“Soften your edges in playful thatched igloos, hidden within a magical sand garden behind the nearly deserted white-sand Ashvem Beach”
Manager Charanjit (he's happy to be called by his surname Pal as that’s much easier to remember) clearly knows the importance of caring details. An incense-burner is in each room; hand-woven, richly-coloured Rajasthani 'paintings' hang above every bed; muslin curtains waft in front of the mango wood window shutters. Countless baby potted plants are lovingly watered daily. A tasty organic breakfast is served on your own little table outside your pod or cottage. You can either sunbathe by the paddling pool and beach gate, or have sunloungers carried down to the beach.
- The wide-open, nearly-empty, silky-sanded beach is just outside the garden - perfect for long romantic walks
- The protected, enclosed peace of Yab Yum is safe, well-kept and great for families, too
- The yoga shala has Astanga and Iyengar classes, and good Ayurvedic treatments are available in the thatched massage room
- There are clusters of beach life a short walk left or right, with beach restaurants, stalls and lots of masseurs
- We loved the complimentary incense and candles, and the bowl of water by your door to wash sandy feet in
- This is not a hotel - think of it as a superior, charming beach shack and you won't be disappointed
- The cottages are pretty basic inside - we preferred the quirky, lilac-painted igloo interiors
- It's staffed by young locals - friendly and competent enough, but don't expect over-eager, Western-style service
- With fans rather than air conditioning, the igloos can get stuffy - though it's more eco-friendly
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Beach Resort
- 14 domes + 5 cottages
- Restaurant (guests only)
- Only Children aged 3 years and over are accepted
- Open all year
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
All the rooms - domes and cottages - are simple, spacious and fun, decked out with muslin curtains that flutter in the sea breezes and vivid hand-woven Rajasthani patchwork paintings above each bed. You get one of the loveliest incenses in the world - Nagchampa - and candles for those tropical romantic nights. And we loved the bucket of water beside your door to wash sandy feet in - an inspired touch.
The Standard Domes (or igloos) are each constructed of 3 circular bases made of blue-and-purple-painted concrete and cement, all topped by rounded domed roofs of shaggy dried grass that reminded us of Dougal from the Magic Roundabout. The first circle makes the entrance, with banquettes to either side. The second and largest is the bedroom, which features stone-platform beds with cotton linen, hand-made mattresses, blankets and feather pillows. The third is the bathroom. The circular construction and unfussy but pretty decoration makes for a magical and organic space. Wherever possible, local materials have been used such as lava rock blocks, mango wood for the tables, and mud, clays and sand. Our only caveat is that sometimes the domes can get stuffy at night.
Top of the range are 3 larger domes: a pair of Honey Pods, which each sleep 2, and sit on the top of the dunes that conceal the resort from the beach; and the neighbouring Double Suite Pod. This consists of a double dome with 2 bedrooms, a shared bathroom and a sea-facing terrace. There are also Large and Medium Family Domes, both of which have 1 double and 2 single beds in the main sleeping chamber.
The white-walled cottages are old Portuguese buildings which have been there for many years (you’re no longer allowed to build on or right beside the beach thanks to coastal conservation regulations). Inside they're plain and simple, with glass windows, verandas and air-conditioning. Two have been extended to accommodate a family in comfort.
All the bathrooms are clean with fresh towels, although there was a suspicious trickle coming from the base of our toilet. Rooms are cleaned daily, if you remember to leave them unpadlocked so the staff can get in, and linen is changed every other day.
- Mosquito net
A little breakfast menu is pegged on your door each night for you to make your choice - eggs any style, organic fruits and jams, locally grown fresh fruit salads, yoghurt and cereals, or local stone-oven-baked bread in little baskets. You tuck in to your morning feast on the little table outside your cottage or dome - there's no set time and no hurry (this is Goa, after all). Be warned: the wicker breakfast chairs can be tough on the posterior without cushions.
There's a lovely informal beachside dining area with a daytime menu of light continental and Indian dishes, as well as an evening menu of Indian thalis (available resort guests only). The drinks selection ranges from herbal teas, to beers, wine and some rather tempting cocktails. There's also a minibar service where fresh fruit juices, lassis, teas and coffees can be brought to your room, the beach or your lounger/hammock. Alternatively, you can walk along the beach to any number of places.
One of the best beachside restaurants is the excellent French La Plage to the south, which serves up great steaks and seafood in a superb setting (The Guardian called it "one of the most stylish beach restaurants on the globe"). Naturally, given the location, shellfish is plentiful, as are traditional vegetarian dishes, though salads can be a little plain and limp and one can’t be sure they were washed in bottled water. Because so many tourists visit the area, many beach restaurants also offer Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Israeli and Russian menu sections.
Do try the local stuffed papadums (you’ll want to make them at home) and a Goan vindaloo, which is far tastier and less-tastebud-nuking than the average Anglo-Indian version.
- Children's meals
- Restaurant (guests only)
- Restaurants nearby
- Laze in swinging hammocks beneath the palms, take to a sun-lounger on the beach, or recline in wicker armchairs on Yab Yum's beachside viewing platform to watch the flaming ruby sunsets
- Take long walks on the quiet, endless beach and feel the silky-soft sand between your toes; watch tiny spider crabs making abstract art while scampering about
- Swim and float in the warm and very salty Arabian sea (but do be careful of the occasional rip-tide) or lounge around the resort while the kids play in the paddling pools
- Try a yoga class - both Astanga and Iyengar courses are offered in the purpose-built yoga shala
- Have an Ayurvedic massage in one of the purpose-built thatched cottages
- Hire a motorbike and cruise around with the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair - though do remember bikes don’t come with helmets or protective clothing, the roads have many a deep, jagged pothole and Indian drivers are famous for trusting too much in fate and not nearly enough in the Highway Code!
- Visit the red ruins of Chapora Fort at nearby Vagator and see the face carved into the rock at Little Vagator beach
- Catch the not-to-be-missed Saturday night flea market in Anjuna. It has a full-on English-summer-festival feel, with live bands, countless stalls selling bags, food, sculptures, fabrics, jewellery and souvenirs, plus laid-back hippies selling their winter-subsidising-wares alongside the rather more insistent locals
- Explore the peaceful white sand beaches further north and the little fishing village of Arambol, or visit the temptingly named Paradise Beach and see if it takes you to heaven
- Visit the seething tourist hot-spots, shops, nightclubs and bars of Baga and Calangute, a 30-minute drive away
- Sample the metropolitan culture and history of the old Latin Quarter, Fontainhas, in Goa’s capital, Panjim, 45 minutes' drive away
- Take to the waves with a Yab Yum boogie board (there are lots available) or go on a boat trip to look for dolphins and porpoises
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
This is a magical space for younger children (they only accept children aged 3 and over), though it's possibly too peaceful for teenagers. Families love the wide, quiet sandy beach. Hopping on a tuk tuk for a trip to Anjuna market, Panjim or nearby beaches will keep everyone happy.
Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
The Medium and Large Family Domes are the obvious choice, sleeping up to 2 adults and 2 children; the Family Cottage also has space for up to 2 children. There are only showers, no baths.
Food is available all day and there's a kids' menu (fish 'n' chips, penne pasta). There's also an early tea and a foodie guide to the nearby cafes and restaurants.
Kids Activities on site:
- Toy and paints can be provided
- 2 shallow paddling pools
Kids Activities nearby:
- Big empty beach
- Dolphin-watching boat tours
- Take a tuk-tuk to the more touristy beaches in the south, or Panjim
- Head to Morjim and watch turtles hatch (in season)
Families Should Know:
It's a fenced, secure property with a maximum capacity of 50 people including children, so the staff are always familiar with where children are. Those who bring little ones may want to bring nappies as there's nowhere nearby to buy it.
- Airport: 80 minutes
- Hospital: 10 minutes
- Doctor: Ayurvedic doctor on-call, or 10 minutes to the hospital