For several years, Goa’s reputation as India’s premier leisure destination was limited to the winter season. However, in the last few years the gap between the peak and off seasons has shrunk considerably. The growth in domestic travel and the popularity of Goa as a wedding and MICE destination has meant that summers and monsoons also see a strong volume of business. This augurs well for the destination and several recent studies have shown that Goa is among the best performing markets in the country. It has also led to a wider choice of stay options available to travellers – from international brands to boutique operators to authentic homestays. On the flip side, a glut in inventory could lead to a drop in rates and subsequently, quality of tourists that come to the state. To ensure that the current healthy trend continues in the future, the hospitality industry in Goa should work together on addressing common challenges and actively promoting the destination along with their respective products. There is a need to maintain some degree of rate parity among similarly positioned hotels. From an administration point of view, more needs to be done in terms of public transport, facilities at popular beaches and tourist spots, management of garbage and better infrastructure at the airport. If we aim to attract high spending tourists, these are basic standards that are expected from a destination.
Creating unique local experiences for our guests is at the core of our brand philosophy at Alila. We take great pride in curating local journeys that are closely integrated with the community, knowing that our guests would otherwise never get a chance to experience them first hand. The new age traveller, whether on leisure or work, is keen to take in a slice of the destination. Our offering for the MICE segment also factors in this trend and we customise team activities and bespoke tours built around the Goa experience. For instance, one of our popular experiences is called ‘Fresh from the catch’ where we take the guest to the local fish market to haggle with the fisherwomen and choose their seafood, bring it back to the chef and then learn to cook it in any cuisine that they like. For the MICE segment, Masterchef-style cooking competitions are growing in popularity.
We offer a selection of award-winning restaurants and bars like Spice Studio our Indian specialty restaurant, Edge Bar facing the infinity pool and paddy fields, Vivo the all-day dining restaurant and Bistro, the modern international cuisine restaurant. We also offer pop-up dining experiences such as Dine in the Dark and a farm-to-table meal cooked at our organic garden.
We have introduced a residential wellness programme called Detox Detour, which is based on the principles of Ayurveda. The programme focuses on overall holistic wellbeing through Yoga, meditation, lifestyle consultations, spa treatments, hypnotherapy, art therapy and a specially curated menu based on the guest’s body type and needs. A popular segment of this programme is the healthy cooking workshop. We deliberated over whether Goa, better known for its many indulgences, would be accepted as a wellness destination. However, we have been surprised by the number of guests (from around the world) who have chosen this programme for its balance of authenticity and luxury.
(As told to Sudipta Dev)