Stay the night: Marari Beach Resort, Kerala

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Laze in the sun all day, then learn how to make a cracking curry. That's what Sarah Barrell did

Open on three sides to a headily perfumed vegetable garden and topped by a neat palm thatch, the "kitchen" at Marari Beach Resort provides a sublime setting for its newly launched cooking classes.

Marari is located on the beach, 60 miles from Cochin in Kerala, and cooks aren't put through their culinary paces until sandy pleasures are done for the day. We tour the vegetable garden at dusk, harvesting freakishly shaped veggies, such as snake gourd, and find 25 different types of aubergine, none the colour you'd imagine. That hue is found in a crop of spinach instead. This three-acre garden even has a little rice paddy.

There's a strong focus on conservation at Marari. The garden is organic, and across the hotel, rainwater is collected, water is solar-heated and plastic is avoided. The Malabar Coast, where the Arabian Sea meets the Indian Ocean, is rich in sea life: blue crabs and fat mussels, giant prawns, lobster, shark and baby octopus. Add to these fishy varieties Kerala's exquisite spices – notably pepper, cardamom and ginger – plus tropical limes and coconuts and you have the recipe for a cracking curry.

And that's exactly what we make: snake gourd with coconut, ginger and chilli; finely shredded cabbage with cumin, ginger and curry leaves; a supremely refreshing spinach and papaya soup; plus a delicate reef cod cooked in mint and banana leaves. We dine by candlelight, on the counter top where we prepared the food; it's one of the most memorable meals I've ever eaten.

The rooms

Modelled to mirror Mararikulam, the local fishing village, the resort's 52 thatched Garden Villas, Pool Villas and Deluxe Pool Villas are spread across 55 acres of gently landscaped grounds. No trees were felled for its construction, which was done with local wood, tile and stone. The villas are connected by pathways that wind between thickets of trees and lotus ponds, down to the coconut grove that shades the edge of a pristine, white-sand beach. Each villa is allocated its own stand of palm trees, with sunbeds and hammocks. All the rooms have air-conditioning, ceiling fans and seductive indoor/outdoor bathrooms.

The food and drink

The main restaurant serves richly spiced fish curries, cooked in wood ovens, eaten with a traditional "fisherman's spoon" – a Jack Fruit leaf. Good but not as tasty as the ones we cooked. Hearty buffet breakfasts are also served in this cane-weave traditional Malayalam building. The Beach Grill cooks superb lobster, eaten with the sound of surf pounding just beyond the palm grove. The resort's pagoda-like bar does one of the best fresh ginger-lime-sodas I have ever tasted anywhere in Kerala. Mid-afternoon, the village's bell-tinkling chai cart arrives for an impressive display of "metre long tea" pouring.

The extras

A huge range of Ayurvedic programmes is led by the resident doctor at the traditional clinic-like spa. Medicinal potions are magicked out of roots and leaves grown on site, beautifully displayed in glass jars on polished wooden shelves. The sunrise hatha yoga lessons are authentic, excellent and free. Tennis courts and beach volleyball are also offered. On the terrace of the Club House (home to the resort's only TV, free WiFi and a library), I sat out one of the region's not irregular power cuts, watching a fierce electrical storm bend and strobe light the treetops. The lovely stone swimming pool (which sadly heats up like a curry pot by mid morning), is attended by the cheekiest crows I have ever encountered. Expect to have to defend your sunbed.

The access

The grounds are large but flat. Villas have step access, as does the main restaurant. One room has been adapted for guests with disabilities.

The bill

Transindus (020-8566 3739; transindus.co.uk) offers a nine-day trip to Marari, including B&B, sightseeing tours, backwater excursions, transfers and return flights from £1,395 per person.

The address

Marari Beach Resort, Mararikulam, Alleppey (Alappuzha) 688 549, Kerala, India (00 91 484 3011711; cghearth.com).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss