Offbeat Goa: Stay at Vivenda dos Palhacos
Gone are the days when travel was just about ticking off names from the bucket list, comfortable accommodations and many photographs as trip souvenirs. Today travelling is more about making memories, seeking out with a curious mind and taking pleasure in the journey towards the destination. The definition of comfortable accommodation too has evolved beyond 5-star resorts. Travelers now welcome the richness of authentic experiences, and an opportunity to delve into new cultures. Our thirst to dive into one such experience took us to Vivenda dos Palhacos in Goa, India. In this article, part of the series Offbeat Goa, we review this amazing colonial styled property with a modern artistic panache.
Read other blogs of the series ‘Offbeat Goa’ by clicking on the link or photos below:
Stay at Vivenda dos Palhacos – A review - This article
Vivenda dos Palhacos is a 100-year-old villa beautifully restored into a boutique hotel by the brother-sister duo – Simon and Charlotte Hayward. Does the name ring any bell? Well, well! These lovely hosts to the property are children of the owners of Hayward family. Still no? We are sure you must have heard of Haywards 5000 beer. Gotcha! Simon and Charlotte, being the fourth generation to the Hayward family, were born and brought up in India. Their love for India made them buy an old Portuguese house in early 2000s and refurbish it into a 8-bedroom mansion.
Location of Vivenda dos Palhacos
Vivenda dos Palhacos is hidden among the coconut grooves in Majorda village of South Goa, India. Vivenda is little over a kilometer from the pristine Majorda beach and around 30 minutes from Goa International airport. It is a paradise tucked in a quiet and peaceful surrounding. One can easily walk to the beach in 15 minutes or take a cycle from Vivenda and reach the beach in 5 minutes. They also provide you a map with places to visit, eat and path to beach making it very easy to wander around.
Tour of Vivenda dos Palhacos
Upon arrival at Vivenda dos Palhacos, basset hounds Toby and Gigolo greeted us. The very first look of the heritage property and we were sold! The Portuguese style front porch was lovely with pretty sit outs. We later learnt that the mansion was initially a Hindu house and the Portuguese style facade was added in the 1920’s when the house was sold to Catholics. Each of the 8 rooms at Vivenda is different and innovatively designed. Space utilization is fantastic and nothing feels out of place. Each room has a different theme and is uniquely named after the places in India that Simon and Charlotte have lived in and have loved.
The living room is designed with one of the most comfortable sofa sets, antique furniture and a TV set. The balcony in the living room opens towards the front courtyard overlooking the veranda and is decorated with the high seating iron chairs like those found in barber shops, which we really found unique. The windows/ doors run from the ceiling to the floor allowing ample light to come in.
A 16-seater antique wooden dining table adorns the dining room at Vivenda dos Palhacos. The room is further decorated with huge mirrors and paintings on the walls. Morning breakfast is served here. What you cannot miss here are the various photographs from the family's past and book shelves.
KONNAGAR: This bedroom is named after a posh locality in West Bengal, India. This master bedroom has an old and high four-poster bed with an attached balcony and a huge bathroom. The bathroom is tastefully decorated with a bathtub from the Royal Bombay Yacht Club. This room is for ones who love open spaces and wants to get extremely pampered.
ALIPORE: This bedroom is named after another posh locality of Kolkata city, West Bengal. This room has a seater window overlooking coconut plantation and a cosy bed with a large mirror behind. This room felt like the most peaceful room for me and is definitely for poets and writers, or anyone who wants to be one with quietness.
OOTY: This bedroom is named after a popular hill station in Tamil Nadu. The room is all-white with mirrored bathroom and opens into a private courtyard. We later learnt that Ooty was previously the kitchen of the Hindu house. Ooty is for couples who are romantically in love. The paintings in the room are sensual and alluring. Though compact, the complete white interiors of Ooty made us fall in love with it.
MADRAS: This bedroom is named after the capital city of Tamil Nadu, India. Madras has an open airy bathroom and twin beds. This room is for the ones who love nature and freedom.
BALLYGUNGE: Bedroom named after another wealthy locality in Kolkata city, West Bengal. This is one of the smallest rooms with queen size bed and a Gujarati style bathroom. This room is for anyone who falls in love with its charming layout and quirky furnishing.
The backyard of Vivenda dos Palhacos consists of: CHUMMERY: This bedroom is named after the luxurious building during the British Raj. It is a large cottage room with huge veranda. Chummery is for people who seek a luxurious long-term vacation.
CHANPARA: This tented accommodation beside the pool operates only when weather supports. Chanpara is a luxurious tent with a double bed and an attached bathroom. It is for one who wishes to camp but without sacrificing on comfortable amenities.
Besides the house is DARJEELING: This bedroom is named after the famous hill station in West Bengal, India. Darjeeling was once a garage where Simon used to live. The garage is beautifully restored into a duplex whose walls are covered with tin sheets and bathroom curtains are made of iron chains. The duplex has a mezzanine floor consisting of extra beds on top for a family to stay comfortably. It opens to a private garden as well where kids can play.
Pool at Vivenda dos Palhacos
The large swimming pool at Vivenda is in the backyard and surrounded by garden and lounge chairs. The pool is cleaned with ozone and not with chlorine, which is fantastic! We always found the water very clean and inviting. Spending hours near the pool lazing in the soft green grass felt like bliss.
Cafe and Bar at Vivenda dos Palhacos
The kitchen, cafe and bar are uniquely constructed out of the back of a truck. It is full of vibrant colours and offers a variety of alcoholic/ non-alcoholic drinks. The bar is stocked with bottles of Haywards 5000 beer – the family’s pride. The space is well utilized to provide charming sit-outs.
All in all, each room is uniquely designed and furnished with antiquities and furniture picked from Singapore and Chor Bazaar in India. Every nook and corner of the villa is converted into a cosy sit-out giving the overall look-out a modern yet colonial appearance. The walls of the house are lined with old photographs of Hayward’s family and their time spent vacationing in various different places. Even the guest bathroom walls are covered with typical English styled matrimonial papers and old photographs which gives a unique reading.
What we loved most about staying at Vivenda dos Palhacos is browsing through in-numerous albums, books and magazines. Every room, every shelf, every table, even the bathroom of the villa is piled with a variety of books ready to be opened and read. The place is no less than a library where one can find a book of each genre. One is allowed to borrow a book from any part of the house, anytime and enjoy reading it anywhere they want. The house is a paradise for book lovers!
Lobbies of Vivenda dos Palhacos are also converted into a mini store selling a beautiful collection of handpicked antique jewelry, apparel, accessories and unique textile including scarves, stoles, bags and mats. Walls adorned with large beautiful paintings are also for sale.
The meals at Vivenda dos Palhacos are uniquely centered around communal eating where everyone gathers at the 16-seater dining table, sharing food, interacting and exchanging travel stories. The chef could also set up a romantic meal table elsewhere on request – be it near the pool, in the courtyard or in the garden. The menu is limited but is spread across multiple cuisines. The meals are made hot and fresh and taste delicious.
Vivenda dos Palhacos is more than just a place to stay. One could happily spend few days in the villa without an urge to wander outside. The ever smiling staff are always eager to serve you and the dogs give you good company following you around. You can immerse yourself in any type of book and a good wi-fi connectivity completes the desire to be connected with the world. It is a place to relax, unwind, read, interact, introspect, learn and laugh. Maybe that’s why the name of the villa translates to ‘House of Clowns’ as it is as amusing and charming as the hosts and staff are.
Charlotte who personally takes care of guests was traveling when we visited Vivenda while Simon was visiting UK. We met John Gracias, the manager, who is an excellent host to this wonderful Goan property. He has been with Simon and Charlotte since the beginning of Vivenda dos Palhacos and plays an instrumental role supporting them. He showed us around the house and we loved having detailed conversations with him about the Goan way of living. He suggested some offbeat places to visit in Goa and helped us in planning the day. He smoothly manages the fifteen plus staff members that work in Vivenda dos Palhacos and treats everyone with respect just like his family.
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If you want to be away from the herd of tourists visiting Goa each day or want a homely feel and yet want luxuries of a hotel, Vivenda dos Palhacos is the place for you. You can book Vivenda from their official website.
How did you find our review of Vivenda dos Palhacos? Would you love visiting it? Do you know any other such offbeat beautiful place you would like us to review? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Note: All opinions expressed in this blog are our own and not influenced by Vivenda dos Palhacos