We just returned from a 7 night family holiday to Kerala. 2 Adults and kids aged 8/13/15
I used this forum for a lot of my research, and thought a short report may be helpful to others.
I worked out our preferred itinerary and hotels, and then booked the hotels and driver through a local travel agent in order to ensure that the whole plan was workable and ask a few questions where required.
We used "The Travel Planners" and would highly recommend them. They were prompt and professional in the planning stages, and all arrangements went smoothly. Our driver Nikhal was fantastic. Very safe, considerate and polite.
We flew into Cochi and spent 2 nights at Old Harbour Hotel. Really enjoyed the hotel. An oasis of calm to return to from the bustling streets. Spent an enjoyable morning at Jew town, synagogue and palace.
Spent the next 2 nights at Aanavilasam in Thekkady. Great food and service in a beautiful location.
We enjoyed Elephant Junction - especially the elephant shower. Kids enjoyed the evening Kalari show. The cruise at Periyar was pretty average, didn't see much game, but fun anyway.
5th night at Vivanta Kumarakom. The hotel is in a great location, a little tired, but friendly and helpful staff. Took the River Escapes houseboat for 1 night. The backwaters cruise was probably the highlight experience of the trip. The backwaters area is beautiful and amazing to visit. The food onboard was delicious, the service although faultless was largely indifferent. The rooms onboard were in need of a refurbishment. Useful tips - we thought the large prawns that we were taken to buy were pretty overpriced, and if you want a sundowner you need to bring your own beer/wine. We were told we could buy some, but somehow that didn't quite happen. None of this really mattered, the backwaters themseves were the star of the show.
Spent our last night at Vivanta Kovalam - brilliant hotel. Great rooms and pool, but the service levels were outstanding. All staff were fantastic and helped to make this a memorable and enjoyable final stop on our trip.