Feel right at home in Goa

The most at­mo­spheric vil­las to rent in In­dia’s fa­mous sea­side hub

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page - FIONA CAULFIELD

AASHYANA LAKHAN­PAL The most fa­mous and spec­tac­u­lar pri­vate villa in Goa is lo­cated in the state’s north. This 2ha beach­side es­tate is the sec­ond home of owner Ajai Lakhan­pal, one of In­dia’s lead­ing art col­lec­tors and pa­trons; many of the artists who have stayed at the prop­erty have left be­hind pieces that now adorn this beau­ti­ful con­tem­po­rary home.

The main house has a huge wrap­around ter­race, five bed­rooms and a 25m swim­ming pool set in fab­u­lous lush gar­dens dot­ted with sculp­tures. In ad­di­tion there are three two-be­d­room cot­tages called the cas­in­has and one three­bed­room cot­tage, Villa Venus.

Un­doubt­edly the most spec­tac­u­lar is the main villa; make sure to re­serve for your­self the up­stairs all- white be­d­room with its pri­vate ter­race.

Stay­ing here en­ables you to join an elite group of pre­vi­ous Aashyana guests in­clud­ing royalty, celebri­ties and elite busi­ness­men. The 20 live- in staff are ex­pe­ri­enced and help­ful, and it would seem churl­ish not to throw a lav­ish party while stay­ing here, some­thing that the staff would han­dle ef­fort­lessly.

Bub­bles any­one? Main villa from 220,000 ru­pees ( about $4220) a week. More: aashyanalakhan­pal.com. CASA TOTA This de­light­ful 150- year- old Por­tuguese villa is owned by An­to­nia Gra­ham, founder of the Bri­tish life­style store Gra­ham and Green, and her son Jamie.

The three-be­d­room house with a cen­tral court­yard has been sen­si­tively ren­o­vated and is beau­ti­fully fur­nished.

There is no swim­ming pool, but the beach is just 15 min­utes away.

Novem­ber to Fe­bru­ary peak sea­son ( ex­clud­ing Christ­mas), 40,000 ru­pees a week for the whole house; less at other times. More: a.gra­ham@gra­hamand­green.co.uk or bain­dur@in­dia.com. AVANILAYA Three pri­vate bun­ga­lows are sit­u­ated on this 9.7ha prop­erty on Cor­juem Is­land, Al­dona, about 20 min­utes in­land from Ma­pusa, on a hill with scenic ru­ral views, over­look­ing a trib­u­tary of the Man­dovi River. Un­til re­cently, Loulou Van Damme ran a su­perb guest­house called Pan­cha­vatti here. The new own­ers have re­named the prop­erty and, at the time of writ­ing, are re­fur­bish­ing as well as con­vert­ing the ad­ja­cent bun­ga­lows into lux­ury guest­houses, which across the three prop­er­ties will of­fer 12 rooms. Room rates in­clude all meals; from 12,000 ru­pees. More: avanilaya.com. ISHAVILAS This Por­tuguese colo­nial house in the her­itage vil­lage of Si­olim, set amid beau­ti­ful gar­dens, was a pri­vate home un­til last year; it is man­aged by its own­ers, the Ba­jaj fam­ily, and their long-time staff.

Ishavilas is the first so-called No­ble Home on the list of In­dia’s Neem­rana accommodation group, which man­ages the reser­va­tions. There are three bed­rooms in the main house and a sep­a­rate pool­side dwelling with one be­d­room. The large swim­ming pool is over­looked by a glit­ter­ing glass mo­saic of the elephant-god Ganesh by Goa-based French artist Ya­hel Chirinian, and is a per­fect set­ting for grand par­ties or lux­u­ri­ous loung­ing. There is a spa where the ex­cel­lent in-house masseuse works, and an Aum Yo­gashala, or yoga cen­tre, is be­ing built ad­ja­cent to the prop­erty. In­di­vid­ual rooms may be avail­able. Villa from 20,000 ru­pees a day; in­di­vid­ual rooms from 5000 ru­pees a day. More: neem­rana­ho­tels.com. ELSE­WHERE A dream lo­ca­tion at Man­drem Beach with su­perb accommodation, this is one of my favourite places not just in Goa but in In­dia. Owner Den­zil Se­queira re­stored these four an­ces­tral prop­er­ties lo­cated on a spit of land be­tween the sea and a salt­wa­ter creek. Se­queira is highly pro­tec­tive of his guests’ privacy — the lo­ca­tion is a se­cret un­til book­ing, and is reached via a pri­vate bam­boo foot­bridge over the creek.

Else­where does not dis­cuss its guests’ iden­ti­ties, but it is well known that Angelina, Brad and their chil­dren stayed here, and many cel­e­brated writ­ers, in­clud­ing Sal­man Rushdie and Ami­tav Ghosh, are reg­u­lars.

The din­ing shack be­comes quite a so­cial hub for guests, and firm friend­ships have been forged here. The Cap­tain’s House and The Priest’s House have three bed­rooms each, The Pig­gery has two bed­rooms and The Bak­ery has two bed­rooms with sep­a­rate en­trances that can be taken in­di­vid­u­ally. Be­sides, Ot­ter Creek Tents at the prop­erty’s north­ern boundary fea­ture four- posters and en­suites.

Tents, min­i­mum one-week stay, from 25,000 ru­pees; other accommodation from 45,000 ru­pees a week, de­pend­ing on the sea­son. More: aseascape.com. KIRANPANI If I could own any house in Goa, this would be the one.

An­ders Lin­net and his wife, Mette Lange, have lived be­tween Den­mark and Goa for the past 20 years. Lin­net, an en­thu­si­as­tic paraglider, spot­ted this per­fect site on a flight in North Goa. It is sit­u­ated high on a cliff with su­perb views north to the Tira­col River and the co­conut groves that mark the bor­der of Goa with the state of Ma­ha­rash­tra.

Lange, a Dan­ish ar­chi­tect, then cre­ated the ideal house for a Goan way of life, us­ing tra­di­tional lo­cal ma­te­ri­als and skills, com­bined with her su­perb Dan­ish de­sign aes­thetic.

On ar­rival, you only see a sheer la­t­erite wall; then, as you walk through the front door, panoramic views open out from the open-air, split-level liv­ing spa­ces.

The house has two bed­rooms and there is a sep­a­rate onebed­room guest cot­tage nes­tled in the trop­i­cal gar­den.

A de­light­ful small in­fin­ity pool is a fea­ture of the sun­deck above the bar­be­cue area.

Beach lovers will be pleased that some of Goa’s finest and qui­etest beaches are j ust 10 min­utes away.

There is a res­i­dent house man­ager, Hari, who lives in a sep­a­rate cot­tage on the prop­erty; the own­ers have also set up a char­ity to help chil­dren in Goa. More: mov­ingschool.org. From 100,000 ru­pees a week. Kiranpani is a mem­ber of the Lazy Days in Goa villa col­lec­tion (see Page 2).

j ust SHUNYA NOI VARO Stylish own­ers Loise Z. Oona and Vikram Sun­darji have trans­formed a 100-year-old Por­tuguese bun­ga­low into a chic, tran­quil, con­tem­po­rary re­treat. The suites are im­pres­sive, with un­der­stated de­sign us­ing nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, and the bath­rooms are fab­u­lous, com­plete with Philippe Starck toi­lets. The out­side space has a din­ing ter­race be­side the swim­ming pool and a tree house over­look­ing the river. De­spite the de­sign match­ing (in­deed, ex­ceed- ing) that of five-star ho­tels, the laid-back ser­vice is more akin to a homes­tay. The 1000sq mprop­erty is best rented as a com­plete villa, tak­ing all three bed­rooms; how­ever, de­pend­ing on avail­abil­ity, guests can also book in­di­vid­ual rooms. Dis­counts are avail­able for artists, de­sign­ers, mu­si­cians and writ­ers dur­ing the low sea­son. Rooms from 4750 ru­pees a day. More: shun­y­achi.com. QUELLEACHY GALLY This Indo-por­tuguese house, just 200m from the beach, dates back to 1843 and has been lov­ingly re­stored by Marie-chris­tine Re­bil­let, a French an­tiques and art dealer whose love af­fair with In­dia stretches back four decades.

There are four bed­rooms in the main house and two in the gar­den cot­tage. I love the green and blue rooms at the front of the house, both with four-poster beds. The decor is an ef­fort­less blend of vin­tage and mod­ern, with Re­bil­let’s ex­quis­ite sense of style. Un­less the

house is fully booked, the owner is in res­i­dence: a gra­cious host who makes a su­per espresso. Rooms from 2500 ru­pees; house from 130,000 ru­pees a week. More: goalux­u­ry­house­for­rent.com. SUN­BEAM De­signer, so­cialite and so­cial ac­tivist Jivi Sethi has cre­ated a splen­did home and is a warm host. When he is trav­el­ling (most of the time), his long-term Man Fri­day, Kr­ishna, is at the helm, look­ing af­ter guests in im­pec­ca­ble fash­ion. Sun­beam is lo­cated in my favour- ite vil­lage, As­sagao, and you know you have reached it when you see brightly coloured Ba­li­nese danc­ing flags flut­ter­ing in the breeze.

Stone Kalinga lions flank the en­trance to the main house, which is set around a cen­tral court­yard. As well as the re­laxed liv­ing space, com­plete with Chi­nese opium bed, Sun­beam has a grand for­mal liv­ing and din­ing room. Two lux­u­ri­ous gue­strooms over­look this area and a third gue­stroom, on the next level, boasts a splen­did gar­den ter­race.

A high­light of this prop­erty is the flam­boy­ant swim­ming pool with a huge gran­ite lingam at one end and a su­perb Nandi bull sculp­ture at the other. If the house is not fully booked, rooms can be taken in­di­vid­u­ally. From 80,000 ru­pees a week; rooms from 6000 ru­pees. More: justjivi.com/goa. THE VILLA GOA AND VILLA JARDIM Bri­tish own­ers Mark and Steven are ex­pe­ri­enced trav­ellers and run this ex­quis­ite prop­erty to their own ex­act­ing stan­dards. Set in a beau­ti­ful trop­i­cal gar­den, The Villa Goa is a re­stored 200-year-old Indo-por­tuguese man­sion with 7m-high ceil­ings, three lux­u­ri­ous bed­rooms and liv­ing spa­ces filled with so­phis­ti­cated mod­ern fur­nish­ings. In the ter­raced gar­den is the newly built two-be­d­room Villa Jardim, de­signed in the In­doPor­tuguese style and over­look­ing the stun­ning 18m in­fin­ity pool. Steven is a su­perb chef and Mark is an en­ter­tain­ing host. From 100,000 ru­pees a week. (At the time of writ­ing the own­ers were con­tem­plat­ing of­fer­ing in­di­vid­ual rooms for shorter stays.) More: thevil­lagoa.com. LAZY­DAYS IN GOA Sue Watkins and Linda Guthrie, from Bri­tain, fell in love with Goa while on hol­i­day, and in 1995 they cre­ated the first villa rental busi­ness in In­dia. To­day their ex­cel­lent Lazy­days in Goa port­fo­lio com­prises 25 prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing charm­ing her­itage vil­las and mod­ern ar­chi­tec­tural homes. Some are on the beach­front, oth­ers have panoramic views, and al­most all of­fer com­plete privacy. Prices range from 45,000 ru­pees to 225,000 ru­pees a week, de­pend­ing on the size of the villa, ser­vices and time of year.

Villa stays, which are nor­mally for a min­i­mum of one week, may in­clude ve­hi­cles with driv­ers, house­keep­ers, cooks and se­cu­rity staff, in ad­di­tion to house man- agers who are on More: lazy­days.in.

call 24 hours.


Clock­wise from main picture, Else­where at Man­drem Beach; Kiranpani; Aashyana Lakhan­pal; and Lazy­days in Goa’s Josephine Villa

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