“We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospect.” –Anais Nin
I began blogging with the aim of chronicling my food and travel adventures and to come back to them as often as I wish, and in that to be able to take my readers along with me on our journeys.
This time we were invited to the Ibis Styles hotel in Calangute, Goa. What excited me about the Ibis styles , was the fact that it is the first and only Ibis styles hotel in India. And also the fact that it is a mid-range hotel property situated in the heart of the touristy belt of Calangute and Candolim.
The sheer number of children at the property was enough to let one know that it is immensely popular with families. From kids enjoying the kids play area, to swimming, and even a four generation cricket match being played by dadis and chachis, the place is like a very large picnic spot for families.
Arrival: I was disappointed to see that it is not a beach side, or even a ‘walk to beach’ property, also it is in a culdesac and has a less than welcoming alleyway. But, this alley is where most of the taxis, and bikes for rent are parked; they may not make a scenic entrance, but it is very convenient to hire a vehicle here.
Foyer: Colourful and filled with Goan inspiration in the form of canoes, a faux shell chandelier in the form of a wave, and a brightly painted front desk. They have lovely bright sofas, and even a foot massage corner, while you wait for the formalities. The Ibis Styles, is based on stylish and stylised interiors, with “ Pop, Pep and perky personality “ and the foyer sure has all of those.
Rooms: A bit small but comfortable queen size bed for two, and they have a choice of twin sharing of you are travelling with a colleague. They also have rooms adjoining for say families, of four, where the connecting door, opens up to the adjacent room. Since we have a toddler, a single queen bed is fine, but an older child or three travellers, would need an extra bed. There are two wings, and I would highly recommend the stay in Saal wing if you are travelling with kids, since that is where the play area is and also the kids pool. The other wing is kind of more for business meets and more clinical, I thought. All rooms face a pool.
Kid friendly options: First off, very safe room, all switches with safety caps, and even though each balcony has a central opening, our kid couldn’t slip through ( he tried) but it was nice for him to just sit there and see the world go by. One of the few hotels which have an open play area , and not in a room; that means that rains might be a problem, and the other that you cannot leave your kid unattended, lest they walk off. but otherwise we loved the open concept, the faux grass made it feel like a park, with swings and slides. We even saw entire families sitting on the grass playing antakshari, while the kids played on the swings. And table tennis. But, here is what really makes it a deal sealer, they have over ten toy cars to ride. For my son it was as if he had entered the place of his dreams. Even his school has just two cars, and the children have to share, but here, there were so many cars, that no child ever needs to share ! We spent every waking moment in the car park, and I think he saw it in his dreams that night too.
The swimming pool is small, and at 2.2 feet, it was deeper than the other kids pools that we have been to. Since it is in a shaded area, the water is colder than the water in the adult pool, and even the large pool in the other section is nice and warm. Yes, they have three pools, including the kids pool.
They have yet another , play gym park, near the kids pool, and that’s every bit as much fun, and thoughtfully designed as would be expected of a kids play gym. Yes, we woke up very early the next morning, and he couldn’t get enough of it. Sonce it was before my morning coffee, you see me wearing sunglasses, and wishing I could have slept longer on a Sunday. But for kids, Sunday’s are fun-days.
Food: One restaurant, the spice it, it serves buffet breakfast , lunch and dinner, as well as alacarte for lunch and dinner. Chef Rahul and chef Mayank, really try and innovate and create interesting meal pairings . the chicken lababdar, and the lachcha paratha along with the chicken Cafreal kebabs cooked in a tandoor are worth trying. Chef Mayank especially made kid friendly king fish and it had the lightest brushing of mustard paste, and while I thought my son wouldn’t have it , he loved it. The potato wedges, were superbly well made, but he refused them. Kids ! If you are feeling adventurous , I would highly recommend the spinach lasagne, with two types of cheese sauce, and arugula and parmegiano, that chef Mayank makes. It is one of the cheesiest , most indulgent things, Ihave had in recent times, and a non tomato based lasagne with peppery rocket leaves and sharp parmesan cheese, is a flavour combination not many chefs dare to experiment with.
Activities: cycling, a jeep ride to the beach, a short walk to candolim junction, and loads of shopping options. I would suggest shopping at the really small shop right outside the hotel, since the hotel is in a culdesac, her rates are not as high as the others, and I got the most stylish tshirts for Rs 200. See my Instagram @thefoodietrails for pictures of the three outfits I bought at her store. Resort wear sorted, right there!
The artwork at the hotel is what sets it apart from the others. A Ms Venu Juneja is credited to the art consultant, and honestly I would have her consult on my own home , I was that impressed by her Goan Kitschy style and Mario Miranda inspired works of art.
On our recent visit , we found everyone very helpful , especially the servers at our table 32. And also budhhadeb the purser who escorted us at the foyer. A place is it’s people, and I think all the other happy guests really added to the holiday atmosphere. Go in groups, or as a family, and make some fun memories.