Review of Soma Kerala Palace - the backwater island resort with great Ayurvedic spa
I just came back from a visit to Soma Kerala Palace island resort in Kochi, after a very refreshing visit. It is an excellent place to relax and rejuvenate, away from the hustle and bustle of the city but still not too far. If you are looking for good Ayurvedic packages in Kochi, go for the Kerala Palace.
I was invited to visit the backwater island resort "Soma Kerala Palace", which is located at a place called "Chembu" near Kochi, on the Kochi - Vaikom - Kumarakom route. We chose to visit the resort on this Sunday afternoon.
I started from my home at Ernakulam. This time, I took my son also with me who has started helping in blogging. He has done a couple of articles already for my blogs and has done some videos as well. We don't want him to get too much into blogging until he finishes his studies but I thought I will take him so that he would get some exposure to what his dad is doing for the living!
We started from Ernakulam after lunch. The route we took was Seaport-Airport road via Kakkanad / Thripunithura / Udayamperur / Puthotta / Chembu. We spotted the board "Kerala Palace" on the right side of the road but I was at a pretty high speed and there were vehicles just behind me. By the time I could stop the car, I had already reached the small bridge called "Murinjapuzha bridge", which is a toll bridge. I paid Rs 3 toll, crossed the bridge, took a U-turn and came back to the private boarding area for the boat to Soma Kerala Palace.
Park and ride the boat to the island resort
We entered through the gate and drove about 100 metres through the mud path within their property to reach the private boat jetty. There was ample parking space for several cars and 2 security staff were on duty to take care of the cars there. There was no covered parking, though. We have to leave the cars in the open private property.
All the tourists to the resort are taken from here on their private boat. These boats are allowed to operate only up to 6 pm since they have to cruise through small canals which are occupied by the fishermen after 6pm. Any visitors coming to the resort after the evening or those who want to leave in the night due to some emergency have to take another route, which goes about 100 metres close to the property by road and then use a boat to cross the canal to access the resort.
At the end of this private property, there is a waiting area and a heritage style old building hiding behind the trees. The old building gave us some clue on what is awaiting us at Soma Kerala Palace! We introduced ourselves to the security and he was aware that we were coming. While we were waiting for the boat, we started clicking photos and videos of the beautiful Vembanad lake.
Within a few minutes, we spotted the "Shikara boat" approaching our waiting area. It was a small and beautiful boat which can seat 6+ people. We locked the car, got into the boat and that was the beginning of a refreshing trip.
Boat ride to the resort
The boat ride was a good deal. A typical boat ride in the lake for the tourists would cost anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000, but this free ride is included for all the tourists who have a booking in the resort. Our boat passed through the open lake and then entered the narrow but beautiful canals. It was a great view on both sides of the canal with a lot of greenery around. A couple of small country boats passed us with just one or two people. Our boat driver explained they are the villagers living in small islands and the only means of transportation for them to go for grocery or school is those private boats. Almost every house has their own private country style boats, without which they cannot access the mainland.
In about 15 minutes after we started the boat ride, we spotted the resort on the private island in the middle of Vembanad lake. The boat driver took us about half a circle around the island and we got a good view of the entire resort. Without even entering the property, I was sure I am going to give a 5-star rating for it.
Soma Kerala Palace, a true palace rebuilt in the island
We were greeted by the staff at the gate. In fact, there is no gate or formal entrance other than the place for disembarking the boat. Just after the entrance, there is a small, heritage style building with the traditional lamp. We were told there are a welcome drink and a small lobby but we couldn't stop ourselves from looking at the attractive tower overlooking the Vembanad lake. We asked for a quick visit to the tower and the reception manager was happy to escort us to the tower. He was happy to see that we were quite excited about the beauty of the island and the lake. It was really a fabulous view from the top of the tower. The breeze (or, wind?) was pretty heavy and that gave us a feeling of a true vacation!
We took a couple of photos from the top of the tower which gives an excellent view of the resort, lake as well as the surroundings.
We went back to the lobby, enjoyed the welcome drink, which was made of fresh, mixed fruits. The lobby is interesting and reflects the overall ambience of the heritage style resort. There is a small rest area with a few chairs and a lot of books.
A walk around the resort
The location of this resort is its upside. You can walk around the resort property and enjoy the phenomenal view from all sides. My favourite place here was the deck at the corner facing the wide open lake. It was fun to watch the nature, enjoying the nice breeze.
There are well-maintained lawns everywhere, along with good shade and trees.
Allt he rooms are constructed using the wood from centuries-old palaces and houses. Those heritage buildings were acquired by the management, dismantled, transported to the island and re-built carefully retaining the original architecture. People who look for star-rated polished rooms may get disappointed but the old-world charm, featuring classy interiors and light fittings is the primary attraction of Soma Kerala Palace.
There are 9 buildings with 25 rooms in total. These rooms are classified into Maharaja Suite, Yuvaraja Suite and Palace Rooms. The Maharaja suite is their most luxurious room with an additional living room or spacious open balcony. The palace rooms are the standard rooms, which are about 12' x 12' size. The Yuvaraja Suite is placed in between the other two in terms of room size, comfort and view.
Watch this video of Soma Kerala Palace
However, one thing to note here is, every room here is different in terms of views, facilities and architecture. Since each of these buildings is constructed from the old buildings, each of them has its own design. Some toilets even have a bath tube inside while it looks like a last-century toilet from outside. One of the Maharaja suites has a large open patio while another one has an additional living room with a second bed. Another suite room is actually 2 palace rooms that can be combined together to make a suite.
Even the palace rooms are different from each other, depending on which building it is located. If you have any preferences like the view, floor, room size etc, contact the hotel management ahead of your arrival and discuss which room is more suitable for you.
Ayurvedic spa and massaging centre
The ayurvedic spa and massaging centre, along with its heritage architecture, is the key attraction of this resort. The primary goal of many foreign tourists arriving here is looking for the authentic Ayurvedic packages offered by Soma group. Dr. S Baiju Raj, BAMS, a qualified full-time ayurvedic doctor is available here, who prescribes the specific treatment recommended for each person. According to the requirements, body structure and health situation of each visitor, the doctor prescribes a custom treatment plan. Some of the packages offered here are:
These are small packages available for individuals on request. The primary offering there is the long-term treatment (1 week - 1 month), prescribed by the in-house doctor, which helps in cleaning up the entire body, weight reduction etc. We met a tourist here from Germany who has been staying here for 3 weeks and was extremely happy with the ayurvedic treatment she was going through.
Our experience at Soma Kerala Palace
The best part of this resort is its location - ideally set up on a private island in Vembanad lake with an amazing view of the water, fishing nets, country boats and small islands all around.
The entire resort and resort is made of centuries old components of palaces and houses, which were dismantled from its original location and rebuilt here preserving the original architecture. However, rooms are pretty dark due to the dark shade of the wood used and also they have made the lighting very low to match the ambience. If you are used to the very bright lighting in star-rated hotels and expect the same here, you may be disappointed. If you think you would love a heritage palace to live, you are going to fall in love with this place.
The resort landscape and the view from the outdoors make up for any inconvenience you may face due to the heritage style rooms. The very green and well maintained open area gives a very romantic landscape.
There are not many activities and indoor games here. If you are coming here as a group with a plan to do a lot of fun activities, this may not be the right place. But if your goal is to relax and unwind with the nature for a few days, go ahead and book your rooms.
If you looking for Ayurvedic treatment or massaging, go ahead. Soma group is well reputed for the same. I personally reviewed their Ayurvedic spa and facilities. They look far better than many other Ayurvedic spas I have seen in Kerala. Soma has 5 ayurvedic spa rooms here and they all seem to be occupied here, mostly with foreign tourists getting the authentic Kerala Ayurvedic treatments.
Reservation & Contact Information
Soma Kerala Palace
Ernakulam - Vaikom Road
Cochin, Kerala, India.
Pin: 686 615
Phone: +91 4829 271350
Centralised Reservation: Tel: + 91 471 226 61 11
I will give 5 out of 5 for the location. This place is really superb. I wish the staff is a bit more trained and professional. We can see some lack of professional management everywhere. But the location compensates for everything. Starting from the boat ride to the property, every moment is enjoyable.