Go Goaah: Alila Diwa, Goa


After a very relaxed few days at the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa, I was going to switch to the Hotel Alila Diwa where a friend of mine was hosting his wedding proceedings for the next couple of days. Since both the hotels are about 10 minutes apart, we used one of the complimentary shuttle cars offered to us by the Park Hyatt to drive down to the Alila Diwa.

The Alila Diwa is a large hotel,built on a 12-acre big piece of land next to a paddy field. The hotel received the ‘Top 25 Relaxation/Spa hotels in India 2012’ commendation from TripAdvisor, which it proudly displays on its website and some others like the ‘Best New Hotels in 2010’ by Conde Nast Traveler USA.

When I received my invitation to the wedding in January 2012, I was excited to go here, since they promised a ‘5-star experience’ and are a boutique chains. Let me admit, I have not been to too many boutique hotels and resorts in my lifetime, but I am happy when an opportunity comes along since my expectation of a boutique hotel is a personalised experiences and a which is way better than a chain hotel kind of stay.

Since this was a wedding event, I was expecting the hotel to have upped their game significantly to ensure these guests who came from all over would come back, however, I was disappointed… this was more like the pictures looking better than the hotel itself.

The hotel promises a personalised check-in experience in the room, however, when me and my friends arrived at the hotel around lunchtime, there was not a soul around the lobby area in the first place. So, we called out for someone and some people magically appeared out of nowhere to help.

We completed the check-in formalities at the reception itself, in stead of the in-room check in as the website.

Entrance & Lobby (Pictures courtesy: Holidaycheck.com)

We proceeded towards our room, which was going to be a Terrace room, with its own private terrace to help us with a view outside. The trip here did not seem to have started off on a great note, the elevator was not working, and while it was only one flight of stairs to get to the level where our room would be, the problem was that they had ripped apart the elevator and there was not as much as a warning sign here.

Now, here is my beef with the hotel. I’ve in the past been in hotels who offer views of the city, or of the waterside (river/pool/sea), or a garden view. Maybe I haven’t seen enough of the world yet, but I have still never seen a paddy-field view in my 100s of hotel stays so far. And call me close-minded, but that does not equal a garden view.

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Room with a view and a bathtub?

Now, how many of you go into a 44 m2 (474 sq. feet) room with a view, but have to settle in for almost half your room gone with a largish tub and bathroom, and only half the room left for your own use. I saw this happen also at the Hilton Pattaya and at the Ritz Carlton Dubai DIFC (yet to be reviewed), and seems to be the latest trend catching up. However, while the other hotels I visited recently can be excused because the room had more space, this one could not be for me. There were no bathroom amenities and you’d need to use everything from a large container (a large container of soapwash in the shower, a large dispenser of handwash in the basin). The concept was that you have an open bathroom and wardrobe, which you could closet at will.

The nightstand next to my bed was scratched and shaky with an unstable leg or two. The deck chairs placed in the terrace were stained. This hotel was clearly showing signs of ageing only two years into its existence.

Had it been a paid stay, I would have almost asked for another room, but because someone in the friend’s family was taking care of room assignments, I did not bother much, telling myself instead that I was hardly going to be in the room much.

After arrival, I wanted to check email and do a couple of calls with my office before slipping out of the room again, but wifi internet would not work till you did not call the hotel helpdesk and get a passcode assigned for you. Even then, it was slow enough for me to disregard its existence most of the time. I whipped out my data stick which I use on the go when I have no wifi or wired internet and it gave me a terrible speed as well. Turned out signal coverage was bad on almost all networks that me and my friends would use, so I had to eventually hang by the fence in the terrace to be able to talk to the office, and sync my emails at work.

I was clearly not being able to buy the ‘boutique’ experience 2 hours into my check-in here. So, I did the next best thing, to go out exploring a bit of the ‘resort’ experience.

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The newer Diwa Wing

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The Vivo Restaurant outside

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The Vivo Restaurant inside

Since the hotel was full of guests present for the wedding most of the day, it was a hard day to click pictures to catch a place empty or in its natural setting, but this one was the restaurant which hosted all the guests over breakfast, lunch and dinner over the coming days. There are three eating options here, the Vivo restaurant, the Spice Studio which serves Goan food and the Edge Lounge and bar which is located by the pool and serves up drinks and short bites.

I wouldn’t comment on the food though, since I never got the opportunity to eat anything off the hotel’s menu and we were on the catering menu for these few days here. When we got the opportunity, we walked over to a famous sea-food restaurant nearby called Martin’s Corner.

The hotel has an infinity pool, which has some nice decks inside the pool itself, which was a nice touch, but I did not like the view of the paddy field one bit, or the fact that there was a fence limiting the infinity pool. Aren’t infinity pools supposed to provide a limitless scenic view ahead of you? I am still scratching my head on why would I want to order drinks from the Edge Bar and settle down here for a nice afternoon?

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The ‘infinity’ pool

The hotel is close to the Majorda beach, and you have frequent shuttles from the hotel to bring you to the beach and back. One runs every 30 minutes if I remember correctly. You wait near this nicely sculpted boat to get to the beach, or call their Leisure Concierge services. Since I was going to head into the events of the day in a while, I did not check out the beach.

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I found my solace in the library though. There was a limited collection of books around here, but I loved the fact that the place was quiet and I found myself sneaking in there at least once a day or more.

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The Library

Almost half the hotel including most of the social areas were taken over for the wedding and hence off-limits or decorated (also the reason I’m depending on some outside pictures for this report.) On the third day, the hotel insisted we check out by 11 AM though we had already discussed a late checkout at 2 PM. They seem to have went into panic mode and called me three times over to make sure I check out on time.

Overall, I found this to a pretty mundane property and there was no wow factor as it was made out to be. I’m not quite sure yet why the Alila Diwa claims to be a 5-star resort whereas at best I would call it a 4-star endeavour, but turn out they also price themselves at the same price as a 5-star hotel. I looked up the prices for a random date in September, and compared it with two of its luxury contemporaries in Goa where I have also stayed and experienced the services before. They charge the same price but the difference in services could be chalk and cheese.

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Like I said before this was a disappointing stay, and certainly I could not appreciate the honours coming their way from all over. I’d love to hear what the readers have to say about this one. Have you had a better experience at this hotel?

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