I’ve lived in Bombay for nearly 4 years, yet had never found a reason to visit the neighbouring beachside state of Goa. My last trip to Goa was nearly 15 years ago when I was seeking some time on a banana lounge after a great but rather hectic trip that included trekking through the Everest region of Nepal and exploring northern India with my father. I recall a relaxed outpost that was crowded with English backpackers, desperate to catch a glimpse of the sun before heading back home to dreary weather. The atmosphere was relaxed, beachside stalls and tree-houses offered basic comforts. There wasn’t much glitz and glamour, and that was just perfect for me.
Flash forward 15 years and I find myself back in Goa, although now it feels like a completely different country. My trip was organised with a couple of friends, and our first stop was a luxury villa in the busy town of Calangute. A little put off by the thought of a crowded town, I was easily persuaded to come along by my friend, who had been invited to review the property. The owners kindly allowed us to stay there as well, and how grateful I am that they did.
While Summertime Villa is technically located in Calangute, it’s a million miles away. Perched on the hill, tucked away from the world, it would be easy to spend days on this beautiful property and never see another soul. And honestly, there’s really no reason to leave either. The infinity pool is so refreshing there’s no need to see the sea, the property is fully serviced, the meals delicious, the surrounds oh-so comfortable and everyone effortlessly friendly. We enjoyed a glass of wine (or two) chatting with the owners Hans and Sucheta, who have lived enviable lives filled with adventure and travel.
The one reason that you may want to leave the property is to sail around the region on their 42 foot yacht, The Solita. After a pleasant twilight trip on the waters I was happy to return back to the solitude of Summertime.
If only I’d stayed there, because what came next left me wishing I’d left my memories of Goa as just that, memories.
We headed onto Ashwem beach in the North, considered to be one of the trendiest places to be seen in Goa. Perhaps it was the unseasonally stifling humidity, the swarm of mosquitoes that seemed to follow me around, or the lack of air-conditioning in my rather over-priced “eco-dome”, but I just didn’t feel the love. The beach was nice, but it seemed to lack soul. And the region is known for it’s gourmet restaurants, but a meal at La Plage, considered to be one of the best in Goa, left me sorely disappointed and much lighter in the hip pocket.
The relaxing holiday vibe of the first leg of our trip had disappeared, and I was left longing to be anywhere else in South East Asia. My advice to anyone considering a beach holiday in Goa, find yourself a private villa far away from the over-priced beaches, or simply go to Bali.