Goa is India’s smallest state, a former Portuguese colony situated on the country’s west coast. Goa is popular for its beaches, delicious cuisine and laid-back vibe. It is one of my dream holiday destinations (I have been twice and plan to return soon). I travelled to Goa last December and stayed at Alila Diwa Goa, a beautiful holiday resort set amidst lush paddy plantations, with Majorda beach just a few minutes away.
If you live in Europe / UK, Goa is a great holiday destination with many direct flights getting you there in just 8-9 hours. The best time to travel is from October-November until April-May, before the rainy season. The weather in early December was great: warm and sunny during the day, a little bit hot around lunch time, but cool and breezy in the evenings.
You can spend one or two weeks in Goa and stay in top luxury resorts, like Alila, for reasonable prices and benefit from the high Indian standards of hospitality. Make a stop in Goa as part of a longer tour of India (you can’t miss the Taj Mahal!), perhaps at the end of your trip, as a way to relax before going home. I know very well how exhausting travelling around India could be.
Goan people are friendly, kind and always smiling. Goan cuisine – a blend of south Indian and Portuguese influences – is incredible. There’s an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood, often cooked in tandoor ovens together with buttery and delicious breads. You can also admire exquisite colonial architecture and colourful houses of Portuguese influence, often framed by swaying palms, banyan trees and emerald green paddy fields.
Alila Diwa Goa
Alila Diwa Goa Hotel is located in Majorda, just 20 minutes from Dabolim International Airport.
What I love about Alila Diwa is that it is one of the few luxury hotels in Goa that are not right on the beach. Guests love the idyllic setting of rice fields and greenery, and I certainly did too (a view that reminds me of Bali a lot)!
Each Alila hotel around the world is built to blend in with the local territory, so in Goa you will find the best of contemporary Goan architecture. As you enter the hotel, you will receive a warm welcome from Alila’s Concierge team in the stunning open-air lobby.
Throughout the resort, you will find high pitched roofs and wide verandahs built using local materials such as teak wood, red laterite stone, and polished Kota stone.
My favourite place in the entire Alila Diwa Goa hotel was the main courtyard with the old banyan tree surrounded by red stone corridors.
I may have even posed for one or two Instagram photo there…! :)
The Loft Room
There are 153 rooms at Alila Diwa Goa, including the Club rooms and a few suites. I stayed in a Loft Room in the south wing, which is a two-storey building facing the courtyard or the infinity pool and rice fields.
I stayed in a spacious room on the upper floor, furnished in a contemporary wooden loft style with a pitched roof and a private balcony.
In the afternoons, the setting sun bathed the room in a warm orange glow. It was beautiful! I highly recommend booking one of the west-facing rooms to watch the sunset. Goan sunsets are some of the best I have seen in my whole life.
Other perks of the Loft Room are the king size Bed, shower and bath tub (one night we came back to our room to find the bath ready with bubbles and rose petals) and the walk-in wardrobe.
I also recommend Alila’s amazing laundry service, which I used three times during my stay (including dry cleaning my Indian saris and kurtas which I had been wearing at a wedding in Hyderabad the week before). The service was great, fast and very affordable.
Alila Diwa Club
The Alila Diwa Club is an private members’ area of the resort, boasting its own swimming pool with hot tub and a beautiful restaurant called Bistro.
Guests of the Diwa Club have many perks, including all day À La Carte breakfast (7am-7pm) so you can get up at whatever time you want! You also get a personal butler service and a few other touches, such as a shoulder & neck massage on arrival, a Goan Kings beer and of course there’s also private car airport transfers.
Daily events are held at Bistro which are complimentary to Club residents: Chai Paani, an afternoon tea experience with traditional Indian snacks and chai tea, and Sundowner Hour with drinks and appetisers.
Dining at Alila Diwa
There are four restaurants to choose from at Alila Diwa Goa. Vivo is the all day restaurant and place to go for a large and varied buffet breakfast. I was really impressed by the breakfast buffet with live cooking station for Indian food such as parathas, as well as pancakes and eggs.
Alternatively, guests can choose to have a leisurely breakfast in the comforts of their own rooms or terraces.
Spice Studio is the signature Indian speciality restaurant. It is open only for dinner and the menu features four different cuisines: Goan, northern Indian, south Indian with a little bit of the Eastern influence.
Edge Lounge is the pool-side bar, open from 9am to 1am. They serve beverages and tapas, but they can also serve other food (from Vivo’s kitchen) if you ask.
It’s 9am and I’m standing in the bustling fish market in Margao, a small village in south Goa, together with my husband and Alila’s Leisure Concierge Host. We are looking for the best fish from the day’s catch, which later in the day we will learn how to cook in traditional Goan recipes.
“Fresh from the catch” is one of many Alila Experiences that guests can book when staying at Alila Diwa Goa.
I recommend this activity to learn about the local fish varieties – such as kingfish, Pomfret, mackerel, shark and Bombay Duck (an oddly named lizardfish).
I also loved the nearby fruit and vegetable market and was very impressed by the abundance of fresh produce on sale there. I was also impressed by this beautiful lady and her impressive colour matching skills!
Later that day, we met Alila’s Chef Edia Cotta at Spice Studio restaurant and together we cleaned, filleted and cooked our fish.
We also learnt how to make Goan recheado sauce blending chillies, spices and desiccated coconut.
We watched Spice Studio’s sous chef marinate the pomfret fish and cook it in the traditional tandoor oven. This was my favourite dish: not too spicy (I asked for it to be mild) and full of flavours.
Spending the morning at the local fish market and the evening experiencing the country’s culinary traditions was a great way to connect more with Goa.
Like many luxury resorts, Alila offers an on-site Spa and an array of treatments and therapies. I booked a facial treatment done with 100% natural products signature of the Alila brand (exfoliating sandalwood, red clay mask, rose and lemon oils).
The treatment was not included in the complimentary invitation I received from the resort, but it was reasonably priced around 50 pounds and totally worth it. I always try to get a facial on the last day of my holidays to get my skin cleaned from the sand, sweat and pollution (if I have been to big cities such as Mumbai or Delhi).
Inside the Spa, there is also a beautiful studio where guests can join complimentary Yoga classes twice a week and 24-hour Fitness Centre.
Gonsua Beach, Majorda
You can hop on a beach buggy any time of the day between 7am and 7pm to visit Gonsua Beach. This is a public beach, so you won’t find a private resort area or Alila sunbeds, but there are many restaurants on the beach which offer beds and umbrellas. The food and beverage at these restaurants is very cheap and – in my experience – very good. Give it a try for a day as an excuse to get out of the resort and explore something different.
If you want to have all the comforts of a five star resort, then it’s better to stay at Alila Diwa and chill out by the infinity pool rather than on the beach.
Rates at Alila Diwa Goa start from £127 per night on a Bed & Breakfast basis (based on two people sharing). The all-inclusive Diwa by Design package includes a stay at the Diwa Club, unlimited spa, unlimited food at any of the restaurants or room service, unlimited alcohol. Find out more about it here.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Alila Diwa Goa resort. All opinions are my own.