“ERHMGD!” is what would succintly describe my second day at the Park Hyatt Goa. From the moment I got out of bed till the moment I got back in it at night, it was one memory to cherish after another. It was the magic of #CashewTrail and it had only just begun.
You’ve seen Day 01 where I got to attend the splendid Feni Master Tasting? Go see please if you haven’t as it will set the pace and tone for this story here. Had to be divided into at least two parts because both days involved unique experiences.
Breakfast was Eggs Benedict as recommended by Mariska and it was delightful. Gulped down with a couple of glasses of fresh juice. Although since the juice has to travel a long distance from kitchen to room for room-service, the juice tends to separate.
After the breakfast, I headed to the lawns for the much anticipated Cashew Trail brunch. So many people from “across the bridge” were at the hotel especially for this afternoon’s festivities. If you’d been there, you’d now know the overall process of how a cashew fruit is taken from the tree and turns into Feni. The entire Cashew Trail!
Invitees were welcomed with hats and a sweet cool drink. There was enough foliage once you walked away from the welcome area but as you can probably tell from the photograph below, it was HOT. Being right next to the beach also meant HUMID!
As I was saying and as you will see below, there was enough foliage to take cover under and enough white tents to sit under and cool down while one contemplated what food section to raid next and what Feni-Cocktail to grab.
There was also the Latin Connection who kicked things off with a bit of their lovely music. See video below.
I spent some time exploring all the cuisines but did not grab a bite because… HOT!
The iced shot glass with non-alcoholic cashew juice – above right – was delightful even though it was really sweet.
This above the “food-station” I frequented the most while I hung out in the lawns. Coconuts! I love them. Refreshing and cooling, hence perfect for the occasion.
Of course there was Feni on offer as well and some of the cocktails were delightful.
I walked around and realized that from the food stations I’d suddenly walked in onto a cooking station. I asked around and found out that Karen Anand would be conducting a cook-off and the chefs / not-chefs who won would be winning themselves stays at Park Hyatt properties all over the world. Things were heating up even more. Literally and figuratively.
I quickly grabbed a hat before I joined the audience in observing the cook-off. The gentlemen looked and sounded super enthusiastic!
See video below for a bit of the cook-off action.
Below, the judges tasting the final dishes before they pick the winner.
See below. He was one of the chef’s in the cook-off. Talk about a well-deserved drink!
The remains of the cook-off.
And the winner is declared!
I noticed another section of tents on the side and walked over to investigate.
It was for the children! Hotel attendants and balloon-artists and paint-artists were keeping the kids busy. Not only that, they had their very own air conditioning as well! Special treatment!
As I wandered back to the main area, I heard the announcement inviting guests for a round of “cashew stomping”. I’ve seen and heard a lot about “grape stomping” but this cashew bit was my first time and hence intriguing.
That above is the shallow cemented pit ( there’s a washing area and towels and a place to sit in the back ). And soon enough ladies and children were in the pit with cashew fruits being thrown in and everyone was quite enthusiastic about the whole thing.
See video below of especially enthusiastic girlie who was thoroughly enjoying herself!
And before I knew it, I was in the cashew stomping pit too! Loved it. My first time in ANY stomping pit 😀 See video below?
The lovely Mariska on the left and the charming Edra on the right. I miss you girls! Thank you for being so nice to me. I enjoyed your company.
Above, General Manager Thomas Abraham inviting bidders to a very special Feni auction! The exquisite Feni was being auctioned in even more exquisite hand-blown Garrafons!
The first garrafon is brought in on a palanquin. The crowd quite enthusiastically participated in the auction and before I could wrap my head around what was happening, both garrfons were gone! The money was for charity of course and all in all, it was an afternoon well spent.
I proceeded to run back to my room because I had a late afternoon appointment at the Sereno Spa for their very special cashew treatment! ( I wasn’t kidding when I said this trip was all about Cashews! )
I decided to walk to the spa of course as I’d get a chance to see more of the property. The sun wasn’t as harsh anymore and I could see more blue in the sky, which also presented me with an opportunity to get some photographs. Above the lobby areas as seen from the poolside, which is behind me. Below, to the right of the bridge is what is known as the Village Square, which has restaurants and shops and even an ATM.
Below, another side of the swimming pool that I hadn’t seen so far.
I’m getting closer to the Sereno Spa now.
And closer and still. And before I knew it, below, I was there!
The staff quickly gave me a lowdown of how this worked. Shower – Steam – Shower. In that order. Nothing less, nothing more.
After the initial shower and steam, I was led back to the reception area where I was then introduced to my masseuse, Dolkar.
The tables in the reception area are stocked with herbs and spices – there’s a divine fragrance all around. And look at that wall below? Man that’s a lot of accolades!
Above, my massage room named Tulsi and my super awesome masseuse named Dolkar. No really. She was stupendous. This massage turned out to be the best massage I’ve EVER had, no exceptions. I miss it still. now that I’m back in Delhi. Dolkar was exceptionally good and I am never going to forget this experience. She worked the cashew oil and exfoliator deep into my pores and my muscles will forever be grateful.
The massage bed above.
The first order of business was cleaning up my feet and scrubbing them with sea salt.
Above left, the view of bright and sunny gerbera flowers floating in a copper pot – would be visible straight from where my face looked at the floor through the headrest on the massage bed. And above right Dolkar after the almost two hour long massage presenting me a cool cashew milk / smoothie with the most delightful smile ever.
The stuff they used on me. The cashew exfoliator on the left above and the cashew oil on the right.
Thank you Kiran for taking the above photograph. I was SO relaxed and happy and there was no way I was walking back to my room in bath slippers with just a robe around myself. I called for the golf cart and was driven to my room where, to my absolute and utter delight, I found this in my bath! See below!
Rose petals! Park Hyatt Goa’s very famous rose bath! ( They were just rose petals though – no other stuff was added to the water – would have been a nice addition. ) And of course I also discovered the sunken bath tub in the bathroom! And I didn’t have to curl my toes or bend my knees to fit into it – I could lie down diagonally and I fit with room to spare. Nice hot bath after most amazing massage.
One of my complaints during my stay was the mosquitoes. The room was equipped with a branded anti-mosquito diffuser but it was not effective as a mosquito kept me up all night buzzing in my ear even when the anti-mosquito diffuser was right next to my head. With so much water in and around the property, it is no surprise that it is infested with mosquitoes. Whenever room service or housekeeping would show up, they would also leave the door open behind them when they came in, thus giving the mosquitoes ample time to gain passage into the room. It was infuriating! Stupid mosquitoes.
Dinner on the second night was at the Italian restaurant Da Luigi.
Creme Brulee is an all time favorite dessert.
And then it was time for me to pack and crash. Next day I was scheduled to move into a friend’s place for a bit of much needed vacation time. I’d thought my stay at Park Hyatt Goa would mostly keep me on my toes with work. It did keep me on my toes but with new friends, delightful new experiences and so much relaxation. I just wish I’d had someone to enjoy it with. There will most definitely be a next time!
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. )