Just a hop away from Mumbai, Goa is becoming Ajay and mine favourite spot for weekend getaways. So, in the month of July we spent a weekend at the Park Hyatt Goa and then 15 days later we decided to visit the Grand Hyatt Goa, just to check out what the fuss was all about. Like you know, Ajay loves the Park Hyatt Goa, so we never got an opportunity to be at the Grand Hyatt Goa ever before.
We almost always take the early morning flight from Mumbai, because mid-day arrivals into Goa make no sense to us. As usual, we arrived in Goa at about 6:30 am. Since we were going to be staying in one of their suites, we had complimentary airport transfers organized. Outside the airport a hotel representative held a paging board, and he helped us with our bags and walked us across the pickup lane where a Toyota Innova was waiting for us. The car was rather tardy. The hotel seemed to have outsourced its vehicles from a third party taxi rental company, and no one weighed in on quality of the vehicles.
The drive from the airport to the hotel is beautiful and on the way we drove across the coastline, village houses, palm trees and lots of greenery.
The Grand Hyatt is approximately a 30 minutes drive from the airport and is located close to the Bambolim beach in North Goa. The access to the hotel is through an elevated driveway that opens into a huge covered porch with high ceilings.
While we completed our check-in formalities at the reception we were offered cold towels and kokum sherbet; a tangy juice produced from a local fruit. We were not directly sent to the Grand Club for check in, like is the practice with Hyatt Hotels where a club is present. The front office agent seemed like he was an understudy and constantly required guidance from his colleague, who had to whisper into his ear to ask us about our choice of Diamond amenity. When we asked for the list of amenities, we were given a verbal list but no choice presented. We just went with the points, since the agents were themselves not convinced about what they should tell us.
We were advised that our room was still getting ready and after giving us a brief about the property and the layout we were sent to the Grand Club until our room was ready.
Breakfast at the Grand Club
With nothing better to do and an early start, we dug into the breakfast at the Grand Club. The spread at the club was limited with options such as idli and eggs to order in the selection. Almost all the stuff on the hotplates was cold. There were the usual continental options as well: fruits, petite bakery spread and a choice of cereals. I requested for some masala tea and in spite of requesting for a strong brew, I was served a lame milky tea that I did not finish.
The Grand Executive Suite
We had booked a standard room and applied the Diamond Suite Upgrade from my account to upgrade the room to a Grand Suite. While waiting at the lounge we were informed that our suite had been further upgraded to the Grand Executive Suite.
Our suite was situated in Guest House 2, the rooms at the Grand Hyatt are divided into 7 Guest Houses which resemble old Portugese Mansions. Guest House 2 was the biggest with about 50-60 rooms in the fold.
As we entered, we walked into a large rectangular living room with a spacious dining area in the rear. The coffee machine and the minibar were placed in a cabinet right as we entered. We tried using all the three capsules of coffee placed, but only one worked for us over the two days we were there. Rest just gave warm water.
There was a long sink-into-me sofa and a large marble stone coffee table in the living area. The extra large sofa gave us plenty of room to stretch out.
Towards the rear end of the living room there was a large 8-seater dining table with a stylish overhead lighting above.
On the dining table there was a welcome fruit platter and some cookie jars, while the TV console in the living room doubled up as a partition between the bedroom and the rest of the suite.
There was also a kitchenette with a microwave placed.
The living and the dining area was designed in a contemporary informal way apt for lounging around and little tete-a-tete among guests. There was a separate enclosure in the living room which had the work desk.
From the living room I could get a glimpse of the bedroom. It had a beautiful wooden separator with intricate woodwork on it. The bedroom was done in a minimalist style with a bed and a lounger placed near the balcony.
The bathroom was as big as the bed room and along with a sunken tub there was a separate shower enclosure. I was surprised to notice two sets of closets, one in the bathroom and another set of wardrobes right at the entrance of the suite.
The icing on this suite was the large balcony. Access to the balcony was from all 3 living spaces .
Right outside the bedroom, we had large marble bath Jacuzzi overlooking the gardens with a view of the bay. We did use the Jacuzzi during our stay and noticed that the water flow was dirty and muddy. Sadly, the housekeeping did not check the Jacuzzi before checking in guests. It may be something not everyone uses, but it needs to be in working condition all the time.
Overall the architecture and the interiors of entire suite was very contemporary and it had a very casual chic vibe. After catching a short nap, we decided to head out to Panjim. We ate lunch at a 150-year old home that serves traditional Portugese Goan food and spent the afternoon strolling in Fontainhas; Latin Quarters of Goa.
The Grand Club
In the evening, we headed out to the Grand Club for evening drinks and canapes. The Grand Club is located in Guest House 7 which was quite a distance from Guest House 2. The resort provided a buggy service, but this being a packed long weekend, we were told it would take 10-15 minutes for a cart to arrive so we decided to walk down to the club.
To our shock the lounge that was peaceful and empty in the daytime hours had transformed into a playground with at least 20 children running, playing and shouting all around. There wasn’t even any place to stand and it appeared that the lounge staff couldn’t care less about the entire situation.
When we complained about the chaos to the lounge staff, all they told us was that it was busy weekend at the hotel and there were large groups staying in Club rooms which gave them access to the Grand Club. They senselessly suggested that we come in earlier to the club next day before the kids invade the place. Our experience at the lounge on the first evening was a disaster and we walked out of the lounge with a headache. We also noticed other guests who were bothered with this noise and chaos and left midway.
It seems that word spread or was taken very seriously about the problem on hand. The next evening when we went to the lounge we noticed that the hotel had put in measures to control the chaos. They had created a play area in the lounge and parents were being asked to supervise their children proactively. The Club staff stood their ground, and sanity sort of set in again.
The EAM Rooms dropped into the Grand Club to meet us and assured that the hotel will reviewing its Grand Club policy for children and taking corrective measures. He was new to the place, and he was very apologetic about the whole incident. Seems the hotel did not know what hit them, with boisterous Indian families coming over for a long weekend. They emailed Ajay a few times after we checked out, to reassure us that the next time we would be there, a better Club experience would be present.
The food and the beverage spread in the lounge was quite substantial. There was an assortment of alcoholic drinks along with an inclusion of local Goan feni (a spirit produced locally from the cashew fruit).
The spread had a variety of finger food. On both the days there were salad greens, a cheese board, tikkas, spring rolls, desserts and a chaat section. Apart from this there was fresh fajitas on day 1 and pav bhaji on the second day. The chef was on hand, and very engaging with the guests, making them try all the stuff they made. And the staff was perked up on day two, since they did not have to maneuver around kids. So, to make us feel at home, they made sure our glasses of Feni were topped up at all times. We must have finished their stock for a week before we left the lounge on day 2.
The Grand club also had its own reception. Overall for a resort with 300 plus rooms the Grand Club is small in size. I can imagine finding seats to be a regular problem on days when the resort has high occupancy.
However, to make up for the nuisance, the hotel management did spring on their feet and did everything they could to make it right at that moment. One evening, we had a bottle of wine waiting, along with an apology note when we got back to the room. To us, the fact that the hotel owned up to this issue was reassurance enough that this was a mistake and not a regular affair.
For dinner on the both the nights we ordered in room service. The Grand Hyatt has 7 restaurants, including an Indian and an Australian one, and I’d imagine that most guests prefer eating in house. On the first night we ordered in some chicken biryani. The biryani was cooked on dum and was accompanied with a yogurt raita and was delicious. The Nasi Goreng we ordered on the next night was very average and lacked flavor.
Breakfast Spread @ the Dining Room
The second morning of our stay, we decided to skip the lounge and eat breakfast at The Dining Room. The third day as well, when we reached the restaurant we were guided to a banquet space. We soon realized that due to full occupancy the hotel had laid out the breakfast in the banquet space as well. Ajay and I requested to be seated in The Dining Room and chose to wait for a table to open up.
After being seated our server asked us if we would like if we would like to have juice, coffee or tea. I hesitantly ordered the masala tea with special instructions again. The thing is that I can’t start my day without a good cup of tea. To my surprise the tea today was perfectly brewed with ginger and our server was generous to place the entire pot of tea on our table.
Contrary to our experience with the Grand Club staff, the servers at the restaurant were very attentive and friendly. In fact during our conversation one the servers recommended a local place for lunch and I must admit that it is some of the best seafood I have eaten in Goa till date.
The breakfast buffet included the hot breakfast station with variety of Dosas, Paranthas and Eggs. There was a rather unique Wasabi Dosa on the menu that I decided to try while Mexican poached eggs caught Ajay’s eye at the egg counter. My Wasabi dosa tasted rather bitter and the Mexican eggs were a take on eggs benedict served with refried beans. After this we both tried some stuffed paranthas, where the hotel had a Continental Parantha on offer, very unique.
Besides there were cereal; bread and crumpets for toasting; cakes, muffins and pastries; fresh fruit juices, smoothies and yoghurt to choose from. It was a never-ending party, and the food at the restaurants was spot on, as compared to the lounge breakfast which was generally cold or lukewarm at best.
When we entered the restaurant, I noticed a chef at the buffet, making pancakes and French toast. I was quite excited at the thought of having freshly made pancakes with Blueberry compote and Ajay devoured French Toast with maple syrup.
Hotel Exteriors & Location
After breakfast we decided to walk around the premises and explore the hotel. The Grand Hyatt Goa is a lush 28 acre resort with 314 rooms and suites. The entire architecture is influenced by the colonial era and the living areas are divided into 7 guest houses that resemble Portugese Mansions, like we noted above.
The resort is located on the Bambolim Bay and even though the hotel has a beach it is not meant for swimming. Though in good weather the hotel offers sailing and other water sport activities in the calm bay waters. The resort is landscaped with beautiful lawns. The lawns and the waterfront are nice to stroll in.
The swimming pool area is large and beautiful. It had a separate enclosure for children and nice pool bar on the side. However, across all the days of our stay, it looked more like a water park than a hotel pool. All the pool beds were perpetually taken and the staff was on their toes at all times. This is a massive convention and wedding hotel, but with no access to a beach, the only way to get near water is the pool. I understand their conundrum, and hence we chose to avoid getting into the pool during our stay, a first for us during any of our Goa trips. We used the Jacuzzi instead, but we had some rough luck there too!
I also stumbled upon the most picturesque 16th century chapel inside the resort that is still used by the locals to pray.
There is a massive spa and we learnt that hotel newly opened an in house casino. Every one had to pay an entry to get in, however the cost for hotel guests was 40% cheaper than non-guests at the hotel. We were not in the mood to lose some cash like we did in Vegas, so we passed!
A night at this resort usually costs INR 12,000/ USD 180. The Grand Hyatt Goa is a category 3 hotel and a reward night here costs 12,000 points. We booked the hotel under the Celebrate with Hyatt sale and got a 50% discount on the cash rate, but we still paid approximately INR 10,000 per night for the packed weekend it was. Further we applied the Diamond Suite Upgrade from my account to upgrade our room to a suite.
I have mixed feelings about this hotel. They have so much potential to blow the other hotels in the vicinity out of the water, but touch a raw nerve here or there, and their pain points start to show. So while their architecture is grand and opulent in all senses, service standards are a hit or miss, depending on who you are dealing with on any given day.