Offering spectacular views and hand-picked locations, the Casa Boutique Hotel Group provides guests a wonderful introduction to the best of Goa
It has the literal translation for ‘house’ in Spanish but emanates the universally recognised warmth that comes with being ‘at home’. The Casa Boutique Hotel group is a collection of quirky and eclectic individual guesthouses spread across North Goa, each touched by nature and creativity.
The group has villas scattered in Britona, Colvale, Baga, Anjuna and Vagator, with Colvale the first of the five hotels which has seen a motley line up of Bollywood stars and jet-set personalities walk its corridors and lounge around its pool. Each offers a unique experience by way of its location and amenities.
It is pertinent to note that none of the Casa Boutique Hotels have infringed upon the old idea of Goa – they have all saved the beautiful high ceilinged-warm wooden-clay tiled abode and swaddled it with lush local vegetation, no matter the location.
Each hotel is handpicked for location, giving singular views to guests or pockets of serenity. Casa Anjuna is a colonial mansion interlaced with manicured lawns just 200 metres from the beach. At Baga, you’ll find an art deco inspired house sharing close ties with the ragtag shopping and frenzied club culture of Goa’s hedonistic north.
Britona is makes inroads into Goa’s village life, with a 300-year-old home that has stood the rest of time. Seemingly miles away from civilisation, Colvale is the manifestation of hinterland luxury with meandering backwaters and dirt roads. And finally Vagator reveals the jewel in the Casa crown teetering on the edge of laterite bluffs overlooking a sparkling Arabian Sea.
Casa Anjuna, Casa Baga and Casa Vagator all offer 24 rooms each, but with styles of their own. The first features grand four poster beds with unique en-suite bathrooms that reflect Anjuna’s hippy past. At Casa Baga, there’s a touch from Asia’s other beach-side getaway – Bali, thanks to creative use of bamboo, coconut, teak wood and stone. The rooms are lavish and ideal to steal a quiet romantic moment in the middle of Goa’s party belt. With a view that steals hearts, Casa Vagator offers choices that are hard to make.
The most secluded of the lot, Casa Colvale has 12 rooms that marry south-East Asia with Goa through natural materials and handmade fabric, and original works of art by local artists. Each room features a sit out or terrace looking out across Goa’s under rated waterways spotted with distant islands that glow against a setting sun.
Casa Britona is the smallest with only eight rooms and two studios. It is perfect for single room rents or the whole villa for getaways with the family or a close-knit group of friends. Set against the river, it opens out into the quiet sleepy eponymous village only a furlong from the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
Keeping with the Goan theme, each of the Casa Boutique Hotels ensures that guests have sumptuous local delicacies for the taking. Ingredients are mostly sourced locally and seafood – the craving that filters through unanimously among guests – is often caught by the village fisherman.
At Casa Anjuna, breakfasts at the pool-side café are the perfect way to begin the day. Baga has a more hip, savvy feel, bringing in global style and popular trends. There’s the Lotus Pond restaurant covered by Balinese pagodas for candlelit dinners offering Goan seafood, Indian and international cuisine. For a more laid-back atmosphere, head to the Casa Baga Bar for yummy cocktails and chilled beer to keep everyone happy.
It’s easy to feel lazy at Casa Britona and simply keep the dining to those gorgeous wooden tables in the balcony. Local women dish up their secret recipes of fish curry rice to the sound of bird song and the gentle rustle of palm fronds. It’s enough to make Goan cuisine everyone’s favourite. Down by the shade of the trees, wrought iron tables and chairs are lovingly caught between the blue free form pool and thick foliage of mangroves bordering the river.
There’s more than one place to lounge around and enjoy a cuppa at Casa Colvale, but its two main dining areas are generally a hit. At the Riverview Bar, wickerwork sofas and chic seating entice guests to try innovative sundowners and cocktails, interspersed with succulent barbeque or continental hors de œuvres. And then there’s the Riverside Restaurant laid out informally on a wooden deck that serves a range of Italian, Chinese and Indian fine dining.
Casa Vagator offers the most stunning dining location of all thanks to a 180-degree view of the azure Arabian Sea. Just above the small cove that is Little Vagator beach sits the Open Air Seaside Deck that simply begs for intimate dinners with special people or even a soul-searching solo meal. There’s Asian, Goan and European cuisine to pick from, not to mention classic sundowners and cocktails with the view thrown open before you. If it rains, Casa Vagator has covered seating across the lawn too. No matter where you are, you’ll still be able to enjoy your meal with a hefty side of ‘view’.
All the hotels offer television with cable networks, swimming pool, free Wi-Fi in select areas and laundry facilities, besides arranging for taxi and scooter hires as well as sightseeing tours to monuments, spice farms, jungle treks, forts and other places. Casa Britona is only a short drive away from Goa’s world-famous heritage sites in Panaji and Old Goa, and in the other direction the beautiful coastal belt. On the other hand, Casa Vagator shares approach lane space with the well-known Nine Bar club and dozens of shops selling curios, clothes and knick knacks.
Guests at Casa Colvale typically take advantage of the luxurious massages available or a yoga class on deck. The management also offers equipment for fishing or bird-watching, activities one can spend hours doing without an inkling of the passage of time. With the inland waterways at close hand, there’s also the chance of heading to your favourite beaches by speed boat, or enjoying a sunset cruise.
Conferences & Meetings
The facilities and space available coupled with a serene setting, make Casa Anjuna an off-beat location for conferencing and banqueting. It has a purpose-built air-conditioned facility that converts beautifully for meetings, weddings and parties. Guests can spill out onto the lawns and children can frolic in the wide open spaces. It’s a place any invitee will remember for its unpretentious hospitality and quirky locale.
It took me a leisurely two years to experience all five properties under the Casa Group umbrella. Only later did I have the pleasure of meeting the lady who dedicated 10 years to making these fabulous properties the gems they are today. I found Sheila to be a very dynamic woman with a keen eye for detail, warmth and hospitality. It is evident that her qualities brim over into each of the Casa hotels.
They are all beautiful – inside and out – and her talent for creating exquisite interiors turns each hotel so unique, with every room different from the next, and always a view to die for. No other hotel group I know of can offer such diversity from property to property, and yet each pick on the uniqueness of the best of what Goa can offer.
The dedicated staff at each hotel also ensures a very home-like service, making it virtually impossible to leave.
Each of her five boutique babies have been tended to with care. Sheila Dhody’s group of hotels offers stays and experiences that feature different facets of Goa’s bounty. The Casa Boutique Hotels bring out the best in Goa.
Sinéad McManus is a premier hospitality and spa columnist, consulting additionally in media and PR, fashion, lifestyle and high-society entertainment. Sinead has lived and worked in Goa for more than a decade. Her passions include health & beauty, travel and fashion. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.