Does Goa, bursting at its overburdened seams, really need another boutique hotel? Well,
Does Goa, bursting at its overburdened seams, really need another boutique hotel? Well,if it does, placing Soul Vacation near the southern beach of Colva was a clever decision. Only one season old, this is the new ‘concept’ hotel from the owners of Shalom, Delhi’s (and now Goa’s) popular med lounge bar and restaurant. The theme behind the rapidly proliferating brand name is peace, and this pretty little hotel offers plenty of that.
Most travel to the coast for beachside indolence, but if you’re staying in Calangute, Baga or Anjuna, you can expect a far more hectic trip than you’d anticipated. Crazy traffic, hordes of tourists, crowded shacks on even more crowded beaches. Plenty of big-budget hotels dot the infinitely more peaceful southern beaches, but they come with hefty tariffs and the impersonality of big chains. Soul Vacation cuts through all that while offering the ideal distance from everything — it’s at the northernmost tip of the south.
Shalom has come to be associated with a certain look, sound and feel, and Soul Vacation stays true to this. Everything is pure creamy white — the rounded walls, the rooms, the Shalom branch out front — and I wonder what damage one monsoon will do to all this immaculateness. The lounge music that has always defined Shalom plays from speakers around the hotel’s focal centre, the pool, keeping you company while you dip, tan or sip a cocktail from the Sunset Bar.
And the rooms — ah, what rooms. Coming in from the bright sun after a long drive from the north, my luxury room is like looking at peace, if peace could be viewed. Crisply clean white sheets on a large soft bed padded with thick cushions. Muted afternoon sun filtering in through white-tan blinds. Windows that overlook swaying palms and the deep green water of the pool. If you’re seeking to escape the other side of Goa, it can’t get more perfect.
I enjoy a delicious mojito while floating upon the slightly chilly waters, and eye the outdoor massage tables and Jacuzzis shielded by sheer white curtains. Instead, I decide to head to the beach for sunset. Unfortunately, the staff fails to mention that I should head left from the hotel’s entrance, not right: the beach this side is as unpleasantly swarming as Chowpatty, busloads of honeymooners and stragglers forming an unappealing vista. Apparently, walking left would have brought me to the wide, clean stretch of sand that South Goa is famous for.
The hotel has a strange restriction about its cuisine — poolside or at the Sunrise Café (which looks alarmingly like a greenhouse), you can only eat from the Sunrise menu, one of those do-it-all-but-not-necessarily-well booklets that gallop from Chinese to tandoori (I recommend sticking to seafood). If you sit at Shalom you get its famous Mediterranean food — minus the famous atmosphere. Poolside is where you want to be, candlelight flickering, pool rippling. You could simply beg, as I do, to select a dish off the other menu, and hope they acquiesce. With fish skewers, grilled prawns and, of course, some Goan Xacuti, dinner is a lovely affair stretched over a luxurious three hours. Tucked away in this small haven that lives up to its name, I really do feel miles from real life.
Where: Colva Beach, Salcete, Goa
Accommodation: 30 rooms: 8 superior, 8 deluxe, 14 luxury
Tariff: Rs 5,000 (superior), Rs 6,800 (deluxe), Rs 8,000 (luxury), Contact 0832-2788144, 9810684947