In a seaside state-town that is dotted with shacks, villas, homestays and five-star hotels, Ibis Styles Goa Calangute comes as a breath of fresh air. It is a stylish yet affordable three-star resort in the heart of North Goa, mere minutes away from Tivai Beach and a short ride away from the famed Calangute and Baga Beaches. Designed in becoming hues of turquoise and purple, the hotel exudes exclusivity and all the salty, breezy pleasures of party-loving Goa. While the rooms are cosy but smallish, the swimming pools are lavish in size and design; and there are two of them. Over a beautiful October weekend, I discovered the culinary pleasures of Spice It, their multi-cuisine restaurant and the prowess of the bartender at The Hub, their in-house bar. I even found myself in the midst of an electrifying OctoberFest concert, courtesy my kind hosts. Let me walk you through my little love affair with North Goa’s newest and chicest resort.
Wall hangings and paintings of fishes, canoes and a bright colour scheme inspired by the Goan coastline greeted me when I walked into Ibis Styles Goa Calangute on Friday morning. The smiling staff dropped a sunhat on my head, draped a garland of shells around my neck and put a deep orange welcome drink in my hand. I felt like royalty. And then it was time to check in, a process that happened in a jiffy.
My room was compact and cleverly designed, incorporating a wardrobe, balcony and TV set with minimal loss of space. I also looked forward to utilising the tea coffee maker and relaxing in the soft double bed. In the balcony, I was gratified to see that I had the most splendid view of the garden, swimming pool and neighbouring resort buildings.
By now, my stomach was rumbling and I was prepared to eat everything on the menu at Spice It, the resort’s multi-cuisine restaurant. On the way to the restaurant, I glimpsed a massage chair that promised to soothe my feet into submission. I used it at the end of an exhausting day and was amazed at the automated massage and vibration controls.
The restaurant was spacious with some tables overlooking the swimming pool and a separate sitting area beyond the buffer counters providing some quiet and privacy. I feasted on watermelon and feta cheese salad, aloo jeera, paneer tikka, paneer makhani, rice, roti and dal. The salad and the tikka were mouth-watering.
After lunch, it was obviously time for a siesta. I might have slept until dinner if not for the show around of the property by the manager Nikheel Shirodhar. He showed us their store selling locally made artifacts such as shell-shaped ash trays, gym, banquet and children’s play area and swimming pool. Ibis Styles Goa Calangute is designed in such a way that every room has a view of the pool.
Once we’d familiarised ourselves with the entire property, I was on my own. It was a choice between jumping into the swimming pool or dipping my toes in the sea at Tivai Beach. I got myself a King’s Beer from a local shop and navigated a twisting little lane to reach Tivai Beach just before sundown. It took me all of ten minutes to get there and I lost myself in the hypnotising rhythm of the lively waves.
I returned to my room tired but happy. A warm shower and a cup of coffee readied me for the feni tasting session at The Hub, the little bar housed within the restaurant. Feni is the local alcohol of Goa, made either with cashews or toddy palm. Not everyone develops a taste for it but when blended with lime juice and Malibu syrup, you can’t help but enjoy it.
I awoke early the next morning in order to have the pool for myself. The air was cool and misty although winter hadn’t yet set in. The water in the pool was temperature-controlled and thus not too cold. There were balls and frisbees that my friend and I played with and the length of the pool allowed for extensive swimming.
I worked up a healthy appetite after a swim and stroll and enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Spice It. The buffet was a wonderful melange of Indian and continental cuisine. But what I liked the most was the detox shots counter featuring bitter gourd and tomato to make up for last night’s excesses! I had peanut butter and Nutella on toast, excellent masala dosa, mini vada, strawberry yoghurt and coffee among other delights.
Post breakfast, we discovered an all new side to Goa but I’ll tell you all about that in another post. In the evening, we decked up for a night of partying and clubbing. Our evening began at Oktoberfest 2016 on the grounds of Nazri Resort in Candolim, where we danced to Morgan and Margot’s beats while sipping on German Kaltenberg, in keeping with the spirit of Oktoberfest.
The concert ended at 10pm and our plan was to enjoy the after party at SinQ, the Beach Club. But before that, we made a pit stop at Club Tito’s on Tito’s Lane, a street that comes alive with adrenalin and wide-eyed revelers in the night. There, we dined on the very Goan Veg Xacuti and some not-so-Goan pizza, veg platter and Ferrero Rocher ice-cream.
Nicely fortified, we danced the night away at SinQ and made our way back to Ibis Styles Calangute Goa, which was increasingly starting to feel like home. Alas, we were to depart the next day but an exciting brunch at Novotel Goa Resort & Spa’s new bistro and bar awaited us. Read all about that in my next post.
Want to stay at Ibis Styles Goa Calangute?
Tariff: Doubles from Rs 6000 per night