Soft sands, shimmering waters and swaying palms: that is Goa for most people. But there’s more to discover in this tiny yet shining slice of India. Its Colonial past has left it with glorious architecture, and has given its food and culture a distinctive flavour. The spirit of susegaad is all its own and IHCL made the first luxury foray into the Sunshine state in the 1970s.
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Maestros of the Kitchen
Goan cuisine, a blend of Portuguese, Catholic and Hindu Saraswat lineages, is as synonymous with the State as its sun, sand and beaches. Vivanta Goa, Panaji offers guests a chance to try their hand at cooking unique Goan classics. Opt for a guided morning visit to the market to shop for fresh ingredients – including fish off the boats - and return to roll up your sleeves for a tryst with fresh crab, mackerel, kokum, spicy Chouriço, cashew nuts and a splash of feni - the beloved liqueur of every Goan. Stir up a Sungta Hooman (Goan Prawn Curry), Chouriço Chilli Fry (Spiced Pork Meat in Goan Red Spices) or Semolina-Crusted Prawns along with the all-time favourite Chicken Xacuti (Complex Combination of 18 Spices). Vegetarians can learn to cook the flavourful Batata Bhaji (Baby Potato Cooked with Spices and Onion in Tomato and Coconut Blend) and Beans Foogath (French Beans with Grated Coconut and Curry Leaves). Your meal is served at Goan Stories, leaving you with enough Goan cooking chops to impress friends back home.
Discover the Backwaters
Goa’s lush backwaters are amongst its best-kept secrets. At Vivanta Goa, Panaji, we’re thrilled to offer our guests an exciting backwater experience. Settle into a kayak – with or without an instructor – and after a quick briefing, you will be paddling by thick mangroves along the tranquil waters of the Sal River. It’s an easy activity and is loved by people of all ages, unlike sea kayaking which requires more skill. Put a twist on it by opting for a night kayaking trip, when the moonlight casts a magical spell on the delightful ride..
Spread out on the southern banks of Mandovi River, Panaji is at the heart of Goa’s East-meets-West culture. Vivanta Goa, Panaji’s Concierge Desk is your go-to guide for the capital’s unique charms, from colonial architecture to art galleries and its annual carnival. History aficionados can spend hours at the Adil Shah Palace, the summer residence of the Shia king which now houses the state’s administrative offices and plays host to exciting performances and exhibitions. Book an afternoon tea – with a talk on Goan history - in advance at Casa da Moeda (House of Coins) which once functioned as the Mint of Goa. The long and wide promenade along the Mandovi is ideal for leisurely walks. You can also opt for a cruise that stops at the renovated Ribandar waterfront. Just five minutes from the hotel, Miramar Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Goa and serves as a hub for several events and cultural festivals. Adventure lovers are in for a treat at the Dona Paula Jetty which offers magnificent views of Mormugao Harbour along with a host of water sports on offer.
Discover Goa’s Heritage Gems
To glimpse a Goa beyond the beaches, surf and shacks, book a special tour with our Concierge Desk. Our guide will introduce you to the Latin Quarter of Goa - Fontainhas and Sao Tome, where chapels and houses with lovely balcãos (verandahs) painted in yellow, red and blue line the serpentine lanes. Marvel at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa, India’s grandest showcase of Baroque architecture, followed with visits to the Sé Cathedral – one of India’s largest churches, the ruins of St. Augustine’s Church and other heritage structures in the vicinity. Unravel the mysteries of the past by visiting the Reis Magos Fort in Verem. The four hundred-year-old Braganza House in Chandor is a vintage gem with its colossal ballroom, antique European chandeliers and Chinese porcelain. End your tour by shopping for exquisite local souvenirs - the papier-mâché jewellery from Paperworks and traditional Portuguese-style hand-painted azulejos (ceramic tiles) from Velha Goa Galeria.
Champagne Sunset Cruise
Goa and romance are inseparable. Whether you’re planning a proposal or celebrating a special date, our Champagne Sunset Cruise is guaranteed to leave you rosy-eyed. A short drive from the hotel to Coco Beach and you’ll be cruising the Arabian Sea in a modern, well-equipped speed boat as the sky gets painted with orange hues of the sunset. Share precious silence with your spouse or party away with friends, clinking flutes of Moët Chandon Brut and snacking on delicious canapés. Swaying palm trees in the distance, a lighthouse looming elegantly and Coco’s famous dolphins retiring for the night will leave you in a blissful state of mind.
Cubana Dinner at the Rooftop
A lavish dinner set against the picturesque backdrop of the city of Panaji and the moonlight glittering on Mandovi River in the distance sets the tone for an unforgettable evening. Expect an intimate rooftop cabana with a candlelit table, where you and yours can look forward to a night of gentle breeze, endless conversations and signature delights. Our team of experts leave no stone unturned to ensure fairy tale moments and picture-perfect frames. Consult with our Master Chefs to customize a five-course menu including fresh seafood and meats sizzling on a live barbecue. As the courses and the spirits keep flowing as easily as your laughter, the stars come out to join in your private revelry.
Surf the Waves
At a distance of 35 kms from the hotel, Arambol in North Goa is your space for a blissful day of surfing the waves. Book a basic day course at Surf Wala - the pioneer of surf schools in Goa – which has the latest equipment and friendly multi-lingual trainers who work especially well with beginners. The gentle waves are easily manageable and Goa’s sheltered waters protected by those of Lakshadweep and Sri Lanka create a continental shelf which is safer compared to open ocean waves. Enjoy a kayak ride or two on the River Sal to sign off on a delightful day.