Good times in Goa usually kick-start with either Kings or Kingfisher, and I’ve just spotted two of the latter. It’s 7.30 a.m. I’m lazing in a hammock inside the private garden of my villa in Taj Fort Aguada. My plan is to snooze but my surroundings are distracting. As I lay scissoring my feet, through the vantage point of the resultant V, I see nature sprawled at its panoramic best. First up is the crest of the hillock upon which my single-storey villa, Hermitage, stands. Flaming orange gulmohars follow next, and beyond them shimmers the Arabian Sea.
What else does a sapped city dweller needs to resuscitate? Away from the daily grind, I’m happy to be in an actual garden, because in Mumbai, much like the city, even gardens grow vertically. At best, they remain confined to token balconies.
Royal blue and chalk white from inside, the villa itself looks fit to star in an Asian Paints ad. All windows open to gorgeous views: a lush lawn, swaying palms and flowerbeds full of lilies and lace-leaf. Strangely, they look much like those Photoshopped nature paintings hung in budget hotels. This, of course, is the real deal, and I can’t get enough.
What catches my eye is a gorgeous teak wood-legged vintage cupboard, tucked away in which is the minibar. The villa’s walls are adorned by a dozen round decorative plates in traditional azulejo style, a Portuguese architectural staple. The blue ceramic powder used in them, general manager Ravi Nischal tells me later, was imported from Portugal.
Besides fare typical to five stars, the seafood thali at the sea-facing, bottle green Morisco is scrumptious. When chef Behera sends the rawa-crusted, pillowy-from-inside fried kingfish to your table, ditch the cutlery. The lingering smell of masala on your fingers, though irksome, doesn’t last long.
After the heavy meal, all I crave during the high-tea hours is gingery, masala chai. But Vincent, on staff for 37 years, insists I try some bite-sized treats as well. “Small portions only, ma’am. I promise,” he pleads, pointing to a three-tier cake stand. I concede, and don’t regret. I nibble on some savouries and down my chai like espresso. Seated in the rustic first-floor lobby overlooking the pool, I see little girls go zorbing. They fall, giggle, and rise, vainly attempting to roll the giant inflated ball across the pool’s length. When they succeed, I celebrate their success with two red velvet cupcakes.
Next morning, I’ve breakfast in my room. Privileges reserved exclusively for Hermitage Villa guests extend beyond this: They get an in-villa check-in too. Luxuriating in here might get exhausting, I surmise as I lift the lid off a casserole piled with bulbous, steaming idlis. But when 48 hours is all you got, you are happy to indulge.
Check taj.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj-fort-aguada-goa/ for details; Doubles from approximately Rs25,000.
Humaira Ansari is a certified nihari-lover who travels with an open mind and lots of earbuds. She invests a lot of time and Wi-Fi in planning her itineraries. She loves neighbourhood walks, meals at a local’s home, and discovering a city's nightlife. She is former Senior Associate Editor at National Geographic Traveller India.