For long I have yearned to find Choyi’s Hotel or whatever it was called as it changed hands several times. My desire was finally met on New Year’s Day of 2017 as I stood outside the ancient wrought iron gate of what is now called Choice Seaside Hotel, in Kannur, Kerala.
In days gone by Choyi’s Hotel was owned and managed by my maternal great grandfather Choyi. I believe it was built for the British in the colonial days and Choyi served at the hotel for several years hence he was popularly called Choyi Butler. His family however refers to him reverentially as Sri Choyi. The hotel was later gifted to Sri Choyi by the British and has been bought and sold several times after his death. Tax litigation in later years has led to the closure of this once proud hotel for decades.
Early on New Year’s Day I took a walk towards the cantonment area of Kannur, the most beautiful and well maintained part of the city. The roads are broad and well maintained like all military cantonments. Choice Hotel is about half a kilometer away from the well known Savoy Hotel. The Military Hospital and the Kannur Lighthouse museum are other nearby landmarks and the popular Payambalam Beach is just about a kilometer away.
Talk stately trees stand like sentinels along the long narrow path that leads to the hotel. I couldn’t see the hotel from the locked gate and was tempted to scale the leaf strewn path for a closer look. It didn’t seem appropriate as the gate was locked from the inside with a bright shiny lock. The lock and the relatively new sign board outside mutely announced the impending return of the hotel to its halcyon days as a luxury hotel.
The roads around the Choice Seaside Hotel are dotted with beautiful houses. Many of them old and dilapidated from the good old days and many rebuilt on modern lines yet bearing vestiges of ancient Kerala architecture. This has got to be an ideal spot for a luxury hotel. If and when it does reopen I hope it retains at least in part its proud heritage from the past.