Friday, March 16, 2018

A luxurious beach getaway at Taj Holiday Village Goa

I really can’t believe how some people think a staycation is a waste of time considering the ridiculous amount of time you spend just chilling and doing nothing productive. But doesn’t everyone require and deserve some time by themselves or with friends, doing literally nothing and just living in the moment? My friend Isha and I spent an entire weekend at Taj Holiday Village - in one of their 'Beach Facing Luxury Goan Villas' - a couple of months ago and here’s everything about my wonderful stay at this stunning beach side property in Candolim, in North Goa.

About the property

The beach facing resort is ideal for a family vacation or even a couple’s getaway with its numerous cottages and villas of different sizes letting you experience contemporary luxury amid nature and old school vibes. The five star property is spread across 28 acres of manicured gardens and vast stretches of coconut groves, and even comprise of a golf course. What I love about the resort is its village-like appearance – the elegant Indo-Portuguese architectural heritage is showcased through Romanesque arches, pillared verandahs and sunny saquĆ£os (central courtyards) through their 142 terracotta-roof suites and villas.

They have three restaurants on the property – all of which screams Goa! Their Thai restaurant Banyan Tree is located right by a massive banyan tree and is surrounded by coconut palms and vast stretches of lawns and garden. It’s located closer to the entrance and is easily accessible to even walk-in guests. Their beach side restaurant, Caravela, boasts of a wide multi-cuisine menu which can be enjoyed in their indoor boat shaped restaurant or an outdoor deck, facing the beach. If not, you can relish authentic Goan cuisine at the Beach House, which has a speciality Goan menu curated by the celebrated chef Urbano Rego. Read more about the food offerings here: Dining at Taj Holiday Village

In addition to this, the resort features a stunning pool amid nature, which also comprises of a pool bar, which not many resorts in Goa have. So if you’re looking for one, this is your lucky spot! They also have an intricately designed kids area which is a play zone that features toys, games and everything else to keep the kids engaged as you have a gala time. The caretakers take special care of the kids and make sure they have a great time. Additionally, you can workout at their well-equipped fitness centre ot head to their spa – Jiva Spa – for a relaxing massage or facial while on a holiday. You can complete your vacation with leisurely walks on the beach or a dip in the sea a few steps away. If not, request them for a sightseeing or local experience tour and they are happy to arrange a Portuguese house visit, heritage tour, etc. 

I should take this opportunity to give a special mention to the staff at Taj Holida Village, who plays a very big role in ensuring you have a great time. Most of their staff are locals, which adds to the heritage appeal of the place. Additionally, a lot of their staff has decades of experience working at the same property and they know the property so well. Here are some of the staff members you should look out for and strike a conversation with – Praveen at the Pool Bar who’s always set with his innovative cocktails, Devanand and Jolief at the Caravela for their great interactive nature, Krishna (the activities manager) along with his team (Abigail, Leanne and Priya) taking care of the kids and keeping them engaged experimenting their talent, Dave Rodrigues at the front desk assisting you during your stay and dury managers Anamika, Pritha, Sushant, Ankush who are very quick in attending to your needs and making sure you have a comfortable stay. 

The Taj experience

Luxury is one thing, and luxury at Taj is another. With its special set of rituals and experiences, Taj makes sure you have a unique experience as compared to other resorts and also keeps the experience similar to the ones at other Taj resorts, making sure the guests can relate to and get a feel of ‘Tajness’. One such experience is their afternoon tea ritual which takes place at the outdoor deck. With soft-music playing and the bright sun ready to set creating a wonderful canvas at horizon, a high-tea comprising of an array of specially curated snacks is served to you.

Secondly, the morning ritual consists of a complimentary hour-long yoga session to begin your day with. The day ends with the sunset ritual, wherein the Taj staff gets together to light lamps and create a tranquil atmosphere within the resort complete with music and lighting to create the mood in the heritage-house type lobby. The property is like an entire village in itself, with all the villas and cottages depicting Goan houses and even featuring a balcoa (balcony).

About my stay experience at Taj Holiday Village

I’ve previously spent a long weekend at Taj Fort Aguada and the experiences were so different. If you haven’t read it yet, read it here: Three-day sojourn at Taj Fort Aguada. Undoubtedly, I received a grand welcome – When we arrived, we were greeted by smiling faces at the lobby. We were welcomed with a shell necklace placed round our neck, and I realised it makes a great memento of your stay at Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa . We were seated and a towel presented to us. Water and a welcome drink (juice) soon followed. Meanwhile, there were men strumming the guitar and singing Goa songs to welcome guests to Goa! All this while the staff got your check-in formalities done, as you are seated, ensuring a no-hassle check-in.

A buggy was called to take us to our room and the manager on duty escorted us to our sea facing villa, which was breathtakingly beautiful. I was in awe at the magnificence of the room – trust me. The view was to-die-for and at sunset converted into something else – so pristine and beautiful. Let’s talk about the view? The large balcony faced a spread of lawn before meeting the beach. Foliage separated our villa from the neighbouring ones, making the space exclusive and intimate. There are outdoor table and chairs, a hammock by the side and even sunbeds where I was looking forward to chill later in the evening! ;)

Coming inside the room – the one bedroom villa featured a large living space, with the dining table and a mini bar, with the television occupying the centre space on the wall. The room was tastefully done, with paintings and arty decor. The side facing the beach has large glass doors covered with curtains. Once you pull the blinds, you are welcomed with the wonderful view ahead. The bed room comprised of a super comfy king sized bed, side tables, couch and a television (which we weren’t going to use). The bathroom was such a pretty sight – complete with a shower and a tub. Yayyh! What else do you need for a luxury vacation right?

We settled in and headed for lunch (we were already late), by the beach at their inhouse restaurant Caravela. After chilling for a while in our balcony, we headed out for a sundowner at the deck again and what a beautiful view it was. Dinner that night happened at Beach House, where a special table was laid out for us. After a great time at dinner, we retired for the night.

Our next day began with a yoga session, followed by yummy breakfast laid out for us in our room. We went around the property and chilled for a while, before heading for lunch at their Thai restaurant, Banyan Tree. I was loving the buggy rides through the pristine little village and the buggy was always a call away. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the pool, sipping on some mocktails and splashing around.

Just before sunset, we headed for the afternoon tea ritual at the deck, followed by the sunset ritual in the lobby post sunset. A special table was laid out for us for dinner at Caravela and we called it a night after gorging on some really delicious food. But hey, did I forget the numerous house spent in the bath tub? Breakfast next day again happened in our room and after chilling outside our room for a while, it was time to say good bye to this wonderful property!

I was in love with our beach facing villa (no 2000), the warm and friendly staff, delicious food at their restaurants, the pool (and the pool bar) and above all, the view outside my room. Being a sucker for rooms and dining experiences with a view, this was one amazing experience. A weekend well spent, with my best friend. Spending some quality time with her in a lovely surrounding for three days (rather, two nights) was indeed blissful. Thank you everyone at Taj for making our stay such a wonderful and memorable one. Till I see you again, stay awesome!

Find all photos of this stay on my Instagram @flexcia_dsouza. For more details about the property, room tariffs and details about the experiences they offer, head to their website: Taj Holiday Village.

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