For centuries, foreigners have praised the Goan mango. Sea captain Alexander Hamilton extolled its many virtues, while in brief employ of the British East India Company. “The most delicious to the taste of any in the world,” he wrote. As I sat against the 130-year-old mango tree of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Panaji, Hamilton’s conclusion seemed fair. The tree had dropped a sweet offering on my lap. Once I bit in, the fragrance was intoxicating.
This grand old man dominates the hotel’s courtyard, the second DoubleTree property in Goa. As I lazed under its branches, I marvelled at the continued touch of tradition. The lobby overflows with local nostalgia, courtesy its church-inspired high roof and steeple. Corners are abrim with art pieces, while rooms hold larger installations featuring palm trees and dragonflies. The staff tells me that laterite stones, locally sourced, have been used for the hotel’s façade.
Most guest rooms have a private balcony to enjoy views of an infinity pool, and peachy sunsets at the Mandovi river flowing past the hotel.
Personally, I felt the property has tried to steer away from the party-crazy idea of Goa to create a more wholesome, family-friendly offering.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to eat, drink and laugh as the Goans do. Feliz, the hotel’s Konkani food joint, is where I tried denjirasa—Mangalorean crab soup, served in traditional crockery; there’s no imported finesse here. Other in-house joints include Comida (the breakfast buffet here is impeccable) and the Rio Salao. Alongside the DoubleTree’s many spa offerings, the hotel arranged for a bespoke local experience. I ended my trip with a beautiful tour of the local fish and spice markets, with seasoned guide Savio for company.