“Soften your edges in playful thatched igloos, hidden within a magical sand garden behind the nearly deserted white-sand Ashvem Beach”
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.