While on a vacation, we the mothers generally don’t get to be on a break, with kids walking, jumping even trampling our already frail nerves. Myself along with few other mothers, decided to award our husbands with some bonding time with the kids and go somewhere. One would think of a hill station for a getaway from scorching heat. We chose the beach.
Armed with our swimwear, a hat, sunscreen, beach ball, games, et all, five of us set out for Marari Beach. Not much planning went into it. The only criterion was to go somewhere close to Kochi, preferably at a driving distance.
With kids safely ensconced in the loving care of their respective fathers, the GALS set out on their sojourn. The only concession that was made was, for my toddler. So, yes I was taking a break but not really taking a break.
Laughter was in the air from the word go. We took less than an hour to reach Xandari Pearl, Marari; our destination and den for the next two nights.
As a part of the check-in process, we were welcomed with garlands, wet scented towels, coconut water all wrapped up under warm friendly smiles from the team at Xandari.
It was late in the night, so after settling our bags in our rooms (post a detailed description of room amenities from the manager), we headed to the restaurant and left the resort-exploring-activity for the next day.
Dinner was a pre-ordered ala carte that included honey glazed coconut chicken with mash potato and boiled vegetables. Fresh catch fish masala grilled, dal, mixed vegetable curry, phulka (Indian bread), rice and tender coconut panacotta for dessert. We happily polished off everything amidst our chatter. Food was delicious. However, I could have certainly done without the blueberries that got served with panacotta.
Our rooms (category Green Pearl) were pretty, with a rustic green flooring, a writing desk, a sit-out (with chairs, hammock etc.) and an open bathroom. Mini bar was stocked with juices and aerated drinks, complimentary, first time around. There was kettle which I wished had a power point right inside the cabinet. We had to carry the kettle to the counter besides the bed, to fix our tea/ coffee the next morning. There was a jar of delicious coconut cookies to go with our morning beverage. There was a basket of fruits as well.
There is a direct access to the beach from the resort. All the rooms are provided with beach straw mats. Sea is rough here and swimming not advisable. Being a non-swimmer, that was not my concern at all.
The sound of the sea, the feel of wet sand under the feet, sight of water meeting the sky over the horizon, the salty breeze – it was a perfect way to start our day. After romping on the crashing waves and playing throw ball, we head straight to the pool. The maximum depth of the pool is about 4 feet. There is a pool for the kids as well.
Suffering from extreme hunger, we pulled ourselves to our rooms to get presentable at the breakfast table. Croissant, muffin, bread, pickled olives and vegies and fresh fruits were laid on the buffet table along with fruit juices. From the live counter we had the choice of ordering egg (as per our liking), appam, dosa, etc., If you choose dosa, expect some delay in service. My cheese omelette was absolutely tasty. The chicken stew was served cold and nothing great. Since, rest of the food was superb, we didn’t bother much about the stew.
One thing I stop doing while on a vacation is count my calorie intake and enjoy some unadulterated indulgence. Having said that, I ensured every meal of mine ended with a dessert. It was Chocolate fudge brownie with ice-cream for my sweet tooth post lunch that day. Lunch comprised of delicious Lal Maas (lamb meat in red gravy), mushroom and bok choy stir fry (a must try), rice, phulkas and curd.
We met the soft spoken chef Sundar from Madurai, post our lunch to discuss our dinner menu. We took some amount of interest in our meals and somehow portrayed ourselves as big time eaters; for the chef designed a meal which we couldn’t have finished even with breaks and a walk between meals. We had a salad (which I thought needed more dressing though rest of the gals were fine with it), absolutely lovely pasta (drizzled with anchovy oil), yummy grilled fish (from day’s fresh catch) and a flavoursome whole chicken. What we didn’t see coming was a big platter of fried rice along with the chicken. Food was wonderful and we nearly got stuffed to free ourselves from the guilt of leaving excess food. Our overfed tummy said “enough”, while our mind said, call for that coconut panacotta! There is a reason why desserts is “stressed” spelt backwards! 🙂
The restaurant overlooks the swimming pool in the middle of coconut, mango, little jackfruit and other trees. We sat in this area and enjoyed hot tea and snacks served from the makeshift tea shop.The kitchen uses the organic produce from their “kitchen garden” what they call the “edible landscape” maintained throughout the resort. All the 20 villas at Xandari Pearl are comfortable, elegant and private. The other two categories are Blue Pearl (with blue interiors) which comes with a plunge pool within the private garden and the largest of all Pearl Suite that has more lounge space than other villas and comes with a private garden, plunge pool with a Jacuzzi.
We were given Wi-Fi passwords for our individual rooms, which took instant dislike to my gadgets. Neither phone nor my laptop got connected, which was fine. I had no intentions to work on a vacation. I carried my portable speaker, used the music on my laptop and tuned our room into a dance floor every now and then.
The spa at Xandari Pearl, is in the making and would be functional in about a month’s time, so I was told. The gift shop called Via Kerala is smallish selling various handmade stuff close to Kerala tradition.
There are activities that can be arranged at an additional charge like Mocktail classes, sightseeing etc. There is a volleyball and badminton court available at the resort that one can use at anytime.
Additional details: The restaurant / room service is operational till 10:30 pm only. However, there is always someone available at the reception, if you need anything. Hair dryer (in the bathroom) is available on request. Mosquito bats are available for use in the garden area. Being the hottest of season, we sat carefree in the sit out with no mosquito menace.
Things I loved about Xandari Pearl
- Villas are private
- All the villas are television free
- Hospitable staff
- Availability of beach straw mats in each villa – very thoughtful!
- Micro filtered bottled water from Reverse Osmosis system (no plastic bottles! super awesome)
- An hour’s drive from Ernakulam
Spread across 18 acres of Mararikulam beach, Xandari Pearl is surrounded by traditional fishing communities. You can reach the resort from Cochin International Airport in 90 minutes or from Alleppey Railway Station in 20 minutes.
The name Xandari means elegance, simplicity and tranquillity. I think Xandari Pearl at Mararikulam (rated one of the top 5 “hammock beaches” in the world by National Geographic) did complete justice to its name. The place was simple, elegant and peaceful.