The setting: Manaltheeram Ayurvedic Resort, South of Kovalam Beach, Trivandrum, India
All inclusive resort, per diem includes all meals, massage and lodging in a quaint Kerala Style House (very cute and clean).
This haven is perched atop a seaside cliff lined with boulders and shaded by dense, coconut heavy palms. Trails are lined with every type of local flora species that would make the curator of any botanical garden drool with delight . When I arrived (after 28 hours on planes, in airports and in Taxis). I was so relieved to see that it was exactly as pictured, a beautiful and lush expanse of Kerala houses and winding trails and staircases. I have to admit that I thought the palms were photo shopped in the pictures, they are so amazingly huge, lush and gorgeous it is a paradise! I’m sure the natural topography dictated the layout, but seriously I don’t think anyone could have planned this place better. Kerala is often referred to as “God’s own country.” I can see why.
The compound is 100% geared toward pampering, protecting and reviving it’s guests. While checking in, they invite you to take a seat and present you with a coconut to drink. There was a minimum of paperwork to fill out , which is a nice convenience. My room was not ready, so they welcomed me to rest in the restaurant, use the beach or a hammock. They told me the times that meals are served and when my room would be ready. The entrance is gated and the stairways to the beach are guarded, to keep local beggars out. Although I have to honestly say that there were none here when I visited. There are locals that are authorized (identification badges) to sell wares on the beach, they are friendly and respectful.
The Ayurvedic Center is where you fill out a questionnaire and a doctor reviews you health history and current ailments. They determine your dosha, or what body type you are. This comes in handy when choosing meal items as they are balanced to your dosha. Another post will cover more on doshas. A restorative massage is part of the daily lodging rate and additional treatments specific to your needs are available. You book the daily massages once you are finished with the doctor. A separate view to follow will describe and highlight the massage. Yoga classes are available in the yoga center several times a day , and are taught by their resident yoga master.
All meals are served in the restaurant buffet style, and in the evening, in addition to the dinner buffet, one can choose to have a traditional seafood dish made from that days catch (Shrimp in coconut with a spicy sauce was $6.81 US). The mealtimes are three hours long, so you can really choose when to eat, breakfast is from 7 to 10 , lunch is 12:30 to 3:00 and dinner is from 7:00 to 10:00. All dominant dosas are represented, kapha, vata and pitta. by choosing the foods that balance your dosha, you can help to bring your body to balance. I am predominantly pitta vata, my pitta foods were bland but tasty. Kaphas have spicier foods to stimulate their fires and vatas have moist and warm spicy foods. You are free to choose what you like from an enormous buffet (all dosha balancing foods are labeled) in addition many Kerala specialties are available, and even eggs made to order for breakfast. The food was amazing and so nourishing, I felt so good. I really expanded my palate and found that herbal water and lemon ginger honey are two of my favorite new drinks.
The Kerala House that we stayed in was a sea view cottage that has a bedroom and bathroom with a huge shower. The beds were comfortable and the mosquito net lent an exotic feel to the space. The ceilings are traditional thatched roofs with exposed beams, and ceiling fans are a welcome touch. The front porch has a table and chairs and the little yard space has a hammock. I loved sipping chai on the front porch and relaxing in the warmth and peacefulness. The padlock on the door is a kitschy touch and the multitude of light switches in the room are a little comical. Even after 10 days, we could not remember which one controlled which light, so we had fun flipping them on and off to find the right one.
Overall this was one of the best vacations I have ever had, it was so simultaneously relaxing and stimulating. As one gal at the retreat said ‘India has a way of loving and challenging you at the same time.” I will definitely stay at the Manaltheeram Resort again.
*Pictures are of the restaurant, the view of the lagoon from the yoga platform, the outdoor dining area at night, one of me on an elephant infront of a Kerala house.