Endowed with natural beauty, cultural richness, and historical legacy; Goa has much to offer for every kind of traveller
Words by: Maya Lalchandani Photographs: ibis Styles Goa Calangute and Maya Lalchandani
Everybody wants to visit Goa. It is India’s premier destination for beaches, relaxation, casinos, the sea and the sand. Be it for family vacations, a romantic break or a conference, it is definitely a most sought after land for merrymakers. Just 750 steps away from Tivai Beach in North Goa is the ibis Styles Goa Calangute Hotel. It is perfectly located in the happening area of Candolim, being only a short drive away from the beautiful white sand beaches and popular nightspots. Just half hour away from the airport, it turns out that the property is the first ibis Styles in India, offering leisure and business facilities to the discerning traveller.
Full of life
The hotel is cheerful as one enters the colourful lobby housing a big fishing boat right next to the reception. The whole design element is very joyous and eclectic all over the property. Reaching in time for a wonderful high tea in their multi-cuisine restaurant – ‘Spice It’ – created a sense of belonging already. It has a peppy décor with a simplicity that allures you with the colours they have used. The restaurant includes an a la carte menu, and guests enjoy live music in the evenings. Stepping outside, I see that the 197 rooms are built in such a way that all their little balconies face the three pools that the property boasts of. I see a DJ playing music for the revellers in the pool as the hotel supports pool sports activities, even providing the guests with Go Pro cameras to capture their underwater antics. The highlight of the activities provided here includes bicycles and I personally availed of the Jeep transfers provided for the beach visit and for trekking around the town.
The rooms are equipped with comfortable, bouncy, signature queen-sized beds with adjoining doors that families with children can use. But snoozing all day would not be on the agenda for Goa has so much to offer. All the amenities of a luxury hotel, like a tea and coffee maker, LED TV, in-room safe, free Wifi, digital air-conditioning, work desk, hair dryer, complimentary Bisleri water, and a mini bar can be found here. After a lovely dinner at the Spice It, I was off in my Jeep to the wonderful Saturday night markets at Arpora.
Out and about
Listening to live original bands is a high point in these parts. The amazing array of local and interesting gifts tempts you to buy even if the pocket doesn’t allow. These flea markets have a way of making people come out and network with each other. Alternately, there is much more on offer, like visiting local restaurants and experiencing a slice of the nightlife that Goa is so famous for. The next morning, as I watched the sun rise from my side of the bed, I realised that a dip in the pool would be the most energetic way to kickstart the day. I then proceeded with the breakfast buffet that is held from 7am to 11am.
The agenda for the day was to check out the churches assigned to me. Exploring the Mae de dues Church (Saligao), was a breathtaking sight with gothic spires and pristine white walls, situated in the typical Goan countryside. The St Alex Church, standing guard since the 1500s, is quite the tourist spot for lovers of architecture and design. The attractions being located at a close proximity to the hotel, gives the guest a sense of comfort and ease to be able get back indoors for tea. The hotel provides complementary Jeep transfers to the nearby beaches.
The ones worth mentioning are Tivai (0.75km), Baga (2.5km) and Candolim (2.8 km). I chose Tivai where the sands are pristine white. Sparsely inhabited, it also has beach patrol with lifeguards. A feeling of calm envelops you as you step close to the spliced waves. The sky seems to touch the sea. A couple of hours are spent till sundown. It is a perfect way to end the day. An early start the next day took me to the well-equipped fitness centre in the hotel. A breakfast of spicy potato and coconut curry served with a soft and fluffy pao welcomed me later. The non-vegetarian alternative is the pita-like soft bread called Poi, stuffed with Goa’s famous pork sausages – chorizo. The all-day restaurant serves international and local cuisines with equal zest.
The following day started with a trip to Fort Aguada and its lighthouse. It is a well-preserved 17th century Portuguese fort standing at the Sinquerim Beach, overlooking the sea. From there, one is transported to a world of tradition and culture where one is introduced to sculpture and contemporary art at the Subodh Kerkar Art Gallery in the Museum of Goa. Rested after a siesta, I walked around the hotel and saw many kids playing in the various sports areas offered to children. They played football, table tennis, pool volleyball, and trampoline while their parents watched them calmly resting on massage chairs. A conference was silently taking place in the areas reserved for business. The hotel provides spaces for three official meeting rooms, equipped with highspeed Wifi Internet access areas.
Goa seems to have it all and ibis Styles is situated bang in the middle of it. One can find adventure in an array of water sports like parasailing, banana boats and jet skis, all at nearby Baga and Anjuna Beaches. Shoppers can delight at the Mapusa Market (local Goan breads, and spices), and the Tibetan Market. Do not rule out the dolphin rides (17km away) and the nearby casinos. Goa is not only about churches. The Mahamaya Kalika Temple close by and not to skip, the world famous Decades Bar at night are worth a visit. And that is just touching the tip of the iceberg of what Goa can actually offer you.
How to reach
By road: Candolim Stop
By rail: Madgaon Station
By air: Dabolim Airport, Goa International Airport
IBIS STYLES GOA CALANGUTE
Goa – 403516
Tel +91 8323016000
Digital version : https://goo.gl/uLcXW6