The Taj really is a gorgous hotel, and has a great relaxing atmosphere which can make even the most stressful of journeys seem like a distant memory in no time!
We arrived at the Taj at 9am, so had a wait of 3 hours until our room was ready. We were able to use the hotel facilities to change into something more appropriate for the 34 degree heat, and were given drinks and cold towels in the lobby. We were then shown up to the pool area where we were given breakfast while we waited for our room.
The pool area is lovely. The pool itself is inviting and clean (it is covered in little mosaic tiles and some of these were missing, but they did seem to get replaced quickly), and there were always enough sunbeds for everyone who needed them. That said, even though the hotel appeared to be almost full there were never more than around 20 people at the pool, which meant it was always quiet and relaxing. The area surrounding the pool is well kept and was the perfect place to sit back and do pretty much nothing. The view down to the sea is also pretty great.
The main Jasmine Bay restaurant overlooks the pool, and this is where Breakfast and lunch are served. Breakfast was buffet style and was very good, with everything that you would expect to find including lots of Indian delights. My partner and I did not eat at the hotel very much, as the restaurants a short walk away are great, but the 4 lunches we did have at the hotel were lovely. The prices in the hotel are of course more expensive than the local restaurants, with lunch and a drink costing between 1400 & 1800 rupees at the hotel. You can easily get the same within a 5 minute walk for between 600 & 1200 rupees, but as this is one of the best hotels in the area the prices are only to be expected, and is worth the extra if you are feeling too lazy to walk anywhere! Within a 5 minute walk there are 5 or 6 good quality restaurants (The 3rd Rock restaurant is fantasic, especially JJ. It's the only restaurant we found where they freeze their glasses, meaning a nice cold beer, and the food is pretty fantastic as well).
The hotel is around 1.5km from the main centre of Kovalam and Lighthouse Beach, where the majority of the restaurants and shops are located. You can reach this area by walking along the beach path (not recommended in the dark unless you have a torch) in about 20-25 minutes (using the Leela as a landmark), or you can grab a tuk tuk from right outside the hotel for around 100 rupees (you can probably even get this cheaper but we settled on this price with the drivers rather than having to worry about change). The fact that the hotel is away from the main tourist area is great, as it's much more secluded and quiet than to hotels in the main town.
The rooms in the hotel are lovely. Well furnished with all the amenities you would expect, and they are kept very clean. Although the rooms are relatively close together (they sit in block s of 4), you don't notice this and they do seem very private. They are set out so that each block is slightly back from the one next to it, so you ony have 1 balcony next to you. There are bamboo blinds to block the next balcony, so you almost don't notice that there's anyone else there. The gardens also make it feel like you're in your own little private area.
The rooms have a separate bath and shower, and ample space for your holiday wardrobe. One odd thing is a window/hatch between the bathroom & the bedroom, kind of a window with no glass (this does however have shutters for privacy!). Not entirely sure what the purpose of this was but it was quite fun. The bed was comfy and large, and there was a small seating area also.
The staff are, in the most part, incredibly good. The restaurant staff were attentive and friendly, the room boys did a great job, and although a little slow the bar staff eventually make you a great cocktail! A couple of the staff didn't really seem to have a clue what they were doing, and as such we got no coffee or tea one morning, as they were wandering around in a trance, however this is a small gripe as the rest were fantastic and couldn't have been more helpful. I was feeling a little ill one day and couldn't eat my lunch (the illness was noting to do with the food at the Taj I hasten to add!), and the staff were great, bringing me a concoction of ginger and lemon which worked a treat (and was free!). They genuinely seemed concerned and wanted to help, they knew everyone's names and were really friendly and helpful.
The grounds are constantly being looked after by the team of gardeners, and the hotel do seem to employ enough people to keep the hotel looking fantastic - there always seemed to be someone cleaning/gardeining/carrying out maintenance work to make sure everything was perfect.
Now for the only negative point - the beach. the hotel boasts a private beach, but there really isn't a beach to speak of. There are some sundeds and a bar/restaurant on the beach, but this is a small, man made, section of sand. between the beach and the sea are rocks, which you canot get over unless you have some kid of death wish, and the sea is in no way suitable for swimming. This really is a massive shame, as I can image this will put some people off. Had we know about the beach before booking the hotel we may well have looked elsewhere. That said, I am so glad we came to the Taj as the hotel itself more than made up for the lack of beach. From talking to the staff, the rocks have only been there since December. The coastline is very rugged with crashing waves, and this has eroded the beach in this area to such a degree that they have had to bring in large rocks to stop the erosion going any further. The hotel are building a new restaurant and what looks like a small swimming pool down by the beach, which may go some way to help. We also read in a local paper that a man made reef is likely to be constructed to help with the erosion problem, but although the New Zealand company that are supposed to be constructing it are ready to start work, they have not yet been given the go ahead, or the funds, from the Indian Government.
There is however a really nice beach just a 5 - 10 minute walk from the hotel. If you walk down to the Taj beach and turn left, past the restaurants and over the rock, there is a lovely seluded beach which is great for swimming, so although the Taj beach is a disappointment there is a great beach nearby. I sincerely hope this does not put people off, as the hotel is fantastic and it would be a real shame if other holidaymakers missed out on the gorgeous hotel due to the issue with the beach.
I can't really rate this hotel enough, it's in a great location, the rooms are great, the pool is inviting, food is fantastic, and everything aboout our holiday was just perfect.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Vivanta by Taj - Green Cove, Kovalam, is delightful in many ways. While to some it is one of the finest beach resorts in Kerala, to others it is an amazing backwater retreat. And there are those that love it for its hill resort layout. Now it's all that and more. There's a nice new buzz all over. In the renewed cottages and villas, the nouvelle restaurants, the high energy bar, and the spa where you'll go Ah! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Vivanta By Taj - Kovalam Hotel Kovalam
- Taj Green Cove Hotel
- Taj Green Cove Kovalam
- Taj Green Cove Resort
- Vivanta By Taj - Green Cove Kovalam, Kerala