Surya samudra 3Words: Ambica Gulati

Far from the madding crowds, amidst coconut groves and clear skies lie the Niraamaya Retreats at Thekkady and Kovalam. The Cardamom Club, Thekkady, lies amongst mist-kissed mountains of the Silent Valley. Here jams are caused by elephants leisurely crossing the roads. Surya Samudra at Kovalam is a heritage property known for the state-of-the-art spa.

Manu Rishi Guptha, cEO, Niraamaya Retreats
Manu Rishi Guptha, CEO, Niraamaya Retreats

The man behind the venture, CEO Manu Rishi Guptha, did his MBA from Warwick Business School. With 20 years of experience in various sectors such as hospitality, entertainment and shipping, he is taking another step forward with a new property at Kumarakoram which will be ready by December 2015.  He tells more about his plans and vision in an email interview. Excerpts:

How did the journey into hospitality begin?
The story begins in 1989, when by stroke of luck we chanced upon a spectacular coconut grove in the breathtaking coastal village of Pulinkudi near Vizhinjam, about 10 km from Trivandrum. It was like having an epiphany similar to when Jehangir saw the Shalimar Garden and he exclaimed “if there is paradise on earth it is here it is here it is here!” Surya Samudra started with just one room christened as the ‘Octagon House’ perched on a stone-edged cliff.  In the next couple of years, the piece of land went through a stunning transformation- traditional Kerala wooden houses dotted the coconut grove overlooking the Arabian Sea. Surya Samudra received the status of Heritage Hotel from the Department of Tourism in 1995 and in October 1996, the Government of India bestowed upon it, the Tourism Award for The Best Heritage Hotel in Southern Region.

How did you choose the location?
This was really a no-brainer. The location exuded exclusivity while the vibes were romantic and tranquil. It was a location where ‘surya’ (sun) and ‘samudra’ (sea) meet. The stunning coconut grove was no less than a tropical paradise.

What makes Niraamaya different from other resorts?
We don’t merely offer luxurious accommodation, we create memorable experiences. It’s all about gastronomical journeys, rejuvenation breaks, bespoke experiences and providing guests a sanctuary where they can nourish their soul with peace, joy and bliss.

When does the season begin for guests?
Niraamaya welcomes guests all year round. A lot of our guests visit us from the overseas, so we have a good season all year round.

What is the USP of Niraamaya?
All of our retreats have stunning locations. The warm and exceptional service of our staff is why we have so many repeat guests.

What kind of facilities can the guests enjoy?
One of the highlights of the resort is the Spa Niraamaya where traditional Ayurveda therapies and treatments from all over the world are offered under one roof. With eight treatment rooms, colour and hydro Vichy shower, customized yoga classes and wellness cuisine we offer a well-rounded spa experience. The cliff-side swimming pool, a huge hit with our guests provides infinity views beyond the sea.

The all-day dining restaurant, Café Samsara offers a combination of world cuisine, Kerala specialty as well as Pan Indian fare. The specialty restaurant – Essence, specializes in sea-food grills while the Madira bar offers heady cocktails and an extensive wine collection. The food quality, plating style and the ambience makes dining a special experience at Niraamaya. The other thing you can be certain about is wherever you choose to ‘wine and dine’ you’ll be assured of uninterrupted dramatic views of the Arabian Sea.unnamed

The luxurious heritage accommodation seamlessly blends modern amenities like cleverly hidden air conditioning, complimentary Wi-fi, LCD TV and mini-bar.

What do you think will make guests come back to Niraamaya?
The soothing cool sea-breeze, delicious panoramic views, gorgeous food,  and lavish rooms is what you’ll cherish, but  it’s also the charm and the reception of the staff that you miss long after you check out.