Trivandrum is blessed to have two world-famous beach towns nearby, Kovalam and Varkala. Varkala has some of the best pristine beaches in Kerala, but unlike Kovalam beach, Varkala Beach is a cliff beach. Varkala is just about 50 kms from Trivandrum but the drive would take at least an hour and a half through the narrow stretch of road that we call NH 66. However, the last 12 kms or so after deviating from the highway is really good as you reach Varkala town.
Further down on the main road after the deviation that goes to Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasham Beach, is Gateway Varkala, a part of IHCL SeleQtions hotels. The resort property is perched between the majestic red cliffs on a hillock overlooking the Arabian Sea and is located close to the Kerala Tourism’s Tourist Information Centre and the Government Guest House at Janardhanapuram.
We had been planning a trip to Taj Varkala much before the summer holidays but by the time the trip materialised during the Dusherra holidays, the property had become Gateway Varkala (as part of their rebranding exercise). As we waited for the check-in, the first thing that caught my attention was the beautiful view from the lounge – lush green on both sides with shades of blue in the centre. It was just wonderful.
We checked into our SeleQtions Suite which offered an excellent panoramic view of the Arabian Sea and lush greenery around from the room as well as the balcony. With the blue swimming pool in the foreground, the view was just amazing and I couldn’t seem to get enough of it. After a brief rest, we headed out to the fabulous pool which was clean and well maintained at the right temperature. It was such a pleasure to while away some time in the pool. The lights were on by the time we headed back to our room. By the way, the poolside ‘Sunken Bar’ offers the option of serving a drink (beer or wine only) while you are seated inside the pool. (Well, I didn’t try it)
Since Coastal Kitchen, the signature Kerala cuisine restaurant at Gateway Varkala was under renovation, food was served in the lounge and that made it an ideal location for a very relaxed evening with family and friends, of course, in the company of your favourite wine or beer. We had spicy crisp Goby fry for starters followed by salads and the main course. Finished off with some fresh-cut fruits and the desserts. The dinner menu was a mix of different cuisines – South Indian, North Indian and Indo-Chinese – Fish chilli fry, Nadan kozhi curry, Egg masala, Urulei roast, Baked vegetables, Pal katti (paneer) khorma, Veg jalfry, Bhindi kurkure, Dal tadka, Veg noodles, Spiced chicken salad, Tender coconut soufflé, Strawberry moose & Lava cake.
Early the next day morning, we headed to the picturesque Varkala beach, which was just a short trek down the property. Before it was too hot, we went back to the hotel and tucked into an elaborate spread of continental and Indian breakfast items. It was an ideal way to start a lazy day.
Before lunch, I spent some time exploring the property and its surroundings as the family went back to the pool. There was a cultural centre and an Ayurveda Centre but I didn’t venture there. Although there was a children’s park, a Table Tennis table and a Foosball table in the lounge ensured that the kids were occupied for most of the time and they didn’t sit in front of the TV or held the Tab for long.
Lunch from the Coastal Kitchen restaurant was a rather simple affair – starting with Vazhapoo (banana blossom/koomp) cutlets as the appetizer followed by Mula (Bamboo) biriyani and Kerala thali. The vazhapoo cutlets with the tangy tomato chutney were spicy and delightful. The chicken biriyani was absolutely delicious and had rich flavours from the bamboo in which it was cooked. The non-vegetarian thali was an assorted selection of dishes from the Kerala cuisine, highly recommended for especially those from outside Kerala.
As we headed back to the city; great location, amazing views, fabulous pool and good food were the highlights of our ‘home away from home’ experience at the Gateway Varkala. It was a perfect getaway for a peaceful lazy break with family. Highly recommended!!
Check out Gateway Varkala – IHCL SeleQtions for details and reservations.