Rising like a wave that is permanently poised in mid air, the Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty is a prominent entity that towers over the shoreline of the Bolgatty island.
Emerging out of the shard of land that forms a part of the fragmented shores, this uber luxurious hotel is a familiar landmark in the city of Kochi which lies along the coast of Kerala in India.
Its opulence apart, it also has the unique advantage of being attached to the mammoth Lulu Bolgatty International Convention Center which it manages. This is one of the largest convention spaces in the country and boasts of world class features.
Accompany me as I take you on a tour of its extravagant interiors and delectable cuisine and gaze at its expansive surroundings and panoramic views, as you join me on yet another journey.
Read on for Part 1 – An Overview
About Kochi –
Kochi also known as Cochin, is a port city located in the district of Ernakulum in the state of Kerala, India. It is one of Kerala’s major cities and its present day modern facade continues to hold and nurture within itself, the rich history and heritage which are the legacies bestowed on it by its colonial past.
A port of trade right from the 14th century, it has passed through the hands of the Portugese, Dutch and the British, each of whom have left behind their mark in the form of various monuments, culture and cuisine.
Several channels of the backwaters, weave through Kochi’s land, creating a naturally networked topography that draws tourists in large numbers. The mighty Lake Vembanad which is the longest lake in Kerala, occupies a significant portion of Kochi’s water space and this is also where it pours itself out into the welcoming arms of the Arabian sea.
About Hyatt Hotels Corporation –
Hyatt Hotels Corporation is an American multinational hospitality company that manages and franchises luxury hotels, resorts and vacation properties (excerpt from Hyatt.com)
Grand Hyatt is one of the luxury hospitality brands that belongs to their vast portfolio which is sprinkled across prominent locations across the globe.
About Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty –
(Well at the outset, I am going to seek permission from you my esteemed reader, to allow me to resort to abbreviating the name to GHKB, considering the many number of times I will be using it in this narrative :-D)
The GHKB is a luxury 5 star property managed by Hyatt and owned by the NRI businessman Yusuf Ali who owns the Lulu group in the UAE.
How best does one describe a property that doubles as a resort as well as a business hotel in the heart of the city? The GHKB is located within the city of Kochi and strategically perched at the ‘peninsular’ region of the narrow strip of Bolgatty island, which gives it the added advantage of being a lakefront property with views of the water on either side and hence can aptly be labelled a Luxury Waterfront Urban Resort.
An infant or say toddler that is barely 1.5 years in existence, this giant sized baby which took birth in April 2018, has rapidly grown in stature and taken pride of place as one of Kochi’s most sought after hospitality brands.
Sprawled across an extensive expanse of 26 acres, which within a major city is nothing short of indulgence, the property spreads itself out, indulgently curving across a large portion of the southern end of the Bolgatty island, also known as Mulavukad island.
Multiple shorelines, courtesy the various islands that dot the waters of the Vembanad, contribute towards the sweeping views which are the privilege of guests who sojourn at the hotel.
The curved ‘shorescapes’ are complete with prominent structures that include the Kochi Port Trust building, the Vallarpadam container port, the signature Chinese fishing nets and many other well recognized land(and water)marks.
The waters of the lake gently caress the periphery of the property, offering water based activities right at its doorstep/shorestep.
An overview of the GHKB –
Like its owner Yusuf Ali who is a native of Kerala but is resident in the UAE, the architecture and decor of the GHKB is also an amalgam of the Indian and Arabian. Its Indo Arabic composition has been designed by architects from Wimberly Allison Tong and Goo UK Ltd (WATG), who are the the world’s leading design consultants in the hospitality industry.
The first thing that strikes you as you enter the hotel, is the immensity of the place and generosity of space, with its high ceilings and wide lobby.
There is an element of the waters, in the boat shaped oval reception desks which lie under the metallic gaze of several golden fish that adorn the walls.
A large and very heavy grandfather clock stands sentinel in one corner as if overlooking the proceedings on behalf of its owner, who is said to have specially got it crafted for the hotel.
The main lobby leads to the Grand lounge cum coffee shop with its floor to wall glass windows that permit an indulgent view of the picturesque lake Vembanad, whose large expanse fills the entire frame. The lounge further leads to an outdoor terrace where one can enjoy unhindered views and a cool breeze when the weather is kind.
Features of the GHKB –
Rooms and Villas –
The hotel has 264 rooms that include an impressive 38 suites and 4 villas, which is the highest ratio of suites to rooms as compared to any other property in the city.
The rooms again, do not compromise on space or style or comfort and have all the basic and beyond basic luxuries in place.
The decor is stylish and modern with clean lines and no unnecessary frills. All the rooms are equipped with Smart IPTVs that are programmed with the In Room Dining menu and other features, individual air conditioning control, spacious spa inspired bathrooms with rain showers and bathtubs, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar, iron and ironing board and electronic safe.
Fresh flowers and modern paintings depicting glimpses of Kerala, brighten the space.
The mineral water is provided in glass bottles and there is a complimentary fruit platter in the room.
Floor to ceiling glass walls provide spectacular views of the waters, from all the rooms that face the lake.
The front facing rooms that are on lower floors, offer garden and city views and those that are on the 5th floor and higher give you a glimpse of the backwaters and the shoreline that is referred to as the Marine Drive.
So if it is the stunning views of the lake Vembanad that you seek, then make sure you have a room on the higher floors at the back of the hotel.
The key card holder is passe here and a centralized switch holds the power that your fingertips can unleash with a mere touch. Apart from the main switch, various zones are controlled by their individual stylish panels and the lighting and air conditioning in the bathroom, bedroom or living room (in case of a suite) can be manipulated accordingly.
Motorized curtains both sheer and heavy, dramatically roll together or apart at the touch of the respective symbol on the very same switchboards, providing entertainment for those who want to play 😀
Room categories –
There is quite an array of room choices depending on size, direction, additional balcony, bed types etc.
So you have what sounds like a math problem in permutation with the 1 king bed, the 1 king bed back water view, 1 king bed club access, 2 twin beds, 2 twin beds back water view, 2 twin beds club access and 2 twin beds club access with terrace. Now is that not a mouthful or should I say Math’ful? 😀
All these rooms have 49 inch smart IPTVs. Club rooms provide Grand Club access (more on that below), view rooms face the Vembanad lake and the rest of the rooms are front facing.
If the rooms offer this mindboggling variety, then can the suites be far behind ?
The Grand Suite King offers all the amenities of the rooms and in addition, has 2, 55 inch smart IPTVs, a separate living room and bedroom, a walk in wardrobe, 2 toilets and a large bathroom.
The Grand Terrace Suite has all this and also nearly 50 sq ft of terrace space that opens to unhampered, splendid views of the Lake Vembanad.
The Grand Executive Suite is a superior category suite that in addition the the above, also has a dining area, a private terrace space and a kitchenette that is equipped with a fridge, microwave, toaster, built in hob and hood. There are 4 of these suites.
The Mother (father/either parent/whatever) of all suites however, is the Presidential suite which obviously has all of the above plus a second bedroom, an entertainment area and the best views of the Vembanad lake.
All the suites offer Grand Club access (more on this below).
My suite (or as I call it – Suite Caroline) –
I wallowed in the luxury of the Grand Suite King, a space fit for a queen 😀 My suite was marvellous, the bath was luxurious, the bed was really comfortable and even the insomniac in me was appeased.
My favorite spot was the round, soft sofa where I could curl up and gaze at infinity.
And yes I went on a roll with my curtains, under the guise of shooting theatrical videos 😀 … and yes I called it ‘Screen Play’ You can view it at the end of this section on activities.
The only thing I missed was the balcony (which I discovered only later that some suites were blessed with) because the glass was a hindrance to my camera which was thirsting to drink in of the views of the Vembanad and beyond … and the reflection was an irritant.
For those who want a feel of home … or maybe a feel of what a home should actually be :-D, there is a choice of 4 luxurious spaces that are duplex villas which are thoughtfully placed just that minimal bit away from the main entrance, with an option of also being accessed without needing to cross through the common lobby.
3 of the villas are 2 bedroom and one is a 3 bedroom space. They are named after spices like Cassia, Badian, Caraway etc.
All the villas have a living room, dining space, kitchenette, bedrooms and a business center (study).
There is a separate room and wash area for the domestic help.
Each villa also has its own plunge pool besides also having easy access to the main pool through the back door.
These villas are sought after mainly among Arab guests who bring along their staff and children and find these facilities most conducive for a relaxing holiday, either short term or for a long duration. The villas are also popular among some of the prominent families of Kerala and even some of the film stars.
The residents also have the added advantage of being able to host house parties as in one’s own home and there are times when the guests entertain numbers as large as 40 people at their villa.
Grand Club –
The Grand Club is an exclusive space where eligible guests are provided with express check ins, daily breakfasts, all day tea and coffee (6.30am – 11.30pm) and cocktail and canape hours from 6pm – 8 pm. Please note that cocktails are subject to the local laws and the first of every month in Kerala is a ‘dry day’ hence the beverages are restricted to mocktails.
The daily breakfast is a subset of the main breakfast and is quite substantial. More pictures in the post on cuisine.
The club also offers a lounge area and a 2 hour use of the boardroom once during the stay.
Guests belonging to a total of 100 rooms which include the club rooms on the 5th and 6th floor, all the suites from 1st to 7th floor, and the villas, are eligible to avail of the Grand Club facilities.
Club room guests can also avail of complimentary one way airport transfers and the suite and villa guests have a 2 way transfer.
Dining options –
The GHKB takes its cuisine very seriously and each of its 3 restaurants that span Kerala, Thai and Continental cuisine, are a labor of love and passion which is evident when one interacts with their dedicated chefs.
The Grand Club also has an exclusive dining space where eligible guests can have their breakfast, beverages and canapes at relevant times of the day.
The Colony Bar is a 4 month old addition to the GHKB and is already a favorite hang out in Kochi.
There is also a pool bar where you can sip while you dip.
More about all this in the post on cuisine.
Banquet halls and meeting rooms –
GHKB offers a range of spaces for meetings and functions within the main hotel.
The Grand Ballroom –
Grand Ballrooms are typical of all the Grand Hyatts. The one here can accommodate 1000 people and is around 7500 sq ft in size. This also has a large foyer area and access to the waterfront.
The Residence –
This provides architect designed, 8 residence style meeting spaces which are ideal for smaller and more intimate meetings, casual interactions, conferences, working lunches, breakouts from larger meetings etc. The spaces are flexible and versatile and can be used for a range of activities.
Warm earthy tones, soft lighting, cozier spaces, wood panelling, striking works of art and elements of architecture that are inspired by the temples and traditional houseboats of Kerala, form the vivid decor of these spaces.
Grand Salon 1 and Grand Salon 2 are around 1000 sq ft each and can house 120 people each.
Atelier 1, 2 and 3 are smaller spaces that can accommodate 10-60 people.
The Living Room and The Library can host 50 people each.
The Chef’s Table enables the guest to curate the catering menu, ably guided by the Master Chefs who offer an array of diverse food and beverage options, thus completing the entire experience of the meeting or conference. The Chef’s kitchen is where food sampling can take place or even where food related video or photo shoots can be organized.
The Lulu Convention Center –
In addition to the above spaces, what makes the GHKB unique apart from its grand decor and elaborate features, is the one of its kind convention center that is among the largest in the country. This is a space that offers world class facilities that open up endless possibilities, right from exclusive private functions and ceremonies with groups as small as 10 numbers to corporate events and large conferences.
The center has its own separate entrance gate and can also be accessed through the main hotel lobby. A doorway segregates the hotel space from the convention center.
This Lulu Convention Center is the highlight of the property and with a total of over 60,000 sq ft of meeting space distributed among customizable halls and over 30,000 sq ft of outdoors, it can accommodate upto an impressive number of 10,000 people at a time.
Some of the spectacular features of the center are, separate porches leading to the various halls, exclusive entrances and lounges for VIPs, in built dais, translation booths, press balconies, mood lighting, retractable auditorium style seating that withdraws in 90 seconds, flexible spaces that can be bifurcated or trifurcated, large foyers, access to the lawns on the waterfront, parking facility for 1000 cars and not 1… not 2 … but 3 helicopters too 😀
The center provides a one stop location for private functions like destination weddings, where the various ceremonies can be conducted at different spots like the lawns, the halls etc. The features that are provided, even include a bridal studio and to a large extent, eliminate the need to step outside the premises for the entire duration of the function.
As far as cuisine is concerned, there is a team of culinary experts who offer curated menus that encompass a range of local and global offerings.
In its short span of 1.5 years, the Lulu convention center has seen an exceptional number of events that include 250 MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) events and 11 big fat destination weddings.
It has also seen high profile events like the Association of Physicians of India Conference (APICON), the Indian Ocean naval Symposium IONS2019 which brought together heads of state and defence personnel from 28 countries, the International Advertising Association (IAA) World Congress which brought celebrities like Amitabh Bachan and other such events.
Events of such stature have also firmly placed Kochi and Kerala on the global map and the conferences that would have earlier required an international venue, can now be easily conducted within India itself.
The two main halls are the Vembanad with a total capacity of 2000 pax and the Liwa that can hold 3000 pax. There are the also the options of the smaller Diwan and Nattika halls.
Other features of the resort –
An indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, a spa, gym, yoga center, salon, an onsite gift shop etc.
Amenities and facilities –
The GHKB has a host of amenities that provide a range of entertainment for children and adults.
They also have a vast list of local and traditional experiences that they offer in Kochi and its surrounding regions.
Details about all these are available in the following post on activities.
Phone and internet connectivity –
Remember that you are in the heart of a major city in Kerala. Hence connectivity is as good as in any big city of India and I am bothering to include this section here only because I like to maintain my story templates 😀
The hotel also provides wifi access to the guests.
Visitor profile –
GHKB is a place where there is something for everyone. Because of its nature of spanning the resort cum business hotel category, this place is suitable for every kind of traveller. Also Kerala being the ayurvedic capital so to speak, this is also a ‘wellness’ destination, ably aided by the spa at the hotel which provides a range of treatments.
It is an ideal option for those who want the pleasures of a resort within the comforts and connectivity of the city and the profile of its visitors would range right from solo guests, to families, to couples, to those seeking wellness therapies, to large groups and of course to business travellers.
In short, it is a destination for leisure travellers, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) and destination weddings.
Social and environmental commitment –
Under Hyatt Thrive, which is the Corporate Social Responsibility platform of the Hyatt group, the GHKB conducts several programs geared towards environmental sustainability and community development.
They believe in women’s empowerment and a sizable percentage of their staff across different departments and hierarchical levels are women, including the ex director of security. This is also one of the few 5 star properties where the head chefs of restaurants are female.
The menus are designed with local produce in mind, which is procured wherever possible, especially where seafood is concerned, thus reducing their carbon footprint. The Malabar restaurant sources most of its ingredients from the local markets and tries to use organic products as far as feasible.
The Colony grill grows its own microgreens in its specialized equipment and also uses some local ingredients to add a twist to global fare as in the Jackfruit seed hummus and millet based tabbouleh.
There is a conscious effort to shun non eco friendly material. The usage of plastic is minimal in the restaurants and the rooms are provided with glass bottles. At the banquets there are bubble top water dispensers instead of individual water bottles.
The existence of the convention centre, generates a lot of employment in various fields like transport operators and other local vendors. In fact the surrounding hotels also benefit from the spillover when the groups are large, thus fostering a healthy sense of support within the industry.
The GHKB supports the local communities including women’s groups, self help groups, prawn and crab farms etc.
Visits and sponsored meals to old age homes, schools, orphanages, women’s shelters and other such activities are undertaken from time to time.
Best time to visit –
Kochi is a year round destination. Being on the coast, it has a climate that is hot and humid in summers. The rains last from June to September and the peak season (winter would not really be the right term :-D) ranges from mid September to March.
While this is an identifiable high season, it should be said however that the weather does not actually seem to deter tourists from visiting at any point of the year.
April and May are when the schools close for their annual break in India and hence a holiday destination like this is in demand in that period.
The monsoon has its own charm too and being considered a low season, one can avail of better rates and offers.
What you should carry –
If you are visiting Kochi city during the monsoons, then it would be wise to carry appropriate protection and footwear to tackle the rains. During summers, a cap or umbrella would not be a bad idea at all.
For everything else, there is the GHKB 😀
Getting there –
Kochi is a well connected city. The Cochin International Airport CIAL, is around 30 km from the city and handles several domestic and international flights to many major cities in India and also countries of the middle east and far east.
It is of note that this is the world’s first fully solar energy powered airport.
Its design is based on a traditional Kerala home called a Tharavad and it is aesthetically charming to behold. The interiors are swanky and modern coupled with a traditional touch in the form of a large courtyard like space showcasing Kerala culture.
It also has lounge facility, a pub, a large food court and a vast shopping area.
The airport is connected to the city via app based cabs which are easily available and it normally takes around 45 min to the hotel, in minimal traffic. However, it is said that in peak traffic one should be prepared for a ride of even up to 2 hours.
Apart from this, Kochi is also well connected by road, bus, rail etc.
Of course if you want to arrive in style, you can fly into the GHKB in a helicopter and take your pick of the 3 helipads that lie in circles that are adjacent to each other at the far end of the humongous parking lot 😀
Booking and contact –
Phone – +91 484 2661234
Please Note – This trip was made in collaboration with Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
This itinerary was specially curated hence some of the features might have been personalized accordingly. Before booking, please check the facilities offered in your package.
Aug 15th-17th, 2019