Family Hotel Review: Alila Diwa, South Goa, India
A sleek and stylish family escape that caters for everyone, big or small.
Best For: Sun-and-style seekers; kids of all ages
Reviewed by: Katja Gaskell
Why You’ll Love It
Proof that style and service can go hand in hand with a family holiday comes with the Alila Diwa, a stunning family-friendly resort in South Goa. This chic hotel, set back from Majorda Beach amid a lush landscape of paddy fields, is part of the exclusive Alila group and the first to open in India.
The property mixes contemporary Balinese design with traditional Indo-Portuguese architecture; colonnaded walkways, sloping red-tiled roofs and polished stone floors. Built to blend into the environment there are trees everywhere including a beautiful mango tree that shades the main dining area.
But there is more to Alila Diwa than simply good design. This is a wonderful place to stay simply because they have thought of absolutely everything you might need to enjoy your holiday. From the sunrise yoga and complimentary iPods to the lemon-scented towels and fruit drinks served around the infinity pool, you will want for nothing here…except maybe to stay a few days longer.
Why The Kids Will Love It
How do you make a luxury getaway child-friendly? Ask the Alila Diwa; a stay at this super stylish hotel is a master class in how to keep both parents and kids happy.
Firstly, the staff genuinely love children. There is a dedicated kids’ club open to children below six where babies and toddlers are kept busy in a spotless playroom run by trained staff. For older kids there’s the Teen Zone, a large room filled with beanbags, table football, Wii sports games and more. Organised activities are also available.
An ice cream trolley is parked permanently poolside, afternoon tea and treats are served daily on the lawn and there are regular movie screenings in the in-house home theatre. Our personal favourite is the kids’ swimming pool; a mini infinity pool (but with safety railings) that is as stylish as its grown up neighbour and comes complete with kiddie-sized black and white sun loungers.
Alila Diwa has 118 rooms in the main section of the hotel and 35 even more luxurious rooms in the Diwa Wing.
Main Hotel: On the ground floor of the main hotel are 69 Terrace Rooms and 20 Family Terrace Rooms, which open onto a private outdoor terrace. The 21 Loft Rooms are on the second floor and come with a large private balcony. There are also eight suites, six Family Suites, which benefit from a living room, and two Alila Suites, which are designed for couples.
The rooms are large (Terrace Rooms are 44sqm, Suites are 88sqm) with clean, contemporary interiors and high-tech flourishes. All rooms have a 40-inch LCD TV, free WiFi and six ‘mood lighting’ modes ranging from bright reading lights to floor level lighting should you have to get up in the middle of the night. The beds have memory foam mattresses, luxury linens and there are robes, slippers and beach bags. Petit fours and chocolate deserts are delivered at turndown. The indulgent bathrooms have wonderfully large bathtubs and plenty of Alila Living branded products.
The Diwa Wing: This hotel-within-a-hotel, opened in December 2010 and houses 27 Diwa Rooms (66sqm), six Diwa Suites (85sqm) and two Two-Bedroom Diwa Suites (128sqm). The Diwa Wing comes with additional luxuries including a private 35m lap pool, complimentary airport transfers, all-day breakfasts, in-room check-in service, a 42″ LED TV and Media Hub in every room/suite, personalised menu at the Bistro, complimentary daily Diwa sweet or savoury in your room, as well as a daily seasonal fruit platter and express check-out service.
Best rooms for families: The Family Terrace Rooms, with a private terrace, are ideally located in the West Block within easy reach of the children’s pool and facilities and opposite the main restaurant. These rooms come with a daybed, which can accommodate one child. In addition, the room can accommodate a baby cot but not another extra bed. There is one set of inter-connecting Family Terrace Rooms for larger families.
The six Family Suites are located on the second floor of the South Wing, further away from the main restaurant and with oodles of space. Designed to accommodate two adults and two children there is a bedroom, sitting room and two bathrooms. There is a sofa bed, which can sleep two kids, and an additional roll away bed can be provided for an extra charge.
The Alila Diwa has three dining options; the 24-hour VIVO – Live Kitchen Restaurant at the heart of the resort, Spice Studio, a coastal speciality restaurant and Edge Bar and Lounge located near the pool.
Central to the property is VIVO, which operates 24-hours-a-day. There are tables outside under the large mango tree or in the large air-conditioned interior; we say go al fresco as the inside dining room can feel quite noisy when the hotel is busy (particularly on Sundays when the hotel opens its doors to outside guests for brunch 11am-4am). It’s buffet dining here and the menu is a mix of international, local and pan-Asian flavours.
The Spice Studio sits on an elevated platform under a banyan tree and its menu features coastal cuisine from Karnataka, western Maharashtra, Mangalore, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Kutch. Open for dinner only.
The design of the Edge Bar and Lounge wouldn’t look out of place in London or New York but the feel is very much beachside holiday. The drinks menus are extensive with separate menus for coffee and chocolate drinks, as well as cocktails.
In the Diwa Wing, the Bistro is exclusive to guests staying here. A dedicated culinary team create homemade specialties according to guests’ preference. Open 24hours
The breakfast buffet is served in VIVO and the spread includes Continental and Indian dishes with fresh bakery products, fresh fruits, gourmet teas and Alila’s own blend of coffee.
Lunch and dinner are served in VIVO and there are five ‘live’ counters for lunch and dinner and a regularly changing menu. A kids’ menu is offered here. The Edge Bar & Lounge offers all day dining and a substantial snack/lunch menu. The Spice Studio is open for dinner only.
For Kids: Vivo has a dedicated children’s menu and the Edge Bar and Lounge has its very own kids’ menu (presented in its own hardback cover) offering soups, pastas, chicken nuggets and risotto among other dishes. VIVO also has its own kids’ menu. Requests can be accommodated.
Activities for Parents
Join the sunrise yoga class, pedal through the colourful local hamlets on one of the complimentary bicycles, or simply laze in the infinity pool on a partially submerged sun loungers.
Head to the spa for a massage or choose one of the hotel’s signature beauty treatments including the whimsically titled ‘Therapeutic Journey’ as well as facials, manicures and pedicures.
Join the chefs from the Spice Studio restaurant for a dawn trip to the local fish market. Peruse the daily catch and enjoy a cooking lesson back at the hotel.
Take a trip to a local spice plantation followed by a visit to the local baker or the feni (potent local cashew liquor) distillery.
Hop on the shuttle bus or meander through the local village to Majorda Beach where electronic buzzers attached to your parasol ensure that you are never short of a drink!
Activities for Kids
Bowl an over on the cricket pitch, play a game of beach volleyball or just have fun in the outdoor children’s play area.
Paint, draw and play at the Mini Kids’ Club and take part in their organised activities.
Have a game of table tennis or a Wii game of football in the Teen Zone, followed by a movie in the in-house cinema.
Borrow a bicycle and make your way to Majorda Beach for a day of sand and surf, or splash about in the hotel’s fantastic infinity pool (including a mini one for small kids).
A/C, babysitting available with advance notice and for an additional charge, common rooms, cots, doctor on call, nearest hospital is 10km away, extra beds available depending on room category, inter-connecting rooms, kids’ activities, kids’ club, kids’ dining facilities, kids’ swimming pool, laundry, pushchair-friendly, shop, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, wheelchair access, WiFi.
Rates vary considerably according to room category and season. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
The best time to visit is from November to March when the daytime temperatures hover between 25-30C.
Peak season is from mid-December to the end of January; if you plan to visit over this period then make sure to book well in advance and be prepared to pay extra. From April the mercury rises and by May the daytime temperatures are nudging 35C.
The monsoons arrive early June when things get hot and sticky, but this is also when Goa becomes lush and green.
Alila Diwa is open year-round.
Location & Travel:
Samode Haveli is located in South Goa, Goa, India.
A number of domestic airlines service Goa (Dabolim Airport) and there are regular daily flights from numerous Indian cities. Alila Diwa is 20km from Dabolim Airport (30mins). The hotel can arrange transfers for an additional charge.
The main train station in Goa is Madgaon station in Margao. Goa is linked to Mumbai in the north and Mangalore in the south via the Konkan Railway. The hotel can arrange transfers for an additional charge.
Contact The Hotel
For more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Reviewer’s Top Tips!
1) Definitely take advantage of the kids’ club and organised activities, it’s well-run with very good staff.
2) Although it’s tempting to never leave the hotel (it’s that nice!), make an effort to get out and explore, this is a lovely corner of Goa.
3) Ask someone to explain the room lights to you – it took me ages to work out!
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