November 01, 2006

Blessed Beach Resort [Hotel review]

The cantankerous bits first. The name flirts with the truth; Om Beach is five winding, up-hill-down-dale kilometres away. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m., with nary a coffee available after that. There’s nothing to do on the premises but eat and watch TV (or get some Ayurvedic massage treatments, of which more anon). And yes, like the brochure says, there is internet access; a solitary computer, which connects at a creaking 7.2 kbps. Gah!
Now that I have that off my chest.
It is beautiful: a cluster of villas perched on a breezy hilltop, undulating lawns, plenty of trees, birds and butterflies and flower beds.. very idyllic. If you want to hit the beach, they drive you there and pick you up when you’re done, gratis. Permission for a swimming pool has just been sanctioned by the government. And Management says that when the Season gets underway, they take guests on boat rides to isolated neighbouring beaches, and run water sports.
Interiors: comfortable, large rooms, though the layout of mine felt cramped. They call ’em suites, but the sitting room is sparsely furnished, and not ACed, and the bedroom hasn’t a comfy chair. Big gripe: large, inviting bathtub. And no drain plug. Even if one had materialised, the water heater was one of those miniature jobs that yield half a bucket of hot water at a time. Tchah. But. A private porch looking on to the garden! Great place to watch them birds and butterflies.
Food? Oily (the veggies) to pretty good (the seafood); a limited menu, fair enough in a place with just 12 rooms; large servings, priced decently. They’re happy to go against their better instincts to satisfy weirdos like this reviewer, who prefer prawns not smothered in pungent batter.
The place is managed by the Kairali group, which has built a rep for its Ayurveda health tourism. And the Ayurvedic Centre was the highlight of my stay. (Unlike Kairali’s other establishments, where you follow a strict regimen, treatment here is optional—build it into your package, make instant appointments, whatever—so the place serves meat and alcohol, and permits smoking.) I indulged myself with two treatments in two days, the first while still stiff from the bone-jarring four-hour drive in from Goa. (Dabolim is the nearest airport, but until the monsoon damage is fixed, take the train, amigo.) After a two-hour session, I was so relaxed that my post-lunch meditative lie-down dissolved into another eight hours of oblivion. Bliss. I guess I’ll grant them the “Om” after all.

The Information
Location: Gokarna, Karnataka; 65km from Karwar, 135km from Dabolim, Goa.
Accomodation: 12 suite rooms
Tariff: From Rs 3500 for double occupancy. Ayurveda packages also available.
Contact: +91 11 51749800 (Delhi), +91 80 51122815, +91 8386 257718 (Gokarna), info@ombeachresort.com
Web: http://www.ombeachresort.com/

Published in the "Hotels" section of Outlook Traveller, November 2006.

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