Five new homestays that offer stories of conservation, restoration and the promise of some Goan susegaad
By Joanna Lobo
Kavita and Manoj Nair’s homestay happened ‘by accident’. “We come from a hardcore corporate background. Ten years ago, when discussing our future, we decided we would like to settle in Goa and so, bought some land and built a house,” says Kavita. In 2020, they moved in. Located by the river in Anjuna, Parijaat consists of the main house and a cottage with two rooms. The family — Manoj, Kavita, their daughter Devaki and dog, Atticus — occupy the main house. Kavita didn’t want to leave the other two rooms vacant and so, Magpie Robin and Drongo opened to guests last year. The space is designed by Shonan Purie Trehan of Mumbai-based Labwerk. The main house has a three-sided courtyard and is inspired by Goan and Keralite architecture. “It feels much older than it actually is. Every room has a collection of items from our travels,” says Kavita. Parijaat only offers breakfast, which is typically a lavish spread in the al fresco dining section. There is outdoor seating, an infinity pool, and the verandahs have nooks and crannies for some quiet time. The garden is lush with over 50 fruiting trees and there’s an old but functional well. Kavita’s pottery studio is also open to people interested in classes or buying curios. “This is for travellers looking for an experiential stay, nestled in the lap of nature. It is almost as if you are enjoying Goa for what it is.”
Mumbai-based childhood friends, management consultant Anuja Phadke and architect Sneha Mahashabde, wanted a future that didn’t involve city life, but a touch of nature. They found it in 2018, in a village called Lonere in Maharashtra where they created an experiential-style homestay called Kokum Tree. Earlier this year, they opened their second property, in Guirim. “It was a childhood dream of sorts…to live in Goa,” says Phadke. They realised this dream after chancing upon the secluded 100-year-old house. Caju Grove opened as a ‘family hostel’ in February, with five rooms, including two big family rooms and a small room with a bathtub open to the sky. The big yellow house has some Goan architecture —tiled roof, oyster shell windows, spacious balconies and red oxide flooring. “We’ve tried to maintain its old world charm,” she says. There are ‘chill out zones’ in the game room and across the two spacious balconies. The house has a small pantry, but food is cooked by two villagers and the friends themselves (they live nearby). The once bare garden has been given a green touch with coconut, cashew and banana trees; they are also practising permaculture. In future, they plan to host events and workshops, and curate offbeat experiences.
Keith Menon and Smriti Ahuja are avid travellers, who have toured India with their friend Chandrashekhar Parab. “We’ve stayed in bad places, good places and everything in between,” says Ahuja. It is these experiences that gave them the idea of embarking on a hospitality-based project together. Last year, the couple moved to Goa, and while house hunting, found a dilapidated ‘crazy old space’ on two acres of hill slope. They worked on it and in November 2022, Circle opened to guests. Circle consists of a 100-year-old Goan home — Old Quarters — with seven bedrooms, one of which is a six-bed mixed dorm. Some rooms have private dipping pools, others have private gardens. Beyond the house are three spacious cottage-style studios, the New Quarters. “Being nature lovers, we are very conscious of resources,” says Ahuja. “The idea was to use the framework of everything old to create something new.” In addition, there is a bar, a small Continental restaurant, an open-air library, a herbal tea counter with seasonal teas, a self-sustaining fish pond, a volleyball/badminton court and a wooded area under an old banyan tree for dinners, yoga or just hanging out. “We’ve already had two proposals there,” says Ahuja.