A month old since it opened its doors, JW Marriott Goa is already excelling at its signature hospitality to susegad-seeking visitors in Goa.
By: Usman Riaz
Posted on: May 24, 2023
LF Says: ★★★★
After a week that felt significantly longer than five days, an opportunity to lie back serendipitously fell in my lap as I was graciously invited for a stay at the newly-opened JW Marriott in Vagator, Goa. Though Marriott’s reputation precedes itself, I tried my best to keep a clean slate as I went into the weekend, ready to kick back, relax, and do nothing.
JW Marriott Goa – which is Marriott International’s 150th property in South Asia – impresses at the very first touch. I was received by one of Marriott's fully-equipped fleet of vehicles and chauffeured along the picturesque coastline and through the roads of North Goa into Vagator. It takes around 40 minutes or a little over an hour to reach the property from either of Goa’s airports, with the more recently opened Mopa airport being closer and taking less time.
As you enter the Marriott's grounds along the cobbled road, the familiar JW Marriot Griffin beckons you into an otherworldly space. At the entrance, vertical gardens line the boundaries as if keeping the hotel insulated in a bubble of greenery. You are welcomed with the warmest smiles and bows from the gracious staff and are led to a sprawled lobby that gleams brilliantly in a warm golden hue. The lobby area sets the tone for the hotel’s aesthetic, which is a modern style fused with highlights from the characteristic of Goa and resonant with Marriott’s exuberant style.
Interiors keep reminding that you’re just a stone’s throw from the coast
After a welcome flute of sparkling wine, I was checked into my Luxury Bay room, one of Marriott's 151 elevated guest rooms, which was a discovery in itself with its luxurious trinkets and state-of-the-art modern amenities in every corner. Its clean and calming lines were countered by vibrant textures adorned in a warm neutral palette and furnished in a cool turquoise. The bathrooms feature separate tubs and stylish shower fixtures. My room’s balcony opened to an unobstructed view of the Chapora fort, famous ever since it was featured in one of Dil Chahta Hai’s most memorable scenes, looking over its namesake river.
Every room is furnished with contemporary conveniences, such as a 65-inch TV that’ll have you binging your favourite shows and movies late into the night while the trusty capsule coffee machine keeps you company through thick and thin. If instead, you’re a believer in being early to bed and early to rise, the room service will send a relaxing cup of chamomile tea to your bed in minutes.
The vast expanse of the hotel is an architectural tale in itself, featuring seashells, marine artefacts, and life-sized embossed murals - all woven together with a neutral colour palette of grey and light sand with mother-of-pearl detailing. A harmonious interweave of modern designs and Goan cultural elements creates a peaceful sanctuary. Intricate glass chandeliers, soft ambient lighting, and water fountains complement every corner, and every few yards, some tropical greenery peeks through the windows to remind you that you are at one of the world’s most beautiful coasts. Throughout the variety of spaces and colours in the chic resort’s lobby, rooms, luxurious banquet halls, and the rest of the amenities, the design and aesthetics maintain perfect synergy with each other.
Wellness at JW Marriott: Calm, Indulge, Invigorate, or Renew
With the numerous amenities available, it would be tough to pick a favourite, but the Spa made an indelible mark. Spa by JW is one of Marriott's prime offerings and features Goa’s first (and currently, only) Turkish and Moroccan hammams. The six treatment rooms offer a number of experiences, divided according to the four tenets of Spa by JW - Calm, Indulge, Invigorate, and Renew. The Spa rooms are located around a peaceful outdoor garden lined with water cascades, fountains, and greenery.
I opted for the 60-minute Calm ‘Timeless Treatment’ - a Balinese massage that uses firm strokes using oil over acupressure points designed to relax, boost circulation, and rebound. As for how it went, well, an hour later, I was a convert and believer in spa therapy.
In their offerings for well-being and fitness, the Marriott also features JW Fitness - a modern gym equipped with the latest facilities and professional trainers. Walking around the gym was a delight as I imagined myself getting into an amazing workout with all the equipment, but I quickly left and put that thought to rest. Perhaps by design, only a few steps away from the gym is ‘Neon’ - a gaming zone where guests can play indoor as well as VR games. Neon also features the Cigar Room, which has a full-sized snooker table and an assortment for connoisseurs of quality Cubans cigars.
The next morning, I was headed to what would become my other favourite place on the property – the infinity pool. At its far end, it blended with the distant Chapora Bay to create an endless expanse of cerulean waters, ideal for letting time slip by as you embrace the susegad spirit of Goa.
Multiple kitchens to choose from, but impossible to choose a favorite
At sunset, the hotel redefines itself. The resident DJ played a mix of dance music and livened up the space, ideal for laying back at the Água Bar and Café, which is located right next to the pool. It served a scrumptious curation of homemade pasta, pizzas, risottos, salads, signature burgers, and delectable desserts. My pick for the night was the Risotto Al Funghi, a creamy yet light risotto with a variety of mushrooms flavoured with truffle oil and the Southern Style Chicken Burger with crispy fried chicken and chilli fermented sauce. The bar serves a variety of drinks, but I chose to indulge in an off-menu orange juice mocktail flavoured with black salt which pleasantly tingled both my palate and gut.
Apart from Água, Marriott has three other restaurants: JW Kitchen, Perola, and Heliconia. The JW Kitchen is Marriot’s main restaurant and offers the widest selection of meals. In the mornings, it has an expansive breakfast spread with cuisines for every taste – from scrambled eggs, cured meats, and fresh fruits to Goan breakfast staples like Chicken Xacuti, Ros Omelettes, and Poi bread.
Post breakfast, the JW Kitchen offers selections from their extensive menu that is divided into various options like Kitchen of Europe, Asia, India, Goa, and South India. My pick from the menu included their signature Black Pepper Jumbo Prawn - a crispy prawn appetizer which is tossed in a pepper sauce to perfection, and the Rosemary New Zealand Lamb - grilled lamb chops served with a carrot puree, green pepper jus, fragrant rosemary, and potatoes and beetroots. But the taste that continues to linger in my palette was that of the Awadhi Chicken Korma served as part of the chef’s special dinner curation.
Perola, a French-style lobby bar, right adjacent to the main lobby, will suit as a space for casual conversation over a drink just as well as a high tea with baked goodies. It offers a number of classical and exotic teas and coffees. It also offers baked items including the flakiest and fluffiest croissants, and excellent panini sandwiches and salads.
Coordinates: Bardez, Vagator Beach Rd, Vagator, Goa, India
Along the bay-facing outdoors, which has a garden area dedicated to growing spices and herbs that are freshly harvested and used by the kitchen, a walkway leads to Heliconia. The Heliconia, which is set to open in a few weeks, focuses on Nikkei cuisine - an amalgamation of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine that is increasingly finding takers from all around the world. Heliconia will also offer an assortment of Japanese whiskies and Saké.
With its perfect blend of luxury, tranquillity, and Goan spirit, JW Marriott Goa is undoubtedly a haven worth revisiting for a truly unforgettable getaway. And after three days of a restful stay filled with memories, a belly-full of delicious food, and warm with the staff’s hospitality, I checked out from the idyllic escape that will forever hold a special place in my heart, with a promise. Of coming back soon, for another swim in the infinity pool, one more bowl of the risotto, and my next spa treatment.
LF Says: ★★★★