By Vandana Verma
11 August 2012
200 Mazal Vaddo, Assagao, Bardez, Goa.
Email email@example.com for more information and tariff.
It’s not all beaches and sunsets in Goa.
In the North Goan village of Assagao you’ll find dense palms, lush foliage, fantastic Ayurvedic centres and some of the best Italian food in the country.
Casa Tota is a 150 year-old Portuguese villa that’s been lovingly restored and refurbished into a bright, Bollywood-dusted retreat, complete with a central courtyard and an outdoor bar that’s just begging residents to throw a party. The owners rent it out in its entirety, so you’ve got to take all three rooms, each kitted out with four-poster beds and adjoining bathrooms. The villa gets its named from the parrots in the surrounding trees, but it gets its design leanings from slightly further afield: Antonia Graham, of British furniture and design store Graham & Green, owns the property, and G&G’s touch is everywhere.
Ideally situated to sample all of Assagao’s charms, Casa Tota is tucked away just enough that the crowds headed to the beaches of Anjuna and Vagator miss it. Of course it doesn’t have the glorious sea-facing vistas of Ashvem and Arambol, but complete quiet and emerald gardens more than compensate.
Housekeeper Shyam is super friendly and will prepare breakfast as well as help with local directions and transport. The idea here is utter relaxation, so don’t go expecting the shacks and bars of places like Baga or Calangute. But there are still plenty of wonderful restaurants just down the road. The excellent Villa Blanche is open only in season, but serves light, fresh French bistro-style food when it is. A short drive away is Ciao Bella, where you’ll find Italian all year round. And also within shouting distance is Ayurma, an excellent Ayurvedic centre where I had the best four-handed abhyanga massage of my life, and Purple Valley Yoga Centre, Goa’s most popular yoga destination.
Brave the winding roads uphill because you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view that’s lost none of its magic to rampant construction and development, yet. We hear Abhay Deol’s building a mega mansion in the neighbourhood, so the time to go is now.