Built on the shores of Goa's famous Vagator Beach, where roaming cows freely enjoy the beauty of the Arabian Sea, W Hotel Goa opened last December – the 50th property in W Hotel's global expansion which aims to reach a total of 75 by 2020. In the great city divide, the 10-hectare resort – all dramatically white-washed against a red earth backdrop – is at the northern or "party" end of town, but its position by the gates of a 500-year-old fort is remote enough to appeal to everyone, from devoted yogis to rave goers, and (mercifully) everyone in between.
With a strong focus on vivid pops of kaleidoscopic colour, and a "sonic identity" which reaches every corner of the resort's grounds, checking in to W Goa is what you might call an assault on the senses. The rush of sights, sounds, smells and more sounds greets you at the reception lounge and bar, a Marc Newson-meets-fishing trawler inspired space where rope garlands drape down in their hundreds from the ceiling, and stays with you – like a gift – as you amble around the sprawling property's 160 guest rooms, pools (one infinity, the other a scenic rock pool overlooking the sea), gym, and restaurants. Offering respite is the resort's kids' club, which features an indoor tree house, slide, kids' pool and arts and craft stations, and the gargantuan Spa by Clarins which treats guests to a heated "vitality" pool, sauna, steam room and some of the best (and most reasonably priced) treatments around.
I'm in a Spectacular Room, a light and airy 60-square-metre space filled with so much colour and texture that once I get past the large bathroom and the six-door pressed-metal wardrobe (just the thing if you travel like a sheik), it initially feels like I've wandered into a highly stylised Matt Blatt clearance outlet with its purple chandelier, lavender armchair and pink and orange screen-printed cushions. As with most W hotels, the bed is the hero of the room – this time all silver leather, blue neon lights and large Portuguese print which doubles as a screen separating the space from the bathroom – but luxuries such as the television built into the mirrored panel above the bath, the Bose sound system, and "bliss French milled suds bar" (which I think we can all agree sounds better than "soap") are noted and enjoyed. Serving to round out the facilities of the room are a fully adjustable 49-inch LED TV, free (and quick) Wi-Fi, mini-bar and an extensive list of children's products which can be delivered at a moment's notice.W's famous Whatever/Whenever service is a one-touch system which allows guests to ask for anything they like ("as long as it's legal", says the resort's brand manager who adds they once sourced a tiger cub – albeit briefly – for a guest who insisted on having one in her room). I care not for tigers; what I would like is for the music outside my room to be turned down and for something to be done about the daily power outages. Happily, the music situation is quickly rectified, but I do learn to do my hair and make-up in the dark.
The resort's "destination" restaurant Spice Traders offers mouth-watering pan-Asian cuisine overlooking the sea, while Woo Bar hits all the right notes with its extensive list of sundowners, but the heart of the action is truly The Kitchen Table, the resort's casual diner where rows of terracotta pots are lined up with curries and stews that could best be defined as spicy, really spicy, and "good luck to you" spicy. International dishes such as duck lasagne and truffle tuna are popular choices, but no match for the morning dosa station, or the happy, if not slightly threatening manner, in which the staff "encourage" you to keep eating local specialities long after you're full. Dare to disappoint them and dine out? Mustard, a courtyard wonderland 20 minutes down the road, offers an inventive, dual French and Indian menu which is sure to please.
Walk out the resort's back gates and lose yourself on the hot sands of Vagator Beach – always teeming with coconut sellers, water sports salespeople, and the aforementioned cows making the most of the late afternoon sun. Locals may try to direct you to the popular beach township of Baga nearby, but it's lined with little more than stores selling bongs and I love Barcelona T-shirts, so head instead to Mapusa, a local's hangout 10 minutes by taxi, then schedule in a picturesque sunset river cruise along the Mandovi River. If your stay in Goa happens to fall over a Saturday night, the visual feast that is Anjuna Night Market will stay with you long after you leave town.
With a first-class location, bright and cheerful staff, and all the mod cons an entitled traveller could ever want or need, W Goa is the ultimate luxury buffer for those visiting India for the first time. Perfect for those with young children in particular, adventurous couples and business travellers will also appreciate the resort's wealth of facilities and activities.
Rooms start from $375 per night plus taxes for a Wonderful room including breakfast and Wi-Fi. See w-goa.com for details.
Friendly and engaging, the W staff are the jewels in the resort's crown.
The main pool was drained during the visit.
Dilvin Yasa was a guest of W Goa