Getting resort accommodation at the right prices is always a challenge. Perhaps never more so than in Goa, where hotels come in a bewildering range of shapes and sizes. And often to guest detriment, unfortunate levels of service and quality. The promise of an ibis Styles, anywhere around the world, and there are 339 of them, is to offer quality resort-style stay without damaging your cards too much. Well, India’s first Styles has just opened in Goa’s party central, Calangute, about 700m from the nearest beach, Tivai. At first glance, it blends in with traditional Goan architecture, complete with pastel exteriors and a modern interpretation of the omnipresent Goan balustrades. Ibis Styles uses green-coloured signage, which contrasts well with the beige, yellow, red and white exteriors. The hotel itself is at the end of narrow, slightly swaying Goan lane.
The reception is your first wow moment—a spacious interplay of soothing pastels complimented by sofa bolsters all over with tags such as ‘sunshine’, ‘fun’, ‘beach’, etc, setting the mood for some instant joie de vivre in the shape of selfies in 20 different settings with the same fat me. Be there, and then see if you sneer! Anyway, after taking in the wavy chandelier of faux seashells (paper actually), a Marcou’s ceramic shop in the corner (it’s a well known Goan brand) and the reception in darkest of the numerous turquoise shades all around, you proceed towards your room. Add a kokum welcome drink and, with luck, some live musicians to serenade you, and the mood is definitely set.
This is where you discover a great schism. If you are say a family of four—two boisterous kids dragging trying-to-maintain-order parents, then you are directed to the Saal—a separate block exclusively for ‘families’. With two pools, a playground, numerous kiddie rides and games, even for some reason a punching bag this is the ‘safe’ zone. Separated by a good 50m by the Casa, a block meant for what the hotel terms ‘clubbers’. Think bachelor or hen parties, night outs, parties, ordering-sorpotel-and-Old-Monk partying…Yes, Casa has its own pool. The hotel reasons the two groups should be kept apart, and it probably makes sense to most!
The rooms themselves are pleasant, with the amenities a branded chain ensures (clean, well-stocked bathroom, comfy mattresses, net docks, free wi-fi, fridge, coffeemaker, safe, closet), yet with a strong design element woven in. I loved the wave wash in white and pastel blue above the headboard, and a hanging wall mirror. And a lamp, and a little wood bench in the balcony. The plug points might lead you to summon housekeeping, and my call fetched Raina, who turned out to be super helpful with the switches (a bugbear for me) and other sundry assistance.
And above all, the huge windows, which enhance the space considerably. It’s a great choice too if you’re seeking some solitude, and want to watch the sunset right from the comfort of your bed while watching the telly. The hotel’s look and feel is pleasant, and little freebies strewn around, such as free bicycles to explore the region, or free foot massagers in the lobby, are pleasant encounters that bring a smile. There’s also a mood test you can do when you enter— essentially a tablet which, if you follow the few brief steps, reveals your present state of mind. Mine was “you are happy and relaxed”. A little off perhaps, but it extracts a smile from most guests. There is art to admire around the hotel too, and views from the rooftop, where winter sitouts might need early reservations.
There is a large all-purpose diner, Spice It, notable especially for its eight-hour-long breakfast hours, from 4am to 12 noon. The starting time is for late night revellers, perhaps. There is also a little bar, Hub, cute, with some quirky glassware. I had my spritzers from a bulb-shaped ‘glass’. Reaching the hotel, like reaching most places in Goa, is a bit of a challenge, and Goa’s overpriced cabs are about the only resort. But once you are in ibis Styles, it’s a refuge from the excitement (or madness) without.