Heritage homes, sprawling villas and charming island retreats for the perfect vacation
Divar Island Retreat
With its narrow village roads that snake through paddy fields and a village dotted with colourful Portuguese homes, Divar Island is the postcard representation of a life and time that was slower and simpler. A short ferry ride from Ribander near Panjim takes you away from the bustle of the mainland onto this island. The tastefully kept eight-room eponymous villa on this island is luxurious yet homely. The home-cooked meals are scrumptious and include everything from khau-swey and an Indian-style meal of chicken curry, dal and rotis. The lush garden comes with a bar and a pool—a great place to chill with a book from the living-room library. You could also rent bicycles and explore the countryside, treat yourself to a massage at the Devaaya spa nearby, or catch the sunset and glorious views of the mainland from atop the hill. Some of the heritage sites are a short drive away from the ferry point, making this a great stay option for those who want to explore Old Goa.
Distance from nearest beach: Miramar (16km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 30km
Tariff: Starting at Rs2,000 per room (June–October, double room, inclusive of breakfast)
Shunya Villas and Retreats, Siolim
Best for: A super-luxurious, private and boutique experience
Tucked away in the village of Siolim, Shunya is a cluster of villas that pairs the sophistication of a boutique hotel with the exclusivity of private residences. Each of the eight bedrooms across three villas comes with come well-fitted bathrooms, making this perfect for couples, small families and large gatherings alike. Choose from Noi Varo (villa for smaller groups), Kaju Varo (beachside retreat) and Yoga Varo (pool villa). The property also has a garden swimming pool and a water lounge. Added services (exclusive of room tariff) include a gourmet chef to dish out some fine Goan meals, a car and driver for when you want to venture out, and housekeeping staff at your service round-the-clock.
Distance from nearest beach: Chapora (6.2km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 46km
Tariff: Starting at US$500 or Rs31,800 (per villa)
Arco Iris, Curtorim
Each room at Arco Iris has been painted in a colour of the rainbow.
Outdoor seating, in case you simply want to lounge.
Arco Iris is a 200-year-old villa, restored.
Best for: A taste of Goa beyond the beaches
Arco Iris—literally meaning rainbow—is named so because this 200-year-old villa houses seven bedrooms, each painted a colour of the bow. The 1.5-acre lakeside property in the lush village of Curtorim is surrounded by gardens and fields. Recently added to the Neemrana Noble Homes list, Acro Iris is run by Bennita and Ganesh, who live on the property with their daughters and dogs. The villa is tastefully decorated with vintage fittings and antique furniture, and a few personal touches that make you feel at home. You can spend hours lazing in the hammocks, chatting with your hosts, and soaking up the luxuries of home-cooked meals. Do step out for walks down River Zuari and for a visit to the well-kept 350-year-old Braganza–Menezes home nearby.
Distance from nearest beach: Colva (20km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 32km
Tariff: Starting at Rs5,000 (June–October, double room, inclusive of breakfast)
Casa Colvale, Chicalim
Casa Colvale offers riverside views framed by rows of coconut trees.
Best for: Nature lovers looking for a riverside holiday
This lovely 12-bedroom villa sits among fields along River Chapora. Designed as a private estate, Casa Colvalemaintains a cosy elegancy. The rooms blend the modern with the antique: soft beds, rustic tapestries, well-fitted bathrooms. Two swimming pools and several decks give excellent views of the river. The common areas have comfortable couches and alcoves to lounge in. The service is basic, but cheerful and unobtrusive. Enjoy Goan meals or venture out to the upmarket restaurants in nearby villages such as Mapusa, Aldona and Assagao.
Distance from nearest beach: Morjim (14km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 47km
Tariff: Starting at Rs4,900 per room (exclusive of taxes, inclusive of breakfast, double occupancy)
The pool area at Ishavilas, Siolim.
The Kailash Room, which includes an inlaid mother-of-pearl almirah.
Best for: A Neemrana-property experience in Goa
A relatively recent Portuguese colonial house, Ishavilas is a private luxury villa in Siolim. A long driveway leads to an imposing entrance to the home that’s designed with great taste. The unique art collection from the Orient gives Ishavilas a stately atmosphere. But the warm service makes you feel right at home. The villa has four large bedrooms, complete with en-suite facilities. The rooms open into a central dining area, though you can also dine alfresco on the patio, weather permitting.
Distance from nearest beach: Chapora (4.5km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 45km
Tariff: Starting at Rs5,500 per room (double occupancy, inclusive of breakfast)
The Only Olive, Aldona
The spacious dining area at The Only Olive, Aldona.
This 100-year-old Portuguese-style villa is perfect for a holiday with no plans in mind.
Best for: Weekend getaways
This 100-year old Portuguese-style villa is located in Aldona, which is home to many a prolific writer and artist. The Only Olive has three bedrooms, a porch, a spacious dining and living area with high-ceilings that afford ample light and air. The home is furnished with heirloom and antique-style furniture. The bedrooms come with four-poster beds, while the bathrooms all have bathtubs for a long, relaxing soak. Host and owner, Adrian Pinto, will be only too happy to pitch in with recommendations (such as fishing and barbecue nights) to make your stay pleasant and memorable.
Distance from nearest beach: Anjuna (18km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 47km
Tariff: Starting at Rs2,999 per room (inclusive of breakfast)
Wildflower Villas, Alto de Porvorim
Standing on an eight-acre property overlooking River Sinquerim,Wildflower Villas offers a refuge from the touristy side of North Goa.
Best for: Holidays with large groups of friends and family
Located on an eight-acre property overlooking River Sinquerim, Wildflower Villas offers a refuge from the touristy side of North Goa. The property has 13 rooms across seven villas, making it perfect for large groups of travellers. Semi-open bathrooms attached to the rooms, several verandas and lush gardens overlooking the river: this is the perfect cocoon in an otherwise busy North Goa.
Distance from nearest beach: Candolim (3.6km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 37km
Tariff: Starting at Rs5,000 (one-bedroom villa, inclusive of breakfast)
Ahilya By The Sea, Verem
Each room at Ahilya By The Sea has been named after a painting by the owner’s grandfather, Antonio Xavier Trindade, also known as the Rembrandt of the East.
The rooms are spread across two detached Portuguese-style villas.
Just the place you would want to go for the stunning sea views.
Best for: A weekend at the end of a long holiday in India
At the very end of Coco Beach, perched on Dolphin Bay, is the stunning Ahilya By The Sea. Located smack on the coast, this is the kind of place where you go just for the view. The two villas hold seven spacious, well-appointed rooms. Though you are never far from the action of Calangute–Baga, Ahilya will tempt you to drop the touristy plans in favour of other more luxurious means of relaxation—dip pools on the property, banana-boat rides with fishermen from the nearby village, exploring the beautifully restored Reis Magos Fort. (Update: Ahilya By The Sea is shut for monsoon, and will open for service on 1 October, 2015)
Distance from nearest beach: Coco Beach (1km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 37km
Tariff: Starting at Rs15,000 (double occupancy, exclusive of taxes, inclusive of breakfast)
The villa is luxuriously complemented by a large swimming pool.
Each of the six suites at Birdsong, Moira is distinct and exudes hues of warmth and the lazy, luxurious comfort of plantation living.
Birdsong is a restored 200-year-old villa.
Best for: An experience of living in one of Goa’s heritage villages
Far removed from the busy beaches of North Goa, tucked in between the villages of Mapusa and Aldona, is the heritage village of Moira. Birdsong is a 200-year-old villa that took four years to be restored to what it now is. Located in a picturesque spot, surrounded by fruit trees, the bungalow offers an experience quite unlike any other in Goa. Waking up to birds, having nothing planned and with nowhere to go, this is the kind of villa where you’ll be tempted to never leave. The villa has six suites and is luxuriously complemented by a large swimming pool, well-stocked library, a poolside bar, several relaxing spots in the garden area and a kitchen that dishes out fresh Goan food. Each of the rooms is distinct and exudes hues of warmth and the lazy, luxurious comfort of plantation living. This is an ideal option for holidays with no plans. But should you still wish for your share of sun and sand, there are a couple of lovely beaches close by.
Distance from nearest beach: Chapora (13km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 40km
Tariff: Starting at Rs8,500 (double room)
The Aranya Center, Arpora
Best for: Living in a private forest estate atop a hill in Arpora
Sitting on a hilltop forest estate in Goa’s lush village of Arpora, The Aranya Center is a perfect accommodation option for longer stays when you want to feel at home. This complex of four villas set amid the woods is serene and offers splendid views of North Goa. Each villa is independent and comes with a large living room, kitchen, terraces and four large bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. With an infinity pool and kitchen access at an extra cost, you will feel right at home. A drive down the hill will take you to the tourist areas of Arpora, Anjuna, further down to Baga and Calangute, keeping you very much within driving distance of the tourist attractions.
Distance from nearest beach: Anjuna (4km)
Distance from Dabolim airport: 38km
Tariff: Starting at Rs12,500 (per villa, minimum three-night stay)