India Spa-Jiva Grande-Vivanta By Taj-Bekal-Kerala
A spa spread over 165000 square feet can be nothing but luxurious and the Jiva Grande at Vivanta by Taj in Bekal, Kerala does not disappoint. Set against a lush landscape and calm waters it gets the therapeutic experience off to a great start just by virtue of its location. India Spa
Kerala —the land of coconut palms with beautiful beaches along the Arabian Sea, meandering rivers and backwaters, lush green vegetation and some of the most enchanting places to visit.
Bekal, a sleepy little village in the Kasargod district of Kerala, is well known for the 17th century fort—a towering structure almost giving the impression of sprouting from the Arabian Sea. Here, the Kappil River, after befriending meandering backwaters, merges with the Arabian Sea while coconut palms swing gracefully to the tune of a slow Waltz or the Salsa, depending on the tempo of the steady breeze from the sea.
A generous slice of this paradise in ‘God’s own country’ is the Vivanta by Taj at Bekal. A short drive (15 kms) from Kasargod railway station or a slightly longer drive (80 kms) from Mangalore airport will take you to this beautiful haven.
71 laterite lined villas and rooms set amidst 26 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens with the Kappil river and backwaters skillfully woven into the design framework, and an additional bonus of the Kappil beach shoreline playing ‘touch and go’ with the manicured lawns – just a preview to many more delights in store.
Australian architect and designer Nick Juniper (Partner, Grounds Kent Architects) has replicated the Kettuvallam houseboat design from this region, and used it as a feature throughout the resort and spa. Interior designer Michelle Salomone along with Judy Maloney, focussed on capturing the essence of the local culture, through the clever use of traditional patterns and motifs, handcrafted doors, hand painted murals and fabrics.
The wall murals in stone and mirror are a traditional design element used with flair in a luxurious setting and the 4 meter high lotus water fountain that greets you at the entrance to the spa is a masterpiece, carved by a local sculptor. Chitra pothi art, hand painted by Indian artist Christopher Fernandes adds to the overall framework of heritage showcased in a contemporary context.
The design team has succeeded in evoking a sense of history unique to the location, and most of the work was carried out using local materials and involving craftsmen and skilled labour from the region.
The Kettuvallam style roof was entirely hand crafted, injecting a strong sense of the vernacular into the architecture. Expat Australian Made Wijaya, who is a tropical garden expert based in Bali, landscaped the lush gardens adding visual interest and introduced a blend of cultural influences in the form of awe-inspiring Balinese sculptures in laterite stone.
The meandering Kappil river that cuts through the vast property thereafter merging into the Arabian sea just 200 meters from the hotel caused a little difficulty due to local building rules. However, the ingenuity of the architects led to these factors being skillfully incorporated into the design, thereby turning natural features into advantages.
The high priestess of this wellness retreat is the Ayurveda sanctuary with 2 Ayurveda suites. These have been designed in a traditional style as an Ayurveda physician’s house, located by the serene backwaters. The resort also boasts of a satvik dining lounge, a well-stocked library and a qualified Ayurveda physician in attendance.
In addition to 2 large single suites, there are 3 double massage suites complete with private courtyards, water gardens and beautiful tropical landscaping – just what is needed for post treatment relaxation! The beautiful view from all the treatment rooms will soothe your senses.
The signature Alepa experience is a must try – a massage room, lounge, mud suite and hammam; each space scores high in terms of décor, ambience and service, making you wish the treatment to go on and on!
The yoga pavilion has 2 suites for beauty treatments, a relaxation room and meditation areas – both indoor and outdoor, in tranquil settings. Fitness freaks may try out the fully equipped gym.
Vitality pools, a swimming pool, steam and chill showers, with separate changing areas for men and women—complete with lockers, showers complete the picture.
At Jiva Grande they use only pure herbs and aromatherapy oils. All products are natural, eco-friendly and free from any toxins. The same rule applies to the wellness cuisine offered at the spa. Traditional cooking methods are implemented to turn organically grown fruits and vegetables, fresh catch from the ocean, and poultry, into nutritious yet low fat, low calorie food. Modern gastronomy techniques churn out some mouth-watering fare – Asian, Western, and Indian.
When you feel at one with nature at the Jiva Grande you know that the design team achieved their goal of integrating man-made structures with the tropical landscape outdoors.
For no therapy is complete if it doesn’t connect you to nature on a level that moves from sublime to spiritual.
From the moment you walk across the bridge from the main hotel premises to the spa right up until the time you leave –the cycle of rejuvenation and pampering ensures that you experience something like never before.
Holistic healing in the lap of nature coupled with luxury and personalised attention makes the experience at Jiva Grande truly unique.