HOTEL REVIEW: ALILA DIWA, GOA
After leaving Rajhastan, we headed south towards Goa.
Having done little research, we really weren't sure what to expect from Goa except a few beaches - which, of course, there are - but what we weren't quite expecting was such a difference between the north and south of India. Whilst Rajhastan was chaotic, bustling, noisy and constantly on the go, Goa was the total opposite, being chilled, laid back and very much adopting an island-life persona. To someone who was just thrown into north India, Goa didn't seem like India as we knew it so it took us a couple of days to recalibrate and acclimatise to our new surroundings, finding a new, slower pace of life.
But eventually we found just that, thanks to the help of Alila Diwa.
Alila Diwa is a 5 star resort about a 20-minute drive away from Goa airport.
It's the kind of hotel where they greet you with refreshments and cold towels - both very welcome in Goa's thick heat. The resort is surrounded by paddy fields and the nearest beach is just a short walk away (or you can use the hotel's buggy service) but if you're only there for a couple of nights (as we were) then chances are you'll probably not find yourself leaving the grounds all that much - the infinity pool and its views will do that to you!
Alila Diwa is a resort for all as we discovered when we arrived - there were quite a lot of families! After making the error of setting up a lounger in what was evidently the 'family area' of the pool on the first day, we quickly scoured out the quietest, most secluded spot at the opposite end of the pool and set ourselves up for the next few days and from then on, it was total lazy bliss.
We stayed in one of the hotel's Terrace Rooms which offer plenty of space, private balconies and a gorgeous open-plan bathroom which is closed off by sliding the room's dividing doors. Beds were comfy, the waterfall shower was everything and the air-con was very welcome!
Whilst these rooms were perfectly lovely, if I were to stay at Alila Diwa again, I would have opted for the rooms in the Diwa Club, a separate part of the resort to the rest which is a little more exclusive. The Diwa Club feels a lot more private, with its own pool and restaurant, away from the all-inclusive side of the hotel.
One part of the resort I would definitely recommend you visit is the Ayurveda Spa. I had the divine 60 minute Ayurvedic Rejuvenating Massage which focusses on all the pressure points in your body to help alleviate stress, aches and pains and promote strength and rejuvenation. Honestly, it was wonderful! One of those massages which you don't want to end and it will leave you feeling amazing afterwards.
There are a few different restaurant options at the hotel to choose from. Our favourite was Bistro - which we ate in for both an evening meal and breakfast - which is set within the Diwa Club area overlooking the pool. Bistro offers Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influenced cooking and it's definitely the best in the resort. Other options include the all-day restaurant Vivo which serves up the classic breakfast buffet daily (whilst I'm not a fan of buffets at all, this one is pretty good and does have something for every kind of breakfaster) and the Edge Bar & Lounge where you can get your poolside snacks and nibbles from.
Whilst there's not a huge amount to do outside the hotel in the immediate area around, it's still worth an hour or two out of your day exploring. The roads around Goa are filled with beautiful coloured houses, wild-roaming piggies and palm trees which make for a pleasing view on your strolls. As part of the hotel's experience packages, we'd arranged with the concierge to visit the local baker, known as 'Podher' to see how the village's bread is made. Local villagers come to the Podher's house to buy bread rolls by the dozen, kids after school swing by for their snack and it really is a nice activity to do to get a better understanding of the daily lives of the Goan people.
We only ate outside the hotel once in the few days we were in Goa at Martin's Corner, a restaurant which on the surface doesn't look amazing (if anything, a little bit too Western and tacky as most the restaurants in Goa are) but the food was genuinely delicious - they managed to turn a simple grilled sea bass into one of the tastiest dishes I'd had in a long time. How, I have no idea, it really wasn't anything fancy but just perfectly done and exactly what I was wanting after a week of delicious but rich Indian food.
Life at Alila Diwa really did slow down in the best kind of way for us during our stay. We chilled out, rested and relaxed whilst getting some much needed Vitamin D after a long winter. The hotel also offers week-long detox packages which I could totally do - meals can be arranged for you, as well as daily treatments and exercise classes. I never thought I'd be into those week long retreat style packages but at Alila Diwa, I got it. They don't even break the bank either. Even flights to Goa aren't crazy prices which is probably why it's such a popular resort area for Westerners.
If you're looking for an alternative to the likes of Thailand and Sri Lanka, where you just want a resort with a great pool and everything sorted for you, then Goa is a pretty good option. I think it's what a lot of the people who were staying whilst we were there had done. Goa as a whole does feel Westernised, there's no denying that, but as with anything, as long as you're aware of that before you go then you'll know exactly what to expect. We ended our time in India having seen two very different sides to the country and left with one very clear conclusion: I will definitely be back again soon.
I was a guest of Alila Diwa Goa but words are all my own.