A relaxed family getaway near Mahabalipuram: Beach villa by SaffronStays

What do you look for in a short family getaway?

For my husband, it means to just chill out, a break from work, time for himself, time with friends & family. My daughter thinks of weekend getaways in India as holidaying with other families and getting unsupervised play time with kids (read ALL day!). As for me, I like to bond with friends and family but am also keen to see the sights around.

Increasingly, we have been booking villas to holiday with friends for our short trips within India. Several friends from Mumbai recommended SaffronStays after their experiences. So, when I got a chance to stay at their beach villa in ECR (East Coast Road) near Mahabalipuram, I jumped at the opportunity!

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SaffronStays Venmani is a comfort option for a family getaway.

SaffronStays is a hospitality collective with a network of more than 40 leisure homes. Their idea is to provide a comfortable holiday experience with the warmth of a homestay along with maintaining certain standards akin to a hotel.

Destination

Venmani, a town in Tamil Nadu is about 1/2 drive from Mahabalipuram. It lies south of Chennai on the East Coast Road (ECR) at a driving distance of about 2 hours and north of Pondicherry at about 1 hour drive . This is a peaceful small town where the main attraction is the nearby UNESCO World Heritage site, the Monuments at Mahabalipuram. It shows up as Paramankeni on google maps.

This villa is a great option for those looking for beach resorts in ECR with swimming pool.  It is located at Pearl Beach, a gated community with direct access to a private beach. I reached here from Bangalore in about 6.5 hours with only a short stop at Murugun idli shop for a quick dosa and coffee. I had expected the scenic verdant views in monsoon season but not such good roads.

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The large swimming pool is perfect for a dip.

Stay at SaffronStays Venmani

This is a nice 3-bedroom villa, with several common spaces. It is one of the few properties by SaffronStays where room-wise booking is allowed. The 3 bedrooms are far apart, two on the ground floor and the third on the first floor where the dining room and kitchen are located. 

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The room on the ground floor.
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Another spacious room on the first floor.

The best visual feature of this beach house is the large swimming pool that features a small slide. Kids would enjoy splashing in the pool with the waterfall functioning! If swimming is not your idea of a relaxed getaway, there is a hammock near the pool and a large gazebo with deckchairs for lounging.

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No kid can resist this!

There is a tennis court next to the pool as well. I didn’t try it but I suspect you might end up in the pool if the game becomes a bit hectic 🙂

Parking (outside the garage) is available in the villa which is convenient for families doing a road trip from Bangalore, Chennai or Pondicherry.

Food at SaffronStays Venmani

Well, you booked a villa option for home-styled meals so don’t go expecting a continental spread 🙂

Before I reached the villa, I got a call from a lady who introduced herself as a Guest Relations Officer. This person asked my approximate time to reach the villa, explained the food options and wanted to know what I would like to eat.

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The Dining Room has an open feeling with large windows.

Once I reached the villa and freshened up, a home-cooked meal of rice, sambhar (lentils), 2 vegetable dishes, papad and dahi (yogurt) was ready and served in the dining room.

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My home-cooked simple lunch meal.

The cook is a south-Indian lady with a ready smile. She lives close by and comes to prepare all meals fresh. The caretaker, who lives on the premises is also handy in the kitchen. I am not sure who prepared my cold coffee but it was delicious!

The only issue in a 3/4 day getaway possibly is that you might tire of the home-cooked (south-indian) food, delicious as it may be, and need to step out for a meal in Mahabalipuram for a change.

Activities at SaffronStays Venmani

Now comes the favourite part of my stay!

If your idea is to have a relaxed stay, bond with friends and family till late in the night, have a drink while lounging on the deck chair near the pool and do nothing, you have come to the right place.

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You can be sure to have Pearl Beach mostly to yourself.

But for restless souls like me, who need to ‘see and do something’ even on relaxed breaks, this villa offers several activities. Pearl Beach is walking distance away and unlike its crowded counter-part in Mahabalipuram, you will have this to yourself on a walk in the morning or evening. 

‘Is that all?’, I asked the caretaker.

He left me puzzled by responding that he wants to show me the garage. I was sure our communication was off-track with my non-existent Tamil and his rudimentary English. But when he opened the garage, all became clear. 

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See those gleaming kayaks!

This is a man-cave for big toys. A gleaming Harley Davidson was the first thing I saw (the only thing that cannot be used by guests). A red 2-seater ATV and 2 single-seater ATVs were next. A bicycle hung on the wall. And in the far corner, a jet-ski! 2 big and 2 small kayaks were stacked neatly. I cant imagine the Bay of Bengal waters being calm enough for kayaking. The ocean certainly wasn’t calm either for kayaking or jet-ski in the month of July when I went. But I did have a blast on the ATV.

Believe it or not, there is also an open-air theatre system at the villa! A large screen has been installed on the tennis court (making it unusable as a court, I guess!) with a projector and Netflix options! Your nights are definitely sorted 🙂

Activities near SaffronStays Venmani

Mahabalipuram is 25 minutes driving distance from the villa, so you could consider this as an alternative to Mahabalipuram resorts for a family trip. The group of monuments at Mahabalipuram are not to be missed! You need not be a religious person to enjoy these historic monuments. Go early morning and I assure you would have the Shore Temple all to yourself.

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The Shore Temple and other monuments at Mahabalipuram are a delight.

There is also a Madras Crocodile Bank on old Mahabalipuram road – about 6 km after the Mahabalipuram town – which turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. Not a typical zoo, this Crocodile Bank was set up for conservation of crocodiles & reptiles. 

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Not everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed my visit. I learnt a few things about crocodile behaviour!

What puts a smile 🙂

The ATV ride on the beach and on the nearby sand pit for sure! 

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I was happy with driving this ‘safe’ two-seater but there are single-seater options as well for the more adventurous!

The caretaker’s real skills are in driving the gleaming red ATV on the sandy pit. The ride reminded me of sand-dune bashing that I had experienced in Dubai about a decade ago. And when he asked me to take the wheels on Pearl beach, I said yes. But it is not as easy as it looks, you need to press the accelerator HARD to go fast on the barren beach.

In the evening, the caretaker said he will put a movie for me on the open-air theatre. While he was going about setting up the system, I was puzzled that he didn’t check with me on the movie options. It all became clear when the screen image flickered to N. Yes, there was Netflix at hand and I could choose anything from their vast options.

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Netflix on open-air theatre definitely caught me by surprise!

Recommended for families?

Absolutely! The villa is built for families.

The best option would be a group of 6-9 people to come and enjoy the property.

Contact

Email: book@saffronstays.com

Website: SaffronStays Venmani


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SaffronStays Venmani is a nice villa option for a family getaway.  It offers a comfort stay, access to a private beach and to sightseeing at Mahabalipuram & Pondicherry. #familygetaway #beachvilla #india #tamilnadu          SaffronStays Venmani is a nice villa option for a family getaway.  It offers a comfort stay, access to a private beach and to sightseeing at Mahabalipuram & Pondicherry. #familygetaway #beachvilla #india #tamilnadu


Disclaimer: I was hosted by SaffronStays at this villa. As always, all opinions are my own.


Do you prefer a resort or a villa / homestay for your family getaways? I would love to know your thoughts.

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Author: Shweta Singhal

Hi! I am Shweta, the zest behind this blog . I play several roles – parent to a 6-year old, adventure enthusiast, travel blogger, generally open to trying out new things in life. Besides travel, I love books and theatre and art. I would love to hear from you; do drop a comment. Join me on Instagram / Twitter @zestinatote.

21 thoughts

  1. Oh wow! I can’t believe how many crocodiles are on Crocodile Bank! Fitting name! SaffronStays looks like a lovely stay, especially with the beautiful pool!

  2. There’s so many awesome amenities here where do I start. I love the idea of having an elliptical in the room, there’s no excuse for not working out. Also the pool and slide are lovely. Also I like that your 3 rooms were far apart meaning lots of privacy.

  3. A visit to Mahabalipuram is on the list and Saffron Stays looks like a perfect place to stay with the family. Loved the swimming pool with a slide, our kiddo is going to have max fun. And home food is definitely a plus.

  4. Love the pool! i have never thought about staying in a villa in India. I normally use hotels, but it’s a great idea. With the kayaks and the beach there is more than enough to keep you busy.

  5. Sounds amazing – I have been to Mahabalipuram and still remember it well – it is a wonderful place and great to explore. I stayed at Fisherman’s Cove which was lovely but just a bit corporate in feel, despite the beach houses – this looks like a great alternative for a family or a small group of friends – it looks much more intimate and friendly!

    1. Fishermen’s Cove in Chennai in nice but this one is much closer to Mahabalipuram. And yes, different from a beach resort in terms of more intimate, spacious and private.

  6. What a lovely villa! The pool looks so inviting and I like how it has a little slide. I don’t think I would get bored there between the pool and all the beach equipment! It is nice that there is food made for you too.

    1. And you have the option to cook yourself a snack or a meal, should you so desire. As nice as the villa is, for a first-time visit, the monuments at Mahabalipuram should not be missed.

  7. An ATV ride on the beach? Yes, please! I’d love that. What a lovely experience you had – Saffron Stays Venmani looks fantastic, with their pool as well as private beach access. And the garage has the best kind of collection possible for a water sports lover. I have heard of the Shore Temple but never been there but the show stopper, for me, is the crocodile park, OMG!

    1. I am glad you are excited both about the villa and about Mahabalipuram. It is a small town where couple of nights would make a nice getaway. Those crocs were amazing to see 🙂

  8. I love staying in villas when I am on the road and recently done one in Hawaii. Can see us staying here if we were in the area. Love the decor and the pool is quite a feature which helps in making a decision when I go on the road. 🙂

  9. We have never stayed in a villa. But it looks like a great option for a family vacation. The pool looks quite awesome. Especially with a hammock close by. But that water toy supply was an even better offering! So many fun things to do!

    1. I had super fun on the ATV. Sadly, during the monsoon season in India, the ocean is too rough for kayaking or even jet-ski. I am never comfy in a hammock (keep thinking I will fall off!) but the deckchairs worked well for me.

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