Then there’s the kitchen. Fully equipped, as they say: built-in hobs, fridge stocked with fruit, water and other essentials, cabinets packed with crockery and cutlery, even a dishwasher. “No masalas,” Sheenu responds to my enquiry, “We get those fresh depending on what the guests want.” An optional ‘experience’ at Beach Gate is going shopping for food: fresh fish, meats, vegetables, spices, etc. This can then be self-catered or converted into excellent food—another uncompromising CGH Earth standard, by the way—by a chef from Eighth Bastion, the other group property in Fort Kochi. (AJ doesn’t like to cook, but I wouldn’t mind rustling up a few meals.)
One of the many grand things about Beach Gate is that you can choose your service to be as plentiful or minimal as you like. Because Eighth Bastion is a bare seven-minute walk away, you could easily requisition all your meals from the hotel’s kitchen (there’s a copy of the menu at Beach Gate) if you’re not interested in having a chef cook or in self-catering. But even if you dispense with those services, Shiva of the dazzling smile, who has a room to the back of the bungalow and who takes care of all housekeeping, and an elderly guard in his little guard-house, with or without Doggy, are permanently stationed at Beach Gate.
Bicycles are stacked near the gate for guests’ use; but again, they could use the concierge service at Eighth Bastion to call a taxi or auto. The first would be fun, if you’re there as a gang and want to explore the streets of Fort Kochi. And the last is recommended: Hanif, their standby auto driver, is English-speaking and can double up as a fluent guide. I declined a tour of Jew Town and the Dutch Palace, but was thrilled to be taken to a wholesale spice trader who gave me excellent spices at outstanding prices, and to a very charming young purveyor of Kerala saris, lungis, mundus, etc next door (Muhsin at Kairali Kasavu Palace, Bazar Road, Mattancherry; 9947137132), who gave me a discount only because I attempted to converse with him in my embarrassing Malayalam. Oh, and his email id is [email protected] (now, how charming is that?). Hanif also took me to a local ‘bakery’ to stock up on those Kerala gift essentials—banana chips, curry leaf peanuts, achappam—and, since I could smell the banana chips being fried in coconut oil 10 metres before I arrived and since both the packets I bought for home finished in two days, all I can say is go there.
Sounds like I did a fair amount in my two days, right? But the rains had begun. So I didn’t wet my feet at the beach, a five-minute walk away. I didn’t cycle around town (shy). I didn’t get into the pool (raining). I didn’t cook (for myself?). I didn’t have a barbecue dinner in the lawn outside (raining, solitary). I didn’t see ANJ and AKJ running round and round the house giggling and shouting; I didn’t have long chats with AJ; R and A didn’t play football on the grounds with ASJ and LSJ (they weren’t there).
I told Sheenu I’d see him in October, maybe November. He just nodded. I guess he already knew.
LOCATION Off K.J. Herschel Road, Fort Kochi, Kerala
ACCOMMODATION Two bungalows, each with 3 bedrooms (2 on first floor with double beds and verandahs, 1 on the ground floor with twin beds)
TARIFF Rs 35,000 per bungalow. Special rates possible for bookings of 3 nights or more.
CONTACT 0484-3011711, cghearth.com