“It’s all about fashion, glamour, design and fun experiences,” says Anthony Ingham, the swashbuckling Global Brand Leader of W Hotels Worldwide, as he gives me a brief lowdown on the spanking new W Goa. No wonder, then, that hotel guests are referred to as “disruptors”, the concierge goes by the name of “W Insider” and many more such endearing reinventions of the wheel. Be that as it may, I recently checked in at the glitzy W Goa, which is possibly the biggest luxury hotel launch in India this season. Glitz, glamour and gorgeous people notwithstanding, I managed to spend some quality time, unwinding, indulging in some good food, nurturing a glass of wine under the stars on the lobby deck and even enjoying sundowners on the Chapora River, the W Goa turned out to be undeniably unique. I’ve seen many W properties across the globe, and I am happy to see that the chain’s unique, perhaps even subversive, brand of hospitality is now in our backyard. Here are some of the notes I took…
1. It’s Glamorous As Hell – The minute you step into the premises, you are greeted by the sight of a massive, shiny “W”, with the contemporary façade of the hotel. The cavernous lobby – named the Living Room – is bathed in natural light and has a visibly nautical allure. On an open deck outside the lobby, besides the aptly named Woo Bar, a couple of round pods welcome guests to lounge around over sundowners, nightcaps or even morning coffee. It’s not only the décor that’s glamorous – the staff members seem to have stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine, pressed and dressed in linen resortwear, groomed to perfection, with their islander personalities in tow!
2. It’s a Design Lover’s Paradise – One thing that characterises W Goa – or any W for that matter – is just how design-heavy it is. Design house Design Wilkes and architects Eco-ID are responsible for creating the psychedelic look at W Goa, which is decidedly contemporary, blending elements of retro-chic and traditional Goan design. The lobby features artwork by Goan artist Subodh Kerkar. The multi-cultural fabric of Goa is a leitmotif in the design that runs through the hotel. The standout design element in my room was the beautiful wallpaper over my bed, featuring the façade of a traditional Goan home.
3. Every Night’s a Party – For the opening bash of W Goa, we were pampered. An open-air gig by DJ Anish Sood, followed by Goan celebrity DJ Anish Gera, the next night, left us panting. However, on regular nights, the resident DJ sets up his console in the heart of the Living Room and the vibe just lends itself perfectly to a party. Sundowners are best enjoyed by the Rock Pool, with a panoramic view of Vagator Beach. Word on the block is, the Rock Pool is all set to become Goa’s hottest new party destination after sunset!
4. The Food is Great – Among the many things that struck me about W Goa is its food. For starters, the hotel has signed up the dynamic young chef Tanveer Kwatra to lead the culinary team and the results are evident through the quality of the food served. The Kitchen Table, all-day restaurant serves up a copious buffet – including the best croissants you’ll have anywhere in India – with a VERY impressive Goan selection. Don’t forget to have a meal at Spice Traders, the hotel’s Pan Asian restaurant, which had us raving.
5. Insider Tours – The traditional concierge of a hotel has been reinvented here and named the W Insider. The W Insider, as you would expect, knows all the secrets to Goa and is quick to suggest the trendiest, most off-beat and fashionable spots to dine, drink or shop at. I did a half-day W Insider tour and discovered a trendy multi-brand store Sacha’s Shop, in Panjim, followed by a quick visit to the studio of DJ Aneesh Gera and then lunch at a Franco-Bengali restaurant, Mustard.
6. Detox Retox Repeat – Quite a catchy phrase there to complement W Goa’s wellness offering. The Spa by Clarins is spread across 14,000 sq ft and its décor is inspired by the great baths of Pompeii, Italy. This haven of peace and tranquillity is tucked away discreetly in one corner of the hotel and includes eight treatment rooms, a gorgeous vitality pool (which I absolutely loved spending endless hours in) a steam and sauna. For all my business traveller readers, I highly recommend the Anti-Jetlag Treatment, which lulls you to sleep with its gentle motions and relaxing aromas.
7. Prime Location – If you’re looking for blissful isolation and deserted beaches, this might not be the place for you. W Goa is located in the thick of Goa’s party districts and most popular beaches. Vagator is a short drive away from Anjuna, where all the action is at, and if you’re lucky, like I was, you might just chance upon a beach rave, on one of the beaches in the vicinity. The hotel shares a wall with the historic Portuguese Chapora Fort. Trek all the way to the top for some breathtaking views of the north Goan beaches and the ocean.
8. Rooms – The hotel features 160 rooms and this includes the Villas, Chalets, a Marvellous Suite and an Extreme WOW Villa. The villas are tucked away at another end of the resort, while the rooms are in the main wing. I stayed in a room in the main wing and the highlight of my room was the massive marble bathroom, with its glamorous design touches. My room opened out onto a veranda of sorts, with two armchairs and a hammock, and then out onto a quiet courtyard. Another striking design element is the reflection of the chandelier, actually painted onto the ceiling, for an interesting visual effect.
9. What’s In A Name – The obvious question that many first timers to the W Goa will ask is “What does the W stand for? Is it short for something? Windsor? Wishful? With-It?” Apparently not! Just for the record, W stands for “Whatever, Whenever”, reflected in the ever-obliging attitude of the staff, who are quick to add a disclaimer “as long as it’s legal!”
W Goa, Vagator Beach, Goa http://www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3723
Doubles Starting from INR. 12,000 a night.