June – September is the time of the year when I am inclined to take a vacation with friends in Goa. The peak Goa season is over in March (starts from October when all the tourists arrive!). The idea is to spend time with close friends and shut down my mental machinery for a few days, also the Goa weather in June-August is marvellous, with the rains. This time around, the destination was going to be the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa, partly thanks to my Hyatt Diamond status last year.
We were a bunch of six-eight friends who were going to be going over, so I booked three standard rooms at this hotel and then called to apply my Hyatt GP Diamond upgrade certificates. Since my certificates for 2011 were going to expire in February 2012, I booked the rooms and applied the certificates right away in mid-February 2012. The agents at the Hyatt reservations desk in India were not so responsive, since they never responded to my emails and I could only book 2 rooms via the website. I eventually had to call and then the story went downhill from there. I had to eventually give Hyatt some ‘feedback’ about training their agents in India a little better. Eventually, we had three confirmed suites at the Park Hyatt Goa.
As the date came closer, some friends dropped out due to various reasons. Two were not so sure, and the hotel management was nice enough to modify the terms of the reservation to let me cancel the room up to T-1 in their case. We eventually whittled down to a bunch of four people who were going to be making the trip to Goa.
We decided to take the overnight train from Mumbai to Goa, which is an 8 hour or so ride and more preferable over the early morning flight to Goa for me. We get to sleep a few hours and no rush to wake up at 4:30 am to take the flight, which means we are already sleepy by the time we are there. We arrived at about 8 AM, and 2 Honda CRVs were waiting to pick us up from the railway station. Once inside, the chauffer wished us, told us his name and brought us a cold towel and water, before starting our 20 minute ride to the resort situated in South Goa.
At the resort, on arrival at about 8 AM, we were invited to be seated in the lobby and were offered a welcome drink of natural coconut water. There were no counters to check-in at, and while my friends and brother lounged around sipping on the coconuts, I was approached by the hosts to sign off on the check-in documents. We were informed that while one of the suites was ready, the other would be ready in a couple of hours and offered us a room adjacent to the suite in the meanwhile.
On the way to the suite, a large Drawing Room
The resort is built on a 45-acre parcel of land, with a private beachfront and one of the bigger pools I’ve seen in a while. There were no tall buildings, but cottages and villas built in Portuguese style and tons of landscaping. Being a massive sized resort, the living areas were scoped into five separate ‘courts’. We were assigned our suites on the ground level and top level of the same villa, which was at the south-western end of the resort, and we decided to walk, rather than take the buggy ride.
On the way to our rooms, and the courtyard of our suites.
The good part about Goa is the closeness to nature you can feel and that some of the resort properties have been able to build up massive spacious rooms which one can always appreciate living in a city with match-box accommodation such as Mumbai. The living room looked very inviting, specially the chair and the ottoman put together.
The Living Room, as you enter
The Living Room
The Minibar all stocked up
The Balcony. Yes, I had a plan to sit here and read a book. Never materialised.
The view from my balcony
I was looking forward to my stay here for the next couple of days. What I did not notice initially was the welcome amenities that were placed in the room – a big tray of fruits, and a big jar of chocolates and some cakes.
The bathroom was an open bathroom, connected into the bedroom, and had a big stone-tub built into it. Like you can see, there was more than the obvious space you would usually need to stay in the hotel and I loved that already. There were also local amenities used from Forest Essentials, a brand I love, and which I consider way better over the standard Portico amenities anyday. One of the other hotel chains I love, the Taj, also uses this brand all over India.
We decided to take a shower and quickly reassemble for a long lazy breakfast before we would take an afternoon siesta. We headed towards the Village Square to check out what we could have for breakfast, and we had a long breakfast by all standards.
We took about 2 hours to finish breakfast. The reason? There was a massive spread to check out. And I decided to limit myself only to the local selection and check out the bakery items another time. However, it was still a long list of things to sample.
The bakery and cereals spread
The live stations and the Indian spread
My breakfast: Poori/Sabzi and some pancakes with maple syrup later
We headed back to the courtyard where we were staying, and while I went off to sleep a short while later, my friends had their suite ready and they moved in there. We did not quite grab lunch and once we were all awake again, we decided to hit the poolside while it was still a little bit of sun out there.
The hotel claims that the pool is one of the biggest ones in India, and I can see why. There was a maze of water slides as well, and a small accompanying kids pool and a Jacuzzi tub as well by the poolside. The waiters would serve you by your lounge chairs, or by the pool, but you could not take your drinks in the pool (which would obviously be so much fun!)
By the poolside
The view from the pool
The Poolside Bar
After a few hours in the pool, we headed back for our shower and got ready for dinner. Everyone on the team however wanted different things for dinner. The hotel offers Goan, Indian, Italian speciality restaurants in the Village Square, where the Village Cafe was also located. The open air restaurant Palms was shut for the rains and usually offers grilled food. But since we were all lazy to go out, and the UEFA finals were going to be on in a while, we just called in for room service which was three of the same kind of burgers and a BLT sandwich.
In room dining.
This was the first time I could pick a flaw in their service so far. The food came a little too long to arrive, and when it did, it was brought along in a basket with cling wrap on all the plates. And it was almost cold, and the fries were soggy already. Since we were very hungry, I was not going to send this back, but I did make a note for them to know about this the next time around. When I got back into my room, the bed was ready since the turn-down service was provided.
Next morning, I woke up early and went for a little walk by the beach before we hit breakfast. If you come here during the on-season, you the staff would be happy to put up lounge chairs and umbrellas for you to enjoy the beach, but since this would be the monsoon season, I couldn’t have one.
Around the resort
On the private beach at the Hyatt
I went back and joined everyone for breakfast and this was going to be as long as the first day it seems over a lot of chat and breakfast.
Some of the breakfast on the table
There is an award-winning spa in the hotel, but we had not gotten down to booking an appointment yet. Instead of a siesta, we headed to the games room today, where you could shoot a round of pool, or play chess, table tennis or American Football to kill time.
We had some friends who live in Goa itself join us around lunch time, and another round of room-service was ordered. After that, we headed to the pool in the evening and dined at one of the restaurants on the second night. Service at the restaurant was attentive and there was limitless supply of bread that kept flowing while we dined.
On the third day, alas, it was the day of check out, but I was still going to be in Goa for a friend’s wedding to be attended in the coming days. The hotel was also quieter because a huge troupe of a team offsite who were staying in the same resort had checked out today. We had a lot of time to ourselves, but I only stuck to a very small breakfast today
I took a quick detour after the breakfast to check out the spa of which I had heard so much. The spa has about 11 treatment rooms and seemed to have a repertoire of quite some good treatments, all of which I did not have the time to try out now that I was going to head back to the room and check out in a while.
The hotel sent me an advance copy of the invoice on my request, and after tallying up everything, I headed to the lobby to get them to charge my card (the guarantee was on an Amex and the charge was going to hit another card!). I had a brief chat with the hotel management and complimented them on the attention to detail and how things had worked over the past couple of days. My brother was heading back to Mumbai the same day, so after check out, he took one of the shuttle cars to go to the airport, while me and the rest of the friend had the second car, a Mercedes this time, waiting to take us to another hotel where the wedding was going to take place.
Overall, a very satisfactory stay and I loved almost every bit of my stay here. This was the first time I was deviating from my standard fare in the Taj Holiday Village/Fort Aguada in Goa, and I am now torn as to which hotel I should be going to for my next stay. And on another note, while I haven’t stayed in too many Hyatts (I go back to the same ones all the time), this was one of my best Hyatt stays!
P.S.: The stay costed us Rs. 5,500 per night ($100) on double occupancy per room when we booked a few months out but the price went up as you came closer to the date. Till September 8, 2012, you can however take advantage of the Freetime promotion, where you pay for 3 nights and get the fourth free.
[Update]: I seem to have missed out on the Lounge and Internet bit. There was no executive lounge in this property so all the breakfasts were at the buffet breakfast like I described above. Wifi access was complimentary throughout the resort due to my status on Hyatt Gold Passport.