THE PARK ON VEMBANAD LAKE AND APSARA, THE CRUISER
PUTHENANGADI, ALAPPUZHA DISTRICT
USP: Ethnic plush
It's not a houseboat, it's not a ship. And, it's not a yacht either. Apsara is a floating boutique hotel that has a ‘docking station' — a lovely resort called The Park On Vembanad Lake, in Puthenangadi, Alappuzha District.
Ethnic and eco-friendly, the pathways and gardens of The Park On Vembanad Lake are chic. Some of the smaller granite boulders along the pathways are camouflaged speakers, and soft music emerges from them.
Stretching ahead are sheets of water, with a fisherman or two trying their luck with nets in catamarans. Woven dry coconut palm fronds adorn the roofs (there are pucca ceilings beneath) of the 10 Wi-Fi enabled luxury rooms, all of which face the lake, adding an ethnic touch.
Each room's interiors are custom-designed and the accessories are colour-coordinated. Hyacinth, the restaurant, provides local flavour as well as Continental fare. White tents house the spas.
But, we head straight to Apsara, and board the cruiser. Apsara houses eight cabins on two decks — two below and six above. The cabins are plush, furnished in leather, silk and cotton, and boast LCD TVs, books, films, beds, study tables, etc.
After a recce of the cabins upstairs, we enter the restaurant. Only then do we realise that the cruiser has long left the banks, and that we've been sailing. We take in the breeze on the deck, before tucking into a Kerala buffet, complete with Aleppey fish curry and a very original jackfruit dessert, with the fruit smeared with chilli flakes and salt.
And, then, it's time to succumb to the call of the breeze that lulls you into a siesta.
HOW TO GET THERE
The resort is two-and-a-half hours' drive from Nedumbassery airport, and an hour from the Alappuzha railway station. Driving from Kochi to Alappuzha, turn left after Cherthallai to reach Muhamma. At the end of the narrow road is The Park on Vembanad Lake.
The Park On Vembanad Lake
Deluxe Lake View rooms: Rs. 12,000; Luxury Lake View rooms: Rs. 14,500; Vembanad rooms: Rs. 17,000; and Vembanad suite: Rs. 19,500 (May 1 to August 31)
From September 1to 30, the rates are Rs.15,000, Rs. 17,500, Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 22,500, respectively.
The Apsara cruiser
Single occupancy: Rs. 90,000 and Double occupancy: Rs. 99,000. These rates are for a ‘3 nights/4 days' sailing on APAI basis, inclusive of two-way airport transfers, all meals, daily cruising, sightseeing, and all taxes.
THINGS TO DO
Watch the lake from your room.
Indulge in an Ayurvedic massage at the spa.
Dine at Vallom, the restaurant at Park On Vembanad Lake, while enjoying a live performance.
Buy the local produce at Apsara, and watch a demo of how baskets and other eco-friendly products are made by the neighbourhood women.
Take a refreshing swim in the pool.
Read a book in the balcony, watch the fishermen go by or lounge on Apsara's deck.