It generally takes a very special situation for me to consider dropping $300+ per night on a hotel room. I rarely see the value in that high a spend for what is essentially a bed and shower in most cases. And when I do stay at such hotels I certainly have higher expectations of them. After all, for that much more money there must be something more that comes with it, right?
The Vivanta by Taj, Malabar Cochin is generally the most expensive property in Kochi and it was certainly not in my price range for the trip. But when things got screwed up at the hotel I was actually booked at and we ended up there I was certainly willing to give it a look and see how the other half lives.
First impressions were solid. The fact that we arrived on foot certainly confused them a bit but they barely missed a beat, welcoming us in and getting us situated in our room reasonably quickly. The room was, by nearly every measure, quite lovely.
Well appointed and the fainting couch rather than a regular chair was a nice touch. Ditto on it being large enough that the desk could face out the window rather than into the wall.
OK, the view could’ve been a bit better, but someone has to get the lesser sight lines and I cannot really complain too much there.
The window in the bathroom was a little strange, but we lowered the shade and took care of that.
So the room was fine. Probably not 8x better than the room we were in prior, but definitely better. What else should come with the higher rate? Location and service are two bits I definitely expect.
The location and views were top notch, so long as you didn’t want to leave the property. If you wanted to visit Fort Cochin, where the history really is, that’s a ferry ride away and not necessarily an easy one to get to (though we arrived on it just fine). I also heard rumors of a private boat shuttle over to the Fort but I never actually saw it in action so I don’t really know.
Service was mostly good, though there were definitely some holes as well. Being greeted by name from a staff member to whom I hadn’t introduced myself was a nice touch. The pool staff rarely cleaning up the area when guests left, routinely running out of towels and being slow on the beer service was notably less impressive. When it was good it was a solid product. But when it was bad, it was pretty insulting considering the prices being charged.
The other thing that was surprisingly disappointing was the quality of the basic amenities. Things like towels that were more scratchy than soft. Yeah, it is a little thing and I certainly still ended up dry at the end of my shower, but those little things are where a hotel that wants to be a true luxury property should shine.
The food at the couple on-site restaurants we tried was pretty good, though not the best meals we had in town. Not particularly surprising given that there were a couple very good restaurants available. Not sure that I really expected more (or if I should have), but it wasn’t amazing. Some decent flavors at least in most meals.
Oh, and they gave us little gifts at check-out. I got a collection of local spices and my wife a ceramic beaded necklace. Definitely a nice touch and a mark in the plus column.
The Vivanta Malabar was nice. It was even great in some areas. But it definitely didn’t demand the rates they were charging. Neither the location, service nor rooms were that much better than other options in town. Then again, it did have rooms and I needed one, so I suppose there’s something to be said for that level of value.
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