This was our second visit in as many years. This time for a family holiday in a much larger group (4 families). Fragrant Nature was an easy choice due to the great memories of '14 when I'd come here with my wife and child. We were advised by Deepu (Manager, Operations) that the resort had been upgraded to 4-star plus in the interim.
Set on the banks of the backwaters with a carefully-tended greenery, the serene scenic beauty left us spellbound yet again. The keen attention to detail in the decor is remarkable - each item in the common areas viz. reception, restaurant, rooftop cafe, sunset point, seafood restaurant - demonstrates professional and aesthetic maintenance.
We stayed in the premium Lakeview Villas this time too, but ones that were almost at the end of the property - Nos. 403-04; 407-08. Appreciate the management's choice of villas as it allowed the 4 families to have their own semi-exclusive space close to each other. The major group arrived in the night and, true to promise, awoke the next morning to a stunning and unfettered view of the backwaters. Their wondrous expressions were gratifying!
The rooms retained their clean and aesthetic upkeep. The large, framed photographs of life in Kerala are a collector's item by themselves. Housekeeping was punctual and thorough, a pleasure to come back to good-as-new rooms.
The multi-cuisine food was great like last time. Good to experience the new restaurant for seafood continuing the tradition of well-cooked food.
Breakfast was satisfactory, can be improved with the addition of a few more dishes. The service can be faster, though this may not be a representative feature - there was a heavy rush due to Christmas and winter holidays. Here too, professionalism was demonstrated with the presence of senior restaurant manager, Santhosh, who pitched in with the staff and ensured that ad hoc requests for paper dosa, uttapam etc. were fulfilled to taste.
The 1-hr houseboat ride in the backwaters of the resort was an absolute pleasure and the highlight of the first day. Visiting family from UK was especially appreciative of the novel experience.
A special mention of the resort's self-sufficiency: It has its own sunset point set in the same lush greenery with chairs distributed over a generous space to view the picturesque sight.
The "Prana" spa was great as before and most of the family enjoyed the massage.
The dinner on our last night was another example of caring service: At our request and due to the large size of the group (15 pax), all the dishes we'd especially liked from a la carte menu during our stay, were served in the buffet :)
Our 4- night holiday seemed too short but experience is lifelong. Thank you, Fragrant Nature Kollam!
A special mention of Santhosh, Jills, Marina, Vishnu and others whose names I'm forgetting (apologies), led by the very capable professional Deepu who, as part of the old guard, made sure that our holiday was memorable. Thank you!
PS: Have also asked other family members, Dr. Paresh and Ritu Kothari, to put their views.
We stayed at Fragrant Nature for two nights after coming across the property on Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) website.
Booking that property from their owner website was impossible because the payment wouldn't go through. After contacting the hotel I was sent a document to fill out with credit card details and send back by email (I declined this option and managed to book via the small luxury hotels website instead).
The hotel is an approximately 2-hour drive from Trivandrum airport (probably shorter earlier in the morning or late at night as it is only 60km distance). We arranged transfers via the hotel to save ourselves the hassle of hiring a taxi at the airport (the hotel charges Rs2500 each way).
On arrival we decided to eat dinner first as we were rather tired from the day long travel from Delhi (take a direct flight if you can get one - we flew Indigo via Bombay and it was quite a bit of a hassle). Dinner was a buffet (the website isn't clear about that and we are expecting a proper sit down restaurant with a la carte menu which we learnt later was also possible but in the same location). Food was very tasty but the presentation and setup was very poor and didn't come up to an SLH hotel standard whatsoever.
We then got checked into our villa room. These have views of the lake and are attached to one or two other villas depending upon whether you are in the middle or sides.
We got a middle room. The room was quite spacious but the presentation and amenities were definitely not luxury level and felt more like a 2-star hotel standard. The guests in the room next to us were playing music loudly and we could hear all their talking (which was loud). They were eating dinner late and all the food smells were wafting into our room from the connecting door (it was very bad and we felt like we were in the middle of a kitchen with cooking taking place).
It was unbearable so we rang the reception and complained and asked to be moved. A little later and after a second call they arrived to check it out and agreed to move us to the only available room nearby. The new room was comparable but slightly smaller but quiet. We moved to that room.
Next morning breakfast was also a buffet with an option to get fresh cooked eggs, pancakes and also other Indian breakfast items such as dosa. Food is tasty but the same disorganised feeling exists.
We also had lunch here that day which was a la carte and again quite tasty but presentation was more like that of a home cook and not a professional kitchen.
That evening we had sundowner drinks and dinner at the seafood grill. The mocktail drinks were not very good and the banana fritter was lacking the authentic keralite flavour or cooking approach. We had the seafood platter which was tasty but as same marinade was used for everything it got a bit boring after a few bites.
At checkout we had someone else's charges applied to our room which took some time to correct.
This is not an SLH class hotel so I am very surprised that they are classified as such. The staff try hard and are friendly but lack experience in international grade hotel business and definitely need that training.
Service staff (in the restaurant) are a bit over inquisitive and conversations felt like an interrogation (the usual where do you come from, where are you going etc but then when are you leaving, what flight and what time is the flight etc - teach them to give your clients some space and be more discreet - not be over curious).
The front desk operates using a manual ledger and things are not computerised so there are errors and missing pieces of information (we booked a package that included a 1-hour boat cruise and 45-mins massage each but they had no record of that). We got those things but after a bit of bad and forth.
Staff should be encouraged to use deodorants - India is warm and humid after all.
The property is in a beautiful and serene location. It has potential to be a top quality luxury property if it wants to. Right now I say it is trying hard but is at a 3-star level at best with 5-star location.
We picked Fragrant nature Resort over Raviz. I have to say it didn't disappoint us.
The rooms were clean and the facilities r of international standard. Food was good too especially the complimentary breakfast.
My wife and I stayed at Fragrant Nature over Christmas, 2016 for 3 nights, as part of our mini-honeymoon. It was a delightful experience.
Location: The resort has a fantastic, secluded location, away from the hustle and bustle of a city, and by the backwaters. We felt truly at peace. All around us, there was only nature and more nature.
Amenities: The resort has drop draw amenities. During our time there, we played badminton, lazed in the swimming pool, got some massages at the spa, watched TV (they have Tata Sky satellite connections in all rooms)... they have a private boat that can be taken on backwater tours.. we did not do it.
Food: The restaurant has a pan-Indian menu. We ordered North Indian dishes for dinner one day, and taste and quality of the food was outstanding, with an emphasis on health - the food wasn't overly oily or salty. There is a daily breakfast spread with many indian dishes, an omlette counter, fresh juices and fruit - a great way to start the day.
Service: This is primary reason why we will come back to Fragrant Nature. The staff is extremely friendly and always have a smile on their faces. Furthermore, they are keen to have a conversation with you and offer insights into the area. Vishnu, a chef in the restaurant, was kind enough to tell us what buses to take to make a trip to Trivandrum!!
Overall, Fragrant Nature is a gem, hidden away in the backwaters near Kollam!
it was an awesome experience staying at the resort, the lake side sea food restaurant was amazing, very nice food and great service, i must thank the entire team of FN.. morning buffet break fast also was good...........cheers