A 45-minute rain-drenched drive from Kochi airport takes me to Bolgatty Island. From a distance, I could see the Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty rising like a giant ‘smiley’ in the sky. The mellow-yellow-coloured urban luxury resort is built to resemble a wave, and its curved façade does an excellent job of it.
As I step into the lobby, the magnitude of the space hits me in the plexus. Never-ending ceiling. Towering gold-trimmed lattice screens in the lobby. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls framing the scenic backwaters of the Vembanad Lake, the longest lake in India. Muted gold cut-out-chandeliers, art installations, honey-comb check-in counters, metal fishes swimming on the walls behind it, over-sized chairs and lush sofas — the very air seems to be wrapped in elegance and panache.
It’s like as if someone had taken a giant cauldron filled with global chic and mixed equal parts aesthetics from Kerala and the Arab world resulting in a delicious brew. There’s a reason behind this amalgamation.
GRAND HYATT’S UNPARALLELED LUXURY
I am told by the staff that the resort is Yusuf Ali’s (the founder of the 6.5 billion Lulu Group), “gift to God’s Own Country, his native Kerala”. His is a typical rags-to-riches story. A poor boy from Kerala crosses the high seas and finds his pot of gold in “Arabia”. Today the billionaire calls both Kerala and the Abudhabi “home”. He is influenced by the cultures of both lands and wanted it represented in The Grand Hyatt.
Spread over 26-acres the urban luxury resort has 264 room, 38 suites and four villas and three grand ballrooms. Its 9.5acre convention centre, Lulu Bolgatty International Convention Centre, is the largest in South India.
The one lakh square metre car park at the Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty can hold up to 1000 cars without crunching on space.
There are three helipads too. Spaciousness, grandeur and opulence are words that pop into my head often as I walk around the property.
“The principal architects of the resort, London-based Wemberly Allison Tom and Group worked on an international standard of design along with Hong Kong-based Peter Shilling & Company (interiors) and World image Group (exteriors and public areas) and Shobha from Kerala (landscaping),” informsVikas Nair, Associate Director of Events. “Bold, worldly and extraordinary, best describes the architecture and design of The Grand Hyatt.”
It took five years to complete the wood, marble, glass and steel luxury five-star property, a first of its kind in Kerala. At the entrance is a wooden art installation that appears like blocks of wood. But in fact, it represents the ends of the snake boats unique to Kerala. “It embodies camaraderie and unity,” explains Nair.
Influence of Kerala can be found in the arches, artworks tiered landscaped gardens and water bodies. The Arabic influence can be seen in the gold trimmings, chandeliers, carpets and, latticed screens. Design elements such as muted colours, dark wood and straight lines draw inspiration from the west.
The Grand Hyatt is a resort with grand views. All of its rooms and public spaces have dramatic views of the backwaters, city skylines and gardens. I woke up in the mornings to the sun rising above the Chinese fishing nets in Fort Kochi in the far horizon and fishermen fishing for prawns in the Vembanad Lake below my window.
The resort boasts of signature restaurants like the Colony Clubhouse & Grill, which is a re-imagined old-world grill room and rooftop bar offering a panoramic view of the city. Thai Soul is inspired by the streets of Bangkok not just in its menu but also in its décor which draws from the food courts of Thailand. Grand Lobby Lounge with its grey and gold colour scheme is a private dining-by-the-waterside space. Then there is the Malabar Café with its floor-to-ceiling glass walls pouring light from the skies and offering scenic views of the Vembanad lakes to guests devouring authentic Kerala cuisine cooked in the open kitchen.
Opulent rooms. Bathrooms the size of living rooms and theatrical bathtubs. Glass walls framing postcard-perfect views. Hollywood-worthy swimming pools and plunge pools. Divine spas. Corridors and public spaces gussied-up in colourful artworks and gold trimmed cornices. Dramatic landscapes. Bold architecture. All of it makes The Grand Hyatt Kochi Bolgatty quite an extraordinary experience. It is redefining ‘living grandly on a global scale’ in local parlance.