Casa Susegad

Salcete, Majorda & South Goa, India Book from IRs7054

Reviewed by Shelley Seale
Complete serenity in a restored Portuguese heritage mansion in a small Goan village, where life continues as it has for decades
Susegad has no direct English translation, but its many Goan meanings include contemplative, lazy and satisfied - a perfect description for those lucky guests who discover this peaceful idyll. Set on 1.5 acres of grounds in the sleepy southern village of Loutolim, Casa Susegad is surrounded by forest and far removed from the mass tourism of Goa.

A labour of love for English couple Norman and Carole Steen, this colonial mansion was completely restored to create a 5-room guesthouse. The renovation retained elements such as teak ceiling beams and the 400-year-old mosaic tile floors, amazing in their intricacy. Each comfortable and inviting room has its own colour theme; every aspect of the home provides pleasure, from the gorgeous antique furniture brought from Rajasthan, to the unobtrusive yet pampering staff who are akin to family members. The whole house is at guests’ disposal - cosy up in a cushioned seat with a book, lounge by the pool or stroll through beautifully landscaped grounds to the top of the ridge, from where the perfect sunset can be witnessed.

Highs

  • This is real Goa, steeped in history and culture and away from the contrived tourist traps, yet only 30 minutes from the airport
  • The amazing multi-course meals feature ingredients from the Steen’s own garden or the local market
  • There's a perfect balance between relaxation in your room, on the terraces or by the pool, interaction with other guests and villagers, and short treks to nearby activities
  • The house contains an interesting and beautiful art collection from all over the world, including works by local artists whom you can meet and purchase from if you wish
  • Carole and Norman are wonderful hosts - their warm and welcoming house epitomises the art of 'elegant idleness' - whether a couple or group of friends, you'll feel at home

Lows

  • The beach is a 20-minute drive away, although there's a lovely private pool with large, comfortable sunbeds
  • There are no restaurants or nightlife within walking distance or nearby
  • It's not ideal for those wanting complete privacy and anonymity; the rooms are pretty close together and this is an informal and social place, with meals served en famille
  • Be aware that there are 6 dogs and several cats on the property, so if you're not keen on animals it might not suit

Best time to go

December through March provides the best weather; by the end of March summer has set in and temperatures can get rather stifling. Diwali in October/November or Holi in March provide great celebrations and are incredible festivals to experience; you may also want to check out Goa Carnival around Easter or the Food & Cultural Festival in February.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Foodie
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
Room:

Rooms

Each of the 5 rooms is spacious and well-appointed, with antique Indian furniture, a deep-sprung mattress on a large bed and an ensuite bathroom.

Rooms are named after semi-precious stones, which are found in the decorative floor borders. Colour schemes reflect the stone, as do the gorgeous hand-sewn patchwork quilts. Each room opens up to its own terrace area with a table where breakfast or tea may be taken.

The largest and most popular is the Sunshine Room, whose warm yellows provide a calm and inviting atmosphere. This is the only room without air conditioning, as its traditional high ceiling is open to the rafters and allows constant air flow, keeping temperatures comfortable year-round. Often used as a honeymoon suite, the Sunshine Room has its own private garden and a magnificent monsoon rain shower.

The Turquoise Room instills an inner calm with its deep blue-green walls. Turquoise is seen as a healing and protective stone, and the room provides a relaxing respite for guests.

The Carnelian Room glows from within like a sunset, with ambient light reflecting softly off its warm orange walls. The original glass-front teakwood cupboards are a nice touch.

The soft pink light of the romantic and peaceful Rose Room is filtered through a skylight and 2 large recessed windows that open to the pool terrace.

Bathrooms have large shower cubicles with top-of-the-range Jaguar taps and rain showers.

Carole and Norman's own private suite and quarters (the Hosts' Suite), which include an amazing custom-made kingsize teak bed crafted on site, can be let as part of a whole-house rental.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The 4-course dinners at Casa Susegad are not to be missed. The food is a fusion of Goan cuisine and imaginative continental dishes. Carole often starts her day at the local market, and has worked painstakingly with her wonderful staff to prepare traditional local dishes as well as train them in her own recipes. Everything is organic, and meals are prepared in the well-equipped, large kitchen or over a traditional wood fire.

You'll never have the same dish twice; ask Carole about the Goan chicken or the incredible fish wrapped in a banana leaf, or the fresh seafood platter followed by mango crumble with vanilla custard. She will also create a meal just for you if you tell her what you fancy. If you ask, your hosts will happily lead you on a tour of the kitchen and garden, pulling samples of the many fruits they grow right off the trees or offering a bite out of something cooking on the stove for you to try.

Lunch is also available for guests, and is usually homemade soups with fresh salads or sandwiches. Breakfast is served on each room’s terrace, and tea is always offered in the afternoons.

Local neighbours often join the guests and hosts for meals, and after a day or 2 you will feel part of the charming village. Meals are eaten en famille in the sumptuous formal dining room, or if you prefer to be alone, al fresco on the terrace, in the lounge in front of a movie, or in the guest’s own room.

Cocktails are often organised at the sunset spot looking down over the house and grounds - the perfect way to end the day. Carole makes a particularly delicious vodka lime soda with ginger. Other available refreshments, including beer, wine, juice and soft drinks, are available in the communal kitchen on an honour basis - guests simply help themselves at any time, and write down what they had on a tally sheet.

If you want to eat out, we have heard good reports about Archies Bar in the village for dinner.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The area abounds with wildlife, from monkeys swinging through the mango and cashew trees to extensive birdlife. A walk around the property and through the surrounding forest trails, which Norman will gladly direct you to, is always interesting and relaxing

  • The main road of Loutolim can be arrived at after a nice 15-minute walk (or a 5-minute cycle - Casa Susegad has 2 bicycles for guests to borrow) down quiet, tree-shaded lanes. An ancestral Goa cultural centre, several small shops and a variety of local vendors provide an interesting way to experience South Indian village life

  • A yoga teacher comes to Casa Susegad every Thursday morning; guests are invited to practice with Norman and Carole. It's a beautiful setting in which to get some exercise and zen calm at the same time

  • The pristine and quiet beach is a 20-minute drive away - ideal for a day's getaway

  • A perfect day or half-day trip is to hire a car and discover Old Goa, visiting its historic churches, ports and colonial mansions

  • For those who fancy a massage or spa treatment, the hosts can recommend a nearby spa or arrange a private treatment in your room

  • Guests can go fishing by local boat from Isla de Rachol with one of the staff members, who has family on the river there, or go sailing in Patnem, about an hour away

  • Carole is happy to offer cooking or jewellery-making classes; avid gardeners are invited to garden alongside her and learn about Indian plants

  • South India is known for its aromatic, fascinating spice plantations. A visit to one is a delightful trip, and you can also wash or be washed by the elephants!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Jewellery-making classes
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga

Kids

No children under 12 are permitted during Christmas and New Year, although well-behaved and well-supervised children are welcome at all other times. Casa Susegad has rambling gardens, cats and dogs, and ancient doorway leading to a jungle filled with monkeys and birds. Carole and Norman encourage a warm atmosphere in the house. The only drawback is the short drive to the beach but it is magical to stay somewhere steeped in rural tranquility.

Parents of children of all ages have given it a big thumbs up, however, we think that it would be too quiet for older teens and the grounds are not that well suited to toddlers.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Families are usually encouraged to take the Sunshine Room (sleeping 4 if you add 2 beds) and you can also add a bed or cot to the Carnelian Room. If you book the whole house (5 rooms), you can also book the Host's Suite, which also sleeps 4 with 2 extra beds. All rooms have showers, not baths.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by prior arrangement.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The food here created by their excellent cook who has a great repertoire of Indian, continental and Goan fare, including lots of curries plus salads, fruit and fish. Communal dining is optional and you can arrange an early tea for kids, eating at their own table, and any dish is available on request such as pasta with home made tomato sauce, home made burgers and crispy chicken dipping strips to a simple light dhal and rice. It's a flexible set up: breakfast, lunch and dinner are served or you can eat out in a cafe nearby.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Magical gardens with tree swings and an ancient doorway leading to the jungle
  • 6 cats and 6 dogs
  • 2 bikes to borrow
  • Snooker table, DVDs and games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Explore the nearby village
  • Wander to temples with monkeys at play
  • Drive 20 minutes to the closest beach
  • Explore Old Goa
  • Visit the fish market with Carole
  • Visit the spice plantations near Ponda - Sakahari has a resident elephant

Families Should Know:

There are lots of stumbling hazards in the garden including steep steps and a waterfall in the jungle part of the gardens. The pool is unfenced and unsupervised. There may be a lack of hot water at times as the tank is solar heated.

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Doctor: 10 minutes
  • Shops: 10 minutes' walk
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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