The documentary “Last Hippie Standing” got it right when they said “Goa is not a place; it is a state of mind.” What is it about this place that makes you want to keep coming back for more? Sure, Goa has nice balmy weather, gorgeous beaches, vibrant sunsets, red cliffs & paddy fields but then again so do many other places. After my recent visit and stay at the Planet Hollywood Goa, I think I may have finally found the answer to this. It is the warmth & hospitality coupled with their infectious energy and zest to live life to the fullest as was evident from my stay there.
I was invited to review their property, a luxurious hotel located on the pristine white sands of Utorda Beach in South Goa which is around 14 kms or a 20 minute ride from Dabolim airport. This is the first Planet Hollywood property in Asia and in keeping with the brand name is “Hollywood” themed. Unlike its sister hotel in Vegas which is more adult centered, this is a hip & trendy family hotel. I think they picked the right spot with Goa as the location for it has everything going for it – beaches, relaxation, fun and that quintessential buzz that Goa offers everyone.
The Hollywood star studded lobby is huge and houses the reception to the left and the Heart bar in the centre. It was definitely one of the most unique lobby’s I had ever seen. I loved the cylindrical looking ‘pipes’ hanging from the ceiling with a scattering of circular lights that gave the place a very trendy vibe. I’m told that Gauri Khan designed the place and I must add that she did a fabulous job in keeping with the theme. From the movie screens in the reception area to the posters adorning the walls, desk and tables; Mrs. Khan did indeed bring Hollywood to Goa.
The Heart Bar (in the ‘heart’ of the lobby) has a massive LED screen and the left wall is covered with pictures of famous Hollywood stars. Here’s where you can relax and sip on a margarita or a Long Island iced tea or drink from their selection of wines and other spirits. Although I did not order myself a drink; I can only imagine having a drink here is enough to make one feel like a star himself.
After a quick check-in, I was ushered to my “Luxury Pool View” room. The hotel does have an eye for detail and the first thing I noticed before entering the room was the star studded room number much akin to the ‘stars’ on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame boulevard. Everything inside the room from the subtle stars on the carpet, the movie posters on the wall, and the satin bedding screamed Hollywood in a truly luxurious and elegant way.
Planet Hollywood Goa has 115 rooms and suites and what’s interesting is that they have eight room blocks each depicting a unique Hollywood theme such as Pursuit, Folklore, Superheroes, Femme Fatale, etc.
I wonder which category my room belonged to? I was told it was folklore but judging from the posters on my wall which included Cameron Diaz and Tommy Lee Jones, I could not quite make the connection. I do not know of any movie they’ve acted in which falls under this category. Do you?
My poolside room came with a balcony, a 42-inch television, mood lighting, in room tea & coffee making machine, climate control, a safe and a mini bar. But what was most unique was the leg massager that is available in every room. With multiple speed functions and massage controls for your calves and soles; this is truly a luxury for your aching feet after a day of sightseeing. This scored high on my list of amenities and I think every five star hotel needs to have one. *Wink* The King bed featured luxurious satin sheets and pillowslips that sent me into a state of blissful slumber that night. I’m sure you can tell from the picture above.
I also loved Planet Hollywood Goa’s thoughtful gesture of a bottle of wine and sweets, both personalized with my name. Wine, chocolate brownie and chocolate – how sweet indeed! 🙂
The bathroom on the other hand was a bit of a let down compared to the room. It was slightly smaller than expected and was missing a bath tub for a room of this category. The door opened out to a marble counter with two wash basins in the centre; an enclosed shower to the left, and the toilet to the right. The bathroom came kitted with Kama Ayurveda toiletries and a shaving and dental kit. What I loved most about the bathroom was the tiling; the multi colored square tiles gave out a very ‘discotheque’ vibe.
When it comes to dining, Planet Hollywood Goa has three options – Heart Bar,Planet Dailies and Fame.
Planet Dailies is a 24* café & buffet restaurant with options ranging from international, Pan Asian and local cuisine. The restaurant has an interactive kitchen for guests to experience the Chefs in their element. I went the a la carte way and ordered for some kebabs and a Nasi Goreng as my main.
Fame is a specialty restaurant featuring Western and Asian cuisine. The atmosphere here is very relaxed with a resto lounge feel to it. They play a good selection of music from lounge to pop and you can even indulge in some Karaoke if you’re up for it. I highly recommend this place for their delicious Japanese sushi, sashimis, teppanyakis and stir frys. Infact, the sushi grade fish is sourced directly from abroad so you can be assured to get the finest quality cut.
The hotel recently introduced a Sunday brunch and I was invited to be a part of it the next day. Brunch is served at their Fame restaurant from noon to 4 pm with a focus on Pan Asian cuisine. There were live counters and everything at the brunch was made to order, which I found to be a refreshing break from other buffets where the food is mass produced. One could choose from Japanese, Thai, Mongolian, Goan, along with a choice of grilled meats and fresh salads.
What was unique about the Sunday brunch was their communal concept of dining and they’ve introduced this through the Japanese style of Shabu-shabu. A pot of boiling broth was brought to our table in a steel container along with add-ons of chicken, fish, beef and vegetables. Chef showed us how to cook the meat the Shabu-shabu way by dropping the raw slivers into the boiling broth and gently tossing them around until cooked. He explained that this concept of dining encourages families to cook together and spend more time over their food.
In addition to the lip smacking fare, there’s a host of other brunch activities one can engage in like karaoke, live music, zorbing, archery, and more. I tried my hand at karaoke and found myself having a blast.
While I was there I also had an opportunity to experience the spa. The Pink room saloon & spa offers an extensive choice of body and beauty treatments integrating traditional Indian systems with a contemporary western approach. After a brief consultation with my therapist, I was advised the 90-minute Pink Room Signature Therapy which started out with a relaxing foot massage followed by a body massage and scrub. The body massage was a combination of Deep tissue and Balinese for alleviating stress, anxiety and relief pain. This was followed by a scrub to exfoliate, moisturize and nourish the skin. By the end of it I could feel my skin soft, smooth and glowing and I greatly benefited from this experience.
I took a walk around the property and was amazed at the well manicured lawns and grounds. Spread across 10 acres of land, the hotel has a sprawling tropical garden and coconut orchard that is scattered with intricate sculptures and contemporary artwork.
The large outdoor swimming pool features a Jacuzzi on one end. It is flanked by blue and white cabanas to give it a very chic look during the day and transforms into a completely different experience at night when the pool lights come on. I’ll let the pictures speak for itself.
So to come back to my view on what makes Goa a special place. I’ve been to Goa many a times and every time I come here I am amazed at the hospitality this place has to offer. At Planet Hollywood Goa, I was constantly reminded by the staff to relax and have a good time. The service was extraordinaire and it is that spirit of joie de vivre that makes the place truly memorable. After all that’s what Goa is all about, right? I for one, thoroughly enjoyed my stay and will be sure to come back for more.
The price for a one night stay in a Luxury Pool facing room King room starts from INR 18000 ++ for two adults.
A 90 minute Signature Pink massage costs INR 4500++.
Where: Planet Hollywood Goa
30/3, Acsona Waddo
Uttorda Beach, Salcette
Phone: 0832 675 1000
Note– The critic was invited by the Planet Hollywood Goa. But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.