Kerala is perfectly titled as ‘God’s own Country’ with its tropical breeze, palm-fringed beaches, lush green Munnar slopes and pristine backwaters. The coastal paradise is not only home to a raw and picturesque natural habitat but also a land that grows the best tea/coffee and spice plantations. With the soul-cleansing experience in Kerala combined with the luxe and convenience of Taj hospitality, I had already predicted my trip to this land will be seemingly cushioned as a life-changing experience and it was one indeed.
Manish and I were so exhausted with the city life and were looking at taking a break in India but more like a health retreat, something for the mind, body and soul. When we saw pictures of Taj Bekal Resort & Spa we knew this was the best spot in terms of location, activities and healthy food. Within seconds of booking it, I was already dreaming of this South Indian paradise and was super excited because it was our first trip to Kerala.
Lodged along the west coastline of Kerala in the Kasaragod district, Bekal is a small town thriving as a tourist spot owing to its natural scenic beauty. The easiest and most convenient way to reach this charming land is by taking a flight from Mangalore Airport. Bekal is a smooth two hour drive away from there; one has to hire a cab or opt for a hotel pick-up which should cost around Rs. 3,800 per way.
Taj is India’s largest and most luxurious hotel groups known for their memorable hospitality and impeccable facilities and having the chance to stay in their properties is a lavish experience to engage in. On arriving we were greeted with warm smiles, a sandalwood tikka and a shell necklace. As we stepped foot in the lobby, we were instantly taken aback by the tranquil interiors, high ceilings and stunning intricate details in every corner. The lobby is partially open where the centre has a placid water body, a small fountain and fishes adding to the calm environment. What caught my eye was the huge Ganesha statue right at the entrance, it was so positive and impactful!
Our Room: Superior Room with a Sit Out
Grandeur resonating through simplicity is what describes the room we chose to stay in at Taj Bekal Resort and Spa. There was a calming and welcoming serenity that touched us as soon as we entered the room. The size, the space and subtle luxe that reflected through the interiors was enough to squeeze out our travel exhaustion. Designed just like the Kerala Houseboats, we could attribute that to the use of wood and cane in the furniture. In addition to the tranquil décor and the immense size of the room, these few tempting features added the necessary flavour to our stay there: The lively sitting area outside our room came with a swinging double bed and an accompanying coffee table, just perfect for that afternoon nap. The bath area was extremely luxurious and our room had a private access to the backwaters which only pumped more excitement in our trip. Last but definitely not the least, my personal favourite was the huge artsy portrayal of the Kerala culture on the wall. Overall, I loved this room category, it was on the ground floor, super huge and literally in the lap of nature.
The best feature of the hotel is its design, it’s modern yet so traditional, it’s super bright and has this tranquil environment. The Taj Bekal premises have been made in such a fashion that its partially open as to keep a fresh flow of air consistent along with soul-touching sunshine. The fringe of tall, bountiful coconut trees around the resort only adds that touch of country side flavour. The hotel adjoins the backwaters and has a beach which isn’t private yet watched and taken care of by guards. Being adorned by natural leisure at every nook and corner, the resort leaves no stones unturned even with the basics. Next to the beautiful lobby is a library meant for guests who wish to unwind with a few stories. The venue also has three restaurants, each with their different unique culinary qualification. There is also an activity centre, a swimming pool and a walkway around the trees pitched with scenic corners to sit at, relax and rejuvenate with the mother earth. This Bekal Taj property definitely took my admiration to another level.
Activities/ Things to do:
Having spent five nights at the resort, I was surprised by how smoothly the days went by and how I would have loved an extension to the trip. Each day was filled with immense thrill and anticipation with the amount of things one can engage into while in Taj Bekal.
1) Kayaking in the Backwaters:
Kayaking in the Kerala backwaters is a stunning experience, best done during sunset, wading through the waters with the soft orange hue reflecting from the sky is something I highly recommend.
2) Moonlight Rafting:
Ravishingly romantic and soothing, the moonlight rafting is definitely for all you adventurous love-birds out there. This is organised by the hotel’s activity centre, make sure to book a spot in advance and I would recommend trying it around 8pm. So the decorated bamboo raft gently rows its way in the backwaters under the silver moonlight. All you have to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the moment. I would not recommend taking any food or alcohol on the raft as there are some really tiny flying insects. Instead just play your favourite music, chat away with your partner or stare at the shining moonlight.
3) Badminton and other games:
Physical stability is just as important as mental balance and both together can be achieved by striking a healthy balance between leisure activities that boost both. Let the Bekal breeze and backwater clean your mind while you keep up with the physical activity by indulging in outdoor games like Badminton, table tennis and cricket. Alternatively you can choose to hit the gym. We literally played badminton all day long, it was so much fun!
Not just a fun outdoorsy hobby but also one of the best ways to see the entire property, cycling along the path in the resort is pure bliss. They also have guided tours on the beach.
5) Indoor game centre:
For a lazy evening when exhaustion takes over after a long day of activity, the property has an indoor game centre for the interested folks.
6) Walk and explore:
To be honest, the property is so huge that you can actually walk and explore the place at your own pace. Sing along with the birds as you glide through the backwaters, enjoy the sunshine, stroll on the beach and sip on a coconut water while doing so.
7) Swim or head to the beach:
The pool in Taj Bekal is so inviting, we literally spent every evening lazing around the pool bed reading a book, taking a few laps, sipping cocktail, it was pure bliss! Alternatively, if you are looking for something more peaceful then head down to the beach.
It’s the Taj hospitality that brings me back every single time. I have tried their hotel in Coorg, Sri Lanka, Mumbai as well and I loved it. Any hour, any query, any crisis, any need, the crew is up at your service, they never say no and will go out fo their way to make you happy.
The hotel has three restaurants that serve some lip smacking local dishes.
An all-day dining and a multi-cuisine restaurant, that serves some of the best dishes. Their breakfast spread was a dream for any foodie. Every single morning they served a variety of idlis, fresh dosa, uttapa and some yummy filter coffee. We also tried their 14 course banana leaf meal (Sadya) and it was so delicious. You just cannot leave without trying this out.
Pool side grill:
This is open only for dinner and serves mainly North Indian cuisine and does so with the traditional savour. Their tikkas and grilled seafood is so delicious.
By the Bay:
A seafood grill restaurant, By the Bay serves delicious crabs and prawns in local spices. This was my favourite dining spot. Their crab with neer dosa and local prawns were to die for.
All the three restaurants comprise a vast vegetarian menu too along with their local specialties.
A trip to Taj is incomplete without trying the Jiva Spa. One of the days we booked ourselves for a Sushupti Ayurvedic treatment. We were welcomed with a hot herb and jaggery tea before being escorted to a huge couples room. The treatment began with a five minute steam followed by a body pack that was a made of a concoction of 22 herbs. Once the wrap was all soaked in were had a beautiful flower and milk bath arranged for us. After a shower and 60 minutes long Ayurveda massage, we left the spa feeling novel, better and alive!
The High Tea Experience:
What I loved about the property was the daily complimentary high tea experience by the backwaters. A little cart was set up every evening for 30 mins where they would serve hot tea, filter coffee with fresh snacks like baked banana chips, fresh sweet potato fritters, chakli, til ladoo and so much more. We would literally wait for this session, grab our plate, fill it up, pick the coffee and sit by the backwater and relish it all, aah so surreal!
What to pack:
The weather in Bekal is mostly warm and humid, so I would recommend packing long loose comfortable cotton ethnic dresses, gowns, kurtas, anything comfortable with an Indian touch. For the activities, pack shorts, tshirts and sneakers along with your swimming gear. For the nights I mostly stuck to basic dresses, palazzos and ethnic accessories. A beach bag and flip flops are essential. Since the sun hits hard, don’t forget the hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.
Don’t leave without:
– Kayaking in the backwaters
– Moonlight Rafting
– Trying the High Tea Experience
– Trying the local crabs with neer dosa
– Getting an Ayurvedic massage
– Eating the Sadya
Best time to visit:
According to me, October to February would be the best months to visit Kerala, December and January being the best. We went in February and it was just perfect. The days were warm and nights were so pleasant. Kerala is hot and humid throughout the year. March to May is extremely hot and June to September is the rainy season.
Mumbai to Mangalore (2 hours approx.)
Mangalore to Bekal – 2 hour drive
Ideal for: Couples/ Families/ Solo trip/ Wellness Retreat/ Weekend Getaway
Kid Friendly: Absolutely! They have so many activities for kids and baby sitting services too.
What I loved:
-Its a great combination of wellness and adventure.
-The staff is so kind, they don’t say no for anything.
-With the backwaters on one side and the sea on the other this resort is literally located in heaven
-They have really cute romantic corners for special dates and dinner set ups
– The food in all the restaurants in so delicious.
Kappil Beach, Kasargod, Bekal, Kerala 671319, India
+91 467 661 6612