Ethel Da Costa is an award winning Journalist, Media Professional, Writer, Author Former Magazine Editor of OHerald, Times of India, Femina, Tarun Bharat, IFFI, Radio Mirchi Station Director Founder-CEO, Think Geek Media
Is enough to lift your spirits, balance your Chi and Zen, re-connect your heartbeat to the rhythm of the crashing waves, and load up on lots of Vitamin D and a complimentary suntan. Welcome to Santorini inspired The White Resort at Agonda, Canacona, Goa.
I’ve liberally borrowed and re-phrased my favorite Jamiroquai song into the opening line of my acquaintance with The White Resort. I love both.
As I stood at the threshold of this pristinely elegant, Boho chic and white light of Mediterranean dazzle in symmetry with linear lines, spaces, the breezes rolling from the hills and ocean cross ventilated in balance, and the skyline of ash blue meeting the rolling greys merging as one color on this canvas…Now I’m no painter, rather a poet. And a creature of sensory visuals and smell, and a Boho spirit that I do let loose in right company and spiritual synchronicity. This was my Greece transported on a bucket list to Goa. Adrenalin pumping spontaneously on thought meeting alignment that this was all in sync, a good vibe of the land – when it meets and greets the aware Self-individual – filled up my spirit. I couldn’t wait to get started.
FACE TO FACE WITH THE WHITE LIGHT
To lovers of the color White, that molds and melts all colors into one, this destination simply heightens and elevates your brain to retune to bliss mode. A well packaged and delivered Bohemia, The White Resort is a delightful decor trail, a sight for the sore eyes (I’m a home improvement addict), and it begins right from the vast, expansive, circular reception lobby. Free-spirited dream catchers weaved in cane and crochet, tails of fabric, beads, mirrors, ribbons and weave play with the wind. A raised Indonesian styled roof, a minimalist desk against a life-size watercolor mural embellished with Bali inspired lamps, resort cane furniture and quirky bric-a-brac greet you with warmth. High on expectation –as your senses are already charged with the visuals – you have to descend a few stairs and really pause to catch your breath…It is a breath a second or two heart-stopping moments. I advise, inhale and exhale deeply… It is the sheer balance of design, landscape detail, a riot of bougainvillea, bursts of green meeting delicate color, an azure blue swimming-Jacuzzi pool reflecting sunlight as it hits the clear water. Tropical magic.
14 well-appointed Indonesia-Bali inspired cottages (yes, they are all in white), named after condiments (Basil, Honey, Citrus, Mint etc), sit on a 22,500 sq feet beautifully landscaped carpet area. A high white picket fence runs across the length of the property and the Queen of it all – the picturesque Arabian Sea embracing Agonda’s hill jutting into the ocean, reminding you that Goa is not just a destination, but an emotion of Saudades (nostalgic longing). All of us travelers seek a home to rest.
So, have I set your total disconnect from mundane life to a holiday mood? I’ve only just started.
CHECK IN THE WHITE RESORT
I checked into Basil –my favorite herb. Each well-appointed room with a little veranda, queen bed (or separates), modern amenities balancing space and luxe, beautiful cane interior decor (lamps, light fixtures), an open outdoor shower in the strictest of privacy, and the deepest sleep I’ve experienced in a long time. Long afternoon post-lunch nap notwithstanding.
To Aarti Menon, Managing Director, The White Resort is a dream come true. A former Hospitality and Education corporate professional in the US and Dubai, Aarti spent years studying, working and living abroad, during which time she also met and married businessman and educationist, Dileep Menon. “Travelling together and working allowed us to explore many new cities and countries across Europe, USA, and the UK. We did our post-graduation together in the United States, worked there for a couple of years. Then when our daughter was born we had an opportunity to move back to India. Since then we lived for a couple of years in Dubai, with a permanent home here. Shifting from one continent to another is quite fun and challenging, giving us lots of opportunities to travel across the globe extensively, and experience hospitality,” says Aarti. She put her learnings to good use, helping her develop and shape the design philosophy and business culture of her dream hospitality venture, The White Resort. “We always aspired that our retirement plan together would be to have a B&B on the beach,“ Aarti laughs, “never realizing that our dream could come true so soon.”
DREAMS NEED BRAVE HEARTS
Developing The White Resort had its share of challenges, Aarti recounts, with limited space, a topography of a coastal area, and achieving a balance of proportion, comfort, and aesthetics while staying true to its business ideology to create a unique, fulfilling vacation experience – a `Happiness Retreat.’ “I was very clear that happiness and relaxation would be our two main pillars of hospitality that every guest must take back with them to echo our vision and dream,” Aarti states. A cocktail that also needed the right minds to come together. Businessman and educationist, Dileep Menon, a traveler at heart, a businessman by skill and instinct, recounts the race to launch required the right catalysts and brave hearts. “Dattaraj Sawant is the catalyst to the genesis of The White. He brought the idea to us in May 2017, along with Rahul Prabhudesai, who is the very foundation we stand on. Rahul right now is on an expedition to climb Mount Everest. Dreamers and doers make mountains move. Together we are stronger,” Dileep asserts. Assisted by Kolhapur based architect Nupur Magdum, The White Resort raced across an impossible deadline and opened on Dec 31, 2017.
LET’S TALK ABOUT FOOD
So, when you’re already drunk heavy on the sights of The White, your stomach suddenly remembers that you can’t live on love and fresh air alone. Now this team is an orchestra manned by Chef Santosh. A self-styled, skilled curator of the personalized menu that reflects the Boho-chic spirit of The White, yet respects individual tastes of its assorted guests from across Europe and India.
The well endowed state-of-the-art kitchen also reflects how and why personalized hospitality is the key to a traveler’s heart today. Similarly, curated beverages at The Bar go beyond a mundane menu to stylised cocktails, with local seasonal ingredients (and fruits), quirky in-house discoveries and experiments that reflect the mood and emotion special to its alma mater. The result is a highly skilled and self-learned, hard-working team with Pritam and Sapal ensuring there are surprises galore. Like The Botanist in a red bell pepper with a hint of jalapeno that hits the lower throat when the refreshing drink has left the tongue; The White Signature (with secret ingredients I can’t tell you about) a many times summer must have; The Flaming Sambuca a la White that knocks a punch to the gut after a well rounded dinner. Succulent Moroccan Pork Chops that brings the grill to the table; Crab and Corn Cakes for the seafarer; Chicken minute Steaks on a bed of mashed potato and sautéed mushrooms for a stomach happy heart meal; a fresh Watermelon and Feta Salad that cleanses the palette setting your appetite for more; Cottage Cheese Steak for the vegetarians and Baked Mushrooms with Spinach and Cheese that could start any awkward conversation to an engaging discussion. Of course, the boys of the kitchen take the accolades with a humility that is rare and endearing.
If you’re not done yet, than a late night swim in the pool under the stars, a walk on the beach for some sunset contemplation, and Aarti insists the Yoga class kick-starts her day with a `go with the flow’ attitude, which I was too cozy sleepy in bed to even bother setting up a `wake up’ alarm.
Santorini, I reckon, will have to wait a while now on my bucket list.
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Photographs by Ethel Da Costa