A Surprise Retreat

Updated: Feb 12

The Alila Diwa Goa blends contemporary Goan architecture with the magic of Goa's cultural richness.


Words by Rini Mukkath


The morning I had to board my flight to Goa from Mumbai, I was wondering what the weekend at the Alila Diwa Goa may have to offer, I was going to be there for two days so had no intention of stepping out of the property.


The idea of being away from the bustling city of Mumbai was already taking me to a ‘happy place’ mentally. After a flurry of messages and phone calls from my photographer, Sunder Ramu, who was to join me in Goa from Chennai. I was informed that he had missed his flight and there were no direct flights to Goa that day. A tad disappointed I journeyed on to the property, after being received at the airport by the hotel car and staff.


Situated just a short 30-minute drive from the Dabolim International airport is Alila Diwa Goa. It is tucked away amidst lush paddy plantations and close to the Gonsua Beach which makes it an idyllic retreat. The cheerful staff greeted me and escorted me to the Diwa Club section of the property and I was pleasantly surprised by how green the entire stretch from the entrance to my room was. The Diwa Club section of the property has its own private pool and private all-day dining Bistro.


The Diwa Club rooms have a private balcony, living room, a bar, a spacious dressing and shower bathroom with a separate bathtub which was already prepared at my arrival with hot water, roses and scent. After a quick bath I was about to go down to enjoy a quiet dinner alone at the Bistro restaurant when I read about the hotel and discovered that the word Alila means “surprise” in Sanskrit.


Just moments after this my doorbell rang and it was Sunder Ramu, who after multiple flights, made it just in time for dinner and screamed “Surprise”.


As we sat ourselves down to dinner, we found that the ambience of Bistro was just beautiful, there was a little nip in the air because we were there for the monsoon season and the light from the crystal clear blue pool made for a pleasant setting. Our meal consisted of a stunning fillet of salmon and a beautiful roasted chicken. We polished this off with some dessert of cheesecake and bebinca.


The next day we were signed up for a relaxed day of enjoying the morning breakfast and a trip to the spa. The Spa Alila offers an array of treatments and therapies, with the blending of ancient Asian and Ayurveda healing techniques with age-old beauty recipes featuring the curative benefits of fresh and natural ingredients.


We were seated at the Spa lounge area before our treatments to go over what would be best for us, we sipped on some soothing green tea and were made to smell different oils that could be used for our treatments. I found that this experience helps soothe you and also activate your olfactory in a way that helps prepare you for the massage.


Talking to the therapists, I discovered that they are trained in anatomical physiology, massage and meditation. They combine their knowledge with the most essential element - warm, genuine care that flows from the heart through the hands, to stimulate, rejuvenate, balance and relax your mind and body.


Spa Alila features two double treatment rooms, two Ayurveda rooms and five single treatment rooms, each equipped with individual steam, chilled shower and outdoor patio with day beds. Two of the double rooms boast a private Jacuzzi. Spa Alila facilities also include, a sauna, yoga center, beauty salon and fitness center.


While Sunder was busy being trigger-happy and clicking pictures of the manicured gardens and greenery, I enjoyed the sun, sipped on some tea and spent some time reading. There was no rush to be anywhere, no appointments to keep, no phone calls to attend to, the vibe of the place is just right for someone like me who spends a lot of time in urban India.


“The place truly inspires a sense of calm in me, I will definitely come back because just two days are not enough to capture this property in my lens eye,” gushed Sunder to me later that evening.


The architecture and interior design of the property also keeps in mind the setting, the Goan-Portuguese influences and island style decor makes it relaxed and sophisticated. The rooms are well-appointed with all amenities and are decorated in a style that even though you are in a hotel room, you feel like you are in a cottage on the beach.


The hotel has two main restaurants and a pool-side bar for all dining needs. I would recommend for a relaxed meal at any time of the day, try VIVO which overlooks the resort’s main pool area and the beautifully lush paddy fields that form the main view of this area.

The Spice Studio, which is the award winning Indian restaurant located on an elevated platform that spreads naturally around a banyan tree is a must try for dinner. The food celebrates fresh produce and spices from around India.


We were invited to the kitchen of this restaurant for a special cooking class with the chefs that conjure up cooking magic, bringing together Goan flavours and seafood. After looking at the recipe list, we settled on crabs and fish cooked in the traditional Goan style.


A tangy, tomato based red sauce for the fish was prepared and a beautifully aromatic coconut and green chili based gravy for the crabs. We were treated to our little cooking experiments with rice and appams for dinner. This had to be the highlight of our stay there.


It takes away the element of being cooped up in a hotel and really helps you relax and engage with food which can be both therapeutic and scrumptious. You can also grab a night cap at the Edge Bar which overlooks the blue waters of the infinity pool and serves as a stylish venue for an evening drink.


The next day, right before leaving the hotel, I took a short walk around to take in all the green the hotel has to offer. It truly feels like an oasis of lush green, a little island on its own.


On route to the airport, Sunder and I agreed that this had to be the first time we were both in Goa and we really didn’t step out of the hotel or feel the need to go sightseeing. Truly, Alila Diwa Goa, can be just the surprise you need to relax you and your family.



As we sat ourselves down to dinner, we found that the ambience of Bistro was just beautiful, there was a little nip in the air because we were there for the monsoon season and the light from the crystal clear blue pool made for a pleasant setting. Our meal consisted of a stunning fillet of salmon and a beautiful roasted chicken. We polished this off with some dessert of cheesecake and bebinca.


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