“Hi, could you tell me the way to my room, again?”
This was a question I asked plenty during my two-day weekend getaway at W, Goa. At 30 acres, the property rattled my overall sense of direction. But I was given directions, and sometimes even escorted (when my face looked like I had just been told the path to Mount Doom and couldn’t possibly make it without my Samwise Gamgee), always with a smile that was each time warmer than the last.
W Goa is a luxury hotel, but not that intimidating kind of luxury, (where you spend the majority of your time worrying about how much everything costs). Its luxury feels more personal. Consider this - You ask the waiter for water. In one scenario, he brings you two bottles (one chilled, one at room temperature) of the purest form of water known to man, flown in from the Valais, derived from the Alpine glaciers. You don’t know this, not yet anyway. You find out when it appears as a US$100 charge on your room tab. In the second instance, the waiter brings you a glass of water with exactly two cubes of ice because he remembers how particular you were about it the previous night. W Goa is the latter.
Situated rather inconspicuously in Vagator in North Goa, it is away from the crowd. You won’t miss the noisy parties and markets when you're nestled away in this corner of Vagator, but it’s close enough that when you do crave the hippie, rave-y Goa, Thalassa and Anjuna market are just 30 minutes away. The best part? Vagator beach is directly accessible by the hotel.
The first thing you’ll notice about the property is actually the big W at its façade. It’s an imposing structure made of gold mosaic tiles. When the sun hits the spot directly, it is a thing of pure beauty! Come to think of it, if you’re going to name your property after a letter, W is probably the best pick - perfectly symmetrical, open and inviting.
The hotel lobby is not really a lobby in the traditional, stuffy sense of the word. The 'Living Room' is divided into three sections – the first one is the no-fuss check-in area. Then comes the Woo Bar, a small lounge and bar with a huge seating area where you’ll spend the majority of your time, probably sipping on the sweet pink vodka that Goa is famous for. The third is the outside sitting area with seating pods and a view of the greens.
The whole area is covered with artworks by famed Goan artist and founder of the Museum of Goa, Subodh Kerkar. The most prominent being one that illustrates the lunar phases of the moon ("There ain't no sleeping in this town!") Metallic and purple is the theme that runs consistently through the hotel. Zany, but not overwhelmingly so. The spotlight is also on music and musicians since Goa has such a rich cultural history with this form of art. My first evening at W Goa, I had the pleasure of attending a panel on the future of the creatives in Goa presided upon by Subodh Kerkar, Prashant Panjiar (photojournalist), Prahlad Sukthtankar (restauranteur), Akshay Tandon (President of FC Goa) and musician and co-founder of Magnetic Fields Festival Smita Singh. This was followed by a night of music (with DJ sets from _RHL, Tsunami Soup Collective, and Boxout Soundsystem) and drinks at Rock Pool, a man-made lagoon of sorts with stunning views of the Arabian Sea.
While here, do make the time to visit the Spa By CLARINS, the only one of its kind in India. Clarins is my favourite skincare brand in the world (I swear by their Lotus Face Treatment Oil), so it was the part I was looking forward to the most. I wish I could go into the details of my massage, but such was the state of my relaxation that I fell asleep until I was awakened by the sound of my own snoring. Doesn’t happen often, folks!
Chef Tanveer Kwatra is currently the Executive Assistant Manager at W Goa, managing a team of chefs at Spice Traders and The Kitchen Table, the two primary restaurants on the property. Spice Traders is South East Asian cuisine (Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese) and The Kitchen Table plates up Goan, European and North Indian cuisines.
At Spice Traders, we were treated to live sushi. You must definitely try the baked crab, goat cheese wontons, the truffle tuna pizza, black and white tempura prawns and some orange cheesecake to finish.
At The Kitchen Table, have the choriz pav. I have never really had it before but I suspect it’s going to be my alternative to pav bhaji going forward. For mains, look no further and have the fish thali, although fair warning - you will not be able to finish it. If you’re feeling experimental, try the guacamole risotto.
My last meal at W Goa was at Spice Traders and I had the fish thali. With the heartache that often accompanies the last night of a vacation, I carried the leftovers to my room, hoping to watch TV and savour one last taste of Goa before I come back again.
If you do get the time to do some exploring outside of the W, POPxo recommends the following:
Eat: French cuisine at La Plage in Morjim. You will feel like you are transported to a French beach town. Also try the local favourites Starlight (for the best fish thali in Goa) and Laxmi (for the crab).
Shop: North Goa's most famour flea market is set up every Wednesday on Anjuna beach. Get a tattoo, buy a hammock, boho jewellery, t-shirts, footwear and more. Spend one of our Saturday evenings at the Night Bazaar in Arpora for amazing food and unique (although slightly more expensive than Anjuna) handicrafts.
Party: If you want a hardcore Goan party, with trance music and the works, head to Hill Top on Vagator. Also check out Chronicle on Little Vagator. Spread across five levels and right by the beach, it's famous for its cocktails and a huge open air dance floor.