Over the last couple of years, vacationing has steadily morphed – we no longer rush to airports, worry about the validity of RT-PCR tests and stress over long flights. For us in north Goa, a weekend away to the quieter parts is all that’s needed for a rejuvenating break.
Being a lifestyle and hospitality consultant, I’ve found friends, acquaintances, colleagues and clients constantly on the lookout for new places to stay at in Goa. I discovered a new gem just recently when an old buddy invited me to his stunning villa, just walking distance from Talpona River.
A few friends and I decided to get away for the weekend, and headed straight for south Goa’s most Instagrammable bridge. The narrow blue Bailey bridge at Sadolxem offers access to both banks of this delightfully green paradise and is barely minutes away from Lua Cheia Villa, a kind of Utopia in itself.
My friend Karan Bhasin was waiting to meet us with his vivacious team of local ladies led by Eugenia who ensures your every need is met all through your stay. Despite being so far removed from the bustle of city life, there is so much to see and do in and around Lua Cheia Villa.
A slew of pristine sandy stretches with soft sands and incredible sunsets are located within a few kilometres from the villa. If you can drag yourself away from Lua Cheia’s inviting swimming pool and breathtaking green surroundings, hours will fly by unnoticed on these south Goa beaches, taking in the hard life of the local fisherfolk, soaking in the sunset and perhaps even catching a glimpse of a dolphin coming up for air in the distance.
Guests who like a mixed bag of things to do on vacation will find a host of activities to choose from that don’t include the sand and sea. The staff helps organise treks through local wildlife reserves to stunning waterfalls, boat trips and fishing down the meandering Talpona river, birdwatching and kite feeding, visits to historic sites and spice farms, and even a spot of golf, tennis or squash at the nearby Lalit Golf & Spa Resort. You can even book spa treatments and private yoga classes either at the villa or at a space of your choice.
Being back in south Goa meant we had to catch up with our long-time English friends Brett White and Jodi Drake who run Ourem 88 in Palolem. It’s hard enough to get a table at this popular British restaurant but harder still to make a choice from the menu. There’s a selection of traditional English food, pies and steaks as well as some of the best-made English desserts in this country! It’s almost a given that you’ll need extra spoons for sharing.
Turning in early was intentional, given the well-planned day we had to look forward to. It started out with a Chakra Shake a personalised yoga class led by Maree whose expert guidance helped energise our morning before we hung around the pool and cooled off from the heat.
Lunch was a fabulous spread of local Goan food prepared by the women who work at Lua Cheia. They served it to us by the pool and I found myself going just a tad bit overboard on the incredible fish and prawn curries. Yummy!
With options for so many activities, it was difficult to choose, but Karan had everything well-planned for us. We took the push bikes and went on a leisurely ride to all of the local beaches, including Talpona and its incredibly clear blue waters and Galgibaga, a protected Olive Ridley turtle nesting site. Our final stop was at Santosh’s restaurant, one of my regular haunts in south Goa where we enjoy freshly caught oysters.
Lua Cheia Villa, meaning full moon in Portuguese, is Karan’s dream project – the enterprising Brit built the stunning villa from scratch more than 10 years ago. Along the way he found his wife to be Carrie Olsen, who came to Lua Cheia with a yoga retreat hosted at the villa. “Carrie was the only thing missing, her arrival made my life in paradise complete” says Karan, whose jovial company made our stay at the villa even more memorable.
The villa itself is immaculately kept, designed to invite in as much natural light and air as its colonial-inspired façade would allow. The rooms are thoughtfully designed, the décor obviously hand-picked, and the fresh flowers dotting little nooks complement the well-maintained gardens outdoors.
My favourite space in the property is the swimming pool and its landscaped surroundings, guarded by a towering jackfruit tree that’s wrapped tenderly by a flowering passion fruit vine. It offers welcoming shade during the hot days and the bougainvillaea plants dotting the area send their dainty pink flowers drifting your way every now and then. A picture of paradise!
Karan and Carrie like to offer their guests absolute privacy so you may not see them during your trip, but they are always close at hand for a quick chat. They’ve got a small collection of new villas coming up in the vicinity and their upcoming nuptials in a few months’ time, giving me more than one opportunity to head back down south for another visit.
For Special Rates Contact: Luxury Experiences Goa: 9860873300