Monday 30 July 2012

Getting Stuffed at the Taj Exotica, Goa

Last time I went to Goa, in 1997, I spent four days in bed with dysentery at a hotel where our bedroom toilet could only be cleared by throwing buckets of water down it.  Not something you need when you’re on your deathbed.

15 years on and in another life, I was determined that this time, we would be staying in a place where a) I would not get ill b) if I did, I would have access to a properly working toilet (preferably with a gold plated handle).  And hence we found ourselves on a monsoon getaway to the Taj Exotica, a five star holiday resort in South Goa set in 56 hectares of manicured lawn, with abundant amenities such as the Jiva Spa, swimming pool, 9 hole golf course, umpteen restaurants and  in-house shops (yaaay).  It would be a well earned break for Mr Jules (as I am permanently on vacation anyway).
The Taj Exotica, at Benaulim, really is a beautiful retreat away from the madness that is Mumbai.  No constant beeping horns, no beggars tapping on your window, no horrific slums to ruin the view – it’s wonderfully antiseptic.

Despite our best efforts however, I did still end up getting a sore stomach but for reasons other than bacterial.  In a bizarre attempt at excellent customer service, the Taj decided to 'force' food upon us every time we entered one of its in-house restaurants! Bear in mind that we would kick off the day with a substantial buffet breakfast – probably some nice fruit and a mango yoghurt, followed by a fried English style breakfast (well I am allowed to, I’ve eaten fruit), followed by pastries and toast.  And then later, not being bothered to leave the hotel premises, we would stuff ourselves with an extensive lunch buffet – salad, followed by curry and parathas followed by a selection of desserts. Well you have to get your money’s worth don’t you?
So what we would have in mind in the evening would be to eat a light meal.  Honest Guv! But against our best efforts, for two of the three evenings it would pan out something like this:  

Upon giving our order, “Can I not interest you in a starter Sir?"
"No thanks we’re just having a main course”
"Are you sure Sir"
"Yes I am very sure thank you". 

Two minutes later….

”I would like to present with the compliments of the chef, a mushroom soup topped with a lecithin froth”.

Oh great thanks, just what I always wanted, some froth made out of lecithin.  After the free soup and the main course, so it goes:

“Would you not like a dessert madam?”
”Oh no thanks I’m full, I really just wanted a main course”.
"Are you sure Madam"
"Oh yes, quite sure thank you!"

One can't deny that the service is amazing at the Taj.  Five minutes later the waiter approaches the table:

“I would like to present you with traditional Goan dessert called Bebinca.  My mother cooked this when I was small, it brings back such happy memories”

(A layered custardy cake thing, with the consistency of a brick). 

“Oh marvellous thanks”. 

We force down the brick with a forced smile/grimace, whilst the waiter stands over the table ensuring that we are enjoying our complimentary dessert.   And then he follows this up with a 'gratis' glass of feni - the local liqueur.  It burns a hole in my throat and turns the food in my stomach into some sort of terrible chemistry experiment. 
Next evening…and another in-house restaurant, this time Italian.  We just want a bowl of spaghetti each. 

“Can I get you a starter madam?"
"Oh no thanks, I had the unlimited lunch buffet I am not that hungry”
"Are you really sure Madam?"
"Yes I really really am sure, thanks"

Three minutes later:

"The chef would like to present you with this basket of breads and oils and this beautiful plate of bruschetta"

Fabulous.  Now I think we're being stalked. Unfortunately the bruschetta is topped with smoked salmon, so Mr Jules can't eat any of it (oh yeah he can't actually eat raw tomato anyway) so it's left to me to consume the whole lot (well it would be rude not to).  I just about manage to squeeze that down and then the over-sauced main course of Spaghetti Carbonara.  

“Would you like to see the dessert menu?"
"No thanks can we just have the bill please?”

Ten minutes later:

“Here is your bill and selection of petit fours, with our compliments”…..aaaaaagh! Barf. (We are definitely being stalked by the chef).

The chef/stalker then comes out to ask us if we are satisfied with our meal and despite the fact we are looking green, we give him the thumbs up.
On the third night, too afraid to leave our room, we order the "in-house dining".

Here are the photos of the hotel, tomorrow I will post pictures of some of the sites we visited.

The vast expanses of Taj Exotica Goa - this area and the area below border a sun-filled central courtyard.

A mixture of modern and colonial interiors with nice touches everywhere such as these marble elephant bookends

Eugenia - the all day cafe where breakfast was served al fresco.

Salad course from the lunch buffet.  Salad that won't kill you (due to being washed in dirty water) is like gold-dust in Bombay - so we always eat as  much as we can when we see it!

This crow is the king of the castle of this giant chess set.

One of golf carts that the staff use to whizz around the vast resort (and give you a lift back to tbe main building if you are lucky!)

Each of these 'villas' house four rooms - ours was the bottom right on the ground floor.  Unfortunately due to the monsoon, there was no garden furniture available on our terrace.

Our room - out of shot is a large desk and two chairs and large double doors leading on to a small terrace.  Very spacious rooms indeed with separate dressing area and large bathroom.
Beautifully maintained grounds.  They even ensured that the coconut trees were pruned of coconuts every day to save guests getting conked on the head.

A five minute walk across the 9 hole golf course to the beach - a vast expanse of creamy sand.

See the cats in the bottom left corner - they went slightly mental when they smelt my smoked salmon and scrambled eggs! (I of course fed them with titbits of the 'imported Norwegian smoked salmon', much to the disdain of Mr Jules!)

The swimming pool - not huge but adequate and private.


Just some of the hundreds of staff that are employed to maintain the huge Taj Exotica estate.  Each person - gardeners, waiters, chambermaids are trained to say hello and ask you how you are - bearing in mind you may pass 10-15 or so  people on your way from the main building back to your room, it can get quite exhausting!

Find details of the hotel here:,goa/default.htm

Taj Exotica
Goa - 403 716
Tel:(91-0832) 6683333
Fax:(91-0832) 2771515

We booked through but I think better rates can be had if you contact them directly.


  1. Hi Julia

    I was looking forward to read the blog on the trip. Quite like the way you express things like "On the third night, too afraid to leave our room, we order the in-house dining"..... that was hilarious !!!

    Glad you had a good trip.


    1. Haha thanks for reading Percy. I am only just getting over the food overload. For the next week, I need me a nice vegetarian Hindu diet to get me through.....

  2. Love the pictures Julia! Glad you had a good getaway weekend!



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