Cyclone Tauktae certainly took our little state for a spin and left many high and dry without power, water and internet facilities for a few days. It was quite a relief when The Westin Goa at Anjuna opened its doors to welcome many of us – some with pets in tow – for a refreshing escape from the turmoil.
Westin is Marriott’s wellness brand and the Goa hotel radiates this focus throughout. Our minds and bodies were set at ease, sheltered from the ravages of the cyclone as the staff led by general manager Sunil Kumar went above and beyond to make us feel not just taken care of, but pampered.
We headed there on Saturday morning for a mini getaway, just minutes away from home. Pandemic protocol was followed to the hilt, with temperature checks, compulsory masking and sanitiser stations everywhere. It kept us feeling safe and stress-free from the risks of COVID-19 inside the hotel.
Dhanashree met us at the reception and whisked us off to an executive suite on the third floor. The muted palette, comfy furniture and elegant interiors paid the perfect compliment to the stunning view from the floor-to-ceiling windows of a vast expanse of coconut palms newly nourished by the rain. Spread across 71 square metres, the suite offers a separate living and lounge area, mini pantry with a fridge and incredibly inviting lounge furniture that’s ideal when staying indoors is the way to go.
I must say the amenities make it pretty easy to laze about in the room. We spent our staycation taking long baths surrounded by scented candles, pampering ourselves with the signature white tea aloe bath amenities and the luxuriously soft bathrobes.
It will be exciting to try out everything on offer at each of The Westin’s four restaurants – its all-day dining restaurant The Market, the deli Anjuna Coffee & Co, the Drift sunset pool deck and modern grills at Thyme & Ash. For our little getaway, we left it up to executive chef Ravish Mishra to make the decisions for us from his repertoire of Continental, Asian, Indian and Goan menus.
Every morsel was delightful and full of flavour, but Sunday lunch stood out for me. I felt like I was back home with the warm hospitality, attention to detail and the exceptional tastes.
Chef Mishra has perfected his culinary skills over 15 years in food and beverage and his Sunday spread was an ode to his undying love for food and deep understanding of technique and flavour profiles. We kicked it off with a starter of avocado truffle toast before veering off to a couple of mains that completely stole the show.
Half of the bird was a beautiful hunk of corn-fed organic chicken cooked sous vide in herb butter. This French cooking technique slow cooks the meat at a very precise temperature in a water bath to achieve spectacular results. Chef Mishra served the chicken with Peruvian asparagus, country roast potatoes, pecan nuts, arugula and a creamy velouté made of morels, a delicious mushroom found in the Kashmiri forests. The chicken was paired perfectly with Chardonnay.
On the other side of the table was an aesthetically sliced fillet of Indian sea bass flavoured lightly with olive oil and garlic. It came with broccoli, arugula salad, Australian lemon and a special sauce of hydroponically grown young tomatoes and jalapeno beurre blanc. To go with this, the chef paired French Sauvignon Blanc.
To end the meal, there was a refreshing sorbet and platter of fresh fruit.
It’s easy to get lost in the ease that The Westin puts you in but a trip here would be incomplete without a stop at the spa. After all, this brand is known for its simply luxurious take on wellness. Heavenly by Westin certainly lives up to its name. Spa manager Zoni and her team offer a personalised rundown of the menu to find out what options would best suit your mood and requirement. We chose a couples’ Swedish massage to relax our muscles after a tiring week of exercise.
Our therapy began in the relaxation room where our feet were washed and warmed to set the tone and switch off the awareness of time. The massage included effleurage, vibration, and petrissage movement with kneading, wringing, friction and tapping to relax my tired and sore muscles, improve blood circulation and boost the immune system.
The spa offers a variety of therapies for every kind of need, including aromatherapy, warm stone massage, abhyanga, deep tissue and more specific treatments for targeted areas such as the back, head, foot and even the eyes. It also has a range of wraps, scrubs and polishes, along with facials to keep you looking and feeling your best even during the lockdown.
We wound up with a long, relaxing steam before heading up to our suite for some lazy bath time. Our time at The Westin was filled with lounging around, spending quality time together, endless cocktails prepared by Dhanesh & his F&B team, catching up on reading and a bit of movie watching on the ultra-large LED TV.
Staycations have taken on a new meaning in this lockdown. We truly enjoyed our getaway at The Westin and our interactions with general manager Sunil Kumar and his staff. This new luxury destination just minutes from home was a pleasant surprise and I’m eager to see it blooming to its full potential post pandemic.