At ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa, everything from the setting to the food, accommodation, and the spa come together to further a long-lasting sense of well-being. By Parvati Mohanakrishnan
The sand is everywhere—in my hair and stuck on my face, neck, arms and legs in random patterns, raining down and latching on again with every moment. As we—a motley crew of guests—move from asana to asana, my feet sink deeper into the sand, the sun’s rays become more intense and the sound of the waves get louder. We finally sink ourselves down for a few meditative moments. The world around me moves out of focus visually and becomes a sensorial journey that ebbs and flows through those 10 minutes of silence. There is a salty fragrance in the air, the awareness of movement nearby and the lap-lap of the waves, which eventually drowns out everything else…My eyes open to find more sand on my face. But that moment is joyous—I have finally kicked yoga on the beach off my bucket list!
So elated am I that it’s only after a nudge from Tom, the butler assigned to me, that I realise it’s getting late for breakfast. I tear myself away from serene Arossim Beach, hop into a cart and am whizzed off from one fairy-tale setting to another—ITC Grand Goa Resort & Spa.
Set by the sea, amid expansive lawns dotted with palm trees and mangroves, ITC Grand Goa has been created in the likeness of a Goan village, with a strong Indo-Portuguese aesthetic. Cobbled pathways intertwine through the property, snaking past blocks of accommodation and over and alongside the lagoons and waterways that dominate much of the resort. And set in a verdant corner of the property is the Sea View Suite that I’m staying at. One of four such grand suites at the resort, it has its own lap pool and gorgeous views of the sea from the picture windows that dominate almost all its walls. I spend as much time as I can with my feet dipped in the cool waters, lost in absolutely no thought except how soothing the blues and greens of my surroundings are.
The culinary experience at the resort is nothing short of overwhelming. Set around The Village Square is a variety of speciality restaurants, each of which serves up delicious meals. Breakfasts are at Pavilion at the Village Square, where Chef Glen whips up a delicious eggs Benedict and a mean three-seed pancakes with pumpkin, chia and flax seeds. I choose to keep my lunches light, opting for sattvic meals at Pavilion. Here too, a variety of flavours come together to seduce my palette and I savour each bite guilt free. I tend to avoid eating dinner, but am happily coaxed into throwing abstinence out the window. At The Royal Afghan, a cabana by the sea, endless glasses of wine, a ginormous variety of sumptuous grilled seafood, excellent company and the crashing of waves draws out the romantic in me. I spend an hour after dinner gazing out at the sea in front of me, its crests highlighted by the moonlight. At Tempero, Chef Sarita invites me in as she would a dinner guest at home. Her warm personality fills the beautiful space and we settle down for a delicious home-cooked Goan meal that is sure to be etched in my memory for years to come.
The highlight of visit, however, is the time I spend at Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa. Here, Dr Sunil Kumar gives me a fresh perspective on Ayurveda as he talks me through my doshas and lifestyle. I walk down the fragrant and peaceful corridors of the spa, taking in the tasteful spa suites set around the courtyard and am fascinated by the beautiful Ayurveda cabanas set in the lawns. Eventually, after a leisurely steam and shower, I find myself prone on an Ayurveda treatment table, with my therapist using her hands and elbows to give me a deep-tissue marma points massage. The oils, music, fragrance and nature sounds override my senses as I completely give in to the massage. My limbs feel straightened out and joints loosened up and all I want to do after is sleep.
There’s more to come the next morning. This time, a Western massage technique is employed to undo the deep-seated knots around my shoulder blades. The pressure used is intense—just the way I like it—and I emerge feeling lighter than I have in years, the mobility in my shoulders improved manifold!
The evening sees me delighting in a head and back massage in an Ayurveda cabana, my half-shut eyes catching glimpses of the sea through chinks. As I lie on the bed, in readiness for my kizhi treatment, I realise that I haven’t felt as connected to myself as I have in the last two days I’ve spent at ITC Grand Goa. I’ve been pampered sore and have luxuriated in the resort’s beautiful spaces. Methinks, this must be wellness.
An experience at Kaya Kalp – The Royal Spa is incomplete without a consultation with the Ayurveda doctor. Start with one and let it determine the massage and therapies you opt for at the spa.