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“On the Slide”
Review of Niraamaya Retreats

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Niraamaya Retreats
Ranked #1 of 52 Hotels in Kovalam
Certificate of Excellence
Grey Abbey
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“On the Slide”
Reviewed 14 December 2006

Turning one of the world's hippest hotels into such a temple to mediocrity is an achievement of which Basil Fawlty himself would be proud.
There is no question about the location, there can't be many more stunning hotel sites anywhere. Yet this is a hotel very much on the slide. The fare served in the restaurant was poor - and a hotel which charges such high prices has no right to attempt to force guests to buy from "special" menus. The rooms had great views and were clean and well presented but I would prefer my towels not to have holes in them. The mosquito net around our bed had holes in it which we plugged ourselves with lavatory paper. The food and drink was massively overpriced. When we were leaving in a performance worthy of Basil Fawlty himself we were grilled by the cashier about a packet of cashew nuts which he alleged we had taken from our room (my partner is allergic to them). I would never stay there again. The new management would be well advised to remember that there is much more to being a successful hotelier than b uying up good property. You also have to manage them. There was no evidence of that when we stayed. It is a real shame because a well run Beach Garden really would be amongst the world's best hotels

Stayed December 2006
Helpful?
23 Thank peterrenshaw
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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N. Ireland
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 December 2006

Surya Samudra was our last stop in Kerala and one we were so looking forward to, but sadly we left very disappointed.
There is no denying the hotel setting is stunning, and our room (a beachside cottage) was delightful, but it is way overpriced for the quality of service you receive. We stayed at Shalimar Spice Garden on our travels and whilst we enjoyed Shalimar more than Surya, sadly it seems to be tarred with the same brush: both exceptional properties that have clearly had a lot of love and attention lavished on them from their original owners, but now, under the same management (or lack of) they seem to be resting on their laurels and are tired and a bit ragged around the edges.
We are not overly critical travellers but we stayed at such wonderful places along the way - such as Philipkutty's Farm in the backwaters, and Malabar House in Cochin, both of which were superb, that Surya and Shalimar's problems were sadly highlighted in comparison.
Surya lacks atmosphere. Some of the staff were lovely, others were shoddy and rude. Food was pretty bland compared to what we had eaten elsewhere. The total bill came to over double the next most expensive. There seemed to be total lack of management and total lack of interest in guests and their wellbeing. Whilst the grounds are beautiful there is a very ugly security wall built around the complex separating it from the outside world. The people on the outside world were a lot nicer. In agreement with a previous reviewer, the highlight is watching the fisherman on the beach bring in their catch, chanting and singing as they do so. We would not stay here again.

  • Liked — location, beautiful grounds
  • Disliked — shoddy service, not worth the money (towels and mosquito nets with rips in etc)
  • Tips/Secrets — beautiful property but not worth the money so look elsewhere unless money is no object!
  • Stayed November 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
18 Thank ZiggyAiredale
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oxford UK
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 November 2006

My 11 year old daughter and i were in India for a week for a Wedding. We stayed in 3 different hotels during the week.
The cottages are very rustic and have an authentic quaint feel about them. The outside bathrooon was very 'different'. I was pleased to experience it, my daughter was not as keen! Two nights was more than enough for us there tho. I didn't find the staff a patch on other hotel staff (particularly The Taj Green Cove). Perhaps its not a place for 11 year olds, they certainly didn't make us feel over welcome. The reastaurant only serves beer and wine and they only had bottles of wine available - nothing smaller for me to drink on my own. I note another person mention about the Tandoori only being available with prior notice - we were too told this when we ordered it - but why not make a note of this on the menu so one would know for the following evening?
Pool area was great, views stunning. But the locals standing on the rocks waving their wares for sale at you was annoying.
The high-light for me was watching the fisherman hauling in their nets in the morning for a couple of hours, singing and chanting as they worked - truely memorable.

  • Liked — The rustic and Keralan experience
  • Disliked — Sleeping under the mosquito nets, much to warm but a must as the cottages were expoxed to the outside
  • Stayed November 2006
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank namast06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 November 2006

We had a scary experience at Surya Samudra. My husband and I arranged babysitting services through the hotel for our children ages five and six years-old. Before we left our room we explained to both the babysitter and her supervisor that we would remain on the hotel premises and should be contacted if a concern or problem arose. My husband left his India cell phone number and we went to eat at the restaurant, a two minute walk from our room. When we returned to our room that evening, we heard screams coming from our room. We ran to see what was happening and we found a staff member standing outside the door. The door to our room was locked. She explained that they had locked the children in because they were trying to get out. We unfastened the door. Our children were both crying and screaming. When asked to explain what was happening, the staff said your children were having trouble sleeping. Our children explained that they wanted to see us because they were scared but were told that we couldn't be reached. This increased their fear, as we had explained to them that we would not leave the premises. Our children then insisted on seeing us but were told that we had left the premises. They tried to run out the door to the restaurant and find us but the staff locked the door. The situation escalated and we were told that our children tried to climb out the window to find us. The staff's response to our children's fear was to lock the windows and have one person stay inside with the kids and the other to stand guard outside. It was a scary and bizarre experience.

We had a number of communication problems with management prior to this incident, which annoyed us and raised our concerns but we tried to put them aside. We were quoted one rate over the telephone and given a different one when we arrived. We were charged for basic services - without being told - that we expect to receive at a five star hotel, such as internet use and two sleeping cots for the children. Items listed on the restaurant menu such as tandoori weren't available unless ordered at least six hours in advance. When I placed an order for tandoori at lunch for dinner time, it was not arranged. The problems we experienced during our three days are too numerous to detail, but they were sufficient combined with a scary babysitting incident for us to check out one day early. I explained that we would not pay for our last night, as we wouldn't be staying on. The Front Office Manager threatened to not let us leave the premises with our luggage unless we paid for the last night. He instructed staff not to assist us in carrying our seven heavy pieces of luggage up several flights of stairs but one staff member, ashamed at the manager's directive, refused to follow orders and helped us with our baggage. Once we shifted our luggage from our room to the entrance of the hotel, guards barricaded us in. By this time my children were tired and confused and I told the manager we would pay for the last night, although we were now in a position of paying for two hotel rooms for one night. I told him that we were dissatisfied and that we never had such an experience in India before or in a five star hotel.

Although the setting is beautiful and many of the staff are pleasant and helpful, the management at Surya is bizarre. The Ayurveda centre is separate from the hotel and is exceptional. My husband and I received superb massages at the centre.

  • Liked — quality of staff at ayurvedic centre
  • Disliked — irresponsibility of management
  • Tips/Secrets — stay at the Taj Green Resorts
  • Stayed November 2006, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
18 Thank Chunno
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hawaii
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 November 2006

I was thrilled to happen upon this gorgeous property when I was searching for a place to stay in Trivandrum. Yes, it's pricey, but you get what you pay for. The fabulous outdoor shower, views, and giant Ganesha statue sold me on it. Just loved my stay there...hope to get back there again.

So surprised to read some of the negative reviews....I guess if you are not used to the Indian climate getting a/c is good. I've been in the country a few months and love the temperature, fans are plenty for me. Never got bothered by mosquitos either, but i usually dont.

The pool is great, someone said it was green- not when I was there. It was a gorgeous clean blue, one of the nicest I've ever seen in India, so I guess one's experience all depends on the experiencer...the worst review was from a New Yorker, so go figure...

  • Liked — the private cottages, outdoor bathrooms, and the views
  • Disliked — check out
  • Tips/Secrets — get a cottage with a sea breeze....get your ayurveda treatments down the road at Somatheeram as they are a little cheaper and more authentic
  • Stayed September 2006, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
6 Thank buttrfly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
35 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 November 2006

My boyfriend and I had 4 nights here and generally thought it was a heavenly place. It has a lovely atmosphere (but it was almost empty which was probably to our advantage), attractive grounds, great swimming pool and 2 lovely (but not private) beaches. The food was excellent also if a little slow (but hey, this is India). We stayed in a rock garden room which I booked because it has a/c but unfortuantely it was modern in style and the traditional Keralan villas looked much nicer. The room was nice, but my general conclusion about these 'luxury boutique' hotels in Kerala is that they are not quite up to scratch considering the price. Problems could be that there are not enough loungers, there wasnt a bar, and full the place might feel a little crowded. The spa was beautiful though and I enjoyed my massage.

  • Liked — The lovely setting
  • Disliked — lack of bar area
  • Stayed October 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank KatieE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
paris france
Level Contributor
21 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 167 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 October 2006

I'm afraid I'm firmly in the negative camp here! We stayed in one of the Beach bungalows, the hotel was full and that was the only room available and I am all for an authentic experience and I wasn't expecting Taj style luxury, but basically this was a small, shabby shack, with absolutely no mod-cons at all,oh, there was a rusting fridge dumped in the room with it's electric socket hanging out of the wall, it's crammed so closely to the next door hut that you have to keep one of the windows shut, otherwise you can see striaght into, and be seen by your neighbours, there are openings all around the upper wall which means you can't keep insects out, there was no mosquito net, so we asked for one and with very bad grace, they brought us a dirty, torn net and rigged it up-this was costing us $200 a night, admittedly at peak season (Xmas)-but come on!I think our experience would have been a lot better if we'd stayed at one of the other huts. The pool area is pretty, but a lot smaller than it looks in the pictures, if the hotel is full, there really isn't enough space or loungers for everyone to lie around the pool, the beach is a steep walk down the cliffs- fair enough- but it is NOT private and you will get hawkers trying to sell on the beach-a lot, there's also rocks near the pool which are technically outside the hotel perimeter, and you got guys sitting there, basically ogling all the women in bikinis and hassling you to buy stuff if you lifted your eyes up for a second. The view and position are amazing and I thought the food was great actually, the service was sweet but abysmally slow and ineffiecient sometimes, so don't book anything or plan to go anywhere within two hours of lunch!We did actually go for the spa, it's ok, it's not the best, either for value for money or massages, go to the Somatheeram next door,and the booking system is really torturous and disorganised, and.......I am going to make a serious allegation here and I stand by every word, DO NOT have a massage if you are a woman, with a male masseur here and do not let your wife/girlfriend/daughter have one either, I had a maasage with a woman masseuse and it was ok, not the best I've ever had but ok,but when I went back to have a massage the next time, they didn't have a female masseuse available and asked if I minded having a man, not a problem! I've had a lot of massages and to me, it's like having a male doctor, I couldn't care less, as long as they do their job, in fact, I like a strong massage and so I will often have a guy, because they simply have stronger hands, I'm not remotely squeamish about that kind of thing. It started off ok, I was on my front and I just started feeling more and more uncomfortable, but it wasn't until I turned over that things really started going down hill, he started asking totally inappropriate questions" Are you allowed to touch the breasts in Europe, are you? we aren't supposed to here, but...? I looked up and realised he was extremely overexcited [-], along the massage table centimetres away from my outstretched hand. It was a really horrible experience, this was not a massage, this was an extended groping session, from a guy who very visibly turned on. I got up and I left. And...I didn't say anything at the time, I really wish I had now, but I had this kind of idea that I didn't want to be this white memsahib type, getting a guy fired and I was on holiday, I really didn't want to go through the whole rigmarole of accusing this guy and then having to go through the experience again and I was with my fiancé and I didn't want him going off the deep end, we were near the end of our stay and I just wanted to forget about it. I told him when we were safely back at home and he was FURIOUS, not because of my own experience (he was sympathetic) but because I hadn't spoken up about it at the time, he said"you're a big girl, you can take care of yourself, but what happens if he did this to a sixteen year old, or someone who had already had a traumatic experience? that could really traumatise them "If anybody else has had a similar experience I would be happy to add my own, in any complaint you want to make!I realise that the situation may have changed and that they may also have completely professional male masseurs as well, but that was my experience and I really don't think it's worth the risk. Apart from that, I'm afraid the SS is shabby, badly managed and very overpriced for what you get.The area is wonderful and Kerala is beautiful-I highly recommend going, just don't stay here, for a third of the price, it might be charming and quirky, at these prices, it's just a rip off.

  • Liked — The view is amazing,and the food is good.
  • Disliked — the bungalow we stayed in in.
  • Tips/Secrets — try another hotel, or at least be prepared that this si not a good value for money option,
  • Stayed December 2005, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
13 Thank hitchcockblonde
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Niraamaya Retreats

Property: Niraamaya Retreats
Address: Pulinkudi | Mullur, South of Kovalam, Kovalam 695 521, India (Formerly Surya Samudra Private Retreats)
Region: India > Kerala > Thiruvananthapuram District > Kovalam
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Kovalam
#1 Romantic Hotel in Kovalam
#1 Family Hotel in Kovalam
#1 Spa Hotel in Kovalam
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Kovalam
#3 Business Hotel in Kovalam
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Niraamaya Retreats 5*
Number of rooms: 35
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Now re-opened under a new management as Surya Samudra Private Retreats. Relais & Chateaux Luxury heritage beach resort. Adjoining two pristine, unspoilt beaches and completely secluded from the busy tourist areas of Kovalam. Enjoy complete privacy and serenity. Stay in a carefully restored traditional Kerala tharavadu dwelling. At our Spa Niraamaya, highly trained therapists pamper you with herbs, oils, and concoctions that relax your body, revitalise your mind, and renew your spirit. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Surya Samudra Private Retreats Hotel Kovalam
Surya Samudra Beach Garden Hotel
Surya Samudra Beach Garden Spa
Niraamaya Retreats Kovalam, Kerala

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