My first time to Goa and a long journey as there are no direct flights from the UK so you have to change in Mumbai. The transit is fairly painless although a little complicated but luckily made it though.
If you are lucky your transit plane will be in the same terminal, if you take the early flight you will be unlucky as I was and have a 30min bus journey holding on to your dear life as you go around the airport to the next terminal.
Another short flight and you arrive to Goa and the airport much like how Mumbai airport was maybe 20-30 years ago.
Remember this is an internal flight so make sure to check your baggage allowance transfer from international to domestic as you may need to upgrade to accommodate. [tip 1]
I would recommend you get your driver and pick up pre-arranged by the Villa in this situation as its not the easiest place to find and in Goa most people will speak Hindi and broken english and after a long journey you need to be sure you are getting to your destination with the least amount of stress. [tip 2]
Ahilya by the sea is around 1 hour from the airport but be aware when I travelled Goa was going through major road construction of the biggest flyover project I have ever seen which seems like the whole country is having a fly over built. So you may get more traffic than you imagine and the existing roads are not always of the best quality. However when the new roads are constructed I am sure this will be a whole new experience.
You are driven through one village to another and each getting more and more rural but you know you are getting close when you cross the Mandovi bridge where if you pass by night you will see the floating casino river boats which I was certainly not expecting. I never realised that Goa has such a prevalent casino business.
You are next driven around to darker and narrower streets and you get to see village life then after one long dark road and a few beeps of the car horn these double gates off the street open into an oasis of dim lights and greenery like being transformed and taken away to a new country.
You are immediately greeted by a team of staff and I have no idea how they knew we arrived and immediately impressed how organised everything was. Luggage is unloaded and you are given a wet cloth to freshen up and directed to your room and you walk through a great path with low level lights and greenery all around and you immediately hear and see the sea lapping against the rocks and you feel relaxed and transformed from your first step.
You cannot stop smiling and think wow I found the perfect place and can feel any tiredness and stress just flow out of your body.
The rooms are clean and the Portuguese architecture makes you feel like you are in southern Europe. Everything you need is explained and your holiday begins.
You will see from my notes on the Villa and the photos that the images will speak for themselves and words cannot describe the detail. I am told the owner is into artwork and you can see this immediately from the various unique pieces dotted around each room. This shows attention to detail and really makes the villa feel like home and cared for. I was suitably impressed.
“I will not spoil the rest of the review but the view, the architecture, the room decor, staff and food are all on par excellence.”
Adding the conclusion at the top in order to show a summary of my thoughts in case you do not wish to read the details below for quick and easy summary.
An excellent place to stay. I would say one of the best in Goa and you get a mix of guests. I would suggest booking early.
You get excellent service from all concerned from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave and great memories.
The rooms are all different and the architecture and views are amazing. You will want to have your breakfasts and other meals here as the chef is amazing and can make almost whatever you wish.
Staff are attentive but do not get in the way and always at hand. The free laundry service is also a nice touch.
I am hard pushed to even find one thing to fault here to be honest and I would happily have stayed here a lot longer.
Ok if you stay in the ground floor bedrooms the noise of the sea may keep you awake but the resort can not be blamed for this.
You will find a lot of my usual points missing as this is a private villa so some areas would not be applicable.
- Distance from city and airport: It is around an hour from the airport and in a remote village location so I would suggest using the hotel cab or having your GPS ready to guide your driver as you can miss this place otherwise.
- Ease of booking. Booking via email is a little tricky as the booking department is based in Delhi I believe and not as good as I would have liked but I find calling people in India is probably a lot quicker and easier.
- Ease to get early check in and check out and get answers to questions. Once you have established communication then usually everything is straightforward but as this is a villa should you wish to check in really early you are advised to book the day before as well. But the staff are as accommodating.
- Score 5/10 but be a lot higher if email response was quicker.
- Ease of check-in. As soon as the car got into the courtyard people ready to greet us and no check in required.
- Facilities and locations explained. Everything was fully explained.
- Help with luggage. No need to wait or ask. Few members of staff in hand to help right away.
- Friendliness of staff. Given the time we arrived all staff were still attentive full of energy and smiles and the perfect welcome after such a long journey.
- Correct booking details and rate. All was as expected and all instructions followed.
- Score. 10/10 Not a single fault.
- Secure – You cannot really lock the doors and no keys and you share some of the space with other guests which seems a bit strange at first but this is a secured area so you soon forget you come from London and not to trust anyone and start to relax and not worry. There is nothing to worry about but you do still get your own room safe for your money and passports.
- Appearance / Decor – There are three villas on site and we had the three bedroom middle one which is the largest. You get a dining area and a bedroom on the ground floor and another on the first floor with the third bedroom you access to the side which is a bit odd but workable. The third bedroom is a split level and actually has a small single bed on the first floor with a little work area so can sleep three. I recommend getting this middle villa. I think looking back it was the called the sunrise villa. Each room has its own style and in the Portuguese style which has a real charm about it. You get a lot of space for your money and not like a hotel where they just try to cram you into a space.
- Clean – Extremely clean and cleaning staff very efficient and you don’t even notice when they have been. Another great feature is the free laundry service offered overnight and everyday which you will be surprised how much of a life saver this can be. All villas and hotels should offer such a service and will miss this.
- Facilities offered (safe, mini bar, iron and board.) – Everything but a mini bar is offered but as there is staff 24hours you can order almost anything you like around the clock except the kitchen does close after a certain time.
- Free internet and speed – You are given an internet portable dongle which you replace for a new one daily which works but not the fastest but this is more about Goa than anything else. I did bring my own Sky Roam device which worked well but again the mobile dongle was a good touch and run of mobile internet so you can take this around with you.
- Comfort of bed (Mattress) and pillows – The bed base was made from solid stone, I only noticed this on the last day and the mattress and pillows all excellent and i managed to get a great nights sleep each and every night.
- Temp control ac and/or fan and noise levels – You have both AC and ceiling fan which is perfect as I know some people just can’t handle AC but you also have a sea breeze so very comfortable and would suite all. The issue is you do get the noise of the ocean lapping by the rocks only a few feet away and it is charming but if you are a light sleeper you will need to bear this in mind as you dont get any noise proofing as such.
- Noise levels of guests at night – no noise transfer from the other rooms but keep in mind my comments of the ocean above.
- Room size – Notably given this is a villa you get great room dimensions and ample space, if you stay and then have to move to a hotel you will feel confined for certain so make the most of the space and your stay. Each room also has Ensuite facilities (Showers only) but again ample size and comfort.
- Blackout curtain – Curtains are blinds but you get velcro on the sides so if you wish to block out the light you can just stick down the sides which maybe a basic solution but it serves it purpose and you get an option that way to either be woken by natural light or not. Staying on the ground floor with other residents being able to walk past as well as staff you tend to keep the blinds closed most the time I find however. But maybe that’s just me.
- Maintenance issue – No issues to report, the sink is made of a natural material so it has dips and leaks but I think this is again charm rather than a fault.
- Tv and channels – There is no TV in any of the rooms and you don’t miss it as you can just sit and watch the ocean and relax. If you stay here I dont think you would even remember what is the use of a TV.
- Score – 9/10 The noise of the ocean is why you are here end of the day and I would happily stay here again and again.
- Size – Each room has its own ensuite
- Facilities (bath/shower, shaver, lights, towels, toiletries, shaver mirror, Anti-fog mirror) – Not an anti fog mirror and a basic shower with water heater you have to remember to keep one but to be honest its all fine and everything works and is clean and has a great design so all fits well.
- Water pressure on taps and shower – Water pressure is fine not as you get from a top hotel but I have no complaints.
- Toiletries quality – There is a need to use better toiletries as you get shower gel and shampoo but in small containers and nothing branded and I was not a fan of these. This is the only area they could really improve on.
- Score – 7/10 only due to the toiletries and it is a basic room
- Quality – You will not get a better breakfast anywhere as the chef makes a special dish every morning and you can also ask the day before your preference and you are always fully accommodated.
- Queue – Not applicable as you are served at your table which is in your own area and such a feel of luxury and seclusion, feels like paradise.
- Variety – Although you may not get a selection as you do in hotels this is not an issue as you can say what you want and the chef will make it special and fresh just for you. The juices are made fresh and you will not be disappointed.
- Score – 11/10 – The best i have had.
- Quality – Just as breakfast and all the food is made fresh and you can choose what you like as the chef can make anything you need.
- Queue – Not applicable as everything served to your area.
- Variety – Again you don’t really need variety when food is made to your preference.
- Score- 10/10 – You will not need to go out to eat and could stay in the villa all day and night to be honest.
- Facilities offered and their quality, opening times – You get three pools open 24hours as its a villa but no guard or health and safety so be aware if you have small children it will be your responsibility. There is also a massage area for treatments and someone comes in from outside for this. This is a villa with these extras so not the facilities like a hotel. I must mention at night the pool areas are transformed by numerous tea lights placed around the pool, truley sublime and romantic experience.
- Score – 6/10
- Promptness to respond to enquiries – There is twice as many maybe three times as many staff to guests but you never notice them till you need them which is a sign of great service. People always to hand if you need them and always keen and eager to help with no tips required or requested.
- Helpfullness – Probably the best trained staff I have met.
- Cost of tours / cabs – All tours and cabs can be arranged and usually I arrange my own but the drivers they have are so much bette than what you can arrange from outside you are better off to use their people who speak fluent english and hindi and know the area and Goa very well so if i go back I would use their people only.
- Score – 10/10
- Any issues reported and time taken to deal with it? – We only had issue with hot water in one bathroom not working but a team came in and fixed this without much fuss.
- Time to check-out – Very easy and relaxed process with paperwork coming to you when you wish.
- Ease of check-out – Easiest check out ever as it is so personal and relaxed.
- Late check out easily offered and given – Again easily arranged we had to however pay for an extra day when we wanted early check in as we did arrive around 4am so I would have to expect this.
- Help with luggage – Luggage is taken without fuss and anytime you need help it is offered with a smile and packed into cab with no fuss.
- Friendliness of staff – Always served with a smile.
- Score – 10/10
I hope you like this check list approach and do let me know what else you would like to see added or removed so i can provide a consistent approach to all hotel reviews for ease of comparison.