Go Goa and don’t forget to check in at the Radisson White Sands Beach Resort to be pampered their way, with air conditioned deluxe suites, a mini bar, banana boat rides, jet skiing, parasailing, go carting, Mediterranean food and ambience… the list is endless. It’s better you check it out yourself
DAY ONE – March 21, 2003: Trust Indian Airlines to delay the flight to Goa by one-and-a-half hours. As one of the sixteen journalists on the junket (my first in eight years), I was the last to make it to the Radisson White Sands Resort in south Goa at 4.30 pm. The front office manager tells me the press conference is in five minutes. I check into my air-conditioned room, freshen up and get to Nuts, the air-conditioned lobby bar and lounge where the PC is underway. The GM of the hotel tells us tourism may have begun in north Goa, but the future of tourism is in south Goa. “We are four months old, and we believe that people make the property,” he says. A tour of the property follows, and I am witness to 38 acres of beauty… a 496 metre swimming pool that’s five metres away from each of the ground floor rooms, a 250-seater ballroom; a shack to view the sun set; the Varca beach (40 minutes from the Dabolim airport)… At last, I am back to my garden view room with air conditioning. Stepping from a 32-degree environment to a 22-degree room temperature is comforting. A bubble bath with piped music relaxes me further. Soon, it’s suppertime and I am by the poolside clad in shorts and t-shirt sipping fresh lime soda and tucking in chicken and lamb tikkas. People clad in vibrant clothes egg us on to the centre of the pool for a dance. I oblige as soon as my kind of music comes on (the ketchup song is one of them). Back after dinner, I watch BBC and then a German channel that was chronicling the entire Iraq crisis on a 25-inch Philips flat screen TV. I watch it till the very end and sleep when it’s 2.30 am.
DAY TWO – March 22, 2003: Wake up late. A quick breakfast and I am at the beach. A boat ride follows and soon, we are by the side of dolphins swimming in gay abandon… atleast four of them. We chase them, and they move further away as the sound of the engine gets to them. We silence the boat and watch the dolphins for a while before moving on. Near the island, we anchor the boat and get into a dinghy. Clad in a life jacket, flippers, goggles, pipe and all. It’s an experience. After an hour of flirting with the tides and fish, we get back on the dinghy and reach our boat anchored 25 feet above water. As we approach the Varca beach, it was time for the high tides. The boat rocked and our heartbeats quickened. Finally, I get off the boat and into the dinghy and all is well. In the evening, we hit the market of Margao. I pick up two kurtas, one crinkled blue and one plain white. Dinner is at the Dhow, the restaurant on the beach, and drinks are served on Rambooze, a fish trailer done up to resemble a bar, complete with barstools and all. Kenyan fire dancers kept us engaged. Senior vice president KB Kachru of Carlson Hospitality India tells us they will have 17 more Radisson properties by 2004. “We will be announcing a Bangalore project within 30 days,” he smiles. We hit the beach floor and party away into the night. Then, we move towards the hotel’s Gravity Pool and play pool till 2 am. Back in the room, I get an update on Iraq. The report says, the war is closer to the beginning and not the end. I cringe and go to sleep.
DAY THREE – March 23, 2003: After breakfast, we reach the beach and find the scheduled banana boat ride (where the boat topples over repeatedly and you get back into it all the time) is not on because of high tides. We go jet skiing instead. I feel like Bond chasing one of the villains, as I ride the waves, one after the other in quick succession. The more I accelerate, the more my heart drops to my feet. Never felt that way before. Maybe because I was on a water scooter for the first time. Soon, I am lifted up in one slow and swift pull by the motorboat. It was parasailing 300 feet above sea level and I got a wide-angle view of the beach and the endless stretch of water beyond. Then, I am brought down, my feet touch the sea water. I am pulled back up and find myself landing on my feet perfectly. I jet ski yet again, but without the initial thrill. Some table tennis later, I go back to my room and watch Zaheer Khan bowl a no ball. Bad omen. By the end of the over, he gives away 15 runs. Discouraged, I switch to Channel V and B4U; get into the bathtub and listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Afreen Afreen and Sonu Nigam’s Saathiya, among others. Back to Sony Max, the match is dominated by Ponting and I am back to channel surfing. Have lunch at 5.30 pm. Back in my room and I realise, India has lost Tendulkar and Ganguly. Channel surf. Watch India losing seven wickets. Have dinner with the rest of the gang of journalists (Elle, Society, Times Property, Express travel publications, Deccan Herald), exchange cards and say goodbye (they were on the 6 am flight and I was on the 2.45 pm flight). Watch BBC announce that the allied forces were facing Iraqi resistance across the country. I sleep early… at midnight.
DAY FOUR – March 24, 2003: Watch Nicole Kidman justify her stand of coming to the ceremony despite the war: “I have come here for art.” And then I watch Adrien Brody, speak, as an afterthought, about his friend caught on the war front and how he prays the war should end sooner than later. I use the bathtub yet again… the jet on your body feels like a water massage, and you take it gladly. It’s 12 noon and I check out of the hotel in an air-conditioned Honda City. The authorities at the Dabolim airport tell me the Indian Airlines flight is on time. An hour later, when the plane touches down, the air hostess announces it’s 36 degrees in Bangalore, and I begin to miss Goa already.
Radisson White Sands Resort, Goa
A three-night package at Radisson will set you back anywhere from Rs 21,000 (garden view room) and Rs 28,000 (ultra deluxe room)
Includes a mini bar in your room, in-room safes and data ports, tea/coffee makers, centrally air conditioned rooms, airport transfers in a/c cars, breakfast in bed, a body massage, unlimited use of the sauna/steam/Jacuzzi, heart-shaped cake in room on arrival, a trip for Go-Carting and a game of bowling
These rates are not valid from December 20 to January 6
The Rs 24,000 standard room package for three nights includes a banana boat ride, one island trip for snorkelling and dolphin chase; one parasail and one Crocodile Dundee trip
(Published in City Reporter, 2003)