Enlivening and intoxicating at the same time, Vivanta by Taj-Bekal is a resort by the sea, surrounded by nature at its pristine best. Laid back in luxury and sparkling with the signature perfection of Taj Group, this place brings forth a rich amalgamation of the native and the exotic.
Artful thatch mounted on bamboo poles arches into a majestic roof styled after a Kettuvallom (rice boat), setting a perfect frame for the lagoon-side paradise. A Ganesha idol welcomes you into the villa from atop a chiseled red laterite block. The granite-tiled courtyard, symmetrically lined with pebbles and with a delightful spattering of flaming frangipani leads you to an Aattukattil, the swinging bed. Fuming red hibiscus hedges the L-shaped plunge pool and the open shower and Jacuzzi overlooked by a candle wall perfects your little island of privacy.
Slide doors swoosh open welcoming you into a well-set bed chamber beyond breezy white curtains. An ornamental bamboo-jute fan swings above while elegant Chitra-pothi art adorns the walls.
“Bekal is Kerala’s best kept secret and it is time now for the world to explore all that nature has to offer at this destination. Vivanta by Taj-Bekal will ensure that guests enjoy all that Bekal has on offer in the most luxurious and private setting,” says Gaurav Miglani, GM, Vivanta by Taj-Bekal. He added that the resort is a favourite among domestic and foreign tourists alike and the elephant-festooned Ivory Bar is the only fully licensed bar serving hard liquor between Kozhikode and Mangalore.
Designed by Nick Juniper, an Australian architect, the layout draws liberally from the local geography and culture of north Kerala and blends them with subtle Balinese motifs. A stroll on the laterite-lined pathways and the cool buffalo grass leads you across to the 66 villas laid out on 26 acres along the L-shaped course of the Kappil river. Sip your morning tea at the riverside Latitude and enjoy the multi-cuisine dining at the Taj.
The Kappil river meets the sea at Kappil beach, with a narrow sand bank separating her from the sea. Along the fringes of the Taj, the river thus becomes a rich lagoon. Go kayaking or find a chair by the bank and listen to birdcalls. Home to rare Pied Kingfishers and migratory birds, the trees and the mangroves harbour over 25 species of avian life. With infinity beckoning from beyond the embankment, one can also see surging waves come crashing down on the beach. For a romantic private evening, go for bamboo rafting on the still backwaters under a milky moon and countless stars. Very soon there will also be a 150-metre-long zip line over the backwaters, a sure thriller for the adventurous.
Across the arch bridge over the Kappil river is the Jiva Grande Spa, the largest in South Asia at 1,65,000 sq. ft. and with a dedicated herb and organic vegetable garden. Structured like a Vaidya-griham and equipped with treatment rooms, the spa comes with the signature Jiva Grande luxury and authenticity. A concoction of lemon, tulsi and jaggery forms the refreshing welcome drink, preparing you for the ultimate indulgence and rejuvenating holistic wellness. A year from now, the spa island will host the jewel in the crown, the 4500-sq. ft. Presidential Suite across two floors along with four exclusive Spa Villas.
Serving the finest, Easo Johnson, the Executive Chef, ensures freshness at the cost of a static menu. The man famed for bringing authentic Thai cuisine to India, Johnson shared his philosophy of good food, “Cooking is all about how passionately you make your food from your heart for your guest.” Native talent is harvested to offer the real taste of the 24-dish Kerala Sadya at Latitude with some special Chicken Curry or Karimeen Pollichathu for a twist. Custom-made private candle-light gazebo dinners are the other specialty. Coming up soon are a new pool side barbeque and a family gazebo diner by the beach.
Tour the coast with the Sous Chef Tijo Thomas at By the Bay, the coastal specialty beach-side dining, with food from Kori in Maharasthra, to Canconan in Goa and Karwar in Karnataka, cherry-topped with coastal Kerala cuisine. For me, the chef chose a Calo-de-verde, the famed Portuguese soup; Sannas, the Mangalorean bread and some rich creamy vegetable Gassi, with Kaaju Cutlets from Tamil Nadu and some mouth-watering salads.
Watch the sun set at the Kappil beach or climb the high rocks across the river embankment. The sea froths at your feet and the engrossing colours of heaven appear. Retreat into yourself and engage with your senses, enliven yourself at this solitary nook by the sea. Nothing can do more justice to a land so defined by her drenching rain. Soak in…