There was a small notepad holder lying at the edge of my bedside table which I might have easily overlooked were not for the words, Save The Turtles, printed on top. There are many reasons to fall in love with the Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay, a sprawling sea-hugging property in Mamallapuram. But it was the slender bookmark that endeared me to the resort even before I had time to explore the property. The resort is actively engaged in protecting the Olive Ridley Turtles that turn up at the shore adjoining the resort between November and February. Even the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust has recognised them as the saving champions.
Ensconced in 45 acres of landscaped garden, the Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram is about 56km from Chennai airport. During my two-day stay, I found it a happy marriage between nature and luxury. The architecture and the décor ranged from traditional to contemporary.
Lodged in my room on the first floor of a Pool View Chalet, I would look upon the shiny blue meandering pool from the balcony. Stretching to my left and right, it endlessly curved past rows of coconut trees, drooping flowering plants that shed their fragrant petals along the water’s edge. Grassy lawns bordered the pool. Sometimes a part of the bank would curl into the water to create a faux island. Quaint wooden bridges linked the banks at intervals. Beneath shady trees were statues of seahorses, turtles, etc.
At night, the dim yellow lighting would hold the darkness at bay but allowed the shadows to create their own pockets of mystery along the bends in the pool. The breeze whispering through the coconut palms heightened the sense of secrecy.
By day, the pool was a hub of activities, with elderly couples taking a quiet swim, families with kids splashing in their own corner, adventure enthusiasts learning deep diving in another part, boisterous teenagers giving ‘zorbing’ a shot at the far end of the pool. But surprisingly, it did not feel crowded at all.
The 27,000 square feet meandering pool is the second largest in the world, I was told later, the first located in a resort in Bali, Indonesia.
The sweeping avenue from the main reception leads to the sea-view deck from where one can descend to the beach. Take an early morning stroll to watch the sun rise from the sea following it up with a lesson from the resident Yoga teacher.
From the resort, you can catch a glimpse of the Shore Temple, part of the UNESCO-recognised World Heritage Site group of monuments of Mamallapuram. The hotel can arrange for a boat ride into the sea or an ATV ride along the beach.
The Infinity Pool near the deck is just the thing if you are feeling lazy to go down to the sea for a dip.
The accommodation is largely divided into chalets, villas and suites, with rooms overlooking one of the key features of the resort – the meandering pool, the garden or the sea. The Pool Villas get their name from their own private pools. The Sea View Chalets and Villas offer a panoramic view of the Bay of Bengal. Watch the sea changing colour with the passing of the sun overhead from your patio or from the benches tucked beneath the shade trees. Relax in the hammocks book in hand.
Enjoy your own private bar and Jacuzzi if you are staying at the Studio Suites; each suite, measuring 842 square feet, has glass-panelled walls and wooden floors.
If you are looking for a special holiday with your family or a select group of friends, check out the Bay Bungalow or the Isle Villa. The 4,343 square feet two-level Bay Bungalow has three master bedrooms, a private pool with lawn area, a home theatre room and a full-fledged bar. The terrace is ideal for holding a small cosy party. The Isle Villa (2,643 square feet) has four bedrooms with two of them interconnecting. A private lawn and a DJ room make this an ideal gathering place for a pre-wedding party or holding a close family event.
The resort has two fine bars and restaurants. The Maritime Tales is the place to unwind with a cocktail or chilled beer. Don’t forget to check out its collection of cigars. The Sindbad is a casual yet smart bar offering a wide range of domestic and international spirits.
The Water’s Edge Café sits right at one end of the meandering pool with an outdoor sitting section by the pool deck. The Café specialises in a variety of cuisines, with its weekend buffets attracting diners from the city as well. Adjacent to the beach, overlooking the Bay of Bengal, is The Wharf, whose signature dishes include fresh sea-food, grill-fired steaks, etc. Chef Michael Saju, the captain of the culinary team, can mesmerise diners with his repertoire. Balancing Continental with Oriental, matching north Indian to south Indian dishes, he had something for everyone. Probably this is one of the key reasons, apart from the overall facilities, that the resort is a favourite for destination weddings with Indian and foreign guests alike.The resort not only has several conference rooms and banquet halls but also equipped to hold gala parties and weddings. The pillar-less ballroom offers a majestic backdrop to any indoor celebration.
And if you think all the pampering and good food has played havoc with your calorie count, spend some time at the Pranayam fitness centre where a professional trainer can guide how to burn them out equally fast. The resort offers a lot of activities, including beach volleyball, basketball, outdoor chess board, various indoor games, a children’s play area. There is also a nine-hole mini golf course.
An evening was spent sightseeing around the resort, exploring the town of Mamallapuram and a few attractions from the group of 7th and 8thcentury monuments.
Our final port of call at the resort was the Bodhi Spa. The Spa and Bodhi Ayur (where traditional Ayurvedic remedies are followed) offer a slew of packages that are bound to leave you rejuvenated. At the Spa, we were spoilt for choice, with options ranging from Wake your Senses with a Mineral Mint Body Wrap, Rejuvenate your skin with DNA Energizing Facial, or feel the stress melt away with a Royal Thai Massage. At Bodhi Ayur, you may choose from any single 60-minute session or book one of the day packages with the in-house therapist helping you to decide on the best line of treatment.
While you are by the seaside, do stop at the second reception located here. There are two vintage plaques that indicate this was where Chief Minister of Madras state, K. Kamaraj, laid the foundation stone of the Mamallapuram Guest House on June 5, 1955, and inaugurated the same on May 16, 1957. The guest house has come a long way indeed!
Getting There: From Chennai, the East Coast Road, leads to the Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay. Puducherry (Pondicherry) is about 100 km further south from the resort. The resort has its own helipad. The resort is 56km by road from Chennai airport, and Chennai Central railway station is 60km away.
Address: Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay, a unit of GRT Hotels & Resorts, 57 Kovalam Road, Mamallapuram -603104 Tamil Nadu.
Tariff: Starting from ₹ 7000 a night. There are rooms for people with special needs as well.
Contact: +91 44 2744 3636; [email protected]