Seriously. A mess. A beautiful property nearly ruined by some truly inexplicable service and business decisions.
Unfortunately, our very first impressions set the tone for what would turn out to be a very strange resort experience.
Upon arrival in Goa, we had arranged to be met by a car and driver from the hotel. We exit the terminal, and survey the sea of drivers holding signs – but no sign with our name, no sign with the Alila Diwa logo. My husband walks around a bit trying to find someone. No luck. He heads back into the terminal to try to find help, where he finds a very nice guy who manages to track down a rep from the hotel. He searches for our name on the list of the day’s expected arrivals. Nothing. He pulls out a cell phone and calls the hotel, and has a long conversation with someone else who had never heard of us either, despite the fact that I had booked this stay months in advance and was holding in my hand a hard copy of our reservation complete with confirmation number. Nope. No idea who we are. At this point my husband and I were both fuming. (As it happens, I had also come down with a sinus infection and was feeling awful, so this was not helping.) He hands the cell phone to my husband, who gets nowhere, but they do finally agree to pay for a cab to take us to the hotel – still no promise of a room, but at least we will be able to negotiate with someone face-to-face.
We arrive at the hotel, and naturally we are loaded for bear – but as soon as we get out of the car a manager comes over saying everything was figured out and they have our room and here's some juice! All is well! OK! Great....except...What is that crazy LOUD music? "Oh! That's a wedding!” he explains. “They're having a pool party so it will be like this for the next few hours...You won't hear it by your room though!"
Ummmm...Not exactly the “peace and quiet” we had been looking for, but if we can't hear it near our room in the Diwa Wing....
We arrive at our room. It is a beautiful suite – large, comfortable, tastefully decorated. It’s in the Diwa Wing, which is about a five minute walk from the main part of the hotel, but we can still hear the music! We are lucky enough to have stayed in many resorts around the world, of many different levels of service and price range. If you travel enough, it is inevitable that occasionally you will stay at a resort that has a wedding or other event taking place. We’re pretty easy going people – really! We are! We can make allowances! But we have never, ever, experienced this level of noise and disruption. We would later learn after talking to several members of the staff that this hotel is a HUGE wedding destination. Which is fine, but NOT at the expense of the
enjoyment of other guests – especially when you market yourself as a “serene resort” where you can enjoy “an intimate couple’s retreat” where “relaxation reigns”. We couldn't even sit and read at the Diwa Wing pool. It was that loud. Not cool, Alila Diwa. (And, it could have been much worse. As it turned out, this was just a party - the actual wedding ceremonies and banquet were taking place somewhere else.)
Now, as to the service… Perhaps the kindest way to describe nearly every interaction with a staff member would be “Well meaning, but awkward”. After we checked in, we were puzzled to find that the room had almost none of the amenities you would expect. No shower gel, no body cream, no hand soap for the sink by the toilet - you know, the standard stuff you find in hotel rooms marketing themselves in the “luxury” category! We asked for some extra soap 3 times before any were delivered. To their credit, they did finally apologize, and from then on the housekeeper made a point of creating some genuinely cute towel animals each night, which was nice.
In the restaurants, the servers all seemed very nervous and unsure of the fundamentals of their jobs. If you asked for coffee when sitting down for breakfast, it wouldn't come until the end of the meal. If you wanted to find a waiter, even though the restaurant was nearly empty, it would feel like a real-life game of “Where’s Waldo?”
Breakfast in the Diwa Wing's Bistro could be OK, but our advice: Stick to eggs. Pancakes were like glue and, when my husband made the mistake of ordering the crepes, they arrived raw – perhaps no one had ever actually ordered them before, and the cook was unaware that they were supposed to be cooked? Who knows, but Yuck! On the other hand, the one night we had dinner in the Bistro, the food was quite nice and the friendly executive chef a joy to chat with.
Dinner in the Spice Studio was also very good and the lovely manager was helpful with giving advice on unusual menu choices and such. We also enjoyed the house made pickles (the garlic!!) and mini lesson on Indian spices!
On the other hand, the resort’s approach to room service was beyond peculiar. We wanted to order some of that tasty Indian food to our room for dinner one night, but there was no menu in the room. So we asked for menus at the front desk – and it was like pulling teeth. After several attempts, miscommunications, and negotiations, we finally figured out that since we were staying in the Diwa Wing part of the hotel, we could only have food from the Bistro menu delivered to our room. Huh? At times, it felt like the Diwa Wing was being operated as a separate property from the rest of the resort.
Although the resort itself is well taken care of, and the grounds are lovely, we found the decor of the room a bit sterile. The vast white walls screamed out for some art; the illuminated nooks were obviously meant to hold flowers or sculptures or something – but were empty. Both pools are beautiful, but the annoying pop music coming from the bar made it nearly impossible to truly relax or read when using the pool by the main part of the hotel. Why spoil this gorgeous view of rice patties and water buffalo and palm trees by blasting "Man In The Mirror" 3 times in the span of an hour? (And no, that is not a joke: we counted.)
We enjoyed the walk to the beach, past lovely homes, small farms, and friendly stray dogs. (Watch for the cow patties!) The beach is spectacular. The shack on the left once you get past the entrance to the beach has comfy loungers, cold beer, and the owners are very friendly and fun to chat with. The water was calm and warm during our visit. Perfect for swimming.
But, back to the resort and its unrelenting oddness: We arranged for a car to the airport days in advance of our checkout, and reconfirmed it numerous times with numerous people (hey, we were a little paranoid after the arrival debacle!). Upon checkout, while waiting an alarmingly long time for the car to arrive, we were handed a blank piece of paper and asked to "Write about all the things we liked about the resort - and mention names.” The staff wanted us to review them while waiting for our car to the airport, and WHILE THEY WATCHED! We were dumbstruck. We would understand if they encouraged guests to put reviews here on Tripadvisor, or give us a survey to fill out later. But don't put people on the spot like that!!!! It was incredibly uncomfortable and awkward – but in some strange way, perhaps it was the most fitting end to a very peculiar 5 days.
The Alila Diwa really needs to decide if it's a wedding/banquet facility with rooms on premise, or a hotel that markets itself to independent travelers. It doesn't seem able to do both. My husband put it this way: "This hotel is like a Stradivarius violin in the hands of a very untalented 6 year old". Beautifully designed, but played terribly. What a missed opportunity.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Alila Diwa Goa is situated in South Goa along the coast of the beautiful Majorda Beach with panoramic views of vast verdant paddy fields leading out to the Arabian Sea. The resort is also perfectly located just 20 minutes from Goa’s Dabolim International Airport. Alila Diwa Goa blends contemporary Goan architecture with the magic of Goa’s cultural richness to create a stylish and relaxing environment that remains true to the destination. At the heart of the resort is an endless infinity pool that extends out into the paddy terraces. Its 153 rooms and suites are designed for quiet indulgence with an amazing bath experience, luxury bedding and a private terrace to take in the picturesque setting. The resort is complemented by a family entertainment zone that includes a theatre and children’s activity centre, and a comprehensive event centre that can accommodate your need for a versatile and ‘surprisingly different’ venue equipped with a ballroom, meeting rooms and a large outdoor lawn that can accommodate up to 300 persons. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Alila Diwa Goa Hotel Salcette
- Alila Diwa Goa India