Goa as a location has two sides to it – a popular touristy angle with tourists thronging beaches, crowded shops, similar eating joints and night holes. This is North Goa. It has another side to it too – unexplored, serene beaches, a few local market places and the eating joints which are loved by locals but not known to many tourists. So far, my visits have mostly been in the North side of Goa and this time we decided to explore South Goa that too in Monsoon time. The freshly washed trees, greenery in abundance and the lovely breeze is what one needs to enjoy the countryside in a two-wheeler that can easily be hired from the local market.
However, if you stay in a beautiful property, then you may not even need to step out. It is our first time at The Lalit Golf & Spa Resort that is located at almost the end of South Goa (barely 25 kms from the Karnataka border) and is a 90-min picturesque drive from the airport. It will definitely be an understatement to call it a ‘beautiful’ property. With a beach front of over a kilometer offering a splendid view of the Arabian sea, a 9-hole golf course, manicured herb and spice garden, plantation, a temple, entertainment facilities, holistic spa, private villas and much more, this all suites resort is spread over 85 acres of land.
Here are my top 15 things to do if you decide to come over here, and I dare I say that after reading the reasons, it may not take you long to plan the visit.
- People: The top reason I would visit any property is the people who handle it. The baroque-architecture and the amenities will please you as you enter but what lingers on is the experience. This experience is given by the people who work there. I don’t like a fake smile that is generally seen while boarding or de-boarding a plane. I don’t like excuses to turn down things. And I would love if someone can be proactive while anticipating your needs. Simple things like keeping your towel ready when you come out of the pool, anticipating that you may want to go on the buggy ride to see the property, servers coming and asking if you would like a repeat of the fresh mangoes from their farm that you were raving about the previous night are just some of the examples I can cite from my experience at The Lalit Golf & Spa Resort.
- Food: Goa is known for its cuisine and particularly its fresh seafood delicacies. We ate at the hotel during our entire stay there and never got that bloated feeling or felt deprived of the options. The lunch and dinner provides a mix of seafood, oriental, Thai, continental, Indian and Goan cuisine. Priced at Rs. 1550+ taxes for lunch and Rs. 1750+taxes for dinner, it may not be the most lavish buffet South Goa has to offer but it never makes one feel deprived of options either. Even in North India people do not get the butter chicken right. Getting a well-made butter chicken in Goa came to me as a surprise. The property has some of its own mango trees. The pleasure of biting on something so fresh and naturally ripened mangoes is not what many people in cities would ever experience. Do not miss this opportunity to ask for them. My kids loved the hara bhara kebab that the Chef Gopal especially made on their request even though it was not on their menu. It is the gesture like these that makes you feel special.
Here are my three not to be missed dishes when you are at The Lalit Golf & Spa Resort:
- Pizza: I recently ate pizza at The Lalit, Delhi served by their food truck which I visited as a panelist for a blogger’s confluence. I was mighty impressed with what they offered. The same thin crust pizza with quality cheeses is on offer here at their 24-hour coffee shop, Canacona. They seem to have very well standardised their recipe across their properties.
- Hard Shell Crab: No one who eats seafood should miss this local specialty. This is a hill crab found near Goa. This crab was steamed with thyme and lemon and was served along with butter-garlic sauce. The buttery soft crab has far more meat than the sea variety and hardly needed any addition of the sauce. The pure taste of crab meat is outstanding and is amongst the must have dishes on the menu.
- The Club Sandwiches: These are my anytime snacks and Lalit made them real well and loaded. The bacon was crisp, there was ample cheese and the bread was well grilled. It can easily make a complete meal by itself hence better to share the joy with your partner so that you don’t miss out on the other dishes on offer.
- Confluence of sea and river: Not many know that the beach in front of The Lalit Golf & Spa Resort offers a super view of Talpona/Talpone river meeting the Arabian sea. The change of water color along with lovely breeze with hardly any tourists on this side can be very enchanting as well as romantic.
- Rejuve Spa: I like the approach this spa takes. Instead of recommending steam after the massage, the spa here recommends opening the pores through steam before the massage so that oil can go in the body and not just remain on the surface. We chose a Rejuve Couple Romance Therapy. It started with the full body scrub with coffee beans and coconut oil that had been extracted from the first flush of the resort’s own coconut farm. This oil obviously does not give the artificial aroma found in commercial packaged coconut oil and stays on the body for much longer. Post a half an hour scrub, we wash it out in the attached bathroom.
Then starts an hour of Swedish massage that is neither too soft like Balinese massage nor too tough like deep tissue. Using the same coconut oil in a very synchronised and rhythmic motion, we soon go back to sleep to be politely woken up once the therapy is over. Followed by flower petal decorated Jacuzzi with cut fruits on the side, we should have just asked for a wine bottle to complete the romance spa session.
- Pool: A decently big swimming pool with a sunken Bar is a perfect way to relax drinking, swimming or playing water games with family. Since the pool is not too deep, it helped us play ball games without really bothering for the kids.
- Buggy Ride: Exploring the 85-acre property by foot is not a bad idea but if you are looking for comfort, use the free buggy available to visit the entire property.
- Maze: A curated greens maze puzzle is a great way to bond with the family and reach the centre.
- RajBagh Beach: If nothing else, the roaring sound of waves, white sand and a km long beach line is a good way to do morning exercise, walk or just lie around the shore. In most other beaches, I hate going out to the hotel room with the sand on my body and clothes. Fortunately, the hotel has put up a fountain to wash it out. One can walk from Raja Baga beach to the popular Patnem and Palolem beaches, if you want to explore further.
- Villas: I never knew that many movies including the recently released Dilwaale and Golmaal were shot in these villas. The resort has around 10 of such beautiful villas with every room having an attached washroom with Jacuzzi, a full kitchen, a driver lodge, and a private swimming pool. It’s a good idea to come with entire family or friends and share the private villa.
- Bar & Entertainment Room: My kids remained occupied in the entertainment room giving us some privacy. They were busy painting, playing video games and learning kite making amongst other games and activities on offer at the resort. And while they kept themselves busy, we enjoyed ourselves at the bar which is only for adults.
- Desert Bike: You don’t need to go to Dubai to enjoy the desert bike. The resort has its own bike and has a field to have similar fun in Goa.
- Archery: Yes, we did archery too.
- Souvenir Shop: I am very surprised to see the pricing of this souvenir shop. It is very reasonable priced and does not need any haggling that one has to go through in the local market. For example, the shirt that you see in this picture is available for less than Rs. 600.
- Goan Music with dinner: The food is great but what makes the experience more enjoyable are the singers who personally come to each table and sing the song of your choice. This personal gesture lifts the entire dining experience.
- Play Golf: If you are a golfer or even if you are not…this is the time to pick up the game. The 9-hole golf resort has all the equipments to begin the journey. Not only golf, it has facilities for squash, badminton, lawn tennis and much much more.
I loved my stay at The Lalit Golf & Spa Resort. Even though I am not a golfer, who wouldn’t like staying amidst such lavish greens and comfort. Only thing I missed visiting at this time are the sea-side shacks that do not function between May to October.