Fringed with trees of green beneath skies of blue, Vagator Beach, the hip party central of North Goa, is a cool one-hour drive from the Dabolim Airport. As Louis Armstrong quavered into my ears the deep-bodied imagery from his jazz classic What a Wonderful World, I sat through the drive soaking in the blurred impressions of Goan country life: swaying coconut palms, lush paddy fields, colonial-era houses, quaint churches and friendly faces in between huge billboards screaming urban development. It was the glint of the gleaming ‘W’ installation, at the porte cochère up ahead, that broke my country-inspired reverie. With a lively soundscape of synthwave beats and a motley mix of boho-chic elements in warm colours, W Goa—the first W hotel in India and master disruptor in the hospitality scene worldwide—welcomes you into its luxurious folds.
Tucked away in the green hillside, just above Vagator Beach, W Goa boasts an enviable location. Set against the backdrop of the 500-year-old Chapora Fort, the resort is spread across acres upon acres of tree-shaded grounds. A leisurely stroll around the property made me awe in wonder at the clever pairing of rustic tropical charm with cosmopolitan sophistication. The resort’s eclectic character borrows heavily from Goa’s rich heritage, evident in the flamboyant murals and art installations throughout the property. Take, for instance, contemporary artist M. Narayan’s eye-popping mélange of colours that is a tribute to the soul of Goa, at the reception. At the heart of this design aesthetic, however, is The Living Room, the expansive lobby-cum-bar, where hundreds of fishing rope garlands hang from the ceiling to create a tented canopy-like structure— an ode to the seafaring tradition and carnivalesque atmosphere of the state. Perfect for breezy conversations during the day, the place transforms into a party hotspot come evening, with the WOOBAR mixologists hard at work and music jockeys spinning records till the wee hours. Don’t miss the dripping ice chandelier at the bar.
Accommodation options here include stylish, well-appointed guestrooms and fort-view as well as seafront villas and chalets, set amid coconut groves. Stepping inside my pool-facing Spectacular (pun intended) Room, I wonder if conventional is an archaic word in W’s dictionary. The swanky set up is nothing short of a flight of fancy. The room’s airy, sun-filled interiors are offset by trippy neon-blue and purple-hued mood lighting by evening. While the mood lighting works wonders for the weary soul, it does little to get the make-up right. Pops of colour add to the playful, quirky vibe: a silver leather bed, a lavender comfy chair, multicoloured screen-printed cushions, a huge Portuguese art print and a purple Victorian chandelier thrown into the mix. The large bathroom feels like a private, meditative oasis, with a somewhat muted colour palette, Bodhi leaf-accented mirrors, a deep-soaking bathtub and his-and-hers sinks. However, for a more luxuriant indulgence of the senses, check in to the resort’s Clarins Spa, a labyrinthine network of corridors and rooms below ground level. Styled along the lines of the great Roman baths of ancient Pompeii, the spa features a heated vitality pool surrounded by the sauna and treatment rooms.
W Goa doesn’t cease to surprise at any point. Not when it comes to treating the taste buds either. At the Kitchen Table, the resort’s all-day eatery, indulge in a smorgasbord of flavours, with the signature Goan thali, comprising local favourites such as tangy fish curry and piquant pork vindaloo, served with local brown rice and a side of buttery poi. Breakfast is a particularly lavish affair; you’ll find yourself scuttling between the numerous live counters and platters of breads, pancakes, a selection of cold cuts, and even regional favourites, such as nalli nihari and fluffy dosas. Those looking for a fine-dining experience should head to Spice Traders, the resort’s pan-Asian restaurant, serving modern interpretations of international culinary classics by the water’s edge. Book a table on the rooftop to make the most of an evening with truffle tuna pizza, bamboo charcoal prawns, edamame dumplings and the chef’s fusion interpretation of Singapore chilli crab. However, it is the Rock Pool that steals the thunder at W Goa. Carved into the hillside, overlooking the beach, the open-air pool offers some of the most awe-inspiring vistas of the sea. Come here by early evening to park yourself at a sweet spot to take in dazzling sunset views while guzzling cocktails and nibbling on sizzling meats fresh off the grill. If you’d rather hit the beach, you’re in luck. A well-marked path from the Rock Pool winds down right onto the silver sands of Vagator Beach. Be sure to carry your own beach towels, as the hotel does not provide any facility on the beach—bit of a dampener, perhaps.
Fashionably late at arriving in Goa, W does not disappoint when it comes to offering best-in-class luxury in a beachfront setting. Among the highlights here is the spirited staff, who ensure guests have a pleasant experience without slipping into the dull subservience characteristic of other conventional high-end brands. In a first for any W property, the W Goa comes with an on-site kids’ club with a host of fun activities. This makes the place suitable for families travelling with children, besides couples as well as business travellers. And if you’re travelling solo, what better than enjoying a sundowner by the Rock Pool, gazing at the waves crashing on the shore?
Accomodation: 109 rooms and villas