On the Waterfront This lush South Indian state—the birthplace of ayurveda—is an intricate web of calm backwaters. Here you’ll find the Kumarakom Lake Resort (doubles from $437), set on 25 acres alongside Lake Vembanad. A world unto itself, the resort features 49 villas that were created with materials sourced from century-old ancestral homes and are full of traditional details: wooden gables, carved doors, massive brass locks. Sample the spicy curries (okra-and-tomato bindi masala) and exotic ice creams (pepper; nutmeg) at the restaurant Ettukettu (dinner for two $60). A five-minute ride away is the 14-acre Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, filled with storks, herons, egrets, and parrots. You can also rent one of the property’s thatched-roof houseboats for a tour of the area’s palm-lined fields and Hindu temples. By day, float past villages and fishing canoes. Come night, you can be alone on the shimmering lake.