Kochi can still offer a visitor some scenic options to explore — even on a whirlwind trip

One and a half days of back to back coffee over conversations in a conference hall laced with PowerPoint presentations. At the end of it all, I surprise myself when I almost say aloud, ‘I can forego the sea for the spa.’

What works for me is that I am at an opportune place, the Crowne Plaza Kochi in Maradu, Ernakulam, which has Sohum, a 25,000 square feet spa, said to be one of the largest in a Kerala hotel. Well, all the more better then!

Its interiors — based on traditional Kerala architecture with wooden panels that go up to the ceiling and high pillars that have intricate carvings, plus the snow white couches, a swing, some diyas, and a floral alpana on a giant brass bowl, can make a drained out visitor half relaxed already. The rest is done by the efficient employees of the spa. In my case, I come out of it half an hour later with a well-worked-on neck and shoulders, laced with a warm cup of herbal tea.

Crowne Plaza Kochi is a year-old property run by the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The hotel’s general manager Sanjay Kaushik says Kochi being an expanding city, it gets mostly business travellers. With a sizeable swimming pool, a 24-hour well-appointed gym, a spacious spa, a 24-hour lounge, a super fast laundry service, a speedy Internet connectivity, a host of conference rooms with varying capacity among other amenities clearly speak of it. The hotel, says Kaushik, “has 269 business rooms and suites with a panoramic view of backwaters and the city.” The all-day dining restaurant, Mosaic, serves Asian and Western cuisine. The seafood specialty restaurant, Trilogi, features a live kitchen. “Then there is Aroma Lounge and Deli which serve a fine selection of Indian and international tea and coffee.”

One of the high points of my visit to Crowne Plaza Kochi is certainly the food served by its team of chefs at Trilogi. The meal is an improvisation of traditional Kerala food. It begins with a seafood and tender coconut broth served with prawns on skewers made of coconut leaf. The spiciness of the broth hits your throat right from the first gulp but you are so busy enjoying it that there is no time to complain.

Next in line is a ari meen pollichathu, served with spiced crushed tapioca, idiappam, a kokum infused curry sauce with banana crisp. Awesome!

Thereafter arrives on the table an orange sorbet. You will love Trilogi’s prawn vada served with crispy fried masala squid and a chilli mango sauce. I wrap my meal there with two traditional desserts — palada payasam, made of rice flakes cooked in sweetened milk and ela ada, a steamed rice and banana pudding that comes to you wrapped in banana leaf.

The hotel bar, placed on one end of its huge lobby, has limited service. So far, it has the license to serve only wine and beer.