We carry our travels with us long after we have returned and the tan has faded. A straightness of spine developed from daily rituals of guided Surya Namaskar, a seashell bracelet wrapped around our wrist which will remain until worn away by saltwater, or a silk printed scarf faded to perfection. But Alila Diwa Goa is a memory to carry for life.
My sister had told me about Alila Diwa Goa a few years ago. She would spend two weeks there each winter pre, or post Christmas. It had become her ritual ahead of the Christmas rush, or antidote to a long, cold January. Meaning heaven in Sanskrit, Diwa is a true haven for the world weary traveller.
Located amongst lush paddy fields on Goa’s Southern coast, Alila Diwa Goa is a glorious homage to everything that is beautiful about India. A slowness of pace, yet a riot of colours. Alila Diwa is located in charming Majorda and boundaries are shared with Goan houses, with a beautiful feel of spilling out into the local village. Rice paddies surround the property, and the nearby farms and spice plantations supply cardamom, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon to the hotel’s kitchens.
Alila Diwa is a low-key type of luxury hotel, with subtle lighting, simple lines, and wide verandahs which bring the outside in. All materials used in building the hotel were sourced locally and the region’s eco-friendly earthy, rustic laterite stone can be seen throughout the hotel. The 250 year old banyan tree is the centre piece. The floating water pools offer a sense of balance, whilst the open lobby area is a place for lemongrass sorbets before heading out for a day of exploring. During my stay I watched wedding parties, family gatherings and a Chennai football team pile into the hotel.
The beach is a 600m stroll past colourful houses with open-flung gates set alongside palm groves punctuated by buffalo with white egrets hitching a lift. Your eyes will rest on scenes of village life so perfectly composed you will wonder if they are designed just for you. Children arrive from a morning at school wearing neat summer dresses and navy shorts with rucksacks bigger than them stuffed with books. The air is filled with the sound of voices discussing homework which is strictly a family affair to be completed outside whilst butterflies chase on the breeze.
As you reach the end of the track, the road curves upwards and tarmac gives way to sand before opening out to Majorda beach where Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins dance amongst the surf.
If you should tire of the beach and resort, excursions can be organised by Alila’s Leisure Concierge. With five core themes including Conscious Living & Wellness, and Culinary Arts, the experiences will intrigue even the most discerning traveller. During the Meet the Podher tour, I learn that the baker is an icon of Goan society. And who would fail to respect the artisans who rise at 3 am to bake fresh, rustic breads in wood-fired ovens.
For me, the main reason to visit Alila Diwa Goa was for personal wellbeing. Alila Diwa Goat has developed a full holistic programme, customised to individual guests designed to help rediscover an optimum level of wellness. Created to cleanse body, mind and soul and bring about internal balance, the programmes boost energy and vitality by infusing elements of Ayurveda, yoga, massage, fitness, hypnotherapy, pranic healing and nutrition.
After an hour long discussion with Ayurvedic specialist and hypnotherapist Dr Arjita covering lifestyle, nutrition, emotions and work/life balance I was recommended the detox detour where I was assured in her reassuring and knowing demeanour that even in five nights in the calming cocoon of the Alila Diwa holistic programme, I would achieve more than I think. Many of the guests undertaking the programme hear about it via word of mouth. The days can include private yoga lessons, Tai chi, personalised massage, nutritional consultations, workshops such as music or art therapy, and guided meditation. Cuisine is tailored to your Ayurvedic make-up and even the organic oils for massage are blended in-house to create personalised treatments. I loved the Shirodhara where warm, medicated oil was poured on my third eye, and almost floated away on a cloud of relaxation, whilst the bespoke Ayurvedic Rejuvenating Massage made all my aches and pains a fleeting memory.
After five days I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I contemplated my journey home. My eyes were bright, my skin noticably clearer and my spine straighter. I had learned about nutrition and self-healing and a little more about my own body and how it reacts to stress, strain and everyday life. I felt a little closer to understanding myself and more of a conscious participator, actively engaged in creating and nurturing my own health and wellbeing. Alila Diwa Goa is truly a piece of paradise and a haven of wellbeing, cleverly disguised as a resort.