Why you’ll love Sur La Mer
Located just a ten-minute walk away from beautiful Ashwem Beach is this sandy-yellow boutique hotel that’s owned and run by ex-Bollywood actor Aneel Verman. It’s a charismatic place that draws a fun-loving and eclectic crowd, just take a look at Aneel’s ‘wall of fame’ and you’ll understand the kind of starry people that pass through the hotel’s lofty wooden doors.
The two-storey, Italian-style villa has 12 rooms, centred around a large, blue-tiled swimming pool and grassy courtyard. Here you’ll find comfy deck chairs shaded by oversized parasols as well as a swim up bar. The restaurant is another highlight and the dinners in particular are excellent. Aneel is a dedicated food aficionado (he apparently spent years travelling the world taking cooking courses) and is passionate about his kitchen and menus.
The downside is that rooms at Sur La Mer don’t come cheap. It’s worth noting, however, that Sur La Mer occupies a unique space along an extremely popular stretch of sand that’s dominated by beach shacks and faceless budget hotels. If your wallet can stretch to it, this is a fun place to stay.
Why the kids will love Sur La Mer
Children of all ages are welcome at this family-friendly boutique hotel (the staff are great with kids!), however there are no dedicated activities for them and big kids and teens will be required to make their own fun.
The swimming pool is a definite highlight and the enclosed grassy courtyards means that little kids can never stray too far. There are big four-poster daybeds draped with floaty, white muslin curtains placed around the courtyard and these are great for naps (for babies and little kids – or even mum and dad) or time out of the Goan sun.
You’re also very close to Ashwem Beach here, which is a lovely beach for families. There’s always something happening on this fashionable sandy strip whether it’s fishermen hauling in their catch, fashion shoots taking place or coconuts being collected from trees.
All 12 rooms face onto the grassy courtyard and swimming pool at the centre of the resort. The light-filled rooms are all individually furnished but share a common theme; whitewashed walls, antique wooden Rajasthani furniture and colourful bedspreads. The bathrooms are spacious with twin vanities and wonderfully refreshing showers.
There are six Deluxe Suites located on the ground floor, four Royal Suites located on the second floor, two Maharaja Suites also on the top floor and one Penthouse. The rooms vary only in size and furnishings.
The Royal Suites enjoy antique four-poster beds, for example, and boast a mezzanine area with an additional double bed and the Maharaja Suites have private balconies with distant sea views. The Penthouse is enormous; the bedroom is huge, there’s a large balcony and private hot tub.
Best rooms for families: The rooms can all fit accommodate extra beds. The Deluxe Suites are an easy option as they open directly onto the garden and pool area. The Royal and Maharaja Suites work well for families with big kids and teens as there is the mezzanine area, which allows more space for everyone. The only drawback is that the stairs to the mezzanine level are steep and the safety railings are not terribly sturdy. The Penthouse is a fantastic option as it’s practically an apartment in size.
All rooms are within monitor reach of the pool or restaurant. There’s an ‘eat where you like’ policy here too so you choose to dine outside your bedroom if you need to be in earshot of sleeping babies.
The food is a real highlight here. Aneel has reputedly spent years travelling the globe taking cooking courses and takes great pride in his kitchen. The restaurant boasts a substantial multi-cuisine menu with everything from Goan specialities and North Indian fare (they have a traditional tandoor oven) to Pan-Asian and European options. All fruits, herbs and vegetables are grown organically on the property. All dishes can be ordered mild or spicy. Guests can choose to dine in the restaurant, or anywhere else in the hotel that you may choose.
Breakfast Having said that the food is excellent, breakfast (when compared to dinner) was a bit of a disappointment when we visited. Toast with jam and butter, eggs to order, porridge, muesli and fruit were offered alongside parathas (a type of flat bread) and puri bhaghi. Coffee comes in a thermos ready-mixed with milk.
Lunch & Dinner Some of the most popular dishes include wasabi prawns, filo pastry with three cheeses, beef or fish carpaccio and fish Brazile flambéed in Gin. Other menu highlights are the lobster thermidor, clam chowder and the fillet of pomfret in lemon and white wine sauce. The signature chocolate fondant and filo pastry desert has guests raving and is a must-try.
Kids’ Menu Although there is no dedicated kids’ menu, there are child-friendly dishes on offer, including pasta, grilled fish, penne with white or tomato sauce, fish and chips, hamburgers, sausages, spaghetti bolognaise and ham and cheese sandwiches.
Neighbouring La Plage restaurant is excellent and also has a children’s menu.
Wander the sandy track to Ashwem Beach or hire a scooter from Anel and zip along for a day of sun and surf on one of Goa’s prettiest beaches.
Lounge by the pool, make the most of the swim-up bar and doze on one of the comfy, shaded daybeds.
Have at least one meal out at neighbouring La Plage restaurant, one of Goa’s hippest hangouts popular with visiting celebrities that also serves fantastic food.
Visit Jade Jagger’s boutique, located nearby, and peruse her jewellery line or treat yourself to a new outfit from her clothing line (made in Goa, naturally).
Book in advance and then enjoy a rejuvenating massage in the privacy of your own room.
Beach, beach and more beach, followed by swimming and splashing in the sea.
Go dolphin spotting on a boat trip; bring your binoculars for bird watching along the way.
Slurp banana lassis, lick ice creams and sip fresh coconut water from coconuts freshly picked that day.
Go in search of the Olive Ridley sea turtle, Ashwem beach is the nesting place for this rare species (September to February).
Raid Aneel’s DVD library (he has 4000 to choose from) and enjoy a movie or three.
Air-conditioning, babysitting available for an additional charge, common areas, cots, doctor on call, the nearest hospital is a 20-minute drive, extra beds permitted depending on room category, swimming pool, laundry, pushchair-friendly, nearby shops, massages available, travel desk, WiFi.
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.
Location & Travel:
Sur La Mer is located near Ashvem Beach, North Goa.
There are regular daily flights in and out of Goa to numerous Indian cities with a number of domestic airlines including GoAir, Jet Airways and Spicejet. Sur La Mer is located 55km from Dabolim (Goa) Airport and the hotel can arrange transfers for an additional cost (enquire when booking).
The main train station in Goa is Madgaon station in Margao, but the nearest train station to Sur La Mer is Pernem (although not all trains stop here). Goa is linked to Mumbai in the north and Mangalore in the south via the Konkan Railway. Sur La Mer is a 30 minute drive from the station; the hotel can arrange transfers for an additional charge.
If you’re planning on travelling around Goa then it’s a good idea to hire a car and driver; it’s a refreshingly easy place to travel around and nothing is too great a distance. Sur La Mer can organise local car hire as well as scooter (moped) hire.
1) Bring a big beach bag with you; it’s a 10-minute walk to the sand and you want to make sure you can carry everything in one trip!
2) Remember to bring decent shoes for the kids to walk to the beach – and any swim / beach equipment you might want.
3) Ashwem Beach is very fashion-forward! Bring your most stylish beachwear if you plan to mingle with the stars at La Plage restaurant.