“A beautifully-restored Hindu-Portuguese hacienda in the quiet village of Majorda, a short walk from south Goa's loveliest white-sand beach”
Spread over the main buildings are 6 double bedrooms, all with ensuite bathrooms, plus a self-contained cottage and a tented room in the grounds. All are full of dappled charm, cross-cultural history and convivial peace. There's a graceful 12m Grecian pool with wooden sunloungers, and a long talcum-powder beach 10 minutes' walk away (or a short ride in the house's jeep). It's the perfect place to escape the hordes of tourists who throng to Goa, experience village life, enjoy lively conversations round the huge banqueting tables, and make friends with other guests, your solicitous hosts and their cultured Indian circle.
- Guests enjoy sociable breakfasts in the dappled sunshine around the 22-seater outdoor table; dinners take place by candlelight under vaulting rafters
- The convivial tales of India and other travels from your charming hosts and their friends/guests make for fascinating evenings
- There are authentic Goan fittings and carefully-chosen, artful decorations
- You have an idyllic beach nearby - and a pool on site in case you don't have the energy to stir yourself; both perfect for families
- This is a real retreat from Goa's tourist hordes, and creates the feeling of being a guest in someone's home
- Getting to the beach requires a little effort and, once there, you’ll be importuned by enthusiastic hawkers and beach shack owners
- The surrounding village means it's not as quiet as other places: cocks crow, dogs bark, bells ring and the neighbours have been known to party quite loudly
- Being enclosed by jungle, there are no far-reaching views
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Guesthouse
- 7 rooms, 1 cottage for 2-4
- Breakfast (+ other meals by arrangement)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Bicycles Available
Each of Vivenda’s rooms has its own colour and style, evoking the places in Bengal and Tamil Nadu where the Haywards have lived over the years. Decorative details include red glass lampshades, black and white family portraits, art prints and bedside tables made of old Indian painted trunks. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms, fans and air conditioning (not that you'll need it before March or April); but don't expect TVs or phones.
Two of the largest rooms are in the Portuguese front part. Konnagar, the master bedroom, has a mosquito-netted four-poster, its own veranda and a huge ensuite open-air bathroom with a free-standing cast-iron bathtub. Alipore is a double room with a window seat overlooking the coconut palms, and a long, thin bathroom; being next to the dining room, it's not ideal for early-bedders.
In the Hindu back part of the house are 3 more rooms. Madras is a large double room in what used to be the storeroom, with a big bed and an outdoor stone bathroom. The small, twin-bedded Ballygunge is perfect for kids, with its terrazza bathroom and ancient Gujurati windows. The old kitchen has been transformed into an unusual white and silver bedroom, Ooty, with a built-in divan-style double bed rising out of the floor.
At the back of the house is The Chummery, a self-contained cottage with a double bedroom, an ensuite bathroom, its own little kitchen and 2 verandas. Nearby is Chandpara, a tented room in the young coconut plantation behind the pool, which has twin old Indian iron beds, camping furniture, a thunderbox in the ensuite bathroom, and an early version of a minibar. Most recently added is Darjeeling, located in the old garage, which has a double bedroom, a mezzanine area, and a private garden.
All told, Vivenda can accommodate 16 in comfort, with extra camp beds for children and 'spill-overs' nearby if necessary. The whole house can be taken by one party if booked early enough, with use of the staff.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Safe box
A full breakfast is served outside on the dappled, 22-seater wooden table, looking out over the garden and pool. Enjoy fine Darjeeling tea, still-warm pau (traditional Portuguese bread rolls), fresh fruit and juices, tasty free range Indian eggs scrambled by Simon (a dab hand in the kitchen), bacon and sausages from an English butcher in Northern Goa, and what Charlotte and Simon claim is "the best coffee and marmalade in India" (they should know).
Al fresco lunches can be eaten by the pool, picnics can arranged for the beach, and snacks and children’s meals are available at all hours. Otherwise, there are myriad beach shacks competing enthusiastically for your business as you stroll along the shore. Zeebops (a 10-15 minute walk to the north) was our favourite, for its great food, laid-back style, freedom from hawkers and eclectic mix of music. Sip the local Honeybee brandy - a ridiculously cheap Goan nectar - and try the delicious stuffed poppadoms and the vindaloos, which are far tastier and less tastebud-nuking than British versions.
If you fancy dinner, you should book the night before to allow the excellent Keralan chef to buy fresh ingredients in the morning. He cooks a mean tandoor and calls his cuisine 'modern European with an Asian influence'. Starters could include gazpacho crowned with lobster and drizzled in paprika oil, or squid stuffed with garam masala risotto. Mains include tiger prawns marinated in jungle honey, or an excellent fillet steak on caramalised onion with wasabi mashed potatoes. And the chocolate mousse is not to be missed.
The bar, a quirky construction created from an old Tata truck, has a wine list chosen by Ivan Scholte, a former wine trader and current owner of the acclaimed Apsara hotel in Luang Prabang; for those who prefer beer, Haywards 5000 - a favourite with Northern Indian truckers and stronger than wine - is offered for free to those brave enough to risk it.
Close by in the village's main street are 3 very good restaurants - Crab Quay, Pentagon and Fusion (the latter known for its great steaks). Alternatively, 5-10 minutes away by taxi is the lively Martin’s Corner, a favourite with holidaying Indians and their families thanks to its regular live music and karaoke, and its warm bistro style.
- Children's meals
- Communal dining
- Dinner by arrangement
- Lunch by arrangement
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Soothe your muscles and mind with an Ayurvedic massage on the beach or at the nearby Hyatt or Leela Hotels, or a yoga course, either locally or at Vivenda
- Spend the day lazing on the beach and eating at the chilled, hammock-strung Zeebops
- Visit the famous Saturday night flea market in Anjuna - a riot of colour, souvenirs, food stalls and live bands - or head to the night markets at Mapusa and Margao
- Go fishing, waterskiing or diving - ask the Haywards about the courses run by their friends nearby
- Get cooking lessons from the chef
- Take a boat expedition or visit the beautiful Doodl Sagar Falls
- Visit Goa's capital Panjim (50 minutes' drive away) for lunch and sightseeing: you'll find Portuguese Baroque churches, municipal gardens and a 16th-century palace
- Borrow a bicycle to explore the village, rent a motorbike and head further afield (though beware Indian drivers who trust too much in fate and too little in the Highway Code); or be chauffeur-driven around in an Ambassador limousine
- Receive a blessing at the local chapel
- Ride horses on the beach or into the hills or take elephants to bathe in the river
- If that's not enough, there's go-karting 10 minutes away, a 9-hole golf course 1 hour away (at the Intercontinental Hotel), electronic clay pigeon shooting nearby, and even a floating casino out to sea
- If you want to see more of India, take the night train to the famous ruins of Hampi, or hop on a plane to Jaipur
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Scuba diving courses
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
Children are very welcome and Vivenda's staff are well known for being child-friendly. Please note that only well behaved children will be welcome in the sitting and dining rooms.
Family friendly accommodation:
Konnager and Madras can accommodate 2 extra beds. The best options for families are Darjeeling, which has a mezzanine area that can accommodate an additional 3 beds, or The Chummery, which is a self-contained cottage with a kitchenette that can fit 2 extra beds and a baby cot.
Babysitting is available by arrangement. See Rates.
Baby monitors are available on request, with coverage through the whole property, allowing you to relax by the pool while your little people nap.
- 3 cots
- Baby bedding
- High chair
- Bottle warming
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Food is great here: children's meals can be served when you want and there are plenty of beach shacks to explore if you want to eat out. You can also borrow a blender or microwave if you need it.
Kids Activities on site:
- Swimming pool with shallow end
- Children's DVDs
- Farm animals nearby
- Toys and games
Kids Activities nearby:
- Elephant washing
Families Should Know:
The pool isn't fenced and there are mosquitoes here in the early evening. It can be slippery during the monsoon season. There's a shop for nappies and baby/child food 5 minutes away by car.
- Airport 25 minutes
- Hospital: 15 minutes
- Doctor: 10 minutes