ALILA DIWA GOA – A NEW OLD FAVOURITE
It’s becoming something of a family tradition now. For the second year in a row, we have celebrated our youngest daughter’s birthday in Goa. It’s just a two day break (at most) but it gives us a chance – as a family – to spend some uninterrupted quality time and to reconnect with each other once again.
Both years, we have chosen to stay at the gorgeous Alia Diwa Hotel in south Goa. While North Goa beckons the party animals and the do-ers, for us – the umm…rather not do anything-ers – South Goa is where its at! The beaches are wider and stretch endlessly with their dazzling white sand. The sea seems cleaner and less crowded. The local food joints cater to the true blue foodie in search of the ‘real’ Goa. What’s not to love?
Where’s the best deal?
Always shop around online before booking. We booked our break through cleartip.com, which I find the most user-friendly of the all the travel portals available nowadays. And for domestic bookings, they often have the best rates. Our two night package was inclusive of buffet breakfast and taxes. For transport, we did what we always do in Goa – we rented a self drive car. Considering the prohibitive taxi rates from just the airport to any hotel in Goa, this option always makes the most sense.
If You’ve Seen One Goan Resort, You’ve Seen Them All Right?
In most cases yes, but this one’s a bit special, we promise you. Alila Diwa is just a 15 to 20 minute ride from the airport. As we wound through lush green paddy fields and caught elusive glimpses of the ocean, we were already in the Goan frame of mind. Our blood pressure had evened out and our eyes grew heavy with the mellow afternoon sun. Ah bliss.
What Are the Rooms Like?
Our check-in was so effortless that we didn’t even have to get up from the cozy armchairs in the lobby. Our rooms were a little ways away from the pool and the main restaurant. These were called Terrace Rooms and are actually the most basic of the rooms available at the resort. We were more than happy with them though. In fact, last year, we had splurged and stayed at the exclusive Diwa Wing (within the same resort) that came with larger rooms and a separate pool and jacuzzi area for its residents. This year though, we felt there was really no need. Our plan was to while away the days at the pool and get out only to eat and sleep. So, the terrace rooms were more than acceptable.
As an aside here though I would like to implore the people who are actually in charge of designing hotel rooms these day. Do you REALLY need to have an open plan bathroom in every room? While its fine if you are a couple or a honeymooner, having no privacy at all can get really painful when you are a family or a group of friends. Please. Seriously stop!
I Don’t Want to Do Anything When I’m in Goa. Help!
Then you’ve come to absolutely the right place. The highlight of Alila Diwa is and will always remain its pool. Stunning in its simple design, this infinity pool drops off into vibrant, neon green fields. Fringed by coconut trees in the distance, if you are quiet enough you could almost hear the waves crash on to the beach.
The pool has a large shallow area for kids to safely play and a proper depth for the more serious swimmers. Though honestly, one look at those immersed loungers and all ideas of exercise are promptly shelved for another day. We spent a large portion of our time at Alila by the pool. There is a large swanky bar that serves the most delicious cocktails. Do try their Goan inspired concoction made with cashew feni or their dessert cocktails with dreamy combinations such as ice cream blended with vodka and Baileys.
And If I Think I Deserve Something Special?
Another great way to spend your time fruitfully at Alila is at the spa. My daughter and I booked one hour appointments each and those 60 minutes were bliss rolled into one big bubble of happiness (if you get my drift). The spa area is huge and the zen-like experience starts from the time you walk down the quiet garden path to the complex. Housed in a low building along with the gym, a yoga and meditation room, all areas are demarcated with soothing lily ponds and bamboo groves.
I opted for the Balinese massage, which was a mix of the firmer strokes of a Swedish massage and the gentler rhythm of an aromatherapy massage. Post massage, you can opt for a session in the steam room attached to each therapy room and top it all off with a glorious open air shower in your own private garden. Definitely, one of the best spa experiences I’ve had so far.
Apart from the spa and the pool, your little ones can be kept out of mischief at the Kiddie Centre replete with all the must haves from soft toys to computer games. There is also a mini theatre that have two shows every day. The morning one is usually child-friendly so check for timings in advance and block that massage while your kids are safely ensconced with a movie and a popcorn machine at their disposal.
But What About the Food?
The food in Alila Diwa sadly leaves a lot to be desired. While we were lucky enough to have our own transport, those stuck at the resort maybe feel a bit short changed. The buffet breakfast spread though wide, lacks any punch. The muffins and breads are unappealing, their eggs to order average and their salad selection paltry. The only plus points are the fresh juice counter and the Indian breakfast items. If you are fine with dosas and parathas, then you are in good hands here. The meal buffets are not much better so if you can – please avoid. Instead step across the road from the main gate to Fish Ka. A delightful family-run shack that is a true hidden gem in South Goa. Much more on Fish Ka in our next post. Stay tuned .
Was It Worth It Then?
Our two day trip to Alila excluding airfare worked out to a little less than Rs. 28,000 for all five of us. Even though we took two rooms and had all three kids in one (and they are all above 12 years now), the hotel did not charge us for an extra person. Much appreciated. They also took the trouble to organise a cake for my daughter to cut on her birthday along with a guitar player who serenaded her and a bunch of staff that came by to wish her
If you do have a long weekend on the horizon or can take off for a few days, do check out Alila Diwa in lieu of the usual suspects such as Hyatt and Marriott. However, always check with the hotel before booking if there is any wedding or conference booking during your stay. The last thing you want while you nod away at the pool is the blare of loud party music and the untrammelled enthusiasm of a desi bridal party.
For more information on the hotel and all the packages they offer, check out http://www.alilahotels.com/diwagoa