I was in Goa recently thanks to Park Hyatt and enjoyed two days of their luscious Cashew Trail annual event. I’m going to be writing about my experience over two stories on the blog. This is from Day One.
That view! From the lobby of the Park Hyatt Goa, Hotels & Resorts. It was beautiful. I was lucky to be invited for the most exquisite #CashewTrail annual event.
Two days of absolute bliss despite the hot and humid weather of Goa. The people are lovely in Goa. Why aren’t there more of such people in Delhi? We could use some 😉
I was welcomed with coconuts. No better welcome. I gulped down three in one go while Mariska ( Marketing Communications Manager ) & Edra ( Assistant Manager – Public Relations ) kindly got me a room and explained more about the property so I could get around without getting lost. ( They give each guest a property map as well – it IS a very large, sprawling, green and beautiful space and especially after sunset, it is easy to lose your way and walk around aimlessly, which isn’t such a bad deal if you ask me! )
That below is one comfy bed. And such a lovely room – with a view to boot.
A writing table – where my laptop was perched for all three days. And I ate my breakfast sitting on that comfy sofa on the left above.
And the bathroom… I could write a poem if I could. Airy, well lit, clean lines and the warmth of wood.
I was disappointed that there was no tub. But they had bath salts. I was confused. ( I would find out later of course, to my DELIGHT that they had something even better – you’ll have to come back for details on that when I publish the Day Two story soon! )
The balcony and the view from my room.
My skin was already feeling the hot and humid love. It felt so much more supple than usual. Away from the dry and polluted environs of NCR, I was ready for some rejuvenation.
I told you it is a beautiful property. If you’re staying for more than a few days, including evening walks on their meandering stone pathways is a must. And you can follow that up with a dip in their seemingly-unending swimming pool and you could even walk to the beach. ( The pool is also accompanied by a jacuzzi 😉 )
Me. Chilling poolside. Can you tell the difference on my face – from the photograph from before on the balcony to now poolside? I think I look a whole lot more relaxed and happy.
Walked back to the room. The hotel has a buggy / golf cart service if you don’t want to walk – they take a few minutes to arrive to the spot where you are. Especially useful if it’s the afternoon or if you have an elderly person with you who can’t walk.
After some time in the pool, I headed back to the room for a quick shower and then immediately to the much anticipated Feni Mater Tasting event, which as far as I know is the first of its kind to have taken place in all of India. ( Feni is an alcoholic drink created from the Cashew fruit. There is Coconut Feni as well but Cashew Feni is more popularly known as Feni. Read more on Wikipedia? )
Now Feni isn’t exactly my kind of alcohol. Whatever memories I have of tasting the liquor are accompanied with memories of a strong, stingy smell in my nostrils. I don’t recall the taste at all and usually put down the drink as soon as my nose has had a sniff. As you can probably tell, I was sceptical about the Feni Master Tasting evening. Beer is more suitable to my palate but considering how much I used to dislike the taste of Beer, I knew anything was possible.
It was a small gathering of people – about 12-20 if memory serves right. I was pleasantly surprised to be part of this event. I couldn’t claim to be a Feni drinker like all the others and apart from Mariska and Karen Anand, I was the only other woman in the crowd. Thankfully I had good company in Jerome Marrell and Wendell Rodricks and the emcee Jeffrey Manuel was gracious with details about the liquor and how to evaluate its flavors and aromas.
During this Feni Master Tasting, I also learned that Feni is the first Indian liquor to receive a Geograpic Indiation or G.I. For a quick understanding, think of it like Champagne – Champagne is only from the Champagne region of France. Similarly, Feni is only from a certain region of India i.e. Goa. That I believe is brilliant.
Above, General Manager ( of Park Hyatt Goa ), Thomas Abraham giving an introduction to the concept of #CashewTrail and the Feni Master Tasting evening. Thomas is credited with conceptualizing the Cashew Trail concept and it has been snowballing into quite a phenomenon each year.
The four Feni samplers we would be tasting.
Above left, the dapper Mac Vaz of Madame Rosa Distillery introducing their brand to the audience. And on the right Jeffrey Manuel getting the gathering into the mood. His delightful voice is what carried the evening and helped me chill out instead of feeling out of place. Quite a talent that Mr. Manuel 😉
And the drinks start arriving. First on the list : Urak. I think some of my nose-hair might have singed when I took a sniff from the glass. That’s Urak Fresh Harvest with 18% alcohol. Just as expected 😉
The second glass to arrive : 2013 Valpoi Estate Cashew Feni, 42% alcohol content. Still sharp but a whole lot better than the Urak.
And then magic happened. Glasses three and four were beautiful. And they still contained Feni in them.
Third glass, 2011 Valpoi Estate Cashew Feni, Bourbon Oak Cask, 42% alcohol content. No longer colorless, color was more like whiskey. And beautiful without losing its Feni characteristics.
Glass number four was the most magical. 2009 Valpoi Estate Cashew Feni, Port Oak Cask, 42% alcohol. This was an absolute beauty and most guests in the gathering immediately asked where they could get a cask of this from!
Below Karen Anand in conversation with Mac Vaz, talking about her experience with the tasting so far.
There was a fifth surprise for tasting but I really don’t want to talk about it because there’s not much of it available and I don’t want to raise your hopes 😉 The majority opinion was that it was almost like a whiskey though, which doesn’t really go with the whole #CashewTrail experience. It was great liquor yes but there was no cashew feel in it.
Wendell Rodricks, above. Can you tell how happy he is to have tasted some of the best Cashew Feni ever? He’s adorable.
After the wonderful Feni Master tasting, we headed to the Presidential Suite for a few bites. And then it was off to Casa Sarita for dinner with the lovely Mariska.
Had some fresh watermelon juice and a Corona to kick off dinner.
Amazing dinner to end the amazing day. I did not have much of an appetite and I’m guessing it was because of the temperature combined with the humidity. But show me Crsipy Pork Belly ( above left ) and I will bite 😉 Especially when there’s a hint of rasam in a shot glass! On the right, above, is a fish-dish. It was Basa I believe – but the bed of “poha” is what made it interesting. For once I did not mind that the portion of the pork belly was tiny.
This was to conclude my first day of being a guest at Park Hyatt Goa and I was looking forward to Day Two because of the much anticipated Cashew Trail afternoon event. It turned out be so much better than I expected – coming soon. Many thanks to Aditi Chopra ( Digital Marketing Manager, Hyatt ), Mariska and Edra for taking such good care of and not letting me feel alone – traveling alone is not something I do regularly 😉
Do check out their #TimelessMoments hotel stay package that they are running for the Summer and Monsoon Season. Please also keep in mind that the annual Cashew Trail event is invite-only.
( Disclosure : I was invited to cover the #CashewTrail 2014 event, all expenses paid. )