We got an opportunity to stay at the Barefoot resort at Havelock during our recent visit to the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The resort is one of the well-known resorts in Havelock and has been consistently rated as one of the best to stay. Our stay though was a mixed experience.
At the outset, I will have to clarify that we were 2 couples traveling with 2 kids (4-year-old). This is an important factor that heavily influences the review. Everyone who travels with a 4-year-old knows how tough it could get to keep them engaged and avoid undue incidents. This is where it goes downhill.
Booking the hotels was not a breeze and we had to have multiple follow-ups with the corporate headquarters in Bangalore to finalize our bookings. We opted for an AC Nicobari hut and the rooms are by no means cheap. It would easily touch $220+ per night and that is the premium that one has to pay to get luxury in absolute wilderness.
The main factor that influenced our decision to book our rooms here was the proximity to the famous Radhanagar beach. The beach consistently features in the top 10 beaches in Asia and still has not been touched by commercialization. To reach the resort, one has to take a 2-hour ferry ride from Port Blair to Havelock. Please take note of the ferry timings and plan your trip in advance to avoid any last-minute hiccups. We booked the Makruzz ferry almost a month or 2 in advance. These are the best available ferry’s and would highly recommend you to book them.
After the 2 hours ferry ride, it took us around 30 minutes to reach the resort. The resort reception building is the main area where one can find the restaurant also. The rooms (all categories) are scattered around the property and one has to be fit enough to walk back and forth on the nonexistent walkways.
The resort does not have room service or intercom and one has to walk all the way up to the reception to get any help. It doesn’t help that the pathways are not lit up during the night. One has to use the flashlights (torch) provided during check-in to venture out in the night. Mind you, it is pitch dark outside during the night and is like venturing out into a thick tropical forest.
The room that we booked “Nicobari AC cottage” was decent and kinda basic for the price tag. The support staff does their best to keep the entire resort and rooms in decent shape, but one must understand that it is tough to maintain things in the wilderness. The restaurant serves good food, but do not expect any broad range of breakfast buffet. As highlighted earlier, everything needs to be sourced from the mainland and hence resources are usually at a premium. People here appreciate what is available and hate wasting food and other precious resources. Hence the orders are usually taken based on the requests placed at the restaurant.
The highlight of the resort is the Radhanagar Beach, considered as one of the best in Asia. The beach is a 2-minute walk from the resort and is divinely beautiful. The pathway that leads to the beach is through a pristine tropical forest. The towering trees (most of them should be more than a century old) form a perfect thick canopy through which the beam of sunlight tries to reach the forest floor. The entire beach is devoid of any commercialization and is the ideal place if you want to unwind and connect with nature. The waves though were very strong and venturing deep into the water is not advisable. The resort has a lifeguard on standby during the day, but I still did not feel comfortable venturing deep into the water.
The resort does not have a swimming pool, which according to me would have added a good touch. Even though the beach area is beautiful, a welcoming swimming pool with warm waters would have kept the families engaged. Another major drawback was the lack of medical facilities and support during any emergency situation. It was tough to digest that the resort of this scale did not even have basic medical supplies like paracetamol. My friend was running down with fever and we were close to exhausting our supplied and reached out to the front desk for help. They, unfortunately, they did not even have these basic supplies and we were just about able to manage with the medications that we were carrying.
To sum it out, the resort has huge potential if the management could focus on the end to end needs of the families. I do understand that the theme of the resort is to take guests as close as possible to nature. But it would definitely help if they can make the stay a bit more easy on families (especially traveling with young ones).
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