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“Wonderful property”

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Vivanta by Taj Bekal
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Bekal
Certificate of Excellence
Bengaluru, India
Level 4 Contributor
25 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Wonderful property”
Reviewed 28 February 2012

We went to have dinner couple of times and the service was very nice. Overall great hospitality. The property is very beautiful and Very well maintained . With full amenities and service one can expect the best stay in Bekal.

  • Stayed February 2012
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3 Thank Rishi19825
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Mumbai
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5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 February 2012

It was our first wedding anniversary and a romantic trip was on cards. Planned in a hurry. I am Taj fan and look nowhere else when planning a special vacation. Called up Taj Sales office on 10th Feb evening and booked the basic room for four nights with breakfast inclusive. I knew this is a new resort and there were very few reviews on TripAdvisor to make a strong opinion. Decided to write an extensive review, so that visitors can align their expectations and the owners can come over the issues prevailing.
We had ample time on our hands, so decided to travel by train. We reached Kotikullam Station on 12th afternoon and had ourselves picked up by a Taj vehicle for free (Charges are ~350/- INR). The resort is just 3kms from the station. You can hire an auto rickshaw as well. Almost everyone is Bekal knows about the new Taj resort.
We were greeted by the Front Office Manager Mr. Unni Krishnan on arrival. Waited for a few minutes for the formalities and then were driven in the golf car (they call it buggy) to our room. Mr. Krishnan personally accompanied us to the room and elaborated on everything in the room and the hotel. We were told that this is a soft opening. So, one can limit their expectations for the stay ahead.


ROOM
We stayed in the superior charm room and I can confidently say it was bigger than most flats in Mumbai. In many other resorts a room like this would have been in premium category. All fittings were modern and state of the art.
It had a huge bathroom with a king size tub. One walk in shower. Dual wash basins. A balcony partition from the bathroom had another shower. Best thing about the bathroom were the huge wooden windows that opened in the room giving the entire setting a very romantic feel.
There is a 37" LCD in every room. Receives very few channels, most of them local. Although, no one is keen on watching television when in a resort. But if one does wish to, then there is little they can watch. An HD'd DTH connection is the need of the hour.
They have a list of DVDs for a few fine Hollywood flicks. You can request these from the front office. This is complimentary. Very handy, at times when you don't feel like stepping out. You can get your own media in a USB drive and play it.
Everything else is standard five star stuff. Electrical fittings are touch based. Very convenient once you learn how to deal with them.
Attached to the room is a terrace/balcony with a swing (big enough for two people to sleep) facing the backwaters.
They could have provided with a full mirror inside the room and designed the wardrobes in a more intelligent manner.


FACILITIES

Pool...At first sight you won't feel like going for a swim figuring out that it is just four feet. But once you go in...it is awesome. During the nights the view of the star filled sky, and coconut trees emerging from within the pool is breath taking. During the day you can see the backwaters and the beach towards the west.
Never saw any instructor or staff around the pool. I wonder why?
The showers are at a distance. One has to walk inside the building that houses the gym for a shower and walk out all wet. Very annoying. They must have a shower in the open for the pool.

Entertainment Room...This is just fabulous. During that daytime heat in Kerala what more can one ask when on a holiday. There is XBOX with Kinect, Carom, Air hockey, Cards (and casino chips), Chess, Monopoly, Scotland Yard, and what not...All accommodated in a huge room. You will have to request the front office to open the place and have the AC turned on.

Gymnasium...A nice compact gymnasium near the pool has everything in it for a quick workout.

Moving around....The place is quite big and bicycles are very handy and fun to ride. There are just a few of them. They would need more bikes when people start pouring in.

Beach...Jewel in the crown. Absolutely virgin beach with golden sand and clean water. you can hear the waves crashing the shores fifty meters before the beach. One must stick to the warnings displayed by Taj people at the beach front. It has uneven slopes and is very deep at certain spots. It would get worse during monsoons and on full moon nights. Don't be too brave as at times no security person / life guard is present at the beach. Just take a walk along the shore or lay down on the sun beds and see the sun taking a plunge in the Arabian sea. Beautiful and majestic!!! Showers are also provided at beach entrance. Though, not of much use.
The area between the beach and resort beach is not developed as yet. I hope a beautiful lawn is on the cards.


ACTIVITIES

Kayaking....This is a very good experience. There are many Kayaks docked in the backwaters. We were little skeptical about the depth and nature of the water, and the creatures that might be present inside. At this time of the year it was 3-6/7 ft. You will get life jackets and proper assistance. We had never Kayaked before and were worried about the Kayak toppling and us getting wet. This turned out to be totally safe and an excellent adventure. Great fun kayaking at Taj Bekal. Must do!! Will talk about the lovely Taj staff later.

Archery...They have a worn out Archery board, and bow-arrows set. Many of the arrows had there wings broken. Tried aver 50 shots, could not even get one perfectly through. Asked one of the staff members to demonstrate one and he hit the bulls eye right away. :)
Arrows are pointed, be careful and don't hurt anyone moving around.

You can do fishing as well. They must come up with more activities and an activity schedule as at other Vivanta properties. They are planning to introduce local dance performances etc. in the future.


FOOD

There is just one restaurant right now. Another one is planned.
You can dine inside or in candle light. Very cool.
Most of the menu is Non-vegetarian. Once you start ordering vegetarian stuff, you will feel as if you can not eat anything. There is practically no other place in Bekal to eat. So, one has to completely rely on the food provided in the resort. And, in a setting like this all one does is eats and relaxes. So, food has to be top class.
We are North Indians and vegetarians. We eat almost anything that does not walk/crawl.
First night we ordered Minestrone Soup, Paneer Lababdar, Paranthas, Nans, etc. Paneer lababdar was not Paneer Lababdar at all. Tasted very very ordinary. Presentation was weak. On top of that just when we were about to finish our meal, found a long strand of hair in the parantha. We were so shocked. We wanted them to know of this and sent it over and left the table. One of the staff members came up running and told us he will get another one. Which was pointless as we had almost finished. I asked for the cheque, signed it, and left.
They sent us a cake at twelve that night. Wonderful gesture. Gave us a beautiful moment to celebrate. But the cake tasted too ordinary. Too moist, and sweet. Not so interesting combination of flavors. I run a baking workshop of my own and was always amazed by the cakes made at some of the Taj properties. It was nothing like that. Next morning the F&B manager Vikram came up to us and apologized for the hair incident. He was very generous in saying "this should never happen in a resort like ours". We were cool and got assured that this won't happen again.

Breakfast Buffet...One can understand that very few people were putting up at the resort still the buffet spread was very simple and limited. There was continental and South Indian. Sambhar was just too spicy for anyone to have it. The staff told us that people come here to experience authentic Kerala food which is spicy in nature. Another first of its sort. I've stayed in Kerala for two months, I never had a Sambhar like that. We've been to Taj Kumarakom in Kerala. The food was just perfect there.
Fruits spread was ordinary. They make live omelets (we did not like it) and dosas. Next day, other than the juice and milkshake, nothing changed. Chef Tendulkar came to us. We requested him if he could add some North Indian options. He got some aloo paranthas made for us at that very moment. He said he'll have a range of paranthas from tomorrow onwards. But surprisingly, the spread did not change much for another two days as well, there were no paranthas. On the last day they prepared Puri Bhaaji...which was again very spicy....and I am sure it is not that way in its authentic form. Other than this, the breads were just okay...limited options. My wife ate almost nothing at the breakfast table on all four days. The spread needs to be bigger, innovative and to the taste of any guest who walks in.
On the second evening, Vikram invited us for a little surprise to celebrate our anniversary. And, boy!!!...it was soooooooo amazing. He got a solo table set up at the pool side facing the back waters. Dancing ladies to start with. Greeting signed by the property manager. A kiwi cake to celebrate. This was almost similar to the one we had last night. They took pics of ours and had them printed and placed on our beds before we finished our dinner. Beautiful gesture. We had asked earlier if the chef can prepare Rajma rice for the evening. We had asked 'coz we knew it takes time to prepare this. They said we are doing Rajma Rice. We were amazed. When served, we found both the rice and Rajma under cooked. Rajma had to be chewed. The set up was so beautiful that we decided to let the preparations pass. They got a starter from their side..Paneer Tikka. Thank you so much. But it's not worth having (even if it is free) unless it tastes good. Paneer was rubber like. A road side restaurant would prepare better Paneer Tikkas than that.
Special mention: We ordered a starter from our side ... Zucchini, Mushroom, Spinach in crepe...it was by far the best starter we had ever had in our lives. Amazingly done. This is a must have dish here. We sent the compliments to the chef on that and decided we will order continental food for the remaining days as the chef was good at it. Bishnu...the guy at the bar did a wonderful romantic number on his guitar for us that evening and made our evening so special.
Next night we ordered a Pasta suggested by the staff and it was pathetic. Uncooked, poor presentation, no flavors. Just half boiled Pasta and Cheese.
One day we had ordered Dal Makhani for lunch and it was ten times spicier than it should be. We had ordered Mushroom rice on the side and got steamed rice instead. We thought that it's been enough of keeping quiet and told the staff there that the Dal Makhani was not edible and we had ordered for another rice. We waited longer and got new preparations served. This time they served ordinary Dal, nowhere near to Dal Makhani. Apparently, they don't know how to make it but have Dal Makhani mentioned twice in their limited menu.
Last night we ordered only paranthas...Cauliflower (gobhi), Potato (aaloo)..so many of them...'coz we could not think of anything we should eat there. The chef made wonderful Paranthas this time.
My review is a little judgmental as many funny things happened while we ate at Taj Bekal. Have mixed feelings. They have a long way to travel in the food department. Be it quality, taste, presentation. Everything is below par. Normally, any Taj would serve amazing food which would be worth spending those extra bucks. I believe that a chef should make food for others and should not let his own taste / perception dominate his preparations. After being very generous, I would rate food at Taj Bekal 2/5.


BAR

This place faces the pool and is beautifully lit, nice cozy furniture. But, they are yet to acquire their liquor license. Most of the times there is no one in the bar. So, if you happen to be around for a little longer, someone will come and ask you if you'd like a drink. Without the liquor license, the place is just a building. You can have some cocktails made with beer. Guy at the bar..Bishnu did a green dazzle and a red eye for us. There are a few wine options available as well. This should be a happening place once they have a license and guests pouring in.


TAJ STAFF

Leaving apart all the issues with food. The staff at the resort is excellent. Every time we went Kayaking...a guard would accompany us in another Kayak so that we felt comfortable. They would run around to take care of our requests. On a day we asked one of them to join us for a game of Carom...sportingly, she did so in her duty hours. They would arrange medicines for you at any time of the day. You will always find them attentive towards the guests irrespective of a low turnout in these early days.
The staff is very courteous and have a never say 'no' attitude...which is very Taj like.
I would like to mention Roshan (trainee), Jerimen Deewan (Front Office), Manoj (restaurant), Bishnu (Bar), Smitha (trainee), the security guards, Manu (restaurant) for their wonderful attitude and zeal to understand the needs of the guests.
You can count on the staff for anything. Always smiling. Every person employed at the property would make sure that they greet you if you pass by. They'll make you feel special and pampered.
5/5 for the staff at Taj Bekal. Most of them will remain familiar faces for years to come. They love their job, they love their resort. In the hands of its employees, the resort can overcome every issue in the times to come.



HOUSEKEEPING

The rooms are very big...which is a great thing. But to maintain every nook and corner of these rooms, they will have to work out of their skins. We found many areas in our room that were untouched and had dust accumulated on top. The balcony area remained unchecked. No one bothered to get rid of the water accumulated around the open shower.
They are aware of the issue with the stopper in the tub...for now they just fix it in their own way. No one bothered to clean the tub on another day.
When we had entered our room on the first day, it was prepared for a single person.
At least twice we had to ask them to replenish toiletries.
The person in-charge of Housekeeping had visited our room personally and asked us about our preference in fruits. This shows they are trying hard but will need to be very careful. Some of the fruits had gone stale in the tray as they were never moved till the time we checked out.
There are about 20 trainee staff members who would not be a part of the Hotel after a few months. There might be an issue with the motivation levels of some of them leading to these minor but visible flaws.


SPA CENTRE

The main SPA centre is under construction. Once done, it should be the largest SPA center in South-East Asia. As of now, they have a dedicated room for some 4 or 5 services that they have. We did not venture there as it appeared very chaotic due to the ongoing construction.


WHAT TO DO IN BEKAL

Bekal Fort...Go there in the morning...has beautiful patches of lawn maintained. you can walk to the extreme west from the entrance and then exit towards the virgin shores. Breath taking view...cool breeze...Time would just fly sitting here. You can spot some fisherman in the sea, crabs on the shore. Click a few pics.

Ananthapuram Temple...This is a 3000 year old temple, surrounded by water on all sides. The approach to the temple is very dusty. Go with no expectations. And, feel the magic there. There is a resident crocodile with whom the priests have a way of communicating. It has a name too. The priest stood at a distance of just two meters to this seven feet croc and called it as if it was his baby.
Make sure you reach here by 12:30...and attend the prayer (with all chantings, shehnai playing, bells ringing). Guys will have to remove their shirts. After the prayer....one must definitely have lunch served by the temple. They arranged a special seating for us in their kitchen. So authentic...sitting on the floor, eating on banana leaves with hands (no spoons), rice, sambhar (this one was absolutely perfect), vegetable, dal, and payasam (delicious rice based sweet). So well cooked. Very delicious. And, the love factor. Two priests just stood by us all the time we were eating. They found someone who could speak our language..and asked us if we needed anything. So wonderful, such lovely people. They will appreciate if you dispose off your banana leaves in the back yard after eating. The beauty of this place is in the fact it has been untouched by tourists. Don't know how long will it remain like this though.

A trip to Bekal Fort and Ananthapuram Temple would cost you around 2000 bucks in a Taj vehicle. You can stop by to buy some local pickles, oils etc.


VERDICT
Would give it a 3.5/5. But additional 0.5 for the amazing staff. So, 4/5. This is an amazing setting for any kind of vacation (as a couple, friends, solo, family). The resort is well maintained. Rooms are excellent. Spend your time Kayaking, at the Entertainment room, take a walk at the beach, chill in the pool. The place is brilliantly lit in the night with extensive use of LED lights. It's all perfect. With the kind of determination they have, I have no doubts that the food department will see a revolution. The place has great accessibility from Mangalore Intl. Airport. North Kerala is mostly untouched by tourists, giving this place a unique edge. This is going to be one of the most coveted resorts in south-east Asia in the years to come. For now, if you get a good deal, this place is totally worth it. Or, you can wait for a few months when they have everything in place.

Room Tip: Superior Charm rooms are great value for money. Easily accessible to most all facilities. Some of t...
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
17 Thank anysh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mumbai
Level 5 Contributor
15 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 February 2012

I had a planned a holiday at Vivanta by Taj at Bekal after reading a couple of reviews on trip advisor and fell in love with the hotel pics provided on the Vivanta Website. I got in touch with the front desk manager who provided me with a good deal for a 3 night stay in Feb 2012.

We landed at Mangalore Airport and took the airport pre paid non AC taxi (Rs. 1550/- includ taxes) to Bekal instead of the Airport transfers provided by the hotel (Rs. 3800 plus taxes one way!) It took us about 1.5 hours to reach Bekal with scenic views on the way.

Upon arrival, a welcome drink and cold towels were given to us. The lobby of the hotel with water ponds all around blew us away. Check in was completed within a couple of minutes and we were taken to our superior charm room in a cute 4 seater buggy. The property of the hotel is about 400 odd acres and almost impossible to cover the whole thing by foot! Since we had mentioned it was our wedding anniversary, the room was decorated beautifully with flowers on the bed, in the bath rub along with an absolutely delicious 1 kg chocolate cake and a welcome card.

The rooms are nice, extremely clean and spacious with a sit out balcony having a swing with views of the backwaters. On one side of the hotel are the backwaters and on the other side is the beach and the sea! Huge bathrooms, with 2 wash basins, 1 indoor and 1 outdoor shower area as well as a big bath tub.

However the indoor shower area has no door or a glass, resulting in water pouring on the bathroom floor and making a complete mess of the bathroom. It needs a door pronto!

Breakfast was included in the room rate and what a huge spread, ranging from fresh juices to health drinks, cereals, eggs and traditional south indian food. They have 10 different varieties of tea leaves imported from Germany! I tried the apple cinnamon tea and it was yumm. Freshly ground coffee gave our mornings a fantastic kick start.

The area in Bekal is still under development, so besides the hotel, there are no other restaurants or beach shacks. The hotel has 2 restaurants - Latitude and By the bay (a seafood restaurant on the beach, still under construction). Excellent keralite food as well as continental, didnt like the North Indian preparations much. I found my vegetable stew a little too spicy and was immediately given a huge bowl of curd and 2 complimentary desserts to pacify my taste buds that were on fire!

The housekeeping staff is excellent and take care of all your needs and comforts. Every evening the bath tub was filled with bubbles and decorated with flowers, the bed had fancy towel decorations in the form of animals. We were truly pampered to the hilt with a pillow service where one could request any of the 10 pillow selections!

The Bekal fort is just 5 mins away from the hotel by a taxi provided by the hotel.

Activities such as Kayaking, Archery and Cycling are complimentary by the hotel and should definitely not be missed out. We went kayaking in the backwaters twice - once in the evening around 5 pm and the other early morning at 7 am. It was magical, with birds and coconut trees all around us with all the peace and tranquility in the world!

The beach is 500 metres away from the hotel, and is absolutely clean with a lifeguard and lounge chairs provided by the hotel. However swimming in the sea is not encouraged as the waters can get very choppy and rough. Its a virgin beach with very few visitors making it almost like a private one.

The swimming pool is not too big and just 4 metres in depth but is in a fantastic location and swimming under the stars and the moon makes you feel like your not in the country any more.

The lawns around the backwaters are well maintained with coconut trees, hammocks as well as a couple of cute gazebos where they arrange for a private dinner on request.

The spa - Jiva Spa is still under construction and should be ready by next month. They also have a bar called the Ivory which at the moment unfortunately only serves wine and beer.

Its been less than 2 months since the hotel opened up, but the service the Taj provides is outstanding. Even the tiniest request is taken into consideration and executed efficiently, making me immediately think of the hospitality in Bali.

Am sure once the word spreads around about the property, the room rates will hike up.
I requested to see the Premium villas with the private pool and found that the plunge pool didnt have too much privacy and the bathroom of the villa half the size as compared to the superior charm rooms. I was informed that super premium villas are under construction at the moment.

On one of the nights, an outdoor party had been arranged for 100 odd members of a corporate group whose theme was Bollywood. Loud blaring hindi dance music played on till 10.30 in the night disturbing everyone else in the hotel having dinner as well as the tranquility of the place. This is definitely not expected by a Taj hotel and should have been carried out indoors rather than outdoors.

Overall we had a fantastic stay and were truly upset when we had to leave the hotel once our holiday was over! Would recommend this place to friends and family in a heart beat especially as a romantic getaway for honeymooners! Pictures dont do justice to the place and one has to see it to believe it.

Room Tip: Choose a room facing the backwaters with a balcony rather than a sit out area. Rooms facing the beac...
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Salz00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pune, Maharashtra, India
Level 5 Contributor
49 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed 6 February 2012

Awesome place!!! Have no words to describe the comfort and luxury that this place offers.....No doubt, it costs a lot. But it is definitely worth it. Being a new property, there are just a few visitors....the villas offer complete privacy.....the interiors are too good......the beach is nice and clean, but really deep at some spots. So one has to be very careful!!!

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Kshitija A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mangalore, India
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 February 2012

New property with excellent service, ideal for a 2 day rest.

Room Tip: All rooms r gr8.
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  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Drkrishnaprasad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Vivanta by Taj Bekal

Property: Vivanta by Taj Bekal
Address: Kappil Beach, Bekal 671319, India
Phone Number:
Region: India > Kerala > Kasaragod District > Bekal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 4 Hotels in Bekal
Price range (per night): $192 - $490
Hotel Class:5 star — Vivanta by Taj Bekal 5*
Number of rooms: 71
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Vivanta By Taj Bekal Kerala

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