The village of Mararikulam in Alleppey District (Alappuzha), Kerala is tucked away behind a line of dense palms that rise like a sudden rampart of green out of the sands. Like all villages, it has evolved naturally, in picturesque disorder.
The huts are slapdash adobe, thatched with-what else? -palm and tied with coir, or coconut rope. (In fact, the coconut tree supplies the villagers with an endless number of useful items, from kitchen ladles to sunhats to boat hulls.) Neat and scrupulously clean footpaths veer between the huts and everywhere, the pungent scents of the sea mingle with the fragrance of coconut oil and spice.
Spread out here and there on rough coir mats are sunbursts of red. These are the famous red chilis, without which no self-respecting fishwife would ever dream of serving up dinner. Evening in fact, is a special time. The winking of oil lamps and cooking fires transforms the village into a glowing tableau vivant, with a painted sunset as the backdrop. Within moments, you feel your city clock winding gently down, then dying without protest as you pass through a scene unchanged for centuries.
The challenge was to take the village, not just its architecture, but the subtle elements of its life and translate them into an unforgettable experience for the modern traveler. We wanted to recreate the same harmony with nature. And impart the same sense of languid pace to the Marari Beach resort. Sprawled expansively across 25 acres of land, the resort, like its namesake, is separated from the sea by a windbreak of stretching palms. There are a mere 52 cottages, so the sense of space here is much more dramatic
The cottages are separated by generous stretches of open parkland, dotted with fruit-laden trees. The winding village pathways are a faithful echo of the originals
Rambling walls curve around corners, their rust-coloured stones smothered with trumpet flowers. Completing the picture are rippling lotus ponds, usually with a family of ducklings getting a swimming lesson out in the middle.
A typical cottage at Marari looks almost identical to a local fisherman’s hut. There is the same palm thatch, swooping low over a raised verandah, complete with a little tap by the steps to wash your feet with.
But appearances are deceptive, as you’ll discover when you enter. Air conditioning is made possible by a roof invisible from the outside. Simplicity and harmony mark the interiors, which nevertheless contain all the comforts of a modern resort. There are modern twin – or – double beds, elegant, locally-inspired furniture and even a tea and coffee making facility, for all those odd times.
The bathrooms are open-roofed courtyards, similar to those in the homes of old Kerala. There’s ultra – modern plumbing of course, and hot-and-cold running water too. For the true sybarite, our spacious Pool Villas are a good option to the cottages. These feature cozy living rooms and -luxury itself- your own private pool
THINGS TO DO (and Undo)
Cycling tour of the village, tennis & badminton, beach volleyball, indoor games and ‘Learn to cook with spices’. The Marari Breach, let us be clear, is not the place for a raucous beach holiday. There are no rave parties here, no noisy water scooters, no sellers of trinkets. But for those seeking to undo the stresses of city life and experience a completely new pace, it is the perfect spot.
You could spend an entire morning lolling by the poolside with a book from the library, Or take a dip in the sea, the beach usually being nearly empty, except for a few other guests and the odd local fisherman. Or explore the area and its fishing villages on a bicycle. The trick at Marari is to open up, relax and rejuvenate.
To while away the hours watching the fascinating play of light on open water, to feed a wandering guinea fowl, to stretch a lazy hand out to your cocktail glass and wait for one of our sumptuous lunches to be served
Meal times at Marari Beach are unhurried affairs, with a firm eye on enjoying every subtlety that the waves have to offer. Both at the buffet and at our speciality sea food restaurant, Fort Cochin, the fresh catch of the day forms the centrepiece. You can choose from a variety of prawns, lobsters, crayfish and the famous ‘karimeen’, grilled on the spot or prepared to your tastes.
Complementing it all is an array of Kerala specialties. Aromatic vegetable stews, spicy chicken gravies, tangy tamarind and kokam chutneys and always, rice and the popular idiappams- string hoppers that accompany most Kerala meals. Our bread is always baked daily on the premises and the vegetables too, come fresh-plucked from our organic farm. For light snacks, the beach-shack bar and buffet is the place. Sip a post-swim cooler, munch on some fried prawns and listen to the distant roar of surf.
Ayurveda : Holistic Health.
A popular feature of the Marari experience is the Ayurveda centre. While it is fully equipped for complete treatments of illnesses (these take a week, at the very least), you may need little more than a relaxing oil or herbal massage, perfect for draining away the last residues of urban stress. The open-air yoga classes will have the same effect. These are held at sunrise and sunset, with a qualified master in attendance.
Like the fisherfolk who inspired it all, the Marari Beach is a caring part of its environment. Just across the road from the resort is the resort’s own waste water recycling plant. No effluents are released into the sea, and the manure created goes into our organic farm, right next door. The farm ensures that the vegetables and fruits we serve are the freshest you can get.
Special mention must be made of the cleaning staff, who do so much to maintain the beauty that is around them. As a guest at Marari, you can be sure of an experience that respects the ecology. We invite you to be part of this process. It will enrich your enjoyment all the more
Garden Pool villas
Deluxe Pool villas
Swimming pool, Tennis, Ayurveda centre, shop,
yoga class Regular, doctors on call
Cochin (Kochi) International airport : travel time – 02 hrs
Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) International airport : travel time – 03 hrs 30 mins
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