Ampersand's Travels...

Catriona's journey through Southern India - Part 3: Goa

In March this year, Ampersand’s India specialist, Catriona, went on a research trip (with her mum for company!) which took her from Northern Kerala to Karnataka and ended here, at the beaches of Goa… 

Goa

The smallest state in India, Goa is famed for beach holidays. From backpackers to the rich and famous, people flock here from around the globe to lounge in the sun. There certainly is a property to suit everyone here! Along with the stunning beaches in the south, there are a host of wonderful churches to explore as well as huge markets for both locals and tourists. There are ample opportunities for souvenir purchases!

Elsewhere Goa South India 31
Goa exceeded my expectations in terms of accommodation. We were here for 5 nights, staying in 4 different hotels. We started our Goan journey in the north, at Elsewhere, a popular hideaway for celebs from across the globe wanting to escape. It is also a great property for those seeking a simple and barefoot experience. The hotel is spread across a kilometre of beach and the rooms offer privacy and simplicity dating back to the Dutch era. The value for money here is fantastic; you sit down to a freshly cooked three course meal with wine for less than £10 – what a bargain!

We then headed down to South Goa where we stayed in three top luxury resorts; Alila Diwa, Taj Exotica and The Leela Goa. Each were special and unique in their own way, but all equally loved by us!

Our first stay was Alila Diwa. Although it is pretty much next to a beach, it offers more of a plantation experience as it is set within rice paddy fields. The resort is green and lush and the rooms modern and slick. We loved how the bathroom integrated with the room with sliding doors for privacy; all rather snazzy! We really noticed all the special touches, like the small cart by the pool selling delicacies – perfect for a late afternoon snack before dinner. Along with a traditional Goan restaurant (which also offers cooking lessons), the main restaurant is a wonder to dine in with a buffet offering everything you could want. There is a huge variety of light, delicious and healthy options, which is rather perfect after you have been lying in the sun all day.

Alila Diwa Goa 1
After our night here, we moved to the Taj Exotica, a classic luxury resort set within 56-acres of beautifully manicured gardens.  If you love golf and outdoor activities, this is a great way to break your day up as they have a 9-hole putting green as well archery, tennis and badminton. Relaxing by their pool is a delight; the staff are sweet and charming and always know when to pop over to offer you a beverage. It was like they were psychic! Being huge spa lovers, my mother and I headed off to Jiva Spa, the Taj’s signature spa. We couldn’t have been any more pampered and relaxed if we tried! Our room was just what we expected from a Taj, spacious and comfortable, with touches of Portuguese and Goan influences. There were of course all the little luxuries we all know and love. To come back after dinner and find a huge bunch of flowers and a plate of freshly made cookies and chocolates was a delight!

We had then made it to the last two night of our trip, a very sad point which only could have been lifted up by something fantastic….The Leela did the trick! From the moment you enter the open lobby, complete with gorgeous stone-carved columns, to the time you reach your sumptuous and contemporary room, you feel truly relaxed. Just like the Taj Exotica, the resort has lots of outdoor activities including a 12-hole golf course and water sports. After our wonderful treatments the previous night we had contracted spa fever, so we headed straight to the Leela’s spa for a 90-minute massage where my therapist seemed to read my mind on exactly how I liked it. It was heavenly! As well as the main hotel, there is also a Club section which feels like a boutique hotel within a hotel. Although we didn’t stay here, if you were looking for ultimate privacy, then that would be the place to do it!

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We spent our last night in India in The Leela’s signature Indian restaurant, Jamavar where we sat next to wide open windows overlooking the lit pool listening to the ocean. We feasted like queens on our favourite dishes and were looked after by the most charming waiters. It couldn’t have been a more perfect finish to our trip.

Now back in London, I am pining for my next opportunity to visit my favourite country in the world, India!

To start planning your own tailor-made journey to South India or North India, please do get in touch with me directly at catriona@ampersandtravel.com / 0207 819 9770 – I would be delighted to help!