I first started going to Vivanta by Taj: Fisherman’s Cove (on the outskirts of Chennai, India) in 2008. It was and continues to be a great beach resort- a place where you have access to a nice, clean and private beach- something you don’t get any longer in the city. However over the years the way I perceive this resort (not always in a bad way) has changed due to a number of reasons.
The Rooms: Fisherman’s cove has a variety of rooms for all budgets- from the bedrooms in the old block to the uber modernly furnished rooms in the new block to the garden and sea view villas. Every room has its advantage and disadvantage. If you want immediate access to the sea and have money to splurge you should choose the sea view villas. If you’re on a budget then you can choose the sea facing rooms in the old block. If you don’t mind being away from the sea but have great views of the lawn- you choose the rooms in the new block. I have noticed that the hotel often has a tendency to give you an “upgrade” when you check in. Mostly it’s just their way of dumping you in a room that they find easier to manage. Once they dumped us in a sea view cottage (when we had booked a room in the old block)- this cottage smelt musty and the hot water and shower didn’t work. This time as well (last weekend) they tried moving us to the new block when I had specifically booked a room in the old block. I later noticed that the new block mostly had Indian visitors whereas the old block had foreign visitors- this smacks of racism and maybe they really had a good reason, but I don’t know. But whatever room you are in (unless it smells musty and that really is an exception) you are assured of a comfortable and memorable stay. They are very strict about check in times. I have almost never managed to get into my room before 3pm.
The Beach: This is not a beach for swimming- the waves are violent and the surface uneven and there are strong currents, rocks and whirlpools- so really this is a beach where you stand and jump around on the edge, build sandcastles (if you’re into that kind of thing) or photograph crabs (I’ll cover that a bit later). But the beach is clean and there are lifeguards always herding you to the safe bits of the beach if you tend to stray and security guards patrol the beach 24*7- so 10/10 for safety. It’s a great place to view sunrises and also stars on a clear night.
Swimming pool, Spa, Restaurants: The resort has a very beautiful swimming pool- it is quite large, but only four feet deep and has a sunken bar. Given that the temperatures in Chennai go above 35C on most days the pool is warm afternoon onwards. It is cool only in the mornings- there is almost nothing the hotel can do about it I think- so just laze around on the deck chairs and read a book. I don’t know much about the spa- I’m not a spa person so will leave that alone. The resort has a couple of restaurants- breakfast especially over the weekends tends to get extremely crowded. They flatly refused us entry and moved us into a dull conference room on Sunday morning- which was a bit uninspiring- the message being get there early. Being a vegetarian I have never tried the sea food restaurant. My advice is to stick to room service- the menu has a good variety, the service is prompt & efficient (except to clear the trays- they ask you when you want them to clear the trays and then never turn up) and best of all it’s cheaper than dining in (esp if you’re going for the buffet).
Flora & Fauna: As I had mentioned before I initially started going to Fisherman’s cove as a beach break but of late (and especially after they opened the new wing) I find plenty of opportunities to observe flowers, birds, insects and all kinds of other things. I have photographed Kingfishers, woodpeckers, bee eaters, geckos, squirrels, loads of flowers, butterflies and even the odd snail. The lawns near the new block are divine. Even on a sunny day you can take a book, spread a blanket under a tree and just relax. Must do that one of these days.
Service: Of late I have noticed that you don’t automatically get the Taj level of service until you actually complain or demand something and then you get an excess of it. Overall the service level is still much better than what you would get at a regular hotel anywhere in the world.
Verdict: Definitely worth a visit- it’s hard to go wrong with the Fisherman’s cove (especially considering other choices in Chennai).