As the school where I teach has links with a 5* hotel in Kovalam, once a month I get the privilege of spending my weekend there – at least since my return…. So, after just about three weeks back, OMG, am I in need of some pampering….
Since its invasion by 5* hotels, Kovalam is no longer the backpackers’ paradise, but it still attracts huge numbers of tourists, mainly of the more affluent type. This in turn has inflated prices in restaurants and coffee shops; and food prices on the beach front have almost reached Western levels, so an expensive place to visit for the locals or those on an Indian salary. But this weekend, I was one of ‘them’, the ones with the deep pockets and I could indulge! Especially as the ‘room with breakfast’ was complimentary and all the additional luxuries on offer came with a special discount of 20% for me…
But I was most excited by the promise of spending a full night in an air-conditioned room WITH hot water, coffee and a mini-bar… To be cocooned in a layer of cosseting sheets and blankets with only cool air as company and no buzzing insects or cavorting lizards on the ceiling. Bliss! And three swimming pools to choose from and a gym without restrictions on the treadmill. Not to mention the Ayurvedic Clinic (massages) and the Thai inspired Ocean Spa (more massages), and the hair salon, the dentist. And the prospect of a spot of yoga on Sunday morning as a token gesture to International Yoga Day. How could I possibly get bored???
So I had worked out a plan, aiming for a subtle balance between action, relaxation and exposure of the parts of my body that have not seen the sun for absolutely ages…. My memory does not stretch back to the time I last wore a bikini, but to avoid a repeat of the unfortunate baring of white skin when wearing a sari, I have no option but to allow the sun to brown my midriff! Although I have no immediate plans to dress up in the traditional Kerala fashion, I have to be prepared in the event I cannot escape it.
Saturday worked a treat. After being picked up by an air-conditioned taxi from the hotel and surveying my room, I went for a walk along the promenade as the wild Kovalam sea, whipped up by the Westerly monsoon winds, made the beaches too treacherous or actually non-existent. The first layer of tan established and having lunch on the go, I could not resist the temptation of spending a few hours in the cool of the room and having an afternoon siesta – the only sensible thing to do on a hot afternoon. My first foray into the swimming pool did not quite go as planned as I had not anticipated being the only white person in bikini in a pool under the watchful eye of testosterone fuelled Indian young men. But I braved it, ignored the stares and remained in the water as much as possible… I checked out the gym and managed a whole three kilometres until a blister – air-conditioning did not work – cut short my work-out. But Saturday certainly took care of the action part and this left Sunday as a day devoted to relaxation.
I had the most amazing night sleep, the best one since arriving back in India. I gave in to tiredness at the unimaginable hour of 9.30 pm – I never even explored the hotel bar – and did not open my eyes until 7.10 am Sunday morning. Oops, too late to join in with the early morning yoga on the lawn, but still in time to take photographs of the two women and ten men who made the effort. That took care of my contribution to International Yoga Day…
And indeed the buffet breakfast beckoned, an altogether more important affair with waiters on hand to take my order for dosa and massala dosa and bring it to my table to save me the trouble. Five Star luxury requires ‘no effort’ on the behalf of the guests, just sit down and let others do the running – I so could get used to that !!
The rest of the day was devoted to relaxation in the pool and the Ocean Spa. How could I not indulge in a massage, if only to compare it with my lesser budget Varkala massage experience after lying on a sandy beach. So, I decided to not just have a massage, but go for the ‘Eternal Bliss’ experience which started with a one hour long slumber-inducing French Aroma Ritual (massage in layman’s terms), which is probably how I missed the oodles of oil being rubbed in my hair… Wow, that was relaxation at its best! On the other hand, I was rather underwhelmed by the 30 minutes of ‘body polish’ which was reminiscent of being attacked with a scrubbing brush, but boy did it leave my skin baby soft ! And it all culminated in the Floral Milk Bath – it was awesome: instead of playing with bath ducks, I played with rose petals covering and uncovering various parts to ensure the photographs taken by the masseuse (God knows what she must have thought of me….) were suitable for publication… And yes, many had to be discarded as I had not ducked deep enough into the bath and I realised only halfway through the photo shoot… Oooops!!