Imagine being in Goa on vacation and not venturing out beyond the confines of your hotel. Impossible, right? Well not quite, if you are at the Alila Diwa Goa – an award-winning luxury destination soaked in serenity and immersed in quiet sophistication. It’s a refreshingly different perspective of a Goan holiday, beyond the beaches, bars, flea markets and all-night parties.
An exemplary model of sustainable tourism, Alila Diwa brings into sharp focus a side of Goa that is often overlooked. Built around 10 years ago on a wild patch, it takes a minimalist approach towards design, aesthetics and luxury. Its character is reflected through preservation of the local eco-system and bespoke experiences that integrate seamlessly with the local community.
The amalgamation of modern Goan architecture with classic Portuguese designs and Balinese influences has a stunning impact on the layout. Comprising of open verandahs with red brick laterite stonework, courtyards and high-pitched roofs interspersed with an eclectic interweaving of latticework and terrazzo flooring, the resort has a distinctive retro-chic character. The eco-sensitive construction materials are mostly procured locally, and the low-rise structure is built around the natural landscape, which includes trees that are over 150 years old. The lush foliage invokes a feeling of being in a rainforest, with fresh fragrant air adding to a sense of wellness. It’s a place where rare migratory birds make frequent visits, and are spotted regularly around the property.
Beyond the aesthetics, what makes Alila Diwa refreshingly different is the ability to bring to life traditional culinary flavours & cooking styles, ancient healing & wellness practices, and works of local artisans & craftsmen. It offers a cultural kaleidoscope, curated to perfection and wrapped in uncompromising luxury.
Blissfully quiet and laidback, the hotel resort is located 20 minutes south of Dabolim Airport, and less than a kilometre from Gonsua beach in Majorda. The white sand beach is secluded and clear of tourists, and is one of the prettiest in all of Goa. An all-day shuttle service gives easy access, making it as good as a private beach for guests.
Alila Diwa has 118 rooms and suites that are focused on comfort, functionality and subtle indulgences. An exclusive Diwa Club wing within the resort has an additional set of 35 rooms and suites. A resort within a resort, the Club offers added privacy, a lap pool, open-air jacuzzi, all-day breakfast and bespoke dining menus for residents.
All rooms and suites maintain a signature style of chic modernity with a hint of tradition. The spacious suites in earthy tones have a living & study area, king size bedrooms, mood lighting, in-room bath tubs that overlook the outdoors, separate his & her shower and dressing areas, and large balconies overlooking the pool and palm fringed gardens. Plush, well-appointed and understated in décor, they whisper warmth and comfort from every corner.
The gastronomic pursuits at Alila Diwa are varied, and include dining experiences that make a stay here eventful and memorable. Vivo, the multi-cuisine restaurant overlooking the infinity pool offers all-day dining with live cooking stations. The boulangerie & patisserie deserves a special mention for the quality of bakes and cakes. You wouldn’t have had better za’atar croissants anywhere else. The flavours are exotic and textures simply melt in the mouth.
Bistro by the Diwa Club poolside has a sunny Mediterranean setting. The limited but well curated a-la-carte menu adds a Goan touch to an otherwise contemporary European & Middle Eastern spread. The Garcinia, cashewnut crusted lamb loin for instance, is served with a Goan chorizo mash. The Atlantic Salmon is double smoked with classic condiments from the in-house spice garden. A 24-hour slow cooked crispy pork belly and pan seared scallop is infused with apple puree, cinnamon hash and ginger emulsion with a pommery maple glaze. The Bacon baps in pao and Spanish tortilla with Goan chorizo have a local twist. All the subtle inventiveness in recipes shines through and results in a sensory burst that is balanced yet surprising. The Grilled halloumi with Mediterranean vegetables and Onion Reggiano Soup are clearly a cut above the rest.
Spice Studio, the signature restaurant at Alila Diwa brings to the table authentic home-style recipes from traditional Goan kitchens. The restaurant is designed around a century old Banyan tree and is a walk through antiquity. The furniture and artefacts from a bygone era are sourced from old Goan homes, and painstakingly refurbished. No two chairs are alike. Every table is different. A vintage lamp here, a chest of drawers there, each piece has its own narrative and a story to tell. Mysteriously beautiful, it feels nothing short of dining in a museum of the arts.
The menu at Spice Studio is personally curated by Chef Edia Cotta, an accomplished authority on Goan cuisine. Her cooking style and in-house ground pastes and masalas make each dish a unique creation with a personal touch. A Masterclass session with her is a privilege that can be booked in advance. Or a trip to the Margao market for the ‘Catch of the Day’ experience. We did a Caldine Bhindi Curry, Goan Prawn Curry, Chicken Xacuti and Brinjal Recheado Masala in an authentic home-style cooking session, and the fresh flavours were every bit Goan.
The Edge Bar by the Infinity Pool has an indoor and outdoor seating on the patio and offers interesting fusion cocktails, wines and nibbles against the backdrop of lush paddy fields. It is most certainly the best spot to catch a beautiful sunset over a leisurely drink. As the sun goes down, the action shifts to the Courtyard Bar, a retro-themed speakeasy bar room that comes alive in the evening. Overlooking a grand courtyard, it is all about craft, inventiveness and the art of mixology. Where timeless classics tango with local Indian flavours. A heady mix of leather interiors, classic hits, and lingering notes of fruits, homegrown spices, herbs & botanicals, it is the alchemy of good taste.
Concepts like Chai Gaddo during early evenings are interesting additions for those in-between moments, where one can nibble on traditional and local savoury & beverages from a cart set up under a massive banyan tree in the courtyard.
Personalised dining goes a step further, with curated experiences that are shrouded in intimacy. The Tree House dinner for instance, is a private four course candle-lit affair with rose petals, fresh flower arrangements and floating candles. Perched on a treetop, the intimate fairytale setting is appropriate for special moments and surprise celebrations. Other experiences include farm-to-table dining where hand-picked ingredients from the in-house organic garden are cooked with locally sourced seafood and meats for a gourmet spread in the outdoors. A beachside candle-light dinner with music and fireworks is another dreamy affair that the leisure concierge team puts together to perfection. They also carve out interesting experiences that give a glimpse of the local community and culture. From a trip to the local Podher, (the traditional poee bread maker of Goa) to a Feni appreciation tasting table and distillery walk, they are adept and resourceful at putting together local discoveries that are otherwise easy to miss.
One of the standout features at Alila Diwa is its integrated wellness program. A team of therapists at Spa Alila create personalised wellness plans for guests who opt for it, after careful consultation. Recreating age-old beauty and body treatments with local ingredients, combining the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda with curated diets, yoga sessions, psychotherapy and more, it is a wholistic experience for the mind, body and soul.
A place is only as good as its people. Alila Diwa boasts of a retinue of impeccably well-trained staff who are delightful conversationalists and hand-picked mostly from the local community. They form the bedrock of service and hospitality and are true ambassadors of the brand and its values. As a happy workforce, they make a huge difference to the guest experience. Such is the level of personalisation that Alila Diwa makes you feel at home, yet very special. Every choice and preference is addressed, making it a space where you slip into effortlessly. There are a handful of activities to keep the kids engaged; be it the kids pool, separate play areas for toddlers and teens, a library, a mini auditorium for daily movie screenings, PlayStations and more.
With so much to explore within the hotel resort, one would rarely venture out beyond the beach. But a stroll down to Martin’s Corner nearby would be in order, just to soak in the vibe and energy of the iconic local bar & eatery. There is a lot to explore in adjoining Margao as well, with its local markets, churches and old architecture. It’s a treasure trove of history and heritage, that waits to be discovered at one’s own time and pace.
At Alila Diwa, time flows at a languid pace. Where the Goan spirit of susegad meets an extraordinary experience that begins with indulgence, but ends in a trail of self-discovery. Where the guest experience transcends beyond luxuries to being conscious and sensitive towards the ecosystem, natural habitat and local community. And being an equal participant in the process of change that we wish to see and be.
Eclectic and evolved, Alila Diwa offers a truly immersive experience into all that is alternate Goa.