It has been almost a week since I returned from my second vacation in Kumarakom and the first one at Zuri resorts. I had been waiting for this vacation for a long time and because on my previous visit to Kumarakom, we had lunch at the Zuri and decided to come back and stay here on our next trip. My family and I love the backwaters considering it’s our second trip to the same place in a span of 2 years.
This time however, our vacation was made extra special by our friends at Zuri, even though we were travelling with both our kids (4 yr old son & 1 yr old daughter). The flight from Delhi to Cochin is pretty long and tiring especially if you are travelling with 2 young children, and then another 2 hour drive from the Cochin airport to Zuri, Kumarakom takes a toll on you. But, the fatigue ends as soon as you enter the gates of this amazing property situated right on the Vembanad Lake. We checked in on a Friday afternoon and the hostess was ready to receive us with a tray of fragranced hand towel even before we alighted from our car. The kids instantly took a liking for the place and ran inside the spacious & airy lobby of the resort.
Check in – We were booked for 4 nights in a Presidential Pool villa and they gave us one of the best ones (# 401), with complete privacy and very close to the restaurant block. We were served Cococnut water in hand-weaved baskets, while the hostess checked us in. The total process took lesser time than we did to finish our coconut water and we were greeted by other Manager’s and staff and briefed about the activities available at the resort. We were taken to our Villa in a club car (which the children absolutely loved taking rides on) and it was close to perfect with its simple yet contemporary decor.
The Villa – 401, is one of the best located villas due to its privacy and proximity to the restaurant block. The pool villas have an entrance porch, which leads you to the main door, opening out into a spacious living & dining room. This space has its own LCD television and a toilet with a shower cubicle. The living room opens out to the private pool and lawn. The mini-bar is well stocked and replenished daily. The bedroom is right next to the living room and has another LCD television with a DVD player. It can be separated from the living area by a sliding double wooden door. The bedroom also opens out to the private pool and lawn. The other side of the bedroom leads to a dresser and then to the main toilet. The main toilet is very spacious with 2 wash basins on a large stone counter, a bath tub, a shower cubicle, a WC and a bidet. The highlight however for me was the open to sky shower area which is accessible from the shower cubicle. The fittings in the bathroom are very contemporary (Grohe) and very efficient.
The notable thing was that the staff had been informed that it was my wife’s birthday. So on entering the villa she was greeted by a bunch of flowers and an amazing chocolate truffle cake. The staff had also taken the liberty of preparing a foam bath along with rose petals (which was very welcome after a long tiring day for her).
The Private pool – The infinity pool is 4 feet deep at its max. Depth and has a Jacuzzi area along with jets. So with little kids you have to be careful or use arm bands and tubes. Wooden decking and grass pavers surround the pool area along with 2 boat shaped lounge chairs for resting (I actually fell asleep on one of them one afternoon). The pool area opens out into a nice private lawn with coconut trees all around. The lawn looks onto the main lake (Lake Vembanad) and you can spend hours sitting by the pool looking at the fishermen and houseboats go by (the only downside for the people who want extreme privacy is that the people on the boats can also look into the pool for the time they are passing by).
I cannot find the words to describe the experience of sitting by the pool with your feet dipped in the water and watching the water and boats for hours, but I can definitely say that it was such a surreal experience that we spend majority of our time doing exactly this. We never got out of the gates of the resorts for the 4 days we stayed, which goes to prove how much we enjoyed our stay inside.
Service – The differentiator which made our vacation all the more memorable was the service and the staff of the resort. They went out of their way to make our stay pleasant and treated us and even other guests like VIP’s. Kudos should be given to the GM (who at the time of our stay although was out of town, has created such high standards of service) for the impeccable service given to us by his staff. Our butler for the villa, Pramod, was really efficient and made sure everything we desired was made available to us.
Our tariff for the villa included, buffet breakfast and dinners, so the first night when we reached the restaurant, we were surprised to see that there was no buffet. I was a little disappointed when the staff told me that we could order al-a-carte (because you can never get that choice when ordering). The executive chef Kuntal and Sree at the restaurant assured me that they would get us anything on the menu which we desired, even if I just want to taste it, which was quite out of the ordinary (considering I had the meal already included in the package). In fact they made sure that we got everything we desired at our table and Kuntal even made special Kerala style prawn curry for me with Appams. Pramod was always around to ask us if things were going as we desired.
The surprise was Chef Kuntal & Sree’s suggestion for a bar-be-que at our private lawns for the following (Saturday) night. The arrangement for the dinner much exceeded our expectations. When we returned from our sunset cruise that evening, we were amazed to see a well laid-out table for 4, which proper crockery and cutlery, a chef & bar-be-que station, and Pramod over seeing the arrangements. As the sun set, to our surprise they switched on green LED lights all around the garden which they had decorated while we were gone. The food and menu decided by Chef was perfect and considering my wife is vegetarian and I am a non vegetarian, they managed to create a lot of choices for both our palates. It was a very special evening for us.
The next night thy surprised us again with a Sadhya, an authentic Kerala style meal, on a
banana leaf. The food was again different and they staff and chef again had out done themselves. The food at Zuri is awesome and the restaurant staff go out of their way to make you feel special.
Siby at the breakfast was always his gracious self and even the day we checked out he made sure he got some sandwiches and muffins packed for us for our long journey ahead. The chef prepared a khicdi (a preparation of rice and lentils in ghee) for the kids every afternoon which was delivered on time at our room. The just wanted to make sure we had an amazing experience and above all for the food and milk they arranged for the kids they never billed us for them (except for one time when a waiter by mistake sent us a bill for the Khicdi which the manager immediately reverted and apologized).
The Spa – I never used the Spa, but my wife did use it for one session. She however felt that the high service standards set by the restaurant staff and the rest of the hotel did not reflect in the service at the Spa. When everything else is impeccably perfect, even a minor miss in service and value cannot go un-noticed. As mentioned to us, if this is one of the largest spas and Zuri is a spa destination, the value and service quality should supersede the high standard of quality set at the rest of the resort.
Another recommendation to the hotel would be maintenance and re-polishing of furniture especially in the pool villas as they do face a lot of wear and tear due to water. The corners and edges of a lot of teak furniture definitely require regular re-polishing.
I have read reviews criticizing service or food, sometimes even the presence of insects. I have travelled extensively, and when you choose to stay at a resort like this which is part of the nature, you should be happy that nature comes to your doorstep. You can always protect yourself from insects and mosquitoes, but the overall experience of being close to nature is priceless. As for the service, we must consider that everyone has their share of good and bad days. As long as we are patient, the staff always does its job to the best of their ability.
Overall, staying at Zuri was a near perfect vacation for my family and me. For us Zuri was the destination itself not just another hotel where we came back from a long day of sight-seeing. Zuri is a dream destination with high standards of service and an exotic location. A perfect blend of contemporary and the traditional
We would love to go back there again!!!
The Presidential pool villas are the best, try to book in advance and get one away from the port jet...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC