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Luxury hotels
THE PARK BAGA RIVER

Beyond the glistening sand and crystal blue waters that Goa is renowned for, The Park decided to step up its game—by opening a couples-only luxury boutique hotel, with twenty-eight rooms and suites. Arguably India's most romantic escape, The Park Baga River is tucked amid lush greenery with dramatic river and village views. Yes, the location is Baga, but it's far from the maddening crowd… though the beach and pub crawl is accessible within minutes! Its stunning pool, top-shelf poolside bar and all-hours restaurant 'Saltwater' is a draw while gourmet cuisine and attentive bespoke service [picnic hampers in bed, aroma candles and rose petals!] make it Goa's most sought-after.

 

As I alighted from the hotel car, it was evident the property enjoys the best of both worlds — a contemporary design and accents of blue and yellow reflective of traditional Portuguese homes in Goa. After completing check-in formalities and admiring the mobile hanging artwork by enamel artist Veenu Shah, the management showed me to a 1,025 sq. ft. terrace suite that was to be my 'home away from home' — elegant living room leading to a terrace outfitted with sun beds and umbrellas, huge bedroom with a spacious balcony, nightstands and tables with my framed photographs [I was misty-eyed at their personalised attention!] washroom with bathtub, rain shower and massage shower... and mini bar stocked local wine, feni and snacks... a refreshing chnage! Placed at the adjacent table was a bottle of wine, fruit platters and chocolate platters from the iconic Flury's. Oh the nostalgia that swept over me as waves of memories of my childhood spent in Flury's Kolkata washed over me…

 

I then met General Manager Saurabh Khanna who gave me insights about the hotel and how I could best enjoy its tailor-made itineraries including visit to the flower village, cookery workshop, art class and adventure sports like sailing, surfing and parasailing. So many enriching experiences… so little time. Walking around the property, I was in a trance. A unique mix of contemporary design sensibilities and indigenous Portuguese touches make it a charming place to stay.  The interiors, designed by Anil Badan, have textured walls and flooring that offset the accents of yellow and turquoise to give it a cozy feel. The art… oh the art handpicked by Priya Paul, Chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels is one-of-a-kind, stunning and thought provoking. I loved 'Open Wound' — a set of ten photographs by Atish Saha, a photographer and performance artist based in Dhaka. Besides, each room features sepia tinted images of Goa a decade back, by artist Mahesh Nair. But the one I completely fell in love with was photographs with the artist dressed as a melancholic clown, wandering the streets of Panjim, looking for love. Intensely human. Lastly, Valay Mulji Gada's sculptures in brass and copper patinas are a statement that the environment doesn't have to be a trade off for development.

 

By 3 p.m. I decided to follow their maxim — put your feet up and let your hair down! So, I returned to my suite, slicked on sunblock, slipped into swimwear and spent a few hours in the pool, admiring artist Harsh Kadam's mural along the poolside and lazing in the cabana with chilled beer and a book. Sounds blissful? It sure was… until it was time for me to head to Panjim for a meeting! Back at 9 p.m. I was grateful that Chef had realised I would be exhausted and crafted the most memorable meal for my friends and I. He knew my leaning towards seafood and whipped up off-the-hook fresh, flavourful red snapper with secret ingredients … ssshh! We were in culinary heaven. The meal ended with his signature homemade coconut ice-cream — heaven in a bowl. The following morning, I woke up at sunrise to head to the beach and let the cool water wash over me… heaven! Then, it was time to check out of Paradise… but not before they served me a cure-your-hangover breakfast packed with lime juice, fresh fruit juices, eggs, pancakes and sausages.

 

Reflecting on my experience, service at adults-only luxury boutique hotel The Park Baga River is flawless. The general manager and his team ensure guests felt at home, greeted me by name, and made sure they were available and attentive. I would highly recommend crafting memories here, be it couples who wish to indulge with a decadent picnic hamper in bed; solo getaway in a kids-free zone; or friends trip where you can participate in bespoke workshops, head out to the beach or pubs, and sleep in late with no wailing kids to disrupt your dreams. Looking for the perfect honeymoon hotel? This adults-only property, ensconced in tropical beauty, should definitely be on your radar! It will be an unforgettably intimate experience. As their tagline proclaims, Anything But Ordinary.

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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The Park Baga River. lane opp. Mackies Saturday Market, Baga, Goa

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