Goa’s hospitality landscape is dotted with many heritage properties that offer tourists an old world charm with modern amenities. In this FHW Goa Special we take a look at some of them
Vivanta by Taj-Fort Aguada, Goa
Vivanta by Taj – Fort Aguada, Goa has history woven in its walls. It’s where royalty, heads of government and the biggest celebrities are known to frequent. The property is a 45 kms drive from the airport. This Goan-Portuguese architecture marks 145 rooms including 14 suites in the sea facing main complex. The private luxury Aguada Hermitage villas nestled in the hill offers spectacular panoramic views. Guests can unwind amidst Balinese inspired landscaping which covers over 42 acres of style.
The Aguada Ballroom & Hermitage Centre along with the three open lawns make over 19,000 square feet of vivid, contemporary space available for corporate retreats, brand launches or parties. Each Vivanta hotel and resort offers unique Vivanta motifs. These are curated ‘must on your list’ experiences that represent an imaginative take on the destination and its culture. These are ‘must dos’ and ‘must sees’ presented with the Vivanta signature of hospitality.
The Superior Charm – Garden View with sit out is located on the ground floor of the east wing of the main building. The Superior Charm Sea View rooms are located on the first floor / lobby level of the main building. Premium Indulgence Cottage – Garden View Rooms, of 400 sq ft, is garden facing, and have lush lawn sit outs. These rooms have a view of the lush tropical landscaping. Premium Indulgence with terrace rooms are located in the main building and offer a spectacular view of the sea. These rooms have a large terrace and an additional powder room. Deluxe Allure Suite with Terrace rooms are located in the main building and offer a spectacular view of the sea. These rooms have one bedroom, a living room and a terrace. Premium Temptation Villa – Garden View – of 700-800 sq ft, are luxurious stand-alone villas with a bedroom and a living room, a private lawn and garden furniture with parasols. Luxury Bliss Villa – two bedroom is a stand alone villa with panoramic sea view. This villa is a newly designed contemporaryspace with a private sit out, perched on top of a hill that offers an unmatched view.
Nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats, surrounded by forest and jungle, Casa Susegad, a restored Indo-Portuguese mansion house, dates back more than 550 years ago. Set across over an acre of grounds, the property has three huge reception rooms and five bedrooms. There are dedicated terraces, or private gardens, for each bedroom, with granite tables and comfortable chairs for dining al fresco.
Casa Susegad has five guest bedrooms, three sealed with air-conditioning, and two larger traditional rooms open to the rafters with large ceiling fans for natural ventilation. The families in olden days slept in small bedrooms connected by only curtains to the main house on one side and the inner courtyard on the other. Cross breezes under the main roof kept them cool. The three AC rooms – Carnelian, Turquoise and Rose – were constructed by adapting five such bedrooms. The larger Host’s Suite and Sunshine Room are in the North and South wings of the Casa and provides guests the opportunity to experience the fan-assisted breezes within thick walls in these grand rooms of bygone days.
Prior to arrival, guests are asked if they have dietary preferences that should be considered when planning menus during their stay. This allows planning ahead for special diets, allergies and, very often, a special wish for something like an authentic Goan Pork Vindalho (a perfect balance of hot sweet and sour – one of the kitchen’s signature dishes, taking a day to marinate in freshly ground spices and then cooked over wood).
Arco Iris Homestay
Arco Iris’, meaning rainbow in Portuguese is a 200 plus year old elegantly restored colonial house built on a sprawling, terraced, 1.5 acre property. The front edge of the property overlooks a seasonal lake which supplements the water requirements of the surrounding paddy fields. The Zuari flows just about a km away behind the property. The proximity to the lake and the Zuari, the abundant greenery in and around the property ensures a scenic setting all through the year. Arco Iris is located in Curtorim, a quiet village in south Goa, about seven km to the east of Margao.
The house is styled along colonial Portuguese lines with a high plinth, imposing columns, high ceilings and offers year-round natural ventilation. The house has been restored and renovated, true to its heritage and without compromising on the modern day requirement for convenience and comfort. During the restoration process, all efforts have been made to preserve the original materials which had originally gone into the construction of the house by using them, at times, for alternate purposes. The end result is a house which reflects a judicious and tasteful blend of the modern and the traditional.
With a built up area of around 7,000 sq feet, the house comprises an ‘entrada’ (foyer), ‘sala’ (living room), dining room, five guest bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and a fully equipped modern kitchen. Three of the bedrooms open into private balconies. It also has a balcony in front and a courtyard in the rear. The balcony is the most social part of the house where any daily activity, be it catching up with neighbours, reading morning newspapers, eating , or just plain lazing can be enjoyed. The high ceiling living room is reserved for formally receiving and entertaining visitors. The dining room is dominated by the dining table which can comfortably seat eight. All bedrooms have been suitably modified to accommodate en suite bathrooms with modern amenities. The bedroom colours have been given keeping in mind the colours of the rainbow.
Vivenda dos Palhacos
Vivenda dos Palhacos is a 100 year old, carefully renovated house set on a quiet cul-de-sac in the village of Majorda in South Goa. The longest beach, with the most beautiful sand in Goa, Majorda is about a km away. The property is less than half an hour’s drive south of Goa’s airport at Dabolim and 20 minutes from the main station in the second city of Goa, Margao. Guests are welcome to borrow a bicycle or grab a lift down there in the property’s customised tuk-tuk or jeep for a nominal price of Rs 150 per trip.
Vivenda dos Palhacos has three quite different atmospheres. At the front of the house, is a modest Portuguese Mansion, built in 1929. It has a hall, two large bedrooms (Konnager and Alipore) with en-suite bathrooms, a sitting room leading out to a veranda and a large dining room to seat 20. The older Hindoo house, behind, is made from thick rammed earth walls with three double bedrooms (Madras, Ooty and Ballygunge) all with en-suite bathrooms. All bedrooms have fans as well as air-conditioners. The latter is not usually required until March or April. At the back of the house is the main garden with a 12 m swimming pool, private dining and sun bathing areas and The Chummery – a large double room with two verandas.
Vivenda dos Palhacos’ food is best described as eclectic and its signature meals include a Goan Feast, complete with pig and continental favourites like iced gazpachio topped with lobster, drizzled in paprika oil. Breakfast is complimentary which includes first growth teas from Darjeeling, fresh organic coffees from the south of India, fresh fruits and fruit juices, and butter toast or butter homemade mango marmalade toast.
The Heritage Goa Hotel
The Heritage Goa Hotel is a quaint, century-old well restored heritage boutique resort with the aura of the old world charm. It serves as a testament to the architecture and traditional opulence of the Portuguese colonisation of Goa. Unlike other colonial powers, the Portuguese left their mark on the palatial mansions in Goa inspired by the European architectural style. They bequeathed Goa their architecture inspired by an eclectic mix of Gothic to Neo-Gothic in the form of mansions now designated as heritage homes. Staying in a heritage hotel is an experience in itself. The high ceilings, traditional decor, antique furniture are reminiscent of those days and The Heritage Goa Hotel will let you relive those times.
Nestled in the Goan idyllic village of Siolim, spread over an area of about 20,000 sq ft, and set amidst coconut palms and landscaped gardens, The Heritage Goa Hotel transports one straight into the colonial era with its history. The walls and pillars are built of red laterite stone and local wood while the roof is overlaid with terracotta roof tiles from Mangalore. The furniture is crafted from rosewood by the local craftsmen. Built in Indian style (low pitched tiled roof, wide verandas) with European accoutrements (Gothic style windows, cluster columns), its architecture straddles both worlds just as Goa still does. The Heritage Goa Hotel with its four suites comes complete with house staff, which includes 24 hour security, housekeeper, gardener and a supervisor and is available to rent, either in its entirety for families/ friends or for individual couples wanting to take any one apartment on a B&B basis, or otherwise. The suites also have modern amenities including air-conditioning, satellite/ dish TV, electric iron/ kettle, Internet (Wi-Fi) access and hot water. The latest addition is four poolside villas with modern furnishing and living space. In a tranquil setting, these villas give one the opportunity to relax and absorb the beauty of the Goan countryside.
Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho
Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho is a heritage business boutique guest house in the heart of Panjim’s Latin quarter also known as Fontainhas in Goa. Fontainhas, even today, maintains the typical Portuguese characteristics in its architecture, narrow streets and the old buildings painted in Mediterranean colours like white, blue, red and yellow. In this heritage precinct, the streets are narrow and winding, with alleys, lanes and stairways.
The house itself is over 150 years old. It has been restored and converted into a heritage business B&B.
The restoration has taken over three years to complete and every effort was made to retain and enhance the identity of the house like the patterned floor tiles, high ceilings, extensive use of wood all over and large windows. The property is an eight room, ground plus one, typical Portuguese house.
Hospedaria Abrigo de Botelho has three categories of rooms i.e Deluxe, Executive and Premium. The deluxe rooms, located on the ground floor, are large spacious rooms with their own private sit-out area. In this category, guests are offered two rooms having large double beds and one with twin beds. The executive rooms are located on the first floor and have a view of the business hub at Patto Plaza across the Ourem creek. Guests can enjoy a rooftop view of this heritage precinct from their own private verandah. In this category, guests are offered one room having a large double bed and two rooms with twin beds. Tastefully styled in keeping with the heritage ambience, these 250 – 400 sq ft premium rooms come complete with antique furniture. It also has its own unique bird eye view of the lanes and by-lanes of the Latin quarter. Here guests are offered one room with a large double bed and a diwan which can accommodate up to three adults and the other room on offer is furnished with three single beds. Guests to this property can expect a warm welcome when they arrive.
WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn
WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn, Panaji is amongst the primary colonial mansions nestled in the heart of Latin Quarter of Fontainhas. It is also Goa’s first classified heritage hotel. The property is further classified in three categories namely Panjim Inn, Panjim Pousada and Panjim Peoples; each is distinct from the other with their own unique style and character. Panjim Pousada was rebuilt in the 1930’s and is Hindu in style and character. The vintage building housing the Panjim People’s was home to the People’s High School, Goa’s premier English educational institution.
The hotel offers 37 rooms; each is a fine blend of old world charm, elegance and modernity defining a unique character. The period furniture, antique interiors, exotic art and fine furnishing remarks the era of romance, charm and nostalgia. The Verandah Restaurant is cozily located on the first floor overlooking the busy Latin Quarter street junction. It offers local and continental cuisines of the region with its in house farm Feni and scrumptious Goan meal.
WelcomHeritage Panjim Inn is also a meeting place for art lovers as the Gallery Gitanjali showcases a wide range of contemporary paintings by well known local and overseas artists.
Original artwork of the in-house gallery is displayed over all premises. It is an exotic and stimulating conference option as well that hosts several events and workshops throughout the year, including art history and film appreciation courses, book and poetry readings, book launches, art and theatre workshops, art performances, as well as talks on conservation and environmental concerns.
The hotel is a perfect place to explore Panjim by foot and visit the famous World Heritage churches, temples and casinos.
Casa Palacio Siolim House
Casa Palacio Siolim House is a 350 year old heritage hotel in Goa, built in 1675. It is a palacio that dates from the earliest times of the Portuguese occupation of Goa, beautifully restored as a home which, now doubles as a private seven room heritage boutique hotel in Goa.
The house understates its stature as one of Goa’s most unique and oldest manor houses. There are few examples of the aristocratic late 16th century ‘casa do sobrado’ style of Goa-Portuguese architecture remaining in North Goa. The manor once housed the governor to Macau, and a family of administrators that included a governor to Mozambique. The property is classified a ‘heritage’ boutique hotel in Goa by the department of tourism, and situated in the quiet coastal village of Siolim, Goa. The property is situated close to the beaches, just to the north of Morjim, Ashwem, Arambol and Mandrem beaches and the action of the Candolim – Calangute – Baga – Anjuna beaches to the South.
The property also offers the Siolim Collection – a curated set of exceptional properties. This includes – the annexe to the boutique hotel, called ‘Little Siolim’, a three room restored annexe villa to boutique hotel in Goa that can be also rented as a villa; Frangipani – a heritage village home restored with a modern touch with a beautiful modern annexe, designed by a renowned architect, and during certain times only ‘The Writer’s Retreat’ – a massive four bedroom country home in north Goa.
In 2001, Siolim House was a finalist for the UNESCO heritage prize, which considered its exceptional history and the work done to restore this building. In 2009 the second renovation was completed to bring back more detail and more features to this heritage hotel in Goa.
While many villas in Goa promise state-of-the-art facilities, only a few of these have the luxury of a private water front. Cabana Dempo is one such quiet beach resort in Goa which almost owns its waters. The ancestral 19th century home of the Dempo family of Goa, is an intimate beach bungalow and is run as a Noble Home by Neemrana Hotels. This is a rare bungalow literally located on the secluded Siridao beach, 50 meters from the water. Its quiet, idyllic setting by a fishing village offers an insight into their lifestyle. It is a great option for those looking for peaceful villas in Goa away from the commercial hustle and bustle of the city.
Located at the mouth of the Zuari river in Siridao, Cabana Dempo is Neemrana’s second Noble Home in Goa. Guests can see the fishing boats and the fishermen’s shacks from the verandah in front of the three rooms and literally step down onto the sand beach.
There are three rooms – the Darya Daulat room is named after a large ship owned by the Dempo family. This ship was a part of their large cargo fleet that sailed out to the Portuguese ports of Mozambique and Angola in Africa, on the Indian Ocean. The names of other rooms are Amizad and Pongai, also named after large ships owned by the Dempo family. The rooms are well appointed with modern amenities and bathrooms. There is plenty of space to read in the lounges, the dining room, or outdoors in the verandah. Guests can also laze around or swim indoors in a covered pool.
Hotel Astoria is a family-run heritage establishment that is located in Assagao in North Goa. The property nestles in the cool shade of time-matured mango trees and swaying coconut palms on a naturally terraced landscape. The property’s main section comprises of a 200-year-old Portuguese mansion. It is the home of Ida and Edwin Fonseca, who run the place along with their family. Its modern extension, which comprises of 20 well-appointed rooms, has been built with a tiled-roof complementing the traditional Goan ambience.
Being connected with the sandy beaches in North Goa – Anjuna, Vagator, Baga, Calangute, Sinquerim, Candolim, Morjim, Ashvem and Arambol – the property is popular with tourists, who drop in for lunch or dinner en route to Anjuna beach, and often book a room fascinated by the natural surroundings and traditional Goan hospitality. Hotel Astoria is situated between the popular Wednesday Flea Market in Anjuna and the Friday Bazaar at Mapusa as well as Saturday Market. Transfers from the Dabolim international airport take just about 60 minutes and the Konkan Railway Station at Tivim-Sirsaim is about 20 minutes away.
One of the highlights of the property is its own spice garden from where the Fonsecas obtain their daily requirements of spices for the kitchen. Nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, bay leaves, cherries, breadfruit, love-apple, are some of the produce of the garden.
The village of Assagao offers an idyllic environment. Guests can have a relaxing vacation in the serene green valley. They can wake up to the sounds of birdsongs that frequent the area – bulbuls, woodpeckers and others of colourful plumage. The valley, populated by a Hindu-Catholic mix, is well known for its age-old, white-washed church. The Church of St Cajetan is considered as one of the ten best churches in Goa. Quaint village mansions dot the village, which has a couple of mineral water springs, and a time-worn landmark known as Cator.