The Leela Kovalam Beach
14 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Exceeded our expectations
"The Leela Beach exceeded our expectations. Our room in the main hotel block was a good size, well designed and furnished to a high standard. The housekeeping staff maintained a very high level of cleanliness throughout the hotel. The floral displays were always fresh and arranged beautifully, the bowls of rose petals were very effective especially at night time when floating candles were added.
The food in the hotel was good and the cost was not exorbitant. However we did wander to Lighthouse Beach for meals which were cheaper than the hotel and can be recommended. The Lobster Pot at the opposite end of the hotel beach also offers good food but suggest you take a torch if you go at night.
Yes the service in the hotel and village restaurants is slow but we appreciated the time to relax - no need to rush on holiday!
The choice offered by the hotel for New Years Eve was the Terrace or Tides Restaurant we chose the latter. We had a memorable evening from beginning to end. The Kathaliko dancer, the local Indian dancer and the martial arts demonstration lent a cultural feel to the evening and the array, choice and quality of food cannot be faulted. The firework finale ensured the New Year was ushered in in style. The brass ornament we received as a New Year gift from the hotel was a lovely touch.
We found all the staff to be friendly and more than willing to help in all situations. More sunbeds were delivered to the beach so the problem that some people encountered should be eased.
The whole holiday was fantastic and we will definitely go back."
- Travel date: Tue 23rd of January 2007
A Wonderful Beach View through the Lush green Coconut Trees
"We stayed at The Leela in the first week of December 2006. While I rate this hotel, let me mention that this is the largest property that I have stayed in till date. Its impossible for one to travel by foot inside the campus, thus hotel provides buggies running across the hotel and could be made available on request within seconds. Another highlight is the picture perfect Sea View from the campus trails and the buffet restaurant which literally is unbelievable. You may observe the same in the attached snaps. Try being there on a sunny day and you could enjoy lovely coconut trees, lush green surroundings and blue water of sea.
More to talk about the courteous staff especially the front manager Mr. Mahavir Sharma who took our care as if we were his personal guests. The buffet is widespread and the staff in the restaurant is also smiling and courteous. We also tried the traditional Kerala massage at the Spa costing just Rs. 1250 per head which was much low as compared to other 5-star hotels.
Though one really feels like a king staying in this sprawling property, there are a few dents which could be improved to make the stay further enjoyable:
1.The private beach is having very low currents at times difficult for you to make a difference out between lakes of a beach. So to actually chill you still need to go to the public beach.
2.We were given Pavilion Rooms as the superior rooms were not available. We had to pay a premium for these rooms. But believe me there is hardly any value-addition as these are quite far from the main hotel divided by a public road and though facing the private beach but without any major currents. I would have preferred a garden view room which is much cheaper.
3.As we checked in our credit card details were confirmed in order to ensure that we donât run away without payment!!!
4.We had requested for some hotel made chocolates instead of which the cookies were removed from the room. What wonderful Mathematics!!!
5.We also tried to contact our reservations manager Ms. Kithara balasundram in order to thank her but she seemed too busy to visit or call us even after our leaving our contact numbers at the reception.
6.There are no traditional Dance Shows or cultural events being organized by this hotel which make you have a Kerala feel unlike other similar properties.
Despite of the few dents above, it was a great stay with a courteous gentleman Mahavir and buggy ride inside the Hotel which is litrally having a huge campus.
You must give it a try !!!
Incase you require any other information; you may please forward the same to me.
- Travel date: Mon 15th of January 2007
Lovely resort hotel with excellent service
"Just come back from a stay in the club rooms (its a boutique hotel within the hotel) at Leela Kovalam Beach for seven nights as part of a larger trip to India. The club rooms are small (as the club has been converted from a government residency), but beautifully appointed with minimalist decoration - the showers are amazing and the rooms were kept spotlessly clean. The club is now completely finished and has a private pool and restaurant, spa and beach. Absolutely lovely. I wanted to write a review because I noted others comments about the service and just cant agree. We found the service to be excellent, waiting times completely fine (its not McDonalds after all!). We thought that staff were really friendly and helpful and went out of their way to sort anything out for you.
The sky bar is open air and a fantastic place for a pre or post dinner drink with none of the stuffy atmosphere of some hotel bars - there are lots of salas dotted around the bar where you can kick off your shoes, lie back on cushions and gaze at the stars with a drink.
It is cheaper to eat and drink in the town and there are some great place to do that, but if you cant be bothered with the walk or rickshaw into town, I dont think the Leela's food is too expensive.
My only complaint was the massage I had in the club spa which was so firm despite my repeated requests to make it gentler that I ended up with bruises the next day!
We had a lovely time and we would definitely go back."
- Travel date: Sat 13th of January 2007
Loved the Leela
"Have just returned from a very enjoyable holiday at the Leela Kerala and would thoroughly recommend this hotel.
It is situated right on a really nice beach where the sea is safe to swim in. It is also in the centre of the town and close to the prom at Lighthouse beach. So one can step from the sanitized luxury of a five star hotel straight into the hussle and bussle of India. Maybe not to everyoneâs taste but we liked this as we have often stayed in hotels a long way from any town and you have to travel before you feel that you are really in the country that you are visiting. We really enjoyed walking out each evening into the town and along the prom. The people were so friendly and when I walked out without my husband I felt very safe and unthreatened. The shopkeepers try and sell you things but donât hassle you when you say no.
We found the food in the hotel reasonably priced (Â£8.00 for the evening buffet) for a five star hotel although drinks were very expensive, a bottle of Indian wine being approx. Â£20.00. The restaurants in the town were obviously much cheaper. We had room service a few times for lunch and this was very good and delivered in about fifteen minutes. We ate at Tides on the beach a couple of times and whilst the food was really good (mainly Thai) the service was incredibly slow. All the food was great for a vegetarian like myself but equally there were plenty of meat and fish dishes.
Would thoroughly recommend Mollyâs Restaurant (about a five minute tuc tuc ride away, run by an English women and Indian husband. Also a five minute walk along the beach is The Lobster Pot, where we ate most lunch times. Really good Indian food and also English breakfasts and sandwiches etc. Slow service though which seemed to be the norm for all the restaurants.
We stayed in the seaview deluxe rooms which were an extra Â£10.00 per room per night and we felt were well worth the extra money as they had their own separate entrance so you didnât hear any corridor noise and doors banging that you often hear in hotels. The next upgrade was the pavilion rooms. We couldnât understand why these were an upgrade as they were situated far from the main hotel and there was a very busy road between the pavilion section and the beach. People in this section complained and many tried to get transfers back to the main hotel. We certainly couldnât see how the extra Â£100.00 per night per room for the club rooms could be justified as those rooms are similar to those in the main hotel. We visited the club section for a meal and whilst it is very tastefully refurbished we would not have wished to pay the extra to stay there.
Like other reviewers, our main problem was managing to get a sunbed on the beach and we found it a bit stressful having to get up early to secure one. There is plenty more room on the beach for sunbeds so donât understand why there arenât more. We didnât sit by the pool but it looked as if there was the same problem there. As regards your previous reviewers problem with getting drinks service by the pool, would mention that we got excellent service on the beach.
We spent Christmas and New Year at the Leela and the main complaint from all the guests was the loud Western style music at the gala dinners. Everyone said they would have preferred more local music but unfortunately the hotel management was convinced that we wanted to hear exactly the same music that we hear at home (only about twenty years ago) that was so loud it was impossible to carry on a conversation and someone sitting near a speaker had a burst ear drum. The food however, was excellent and all the chefs really pulled all the stops out.
The staff in the hotel were all very friendly and the housekeeping staff were particularly good. Like one of your other reviewers, we found it a little strange that vendors on the beach spoke far superior English to the people working in the hotel, especially the telephone operators.
Would like to mention here our tuc tuc drivers, Manu and Suri who were really helpful and, as well as taking us on the shorter trips (including a trip to the back waters), arranged a taxi for our longer trips, which worked out much cheaper than the organised trips.
We travelled with First Choice and were very impressed with their rep, Gale, who was resident at the hotel. The flight was good with lots of legroom even in economy. In our info from First Choice on arrival were details of a local animal sanctuary. Worth a visit if youâre a dog lover as they need tourist volunteers just to spend a couple of hours either walking the dogs or spending time giving them love and attention. Itâs only a ten minute ride in a tuc tuc. I went there a couple of times and was really impressed with the work the sanctuary are doing, sterilising the local stray dogs and looking after the sick and injured ones. Because of the work they do the stray dogs on the beach looked very healthy and happy. For further information see www.animalrescuekerala.org.
So all in all a great holiday and we would definitely return."
- Travel date: Fri 12th of January 2007
Fabulous hotel needing attention on the service side..
"We recently spent a week at the Leela and overall we had a lovely time. We were in the Superior Beach view rooms but I am not sure in what way they are suposed to be superior. The pool and grounds are beautiful and the spa is very reasonably priced in comparison to the UK but could perhaps have been made a little more luxurious.
The rooms are lovely, no bath but the shower is huge. There are only two negative aspects to the hotel. One is that the service is appaling when you order something. We waited an hour (after ordering) for 2 dishes at lunchtime when all we wanted was a quick bite to eat. However, the staff are incredibly friendly all the time - as are the people you meet in the street / town. The second minor complaint was the battle of the sunbeds! Basically there aren't enough and so this meant people were coming down at 7am and putting a book on a bed and then turning up at 1pm to use it for an hour. I understand they have ordered extra beds as there is plenty of space on the private beach.
Generally, I would go back and we enjoyed every minute. One top tip - if you drink wine, make sure you bring plenty of your own. Expensive in the hotel and disgusting in local restaurants!!"
- Travel date: Wed 3rd of January 2007
"We recently returned from two weeks at the Leela Palace Kovalam with a short side break to Conchin and a day/night on a Houseboat. Our first three days were at the Leela Palace staying at the Pavilion Rooms with a Sea View. This area is at the bottom of the grounds and you need to walk up the Hill to the main area or take a buggy. However it has an outdoor restaurant the Tides, its own pool which no body used and a private area on the beach which is next to the public beach. Occassionally the tranquilty is interrupted by locals who want to take you on a boat trip but they don't come into the private area and are not bothersome.
Our our return from Conchin and the Houseboat (a worthwhile but long journey just to breakup sitting in one place for a long time) we were upgraded for whatever reason to the "The Club" which has its own restaurant, infinity pool , spa, gym and lounge area. There was no construction work going on and the rooms overlooked the sea and though small were adequate.
The overall service was great with everyone willing to help and the rooms were kept clean, towels changes three times a day if needed and there was chocolates, fruit and bottled water free each day.
The only criticism of the facility is the service in the restaurants. Although the waiters try to serve they sometimes forget your order and it takes 40 minutes most times to receive your food. The Club Restaurant is the worst in this regard and at breakfast which is a great buffet with cooked orders if you wish. They are slow in bringing your coffee or tea with no cups on the table though the main restaurant the Terrace has a waiter going around with coffee/tea and the cups are on the table. Why this is different at the Club is a mystery. The prices are higher than eating outside (3 to 4 times) but are still much lower than the UK with a main course being about Â£5.
There are plenty of restaurants nearby but the service is as bad with again the 40 minute wait but at a few pounds per person who can complain. We ate at the Lobster Pot, the Fusion and Cocanut Grove restaurants which were fine with a wide selection of Indian Food and Fresh Fish.
Overall the Leela Palace is a paradise with great weather (no rain the entire time) beautiful sunsets, good service overall, and upmarket accommodations. I am sure they will improve their catering service as they received many complaints during our stay.
If you use one of the holiday companies who have a package holiday to the Leela the cost is very low. We booked through an India Agent and booked our own charter flights and paid Â£1500 more per couple than the brochure price."
- Travel date: Sun 31st of December 2006
Not worth the hassle
"We stayed at the Leela for two weeks this November. We won't be staying at another Leela.
On the first night we had a rat in the room. A few days later we returned from the beach, eager to have a shower and to our dismay found rain water leaking through the spotlight over our shower. We were moved to another room. It was difficult to get seating by the pool, and when we did it was often quite cramped. It was nigh on impossible to order water or any drinks by the pool without physically getting up and going to the restaurant each time, also having to dress each time. The beach was fine, you could get drinks, but again difficult getting any loungers. The pool was lovely if you could get a lounger - go early in the morning and put your bag down and then go and get breakfast. P.S. beware of things falling off the trees! It only happened twice though, so you may be lucky.
A few nights later found a dead cockroach in my room, asked housekeeping to clean under the table. The underneath was cleaned the next day, although the cockroach remained, although must add that it was spotless around it. Stayed in to watch the so-called free movie one night, not one single movie worked after messing about for at least 45 minutes, those that did show a picture kept jumping. DVD's appeared to be pirate quality. Hmmm.
Ordered a toasted leela club sandwich one day and it took over an hour, when they did finally bring it having reminded them, it was cold. Ordered an omelette earlier that morning, after 20 minutes requested it again, ten minutes later went and collected it again. Same again next morning, although this time it took 25 minutes and then we had to reorder it anyway. Lost count of the number of times we got something other than what we ordered. On the plus side, the food is absolutely delicious no matter what they end up giving you from the menu!
Bizarrely no one understood English that well throughout the hotel, although they made no attempt to clarify what you asked, so it always seemed that they understood you.
We did not encounter any problems with language, ordering, etc. outside of the hotel. Our stress levels rocketed into week 2.
We went on various trips outside of the hotel, so our holiday did have enjoyable aspects, and we enjoyed India overall. Although, we do wish we had gone and found out if the Taj Green Cove down the road would have had better service.....
The spa service is very good. We did get complimentary treatments in the end for all of the problems we encountered.
Other guests seemed to encounter less problems than us, so I expect we were incredibly unlucky and got all of them every single day.
We did not encounter any problems owing to building work, although a couple staying at the Club part said that it was rather dusty down by their pool. As they do not use any heavy electrical machinery, noise is minimal. What they are working on is the Sky Bar, so unfortunately for the time we were there, there was no bar as such, you ordered drinks at your dinner table, which is not really the same. But I am sure that once the bar is in place, it would make a great difference.
Overall, for a five star hotel, we would have expected slightly better service and amenities, and we definitely won't be bothering to find out if the Leela in Goa is any better when we go over there!"
- Travel date: Mon 11th of December 2006
"We traveled to Kerala for my husbands 50th birthday in November 2006 and booked through First Choice.
We chose Kerala as we have been to Goa twice and love it thought that we would try somewhere different.
The Leela appealed as the luxury of this hotel looked fantastic and the website showed what to expect. .We were not dissappointed at all.The flight was very comfortable -good leg room even though we were economy and the choice of films etc was enough to keep my husband occupied throughout the flight.
Our room at the hotel was lovely,sea view,quiet and very private balcony.
The staff at this hotel are excellent and nothing is too much trouble.
On my husbands birthday they gave hime a lovely chocolate cake which was really unexpected.
A newspaper,bottled water and fresh fruit are complimentary daily and towels changed twice a day all go to make you feel pampered.
My only critisism would be that the bar and restaurants are very overpriced.The cost of a beer is 3 times more than at one of the local bars.The Tides restaurant although very nice is not worth the high costs.The food is ok but nothing special.
There are some great restaurants in Lighthouse Beach but we avoided all the ones with towels over the chairs and aimed for the ones with rattan furniture.This was not a snobbery thing but the food was definately better!
If you like fish then this is heaven!Tandoori Butter Fish and massive prawns are fantastic.
The beach is not great and if you have been to Goa and love it you may be a little disappointed.Its a bit dirty and the sunbeds are just put between the fishing boats and you have to pay.However the beach at the Leela is great and if you walk up the beach towards the Samudra there is a great little restaurant up the hill called the Lobster Pot.The food is fine and the beer is cold.They have a beach party which is really good,live band etc.
All in all a fantastic holiday but the hotel was what made it rather than the place.I would definately recommend this hotel and we will be looking at other Leelas for next year."
- Travel date: Mon 11th of December 2006
Good value, pleasant
"It's not perfect, but still it is a very nice place for the price. Don't stay at the as yet unfinished and under construction Club rooms; instead, the beach views ones are pleasant. Outdoor, sunken bathrooms were very relaxing. The restaurants are very good, with one of the best (breakfast and dinner) buffets we experienced in 3 weeks of travel through India and with a terrific kebab menu, too. The lobby is impressive and enjoyable to hang out in. The spa is only so-so. The pool area is very nice. The hotel staff, while helpful, suffer from what much of the Indian hotel industry suffers from - goals do not necessarily comport with practice. Still, I would recommend this place, although would check out the Taj resort nearby before staying here again."
- Travel date: Mon 27th of November 2006
A very popular hotel with many return guests
"I have known this hotel for many years, first as The Ashok, then as The Kovalam Hotel, then as Le Meridien Kovalam then as The Leela and now The Leela Kempinski, and it has never been better than it is today. My stay in October/November was my third this year and I do not have an expense account - I am retired, so I always look for value and comfort.
I was dismayed to read that the member from Bath, England liked almost nothing, disliked most things and gave as his tip "pick another hotel". In my opinion this hotel has so much to offer that it would be a shame to miss out on it.. During October the weather was apalling. The monsoon finished later than usual and there were days of torrential rain and spectactular thunder and lightening storms. The nearby city of Trivandrum was flooded waist deep on two occasions. The member says that he selected this hotel for beach and sun. Perhaps the weather has more than a little to do with his disappointment.
Yes, there was a lot of work going on in one or two areas of "The Club" and yes there was a lot of noise at times but given better weather guests would have been at the poolside or on the beach. Yes, the Chairman did make a 3 day visit and yes the wedding of the son of the Senior Supreme Court Judge did take place in the hotel's conference centre, but the work would have gone on in any case - the aim is to finish before Christmas.
What is now The Club was the original Seaview Block, so the shell of the building already existed. Where suites have been formed, two rooms have been made into one, but the Club Rooms themselves are indeed fairly small, being the original room size. The General Manager readily admits that had they been able to build from scratch they would be half as big again.
For the same reason, bathrooms too are on the small side, but let's be fair - let's mention the heaps of thick snow-white bath sheets and hand towels and face towels which are changed twice daily and the quality toiletries and combs and shaving kits - the list is endless. And let's be fair, too, about the bathroom window which faces into the room. Clearly, this is designed to give natural light but it IS fitted with a blind which, when lowered, gives total privacy. This same feature can be found in other quality hotels to give natural light. True, there is not enough space for a bath but the showers - yes, not just one shower head but THREE - in the not-so-small shower cubicle - are wonderful.
Arrangements can be made with the Housekeeper if guests wish their room to be serviced at a particular time. Clearly not all rooms can be serviced simultaneously. Guests need only lift the telephone and ask for service - a team will be there within minutes.
Yes, the hand-made chocolates delivered daily to Club rooms are indeed a treat, as is the wonderful "High Tea" (we call it afternoon tea in th UK) served each afternoon in The Living Room.
Many would-be guests would be put off this hotel by the reference made to exposed wiring, lights which don't work, things held in place by polyfiller and sealant. The on-the-ball General Manager of this hotel and his on-the-ball team of managers would never allow anything that might cause injury to guests or staff. Inspections throughout every area of the hotel are part of the daily routine. If any reader has formed the impression of a 2 star Spanish hotel of 20 years ago, forget it. Standards throughout this hotel could not be higher, and that goes for wiring and lighting and anything else that could be a safety hazard.
Guests who are booked from November onwards can expect near perfect weather, with no rain and no storms until next May, and can spend much of their time outdoors if they wish. Those who choose to stay in their room in The Club could experience some building work noise during daytime. Those in the main hotel (beach view and sea view terrace rooms) and the pavilion rooms on the beach, are unlikely to hear any noise from the ongoing work.
From my own experience of this hotel I would say "Go for it"."
- Travel date: Sun 12th of November 2006
The hotel was superb. Such good service...
"The hotel was superb. Such good service and very comfortable in every way. Probably the best I have ever stayed in, better than the Mandarin, Hong Kong."
- Travel date: Fri 3rd of October 2008
The Leela is second to none!... The foo...
"The Leela is second to none!... The food was excellent, the staff could not have been more helpful and friendly. The hotel was immaculate, both in cleanliness and general maintenance.
Getting about was easy using both the public taxis or hiring the use of the hotel taxi cars. The drivers were always helpful and informative about the places and sights you wanted to visit..
The Hotel was located on a headland with beaches either side, just an easy stroll away. If you don't fancy the public beaches then the Leela has a small private beach that is well served by the staff.
If you are looking for a luxurious and carefree holiday then this is the place to go.
Kerala has so much to offer the visitor - the Leela resort is the icing on the cake.- you will not be disappointed with this hotel. There was simply nothing I could fault it on."
- Travel date: Tue 15th of April 2008