Resort review: Leave the city behind and head to Niraamaya Retreats Backwaters and Beyond in Kumarakom for a rejuvenating weekend
Picturesque and peaceful — that’s exactly how we felt, as we watched the sun dip into the horizon, seated in the balcony of a Superior Lakeview Villa. The view from our room captures the backwaters of Lake Vembanad with houseboats floating on it. Situated right by the edge of the lake is the all-new Niraamaya Retreats Backwaters and Beyond in Kumarakom — our home for the next two nights.
Niraamaya is known for its renowned wellness concept that aims to provide holistic rejuvenation in a serene setting, which starts right from arrival — guests are welcomed with a garland of tulsi leaves, and refreshing juices — coconut water during our visit — just what you would need after a long journey.
Located about 80 km from the Kochi airport, the newest property of Niraamaya is set amidst eight acres of lush tropical gardens. Nestled on the lakeside flanked by coconut trees, the resort offers 27 luxurious villas in four categories — Superior Lakeview Villa, Luxury Private Pool Villas, Premium Waterfront Villa and a Presidential Suite. The design of the property blends conventional Kerala style rooftops with modern interiors, making it both comfortable and traditional.
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While the interiors are bright and warm, the outdoors is in complete harmony with nature amidst breezy coconut palms, wooden bridges over tiny ponds and tropical foliage. The retreat features a 25m deep pool, where you could take a few dips every evening with an uninterrupted sea view. Conveniently, the poolside all-day diner Café Samsara serves authentic global cuisine with fresh made-to-order breakfast, giving you no reason to leave.
The spa factor
During our introduction and tour of the property, we were told that Niraamaya is a retreat destination with a suggested minimum two-night stay to make the best of meals, spa and wellness therapies. So it wasn’t a surprise when our itinerary card for the weekend had about four meditation and wellness activities planned out for us.
The first one, a mindfulness class, was just before sunset. Conducted by coach MA Shaheerudeen, the 45-minute session was all about understanding body and mind coordination through walking meditation. Chanting the Om in unison with people from different parts of the country, I realised that we were all perhaps looking for the same thing — moments of peace, far from the madding lives in the city.
Post the relaxing session, we headed to our room, ordered for a hot cup of tea and watched the sunset — a melange of mild purple, orange and yellow. Dinner for the night was a wholesome Indian meal with roti, lentils, fish curry — washed down with chilled lime juice.
Next morning we were up at 5 am before the alarm could go off. When you’re at a wellness retreat, you know your day would begin early. Ours started with a sunrise yoga class with Dr Lalitha Damodaran at 6 am. During the 40-minute session, we were told that creativity and peace of mind are benefits of practising due to fewer distractions prior to starting your day. We followed it with a healthy breakfast — scrambled eggs and multigrain bread with fresh juice.
An hour later, it was time for an Ayurvedic massage at the spa. Our session started off with a head and shoulder massage, before moving on to the rest of the body. Using a blend of essential oils, the 60-minute massage catered to specific needs like stress-relief and healing.
Sadya for the soul
By the end of the session, it was lunchtime and we were rolling up our sleeves to tuck into the feast that executive chef Anish Kumar had planned for us — a special Sadya meal. Banana leaf filled with pickles, avial, pachadi, thoran, koottu, pappadam and of course, banana chips, rice topped with a generous amount of ghee to whet our appetite. We take second and even third servings of avial and piping hot sambar. We finish it off with a delicious jaggery payasam. After a heavy meal like this, we spent the afternoon sleeping like a baby. We spent the evening watching a kathakali performance organised by the resort, followed by a dinner at Essence — the speciality restaurant that offers Oriental cuisine with a collection of the finest wines.
After a good night’s sleep, it was time to bid adieu to Niraamaya. With pictures of breathtaking sunset and a sense of tranquillity in our minds, we drove away to the airport, as we said au revoir.
Dining by design: Special candlelight dinner with a chef and butler overlooking the lake in a houseboat or by the sprawling lawns under the night sky.
Cooking class with the chef: Learn signature dishes from the executive chef and explore the rich culinary heritage of the region at Niraamaya Culinary School.
Shikara Boat Ride through backwater canals: Traditional boat ride through a network of canals in and around the paddy growing area of Kuttanad.
Experience houseboat cruise: Quintessential backwater cruise on Lake Vembanad in a luxurious houseboat or kettuvallam.
Kumarakom village life experience: A tour of the village life — direct interaction with local people, culture, traditions and livelihood activities like coconut palm frond weaving, screw pine making,
Starts at Rs.12,000++ per night.
(The writer was at the property by invitation.)