‘Tans and tides will fade. But memories will last forever.’
Why do you travel? And what sort of a traveller are you? Do you love setting off on romantic escapades with your better half, in an attempt to discover each other in addition to the destination you’re visiting? Or are you an adrenaline junkie and enjoy participating in thrilling, adventurous activities on your vacation? Or you’re a luxury traveller – a vacation for you implies swanky rooms, best of food and wine, and relaxing spa sessions? Or like me, you’re a foodie and believe the best way to explore a new destination is via it’s culinary route? Whatever be your rationale to travel, a good hotel or resort should be able to cater to every sort of traveller and be able to fulfill your every desire while on vacation.
This was my first visit to Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram – an ancient city of yore in South India that dates back to the 7th century. And just like all ancient cities, Mahabalipuram is a treasure trove of culture, history and art that attracts tourists all year round. But what makes Mahabalipuram special is the fact that it is a coastal town, situated between the Bay of Bengal and the Great Salt Lake. And the Chariot Beach Resort in Mahabalipuram is the perfect holiday spot if you’re looking at enjoying the cultural aspects as well as the pristine beach that Mahabalipuram has to offer.
Unlike other ‘beach’ resorts, Chariot is situated right on the beach. The far off horizon and their Olympic sized swimming pool is what your eyes are drawn to first thing as you enter the reception lobby. The resort is situated across 42 acres of land which means a buggy is your best friend to transport you to your far off cottage. Or rely on good ol’ Bus No. 11 (our nickname for legs). As I settled down into my spacious cottage and spent three days here exploring the property and experiencing what the resort has to offer, I realized that there’s something here for everybody.
1. The Romantic Traveller – Because every vacation is a honeymoon
Let me paint you a little picture here: Imagine a cobble-stoned pathway leading up to a quaint little cottage surrounded by lush green lawns all around. In the near distance you spot golden sands and the ocean raring to go as the cool ocean breeze envelopes you and the sounds of birds chirping fills your ears. And your loved one holding hands with you throughout this experience. The beautiful Sea View Cottages and Suites at Chariot Beach Resort is the epitome of everything you’d want during a romantic getaway with your partner.
The hotel’s private beach situated a few minutes away allows you to experience some mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets at your own leisure and space. If you’ve dreamed of long walks on the beach with that someone special, come make your dream come true! The staff goes that extra mile for couples and can arrange candlelight dinners by the beach in a private cabana situated right next to their seafood specialty restaurant ‘Coast’. Or indulge in a soothing couples spa session at their Ayurveda center that overlooks the beach.
2. The Family traveller – Because it’s all about loving your family
The most important requisite while travelling with your spouse and children is that of space, since matchbox-sized hotel rooms leave the entire family getting on each other’s toes. The most striking aspect about the rooms at Chariot Beach Resort is their size – spacious and packed with all amenities including a television, minibar, a mini lawn right outside your room and large glass windows that are perfect for watching the world go by. Or spying on your children as they run around outside. The cottage rooms also have an additional sofa-cum-bed that can be set up for the kids. The large rooms ensure that even if you’re sharing a room with your family you won’t be left feeling cramped. The washrooms are ginormous and well equipped as well, with an outdoor shower section present in most cottage rooms in case you’d like to lock your kids out of the room. #JustKidding
There’s enough and more for the kids to do without leaving them bored. How about a pool overlooking the sea with tons of water games for the kids to indulge in? Or a play area where you can leave your children behind at the swings and slide and invest in some much needed R&R time for yourself? Another positive I noticed was the presence of a number of kiddy meal options on the buffet at their all-day dining restaurant Kapi.
3. The Foodie – Because you want to eat your way through your holiday
Is it really a vacation if you haven’t returned five pounds heavier? The resort offers plenty of dining options at their all day multi cuisine restaurant Kapi, including Chinese, North Indian, and European options, all modified to suit an Indian diner’s palate. But what you really need to focus on is the local Chettinad dishes they serve up on their buffet that best represents the state cuisine. I personally felt the dishes seemed to get lost in the crowd of a buffet, and the hotel needs to introduce a Chettinad Thali to orient their guests to local tastes. Because in all honesty no one wants to travel to destination and end up not tasting the USP of that place. I have such fond memories of the crisp dosas slathered with butter paired with an assortment of coconut chutneys from my breakfast at Kapi. Or the delicious and artistic Murukku (a South Indian version of chakli), hand made from rice flour and sourced from a neighboring village; when paired with chai and bhajiyas, made our afternoon tête-à-tête so memorable. Or the pillowy soft Mysore Pak laced with ghee that melts in your mouth, filling you with warmth from within.
They also have a beautiful ocean side restaurant and bar aptly named ‘Coast’ that specializes in sea food and other coastal delights.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to bring back boxes of ‘Mysurpa’ from Shri Krishna Sweets for your family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues. (They have an outlet at the airport as well, in case you’re hard pressed for time.) Bring a box back for me as well.
4. The Adrenaline Junkie – Because you’d like to ‘jump’ right into your holiday
If you love the outdoors, and you love adventure then the Neighbourhood Adventure Activity Zone at the resort is where you should spend all your time. The zone is filled with plenty of activities such as the Burma Bridge, the Tarzan Swing, a mini Zipliner, Swing Walks, Obstacle Courses and more, all under the care of expert and trained supervisors.
The hotel can also organize a Catamaran boat ride on request – where you’re taken on a dingy little boat in the middle of the ocean with local fisherfolks serving as your guide. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot the submerged tip of one of the Shore Temples. An experience that brings together nature, adventure and history!
If you’re a fitness freak don’t forget to set off on an evening jog along the beach, making this a jog you won’t ever forget. The serene beach side is also the perfect spot for a relaxing yoga session or a round of beach volleyball with the locals.
5. The Culture Vulture – Because ‘wanderlust’ is your middle name
Honestly, what draws everyone to Mahabalipuram as a tourist destination is the history and heritage this little town contains. Points of attraction include the intricately carved Shore Temple that dates back to the 8th century and the Five Rathas, which is a temple complex shaped like chariots; Chariot Beach Resort borrows its name from the latter as it is situated right next to the Five Rathas monument complex. (More about the heritage and history of Mahabalipuram in another blogpost. I promise.)
The Shore Temple is also close by: a fifteen-minute walk by the beach, which can seem like a lot more with the harsh sun over your head. In fact, all spots of tourist attractions including the old and new lighthouses as well as ‘Krishna’s Butter Ball’ – a precariously positioned ball shaped rock – are all within walking distance from each other, situated close to the resort.
Pro Tip: Mahabalipuram is a 90 minute drive from Chennai, and Puducherry is another two hours further. Combine both destinations in a single trip thus making it cost effective as well as time effective.
6. The Spa Connoisseur – Eat. Sleep. Massage. Repeat.
A relaxing spa session at the end of a tiring day filled with sight-seeing is just what the doctor ordered. The resort comes equipped with their very own Ayurveda Center housed right by the beach. Half your stress evaporates the minute you walk into your therapy room and are greeted by a view of the clear blue sea and coconut trees swaying to and fro. The massage treatments and therapies here are a bit old school and traditional. Tradition is evident even in the cottage like decor and the use of wooden massage tables with a container that is used to drip oil on your forehead as in the Ayurvedic practise of Shirodhara. I feel a bit drowsy as I type this, remembering the gentle kneading of my back as the massage therapist doused me in copious quantities of oil.
Chariot Beach Resort, Five Rathas Road, Mahabalipuram, Chennai 603 104.
Check out their website www.chariotbeachresorts.com for booking and other information. Feel free to use the code ‘Zenia500′ to book your rooms through www.chariotbeachresorts.com and avail a flat Rs 500 discount on the mentioned rates.
The author was hosted by Chariot Beach Resort, Mahabalipuram as a part of the Chariot Bloggers Retreat that included the best travel bloggers from across the country. You can check out our live updates all across social media using the hashtags #ChariotBloggersRetreat and #FunAtCBR. A massive thank you to Mr. Anand Chandrasekhar for so seamlessly organizing the entire meet.
As always, the views mentioned here are unbiased and entirely my own.