When you book a room at the Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty (GHKB), it is not just the hotel that you have accessed but you have also placed yourself on the threshold of infinite touristic possibilities. All you have to do is to step into the host of experiences that encompass history, geography, archaeology, culture, heritage, adventure, local festivals and happenings, cuisine and so on (I did say that the list was infinite :-D)
While the sheer number of options can get quite confusing for the traveller, the helpful folk at the GHKB have made it easy even for the most bewildered of guests, by listing all the salient options on their user friendly website. And thanks to the location and connectivity of the hotel, there are a range of specific activities that are easy to access.
So hop onto this virtual tour of Kochi and beyond and become one with the locals, as the expert guides that are appointed by the GHKB tell you hitherto unknown tales and lead you through alleys and streets that hold within them the essence of the entity that is Kochi.
Part 3 – Experiences
Grand Hyatt experiences –
The website of the GHKB helpfully lists all the surrounding attractions that include local shopping, museums and galleries, centers of culture and traditional learning and other such genres that might be of interest to the visitor.
In addition they also have a set of 19 listed experiences that are meticulously crafted to encompass any kind of touristic aspirations that the guest may have. All the experiences are designed to be very immersive, very native and hyper local.
Also note that though there are 19 listed on the website, there are actually over a 100 possibilities and I will attempt to list as many as I can, as I take you through this post.
All the activities are conducted under the guidance of subject matter experts and these accompanying guides have been diligently handpicked by the GHKB.
Some of the activities being subject to the vagaries of the weather, the website has made is even easier by classifying them month/season wise, so that the guest can easily decide what the best experiences are for that period.
The options are flexible and versatile and can be completely customized to suit any preferences. The transport can be a kayak or partially by road and partially via water. There are itineraries geared towards solo women travellers, families with children, elderly people and so on.
The information is well structured and the duration of the tour, what one needs to carry, food and drink facilities, appropriate clothing that is required and all such helpful bits of data are mentioned.
The various possibilities include village experiences, toddy tapping, kayaking through the backwaters, fishing, trekking, pottery, museum tours, beach hopping, city tours, history lessons, cycling tours, photography tours, cultural tours and so on. There are also full day expeditions to interesting places that are 2-3 hours away from the city, like the Thattekad bird sanctuary and Athirapalli waterfalls.
The website gives detailed data and instructions for each tour.
My Experience –
Of course I wanted to do it all but the slender time frame that was available to me, compelled me to choose something that I could fit in easily.
My camera being an important entity in my decision making, I opted for the estimated 4 hour photography tour of Fort Kochi and Ernakulam, where the symbols of culture, heritage and daily street life were to be my subjects. My guide was the knowledgeable and experienced Shagzil Khan who accompanied me in the comfortable car provided by the hotel.
What followed was a fascinating amalgam of locations, even as we occasionally gave the car driver the slip and jumped into local buses and autorickshaws (tuk tuk) and ferries and dove in and out of fishing docks, Chinese nets, the Jew quarters and some of Kochi’s signature streets and alleys, until the car finally caught up with us and sternly brought us back 😀
Some of the highlights of the tour were the photo ops at the fish market, Claws encounters with my very own crab, trying to hold the umbrella in one hand while shooting videos on the phone with the other hand and clicking pictures with the camera with the other … wait I have only 2 hands!!!, protecting the camera from the rain with a napkin stolen from the hotel (ssh don’t tell them), hanging on in a crowded local bus, walking the ‘ramp’ multiple times at the ferry trying to get the video shot right, watching the Chinese fishing nets fish out a snake … or was it a snake shaped fish, walking down Princess street ogling in an unqueenly manner at the rows of seafood eateries, posing at the vestiges of wall art left behind from the Biennale 2019 art festival, taking quick rickshaw rides, whizzing past ancient schools and even more ancient temples, rushing to make it to the synagogue before closing time and the icing on the cake being the meeting with Sarah Cohen the oldest living Jew in Kochi and her faithful caretaker Thaha (This still gives me goosebumps because as I type this on Aug 30th, 2019 exactly 15 days later, I have just read the news that she is no more). I was so fortunate to get to spend time with her and though she was not very coherent, she kept telling my guide that she wanted us to stay longer.
The entire experience was so engrossing that I quite lost track of time. Only the reminder of the Thai meal that was awaiting me at the hotel finally brought me to my senses and we had to cut short the tour without managing to visit Broadway market at Ernakulam. Of course if you are more sedate than I am, you will exercise more discipline and will not loiter around taking hundreds of pictures and thus you will be well within the scheduled time frame 😀
Since words cannot really do what visuals can, here is a quick video that will transport you to the Goshree fishing harbor so that you can vicariously enjoy the adventure without stepping into the fish market … in white clothes for heaven’s sake 😀
And also a video that has glimpses of the entire morning.
What to do at the GHKB –
Apart from the possibilities that the surroundings offer, the hotel itself has the ability to entertain the guest in a variety of ways.
The various features and amenities include a spa, salon, yoga center, gym, swimming pools – indoor and outdoor, tennis court, cycles, children’s play area, a play zone for smaller children who need supervision, gift shop etc.
Water sports, cooking classes, art and craft and pottery sessions and other such activities are also available.
Swimming pools –
The GHKB has 2 swimming pools both indoor and outdoor that are adjacent to each other. The outdoor (boat shaped? Fish shaped?) pool features a jacuzzi and an elaborate pool slide designed to provide great excitement to children 😀
Bicycles can be picked up from the shed and used by the guests to cycle around the property.
Tennis court –
Table tennis –
Play area –
The play area for little children is right beside the outdoor swimming pool.
Play Zone –
The children’s play zone is a boon for parents who need to place their children in responsible hands who will also entertain them while they go about entertaining themselves 😀
A half day or full day package is offered and the friendly hosts at the play zone keep the little ones engaged in various activities including books, games etc.
Cooking classes –
Colonizing your taste buds, is a cookery session that is offered on request, where the guest is taken through the entire process right from visiting the market and procuring the ingredients, to cooking with the chef and finally enjoying the outcome of their labor.
Sunset cruise and cultural program –
This is a seasonal activity and is on during the monsoons which is the low season. A one hour cruise takes you out on the Lake Vembanad and along the shorelines of the neighboring islands. If the skies are clear, the sail ends with a stunning view of the sunset. However, a spectacular view of the GHKB is guaranteed and this is a great vantage point from where to get a significant picture of the entire property.
The cruise is followed by a cultural program that includes a Kathakali or Bharathnatyam or Mohiniattam dance on weekdays and a Kalaripayattu (martial arts) demonstration on weekends. This takes place near the outdoor pool. I missed this because I had to rush for my spa appointment 😀
The Santata Spa offers a host of therapies ranging from Ayurvedia treatments to Western and Eastern methodologies.
Santata meaning Tranquility, is exactly what the spa intends to impart through its various programs.
It is aesthetically styled with golden cage like sections in the lobby.
a long corridor leads you to the therapy rooms, steam room, sauna and even a plunge pool.
After my hectic day out chasing crabs and history, I availed of a relaxing foot reflexology at the spa where Rosy my masseuse first washed my feet in soothingly warm water before proceeding to pamper them with a firm but comforting massage.
They also retail some of their signature lotions and potions.
The spa is a popular place in Kochi and is open to non resident guests too.
They also have day packages that include a meal and use of the pool and somewhere to park your children 😀
Water sports –
The waters of the Lake Vembanad gently lap at the shores of the hotel and this proximity is greatly conducive to several water based activities right at their doorstep and ‘shorestep’.
Apart from the seasonal cruise, they also offer Kayaking, Catamaran rides, wind surfing, water walking ball, Scuba diving, rafting and kayaking expeditions. Some of the activities are seasonal and some are at a distance from the hotel, so please check the details with the concierge.
The GHKB will also shortly be procuring 2 houseboats. One of them will accommodate 2 rooms, even though it its capacity is that of a 6 room boat. This is to match the lavish room sizes that the hotel provides. Overnight cruises down the Vembanad and other activities are planned for this boat.
The other houseboat will be a conference/meeting room boat that can accommodate 140 people and will be an alternate and interesting space for business meetings or private events.
Renew your vows –
Apart from all the above, the GHKB also offers a unique Renew your vows ceremony where couples can celebrate the memories of their wedding day (assuming they were good memories :-D) There is a wedding consultant who will guide and curate, complete with with flowers, décor and an intimate dinner. Indian or Western ceremonies can be planned and one can have a choice of venues within the property, ranging right from one’s own room to even the poolside. The hotel has since had 2 of these ceremonies with 2 couples that spanned 3 religions and ranged from a 7 year anniversary to 43 years. A golden jubilee of sorts between the two 😀
The hotel room –
In fact the hotel room itself is a haven for those who want to spend their time in peace and quiet, gazing out at the glorious views through the glass walls. And for those who want a little drama, there are always the motorized curtains that can also help in providing a theatrical end to this story 😀
So what are you waiting for? Place the GHKB in your crosshairs and aim for this destination, which is a journey unto itself.
All other details available at Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty – An Overview
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