Port Muziris—Marriott International’s first Tribute Portfolio hotel in South Asia opens in Kochi
Hotels close to airports are almost always targeted at business travellers and flight crew. One would imagine such properties to leave out embellishments and frills to focus on basic comfort and luxury.
Marriott International’s latest venture in the country, Port Muziris, is a fresh breath when it comes to hospitality with a runway view. This property near Cochin International Airport welcomes flyers to a hyper-native Kerala experience as a part of the independent boutique brand Tribute Portfolio—the first of its kind in South Asia.
“Every Tribute Portfolio hotel is uniquely designed to suit the place where it is located. The concept of Port Muziris is, ‘Your Kerala Starts Here.’ We welcome tourists coming into Kerala and hope to provide a taste of the long lost glory of the ancient urban centre, Muziris” says Harish Gopalakrishnan, the general manager.
I’d have noticed some differences from usual hospitality customs, like the welcome with a kasavu cloth, even if he had not mentioned their focus on local experiences. But, maybe not the subtle ones.
A mix of decor styles including minimal, bohemian and contemporary surround me in the lobby as I sip on their signature Ms Cohen’s apple tea (or coffee, as per preference). The centre of attraction, however, is a tile art that covers the wall—an ode by artist Shahul Kollengode to the tropical flora and fauna of Kerala.
Hues of Muziris
As we begin a tour of the premises, I notice that strategically placed artworks siphon the drabness away from this property. Paintings by over a dozen artists surprise you in the common areas ranging from the corridors and stairways to their tea shop and restaurant.
“Instead of veteran craftsmen, we chose millennial artists like Elwin Charly and Vimal Chandran and gave them the freedom to imagine the bygone era in their terms,” says the manager. In a way, the paintings give you a feeling of gazing through a kaleidoscope that casts light on the rich heritage of Kerala.
As we enter the access-controlled residential floors—with 54-rooms including 10 executive spaces and three suites—we notice the consistency in theme even extends to the carpets in the aisles that resemble the ebb and flow of waves and rooms that feature an artwork each.
Minimal aesthetics follow you into the compact private residences, but sports native influences like couches with Kerala weaves alongside a mini-bar, a ratherlarge TV and a locker. The best part; along with the regular platter of fruits, you also get an assortment of local snacks like sarkara varatti (plantain chips covered with jaggery), pakkavada (ribbon pakoda) and halwa!
Cuisines are some of the great preservers and conveyors of culture. Executive chef Ashok Eapen has a clear perspective on this as he says, “We want our food to make our guests feel connected to Kerala’s diverse culinary traditions influenced by various factors like proximity or distance to the sea, varied religious beliefs and availability of ingredients. We have some combinations that are specific to certain regions and even some recipes that are hardly prepared anymore.”
The lunch he serves us starts with kozhi muringakka charu (soup with chicken and drumsticks), kappa chakka vada (stone grilled galettes of tapioca and jackfruit) and a spicy kozhi chuttath (plancha grilled chicken morsels). I load some prawn-shallot curry on to my plate to go with the traditional meal (I choose the option with four non-vegetarian and three vegetarian curries and accompaniments including pickles). After a flavoursome yet late lunch, all I feel like doing is to drag myself up to their terrace and plop down on a relaxing poolside chair to ruminate on life with a view of the runway.
Port Muziris’ idea of a rejuvenating stay also involves a tea ritual that is offered to guests. So, as it drizzles outside, we seat ourselves in the café, The Kettle, and F&B manager, Shahnaz Anjum, guides us through the process. “In line with our Muziris theme, we offer a tea/coffee experience to all our guests. Our cellar has a wide range of teas including seven blends that are made exclusively for the hotel. We have one with jasmine, which is a common flower around Kerala, and a green tea variant with saffron, something reminiscent of the Arab connection,” says Shahnaz. The Blue tea (made of butterfly pea flower) and Spa in a cup (with rose, lavender, marigold and fruit bits) make for interesting cuppas.
The writer was at Port Muziris on an invite from Marriott International.