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By Christine Pemberton

If you are looking for a window into a different world, and a different rhythm of life, then take a peek through one of these rustic windows into the world of Kayal Island Retreat in Kerala, in south India.

The founder and the driving force behind this charming boutique property is a young lady by the name of Maneesha Panicker who, in her own words, "was no different from you" living the big city life in New York (and loving every moment of it). But a move back to India, to Kerala, to Kochi, to Kayal... Maneesha's world slowed down to a gentler pace, and now she wants you, too, to take time out from your frenetic urban life and enjoy what she has created.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

Tucked away in a little corner of India's largest lagoon, Lake Vembanad in Kerala, seemingly forgotten by the 21st century, lies a tiny island called Kakkathuruthu, the Island of Crows.
"How forgotten?" do we hear you say?
Well, there are no cars on Kakkathuruthu.
No vehicles of any kind, other than bicycles.
You reach the island by boat.
That kind of cut-off-ness.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

And on this Island of Crows, which is peopled by friendly villagers and hardy fishing folk, is Kayal Island Retreat, a tiny, boutique resort. Almost completely surrounded by water, this 2 cottage corner of paradise has one aim. To make you slow down from your frenetic city living to the relaxed, natural pace of the island. And the first step is your arrival from nearby Kochi (Cochin) in traditional longboats.
The stage is set for a different pace of life.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

But just in case you are beginning to worry that such remoteness comes at the cost of comfort - relax. You need have no worries on that score. The air-conditioned waterfront cottages have been furnished with old teak cupboards, a reading area and a desk for quiet contemplation. This might just be the place to start that novel you have been thinking about for so long.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

Each cottage is inspired by the local architecture. Everything in Kayal Island Retreat has been carefully thought through and designed to have minimal impact on the surrounding environment and to blend in. For example reclaimed and recycled materials were used to recreate the two cottages.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

Before the concrete jungle grew and expanded and took over our lives, the people of Kerala celebrated roofless, open baths, enjoying long, indulgent showers. The Malayalees are known to have an elaborate bathing ritual, which is preceded by a good massage.
For the urban visitor, an outdoor shower amidst palm trees is luxury personified. And so, naturally, each cottage in Kayal island Retreat has an ensuite bath garden.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

Introducing the reading space – an open area covered by a traditional tiled roof. Settle down with that book you have been meaning to read for ages... but with the breeze from the lake and the enticing backwaters, you might find yourself day-dreaming the afternoon away.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

Kayal Island Retreat encourages its guests to eat together, and the open dining space, at the edge of the backwaters, sets the mood perfectly. Life drifts by as you enjoy the local cuisine - the fishermen cast their nets, the boats sail by, conversation unfolds. The gentle island rhythm at work.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

Kayal serves local Kerala cuisine, using the abundant fresh, local produce, such as the island's own organically grown Pokkali rice. Naturally, sea and river fish, freshly caught off the banks of the island, feature largely on the menu. And the way of serving the food is local too, such as the traditional Kerala lunch served on a fresh banana leaf.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

Fancy something super fresh and healthy to drink? How about drinks made from ayurvedic plants, such as aloe vera shots or wheatgrass juice? And if you fancy something stronger? In that case, a must is fresh toddy tapped from the island's palms. Doesn't get much fresher!

Kayal Island Retreat Image

There's water, water, everywhere at Kayal Island Retreat. Literally. Lake Vembanad surrounds the island. The backwaters stretch away to the horizon. As you walk through the village, you will see small ponds with fish, and there are paddy fields filled to the brim with water. Your days and nights are soothed by the gentle sounds of water and oars dipping.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

At Kayal, everything has been designed to retain the rustic, natural charm of the island, including the gardens. A huge cashew tree, a tamarind tree, aloe vera shrubs, and coconut palms, all help to give you shade and peace.

Kayal Island Retreat Image

As the sun sets over the lake, you will marvel at how unstressed your day has been. Probably the only decision you have had to take is whether to walk or to snooze, to read or to explore...your world has magically slowed down to the relaxed, natural pace of life on the little Island of Crows.

Want to visit Kayal Island Retreat?

Get in touch with paul@bringhomestories.com for more information!





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