ages
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Located in Marari Beach are four very stylish villas guaranteed to deliver a truly boutique beach holiday. Owned and managed by a British architect Rupert and his Russian partner Olga, the villas have been beautifully and sensitively designed and are ideal for families and friends travelling together.
The original two villas, Orchid Pool Villa and Hibiscus Heritage Cottage, are positioned in the small village of Pollethai; just a few minutes walk away from where the backwaters meet the sea. Palm Villa is located a further 2 km south on the beach itself. Opened in late 2014, Bougainvillea is the newest villa, located just 100m from Palm Villa, right on the beach. Orchid Pool and Hibiscus Heritage both have small, private pools whereas Palm Beach and Bougainvillea have the sea.
The villas are incredibly well equipped and Rupert and Olga have seemingly thought of everything to make your stay complete. There are self-catering facilities and each villa comes with a dedicated team – including a very good chef – to look after you. The location is also ideal, close enough to both the backwaters and Fort Cochin to do a day trip but far enough away from the busy tourist areas to make a stay here truly relaxing.
Why The Kids Will Love It
These villas are ideal for a family beach holiday. The Orchid Pool Villa and Hibiscus Heritage Cottage are not large and so space inside is tight. That said, the private pool, walled garden and proximity to the beach more than make up for the room sizes. For families with older children, or families travelling together, then the Palm Beach or Bougainvillea villas are perfect. With plenty of communal space and the beach on your doorstep, a holiday here couldn’t be easier.
The villas come well equipped for children; there are toys, play kits, inflatable pool dolphins, armbands, buckets and spades and more. Cricket gear, badminton rackets and a football are available for games on the beach – whether with the family or the local kids – and at the end of the day there are board games to play and kiddie DVDs to watch. You can also ask Rupert and Olga to arrange an elephant ride along the sand. Visit at Christmas and you may see Santa on his hathi!
The sea here can be prone to swells so parents of novice swimmers should take care.
Marari Villas closes from 16 June – 13 July
There are four individual villas: Orchid Pool Cottage, Hibiscus Heritage Cottage and Palm Beach and Bougainvillea. All vary in size and feel but all three have been beautifully designed.
The four villas are fully serviced and each one has a friendly team dedicated to looking after you for the duration of your stay. The villas come with complimentary bathroom products, complimentary refreshments (drinking water, tea, coffee milk and sugar) and a starter pack of household items (washing-up liquid, cloths, candles, matches, a torch / flashlight and mosquito repellent). Each villa has a flat screen TV with cable, a DVD/CD player and an MP3 connection. WiFi is free and you can hire a laptop if necessary.
All villas come with an emergency back-up electricity supply (excluding AC) and a visitor’s pack with information on local restaurants, activities, amenities, cultural sights, markets, shops and more. In short, they are furnished with everything you need!
Orchid Pool Cottage This charming one-bedroom villa is located just a few minutes walk from where the backwaters meet the sea. It’s built in a contemporary style with white walls, a coconut leaf thatched roof and large French doors that open to a private swimming pool (5.1m x 2.6m) and small tropical garden. Here you’ll find a deck area with sunbeds and sun umbrella and a dining terrace. There’s an outdoor kitchen for private cooking classes with your chef and a kitchenette and self-catering facilities. The modern bathroom is semi-open to the sky. There is space to fit one additional bed.
Hibiscus Heritage Cottage Positioned next door to Orchid Cottage is this 100-year-old traditional Keralan home that has been transformed into a beautiful one-bedroom villa complete with all mod cons. The cottage has a polished yellow oxide floor and local craftsmen created the furniture by hand using reclaimed hardwood. There is a kingsize bed and a semi open-air bathroom with a rain shower sits to one side . The kitchenette comes with a sink, fridge and kettle and there is space to fit an additional two beds for children. Glass doors open onto a dining terrace and a beautiful walled garden surrounded by an abundance of tropical trees and a private swimming pool.
Palm Beach Villa This large, three-bedroom home located bang on the beach. The villa consists of two ‘wings’ separated by a large, open-sided ‘Seabreeze Lounge’ in the middle. This communal space is furnished with sofas, chairs, a games area, dining table and a bar. The North Wing houses two double bedrooms and the South Wing has one bedroom with a kingsize bed. The villa can be rented as a whole or the two wings can be booked separately – the bedrooms have complete privacy from one another. The veranda overlooks the beach and Arabian Sea and is a wonderful place to watch the sun set and look for dolphins. There is also a private sandy garden complete with hammock and sun loungers for whiling away the days.
Bougainvillea The newest villa opened in November 2014 is located 100m from Palm Villa right on the beach. The villa offers stunning panoramic sea views from all rooms, direct access to the beach, private courtyard garden with sun loungers, outdoor dining, day bed and ayurveda massage area. There is a large lounge incorporating a bar, dining tables, lounge furniture, TV/DVD and games area. Like the other properties, the villa has a team of wonderful staff to look after your every need. The villa has two bedrooms that can be booked separately or the villa can be taken exclusively to accommodate up to 4 adults and 2 children.
Best Rooms for Families: All four villas work well for families, depending on the number of children. Orchid Cottage can accommodate one couple and one child (and an infant in a travel cot). Hibiscus Cottage is next door to Orchid Cottage and these two villas can be booked together for a group of up to seven people (four adults and three children), sharing the gardens, pools and dining area. Families with younger children and adventurous toddlers should be aware that the pools are not fenced.
Palm Beach Villa can sleep six adults and is a good option for larger families, families with big kids and teens and groups travelling together. Bougainvillea can accommodate up to 4 adults and 2 children.
Each villa comes with a resident chef to cater to your every craving. Marari Villas has developed a one-week ‘Culinary Delights of Kerala’ menu to provide guests with a real taste of Kerala and includes traditional breakfast, lunches and dinners with vegetarian, meat and seafood options. International options are also available should you feel like a change. Breakfast is included in the tariff; lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages are charged at an additional cost.
Traditional Keralan breakfasts consist of masala dosas, idli, puttu, appam and upama – all delicious and in plentiful supply. These are served with seasonal tropical fruit, fresh juice and ground Keralan coffee or tea picked from the hills of the Western Ghats. Breakfast is included in the room tariff. A variety of continental breakfast options such as porridge, eggs, muesli and fruit salad are also available.
The lunch menu includes sandwiches, soups and salads as well as katti rolls and pakoras served with mint chutney. For something a little heartier, ask the chef to make a Keralan meal that includes a range of vegetarian and fish dishes served with Kerala red rice.
Dinners usually consist of a main dish such as prawn malabar curry with rice, two vegetable and/or salad dishes and bread. Simply discuss what you would like with your chef. On Sundays, a seafood BBQ is prepared. If you wish to sample sadhya, the traditional feast of Kerala, then simply ask. Traditionally served at weddings and festivals, this filling meal consists of 10-12 vegetarian dishes served on a fresh banana leaf.
For Kids: There is no dedicated children’s menu but the chefs are willing to adapt everything for children. In addition, they can create kiddie-friendly dishes including biryanis, pasta dishes, fish etc. A kids’ menu is in planning. Snacks and light bites are available throughout the day, simply ask your chef! The three villas also have self-catering facilities as well as a barbecue.
Activities for Parents
Drift along the beautiful backwaters on a traditional kettuvallom (houseboat) or a wooden country canoe and watch life on the waters pass by.
Learn why Ayurveda is so popular with a pampering massage at a luxury resort or visit a traditional Ayurvedic doctor for an in-depth consultation and treatment.
Enjoy a yoga lesson in the privacy of your own garden and then borrow one of the villa’s mountain bikes for a cycle ride around the neighbouring beaches and fishing villages.
Join your chef on a tour of the colourful local markets. Help choose the dinner menu and then learn to cook traditional Keralan dishes once back at your villa.
Jump in an auto rickshaw and tour the temples, churches, weaving and coir factories, fish markets and museums that populate this corner of Kerala. Excursions to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary can be arranged and the historical town of Fort Cochin is just one-hour away making it an ideal day-trip.
Numerous local festivals are held in temples and churches between December and March making this a lively time to visit.
Make the most of the private beach area; snooze on a sun lounger, paddle in the sea and drift away in a hammock.
Activities for Kids
Spend some time on the beach and you may well spot a dolphin or two frolicking in the sea.
Take a ride along the beach on the back of a friendly elephant. Visit at Christmas and you may even find that Santa Claus travels this way!
There are footballs, cricket kits and badminton rackets to be played with; join the local kids to bowl an over or two, or join in a game of footie.
Each villa has buckets and spades, kites, armbands and rubber rings for pool, sea and beach fun.
Visit in July and August and witness the colourful, chaotic and fiercely contested snake boat races.
Play in your own private pool or splash around in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Be aware, however that the sea is prone to swells and strong undercurrents and not ideal for novice swimmers.
Teens can explore the neighbouring villages on one of the villas’ mountain bikes.
A/C, babysitting available on request, cots, local doctor 3km away, nearest hospital is 15km away, extra beds are permitted, kids’ activities, laundry, swimming pool, WiFi.
At the time of writing the rates were as follows:
From INR 9,000 – 17,500 (approx. US $145 – 280)
From INR 9,000 – 17,500 (approx. US $145 – 280)
From 9,000 – 17,500 for 1 Bedroom (shared villa) (approx. US $145 – 280)
From: 18,000 – 35,000 for the full villa (exclusive) (approx. US $290 – 560)
For 2 guests (bedroom 1 or 2): From INR 8,000 – 12,500 (approx. US $130 – 200)
For 2 guests (suite bedroom 3): From 9,000 – 17,500 (approx. US $145 – 280)
Full Villa (6 guests): From INr 21,000 – 40,000 (approx. US $340 – 650)
Rates vary depending on the season. Rates are inclusive of breakfast. Taxes are not included. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
Marari Villas closes from 16 June – 13 July
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 to February are the main tourist season. From March the temperatures and humidity increases in the build up to the monsoon, which arrives in June.
Marari Villas closes from 16 June – 13 July
Location & Travel:
Marari Villas are located in Marari Beach, Kerala.
Kochi (Cochin) International Airport is the closest airport and is 75 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. Marari Villas 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:
— Michael Jansen (@MichaelCAJansen) January 7, 2015
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1) These villas are incredibly well-equipped for kids, the only thing you need to remember to bring are your children!
2) Ask Olga and Rupert to arrange and elephant ride, it’ll be a holiday highlight.
3) Be wary of the ocean swells and keep an eye on the kids; a life jacket is not a bad idea for novice swimmers.
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