Sleeping on a Private Island

May 6, 2014 16 Comments »

Soma Kerala Palace

An island getaway in the Kerala backwaters – the perfect retreat.

“You know what I just realized? We are on a private island of our own!”

Sherry cocks her head ever so slightly to consider this. She lets out a laugh! “You are right!”

It is our second day at Soma Kerala Palace, an Ayurvedic Resort that is situated on a tiny private island, on a lake 55km south of Kochi. It is the beginning of the off-season. A Polish lady and the two of us are the only occupants on this 25-room property.

Soma Kerala Palace Island

Our boat pulling up to the reception desk on the island.

The small island is only accessible by boat. The entire shorelines of the lake are visible, and the distance between you and closest shoreline is a couple minute of swim away, private, but not removed. We decided to spend a week here to get some writing done before we set off on The Rickshaw Run across the length of India. We were looking for quiet, except being here by ourselves was a bit of a surprise. On our first morning, we silently tracked the Polish lady’s every move. Is that a camera she’s got? I wonder what she is photographing. Is she here by herself? What is she doing? Look, she changed her clothes, where is she going?

Yes. We will happily re-enact “Grumpy Old Men” for you.

As soon as we got over the strangeness of having the entire island resort to ourselves, we perked up!

There is a fantastic (albeit some what comically tortuous) yoga class taught by a lovely yoga master, George, every morning. There is an Ayurvedic doctor on site for consultation and the spa offers a wonderful range of treatments. We both tried the Sarvanga Uzhichil (full body massage with herbal oil). Sherry had the Vadanakanthi (herbal facial with a cornucopia of fruit and vegetable pulp) and I tried to open my third eye with Sirodhara (a continuous dripping of warm herbal oil on your third eye for 45 minutes).

yoga soma kerala palace

Yoga master George. No, we didn’t quite achieve this pose in our 6 day retreat…but we tried!

Soma Kerala Palace India

Poolside relaxation


The kitchen is miraculous. Don’t be snobbish. At first glance, the menu seems like it’s identical to every other restaurant menus except, oh my god, the food is so good! Everything is fresh, clean, with flavors impeccably balanced and sumptuous. Coconut Rice and Dhal Fry, Kerala style thali served on a banana leaf, Lemon Rice with Fish Masala and Alu Gobi, and Chicken Chettinad were a few of the dishes we devoured. These might seem like typical Indian food, but oh, you would be wrong to assume so. Not only is Kerala Cuisine in a class of its own, the chef here at Soma Kerala Palace makes each dish with such care and precision, I only wish I had a tape worm so I could keep on eating.

Kerala thali

Kerala style Thali on a banana leaf.  Photo by Charlie Grosso

soma kerala palace food

Our favorite secluded dining spot. We had it all to ourselves. Photo by Charlie Grosso

herbal water kerala

Pretty in Pink bottomless herbal water

The architecture on the resort is magnificent. We are staying in the “Nalekkatt” house. Sree Suryanatayana Pillai owned it around 1800. He was among the Nelekkatt Pillais who were brought to Travancore by the Maharaja from Tamil Nadu’s Vijayanarayanapuram to help him assist in the administration of the state. This Nalekkatt mansion was re-located to Kerala Palace in 2003 and re-fitted as a hotel room.

The white mosquito net contrast against the four-poster bed with broad dark wood flooring is exquisite. Our room has a private outdoor sitting area. It is our temporary office. We write, take an occasional break to watch the pigeons flirt and engage in feather flying pigeon sex for inspirations.

Soma Kerala Palace rooms

Beautifully transformed rooms with cultural significance. Photo by Charlie Grosso

Soma Kerala Palace

Nalekkatt house – we had the whole place to ourselves and loved our porch!

Soma Kerala Palace Buildings

All of the buildings on the island had porches and cultural significance. Photo by Charlie Grosso

The perfect temperature pool, hammocks and the lovely eager staff are here for us and us alone. Just when you scoffed at the idea of being somewhere off-season, you get to have a private island all to yourself!

Guest post by Charlie Grosso Photographer and writer at  Spy Travelogue – and my partner in crime in India this March/April!

See all photos of the beautiful Soma Kerala Palace property – and see why it can be a perfect island for a retreat

Disclosure: Charlie and I were guests of Soma Kerala Palace however all of our opinions expressed here are our own.  

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