When I dream of Goa, I don’t hear the roar of the ocean or feel the sand on my feet. I hear the pitter-patter of rain on old Portuguese roofs and the chatter of women in their rice paddies. I feel potent home-brewed Urakh smoothly slipping down my throat, a burst of flavors from fiery curries on my tongue and my mind slipping into a susegado mode.
Earlier this year, when I landed in India after a six-month sojourn across Central and North America, I knew I needed Goa as much as I needed a cocoon of luxury to call my own. Alila Diwa was the kind of place on my mind, and this is why I loved staying there:
Floating on the edge
You know that feeling of lounging on a relaxing beach chair, floating in a pool that has no edge, shades on your eyes to keep the sun out, the wind ruffling your hair, a cocktail in your hand, lush rice paddies stretching out into the horizon? Yeah, I didn’t know it either. Until I found myself in Alila Diwa’s infinity pool – treading the thin line between Goa and heaven.
Also see: In Photos: Goa in the Monsoons
Who needs high tea and scones when you can have Indian street food, prepared fresh off a rustic street cart, and chai in a kullad? Alila Diwa’s innovative take on high tea made me nostalgic as bells rang and carts rolled into the courtyard; as a child, bells on the streets in the early evening announced the arrival of the ice cream cart or the cotton candy seller! Although home-baked Goan savories were surprisingly absent from these carts, I felt culinarily pampered in the most non-pretentious way.
Also read: 7 Authentic Goan Restaurants in North Goa
Keeping the traditions of Goa alive
Even months after my stay at Alila Diwa, I can close my eyes and picture myself lost amid its sunny Portuguese-style courtyards, hugging the aging banyan trees they surround, strolling amid the dimly lit corridors with traditional roofs and old red stone pillars that are fast disappearing from Goa. This is where Goan, Balinese and Portuguese aesthetics meet, and prove me wrong in thinking that luxury hotels are robbing Goa of its soul.
Also read: Offbeat Goa: 12 Mind-blowing Experiences
All day breakfast!
Maybe you know the feeling of wanting to stay cuddled up in a cozy hotel bed while your alarm clock urges you to grab the free breakfast buffet before it’s too late. I know that feeling too well. And as a creature of the night, who hates early mornings with a vengeance, I hate that feeling. Turns out, Alila Diwa does too, so it offers a lavish all day breakfast for late risers like me. And it’s no ordinary breakfast either; an a-la-carte spread is rolled out to you and personally customized and served by a butler. Can you think of a better way to start your day?
Also read: Goa is a State of Mind
Living like a diva
I love club rooms in five stars hotels in India, for they offer indulgent (complimentary) high tea and cocktails. But Alila Diwa has taken its club rooms to another level; mine came with the most gorgeous bathroom, with a bath tub smack in the middle; the club wing is set far from the bustle of the rest of the hotel, with an exclusive swimming pool, jacuzzi and restaurant; afternoons are for chai paani aka high tea, and evenings for sundowners. I guess that’s how divas pamper themselves?
Also read: There’s Something About Taj
Dining in the dark
I can talk about the gastronomy at Spice Studio, Alila Diwa’s award-winning South Indian restaurant, but I’ll let you in on a secret instead – every Thursday night, Spice Studio plunges into darkness, offering Goa’s only “Dine in the Dark” experience. I couldn’t time my dates right, but if you do, I imagine it will be an intriguing and sensory meal, with an explosion of flavors on your tongue. Even on a normal night, the food (plenty of choices for vegetarians), prepared by four different expert chefs, was something to revel in.
What would you most like to experience at Alila Diwa Goa?
Planning a trip to Goa? Read My Alternative Travel Guide to Goa.
I was hosted by Alila Hotels on this trip. Opinions on this blog are always my own.