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Archive for November, 2014

A few years back, I got an opportunity to visit this beautiful resort as part of a corporate engagement and since then had been wanting to go back. Couple of weeks back, my wife and I decided to celebrate our anniversary away from the city and Kumarakom came up as one of our options. We were primarily look for weekend getaways with good air connectivity.

After scouting for a few options on the banks of Vembanad Lake (one of the largest fresh water lakes in the country), we decided to stay at Zuri Kumarakom for their world class property and hospitality. Zuri has one of the best properties in the region with a large artificial lake covering almost half of the resort. We got a good deal from the resort under the MAP plan (breakfast and dinner) along with some discounts at their signature Spa and a complementary sunset boat cruise. There was however one deal on Goibibo.com which was even better, but we were not really sure if the resort would honor this booking. So, we took the safe route and booked directly.

View of cottages and rooms by the lagoon at Zuri

View of cottages and rooms by the lagoon at Zuri Kumarakom

Cochin/ Kochi is the nearest airport and is about 90kms away from Kumarakom and about 20 kms outside of Cochin town. We had already pre-booked a cab from ITS Cabs which offered the best rates and we were very happy with their service. Veena from the cab company was constantly in touch with us to ensure everything was in order. The trip cost us Rs 2100 one way and took about 2.5 hours. There is a pre-paid taxi counter at the airport which will charge about Rs 2300 for the same distance for an air conditioned sedan.

Zuri Reception

Zuri Reception

The moment we entered the resort property, we were treated like royalty with warm towels and a huge tender coconut while we were being checked-in. Our request for an early check-in was prioritized and we were able to get our room almost 2 hours in advance. Our high ceiling deluxe lagoon view room / cottage on the first floor was well appointed with all the usual luxuries (LED television, kettle for tea/coffee, mini fridge, locker etc) that a 5 star property offers along with a see thru bathroom and a large bath tub.

Fully furnished room with view of the lagoon

Fully furnished room with view of the lagoon

View of the lagoon from our room at Zuri

View of the lagoon from our room at Zuri

Since their in-room dining options are limited, we decided to have a quick bite at their all day cafe followed by a stroll around the property to catch a glimpse of the massive Vembanad lake which is beautiful during sunset. Their lounge bar facing the lake is also a good place to chill in the evening with a couple of drinks. Caution: Kerala does not allow sale of liquor on Sundays and first day of every month.

View of Vembanad Lake from the resort

View of Vembanad Lake from the resort

Evening buffet dinner at the restaurant has a good spread which includes both western and traditional kerala cuisine. Since a large percentage of the resort guests are foreigners, I guess this is essential to cater to their varied taste buds.

After a good night’s sleep, day 2 was to pamper ourselves with some of their signature massages and time at the pool, sauna and jacuzzi. Breakfast spread was good with live counters for dosa and egg preparations which filled us up. Massages at their signature spa are priced starting from Rs 2000 and going all the way up to Rs 7000. The evening cruise in a traditional boat took us around the lake to catch the sunset. This 45 min cruise costs Rs 350 if not added into your package. The resort also offers complimentary evening tea and cookies to all its guests either by the lake front or in their restaurant every evening.

Sunset on Vembanad Lake

Sunset on Vembanad Lake

Day 3 was a rush to start packing and getting to the breakfast counter before it shuts down by 10.30. Before we realized, it was time for us to head back to the airport with our trusty cab ready to pick us up on time. Check-out was again smooth and uneventful with everything billed according to usage. They accept all major credit and debit cards.

Island inside the resort for yoga and relaxation

Island inside the resort for yoga and relaxation

Costs: Deluxe lagoon view room – Around Rs 12,000 per night with taxes, includes breakfast and dinner, 15% off on signature massages

Flights: Bangalore – Cochin – Bangalore: Approximately about Rs 7000 per person (Will be cheaper if booked 10 days in advance)

Houseboats: An overnite stay in an air conditioned houseboat costs anywhere from Rs 7,000 – Rs 15,000

Other properties in the region: Kumarakom Lake Resort (5 Star)

Vivanta By Taj (5 Star)

WaterScapes Kumarakom (By Kerala Tourism – 4 Star)

Backwater Ripples

Abad Whispering Palms

Your escapist,

Brian

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Kempagowda International Airport, Bangalore

Kempagowda International Airport, Bangalore

Kempagowda International Airport or earlier known as Bangalore International Airport is about 37 kms from city centre. While we all complained about the distance, we soon got used to it especially since there is a 6 lane signal free road connecting the airport from Mekhri Circle which cuts down travel time by 30 mins. Do note, there is a new toll being charged for this road while coming back from the Airport to the city at Rs 115 per visit.

So here is a short list of quick options to reach the airport or get back to the city.
1. Airport Bus : The cheapest option (for upto 2 passengers) is the air conditioned Volvo bus service from all parts of the city. Cost varies from Rs 170 to Rs 300 per person depending on the distance traveled. Log on to http://www.mybmtc.com/airportservices for more details about the route and timings.

2. Cabs – KIA has a lot of cab options to choose from and we’ve tried to sort them according to cost.
TaxiforSure.com : Offers A/c Indica hatchback at Rs 700 (fixed fare including toll charge of Rs 115) and A/c Sedan at Rs 850 from Airport to Bangalore and city to Airport. Their metered fare is Rs 14 and Rs 16 per km from Indica and Sedan.

Uber.com : is currently offering special promotions for their Uber X (40% discount) and Uber Black (25% discount) cabs anywhere in the city. The only catch is that you need to book it through their app and have uploaded your credit card details, else, you will not be able to use their services. Uber X will cost you about Rs 560 inclusive of toll for a distance of 45 kms with the 40% discount offer.

Megacabs.com : They have a promotional offer of Rs 666 or Rs 699 + tax from anywhere in the city to the airport for all web and mobile bookings and they are reliable.

Image courtesy: mydala.com

Image courtesy: mydala.com

– Airport Authorized Cabs (No advance booking reqd): Mega Cabs, Meru and KSTDC are all part of the approved airport cabs which are available at the far end of the airport. They have a standard charge of Rs 19.50 per km from Airport to the city + toll extra and charge according to the meter.

– New Services (Not tested) : There are a few others like Meru Genie offering per km rate of Rs 10 during the day and Rs 12.50 during night time and Ola Cabs which offer sedan at Rs 600 for first 30 kms and Rs 16 /km after that or mini cabs at Rs 540 for first 30 kms and Rs 13 /km post that.

3. Premium Cabs : Services like Avis car rentals, Ramesh Tours & Travels, Ola Prime offer premium cars and luxury vehicles and charge a premium for their service.

So depending on your budget and convenience, choose the option that suits you best.

Happy travelling!

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