When the USP of a perfectly luxurious hotel are the naps
States don’t come with concepts, but then Goa isn’t just any state. It comes with lazy lounging at the beach, crazy parties when the sun goes down, and architecture that stands out. Also, cheap beer. More than anything, it’s a way of life and the locals even have a word for it – Susegad. Susegad comes from the Portuguese word sossegado, which actually means ‘quiet’, so clearly the Goans could brush up on their Portuguese. Nevertheless, sossegado could loosely refer to the way their houses were built.
Goa was a rich shipping port during Portuguese rule and traders from around the world visited this colony. Portuguese ships monopolized the spice trade between the China-Thailand-India-Portugal route. Long story short, Goa had a lot of money and the money showed in the buildings built at the time. Thick walls, high ceilings, plenty of woodwork, and tastefully designed spaces. Modern day Goa though has very few such buildings. Once Goa started to develop as a tourist destination, a lot of locals sold their houses to eventually be demolished for modern five star hotels. There were still a few gems left, and the hotel you see in these pictures is one of them.
All that history and the stunning architecture that Surya Kiran boasts of and you’d think the owners would want us to first soak in on the house’s beauty and old world charm but one of the first things we were told was that you get excellent sleep here. Old bungalow, stories of ghosts, the things the mind runs crazy with. It’s probably not your ideal opening line, but to be honest, they just wanted to put the hotel’s USP across, and we were invited to test it first-hand, so I was looking forward to a few lazy days in Goa.
Surya Kiran, originally a residence built in the Campal area of Panjim, is right opposite the Campal garden and opposite the front façade bisecting the garden is the main road that runs along the Mandovi River. It is prime property, and all the old buildings are retained around the Surya Kiran bungalow. Since the purchase of this bungalow, the owners were convinced that the charm of a heritage property had to be maintained through its renovation into a hotel. You might walk into modern amenities but the furniture retains that vintage charm, the wooden roof with its exposed rafters are a delightful sight, and every room has a high ceiling and thick walls that keep the heat away. The house comes with a landscaped courtyard, a massive living room, and even the servant’s quarters is converted into a room with an attached toilet. Don’t be mistaken; it isn’t low rent anymore. There are four rooms in the house each with a colour theme after which the rooms are named, and the fifth one converted from the servant’s quarter is a few yards away.
The Portuguese recorded their history in detail but Goa went through this phase where they weren’t in charge and during that time, records of the house were lost. It is assumed that since the Campal area was built in the late 1800s and because the location of this house is right in the centre of this area, the villa might have been built around 1890 when development of buildings in Campal began. That’s 128 years ago, but these heritage structures were over engineered back in the day to withstand nature’s fury and hence we’ve got a house that isn’t just as original to its construction state but also, retains a lot of its detailing. The intricate flooring and roof, wooden doors and roof-end carvings, you don’t get to experience their grandeur in modern hotels.
All these aspects tend to have a calming influence on you as most old houses do. We’re busy working multiple jobs, making sense of the chaos in our lives and in that effort, the joy of a lazy vacation is highly appreciated. More so when you get a good night’s sleep, but there is always so much to do and places to see on a vacation that you tend to miss a few laid-back days. But when you set an alarm for an early morning stroll at the beach and realize that you missed it snooze by a few hours, there’s something definitely different about that night’s sleep. I wake up fresh after about 10 hours of shut-eye and I can’t quite explain how that happened for a light sleeper. And that is Surya Kiran’s undefinable USP. I’m risking being called loony here, because you don’t go to hotels for a review and come back with great sleep as your main takeaway, but honest to heart, it is mine. Logical explanation to this is the architecture as thick walls block sound and wood absorbs heat well, but it could also be the planning of the house to channel wind and light in ways that make the stay pleasant. There are so many choices for resorts and hotels in Goa that the identity of another is lost to the hundreds that came before it, but Surya Kiran is very different with its old world Portuguese charm and the best sleep you will get on any bed in Goa. Give it a try.
Contact: +91 8322224714