When I want to get away from Anjuna, it sometimes seems like the only options in North Goa are huge hotels or a simple beach hut (which I love, don’t get me wrong). It was Ben and I’s anniversary, so I wanted to find one of those unique North Goa luxury resorts.
I had read about these mysterious luxury private tents, Amarya Shamiyana, on trendy Ashvem Beach, near Morjim, and immediately knew I had to stay there. But would the tent’s amazing online photos live up to my expectations? The reviews online were raving. I had pretty much been obsessing over the place for weeks. I actually tried to stay a month ago, but they were booked and I ended up on the secret beach down south. After our stay at Amarya Shamiyana, we ended staying at a sister resort, Amarya Paros. Get a cup a tea, and sit back, because I have SO much to say about this place!
Giddy with excitement, and hoping for the “pink tent” (other options of blue, purple, and gold), we trailed off down a little dirt road and walked through a giant silver picture frame into the intimate resort. The property has only four well-hidden, color-themed, luxurious tents. I know what you’re thinking- how can a safari tent be luxurious? Think Arabian nights: drapery, jewels, silks, color.
The super nice French owner, Mathieu, welcomed us personally and the receptionist told us she had a complimentary bottle of wine for our anniversary (thank you!) They took our bags and showed us our room. Guess which tent I got? Drumroll… The pink tent! Ben was overjoyed…! You can tell the mural behind the fluffy white bed is hand-painted in prefect detail and the tent is huge (64m sq.). My bed at home is hard as a rock, so I could have wasted my day away in the h down comforter, but luckily the sounds of the Arabian Sea persuaded me to get off my bum and go explore. I actually wrote down the name of the pillows they have, hoping to buy one online.
The tent décor reminds me a little of my time in Rajasthan, although I never stayed anywhere so nice there; I imagine a rich little Rajasthani girl has a bedroom just like this. The tent lures you into feeling like a Maharaja with a nice flow between modern design and true Indian antique decadence.
Often times, beach huts don’t offer many amenities, but here you might as well be at a 5 star hotel. The tents miraculously have A/C and hot water showers, as well as TWO verandas with day beds sectioned off with more drapery. Staff gives each guest a cell phone with reception’s number, and even the owner’s number saved in case you need anything during your stay. The room has safes to lock your valuables and the closet locks as well. There is plenty of lighting. It seems they’ve thought of everything, even magazines, fans, candles, iPod dock, and bug spray.
The bathroom is equipped with big fluffy towels, robes, and ‘Holy Lama Naturals’ handmade soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and face cream (I didn’t try that because it was whitening). Usually, I never use the hotel toiletries because they always suck- but these didn’t suck! To put it in perspective: My long haired boyfriend who thinks that swimming in the sea every day is a good enough hair wash, came out of the shower and said, “I love that shampoo!” Then two hours later, I kid you not, he smelled his own hair, and was like, “I’ve got to get some of this shampoo”. I’ve never seen him do anything so clean… it was shocking and weird. I should check his temperature.
At 11:30, when we realized it was too late to eat at the nearby restaurant, La Plage, I thought I was doomed to starve. A silly way to think… of course the accommodating staff made Ben and I club sandwiches and brought them to the room on a silver platter! They serve 24/7 either in-room or at the dining room. Breakfast is also served all day and it’s huge. I’m an eater, but absolutely could not eat all that food! We did have lunch at La Plage earlier and it was delicious- I swear their sour cream with herbs was homemade ranch dressing; I almost fainted from excitement.
The porch, my favorite place to lay back and get some work done, (I know I shouldn’t be working on our anniversary blah blah) goes along with the color theme, with gorgeously designed lighting from GoodEarth (think: anthropology), a company I fell in love with in Mumbai.
It’s not just the personal tent space that is gorgeous and well designed. The common area has a tempting princely feel to it, with the same modern Maharaja design as the rooms, complete with a popular Nespresso bar, spa, restaurant, yoga classes, and an adorable Parisian designer boutique.
The spa comes to you with this unique setup. They transform the tent into the perfect relaxing atmosphere to get head massages, reflexology, Thai massage, facials, and mani/pedis. Prices range from 1,500- 2,500 rs for massages, except the couples massage which is 4,500. Manicures are about 2,000 with polish, and facials are 1,500-2,000. Compared to some resorts I’ve been to, I was shocked how low the prices are.
Nani Ki “The Shop”
The Shop uses only organic fibers, cottons, and rich silks or pashmina. It is a French mother-daughter team that uses traditional Indian stitched embroideries with a noticeable European twist. The shop is really cute and sells tiny little children’s clothes as well. The Shop in Delhi is called Lolas World and has more variety. Although they sell some reasonably priced items, of course my favorite was a silky robe that sells at 11,000 rs (about 200 dollars) I’ll have to save up for that one! Why must I have such expensive taste?
At night, you can see the shadows of the palms waving back and forth through the white tent. Waking up to the windy air and tropical birds isn’t bad either. The tent has different “rooms” inside that are all open to each other, and if you leave the main tent doors pulled back while you stand under the rain-shower, you can look out into the garden of coconut groves. Don’t worry, it’s very private, no one can see you!
I can’t say it better than the website itself: “Refreshing, playful, classy and delightfully romantic, Amarya Shamiyana is like nothing you have experienced before.”
What would have been the “Cherry on Top” of Amarya Shamiyana:
- There is no net above the bed, but I didn’t see one mosquito! The tent is pretty tough and sturdy, and there is spray for outside on the porch. I think the net would ruin the look of the room.
- Music played until 5 A.M. from the club nearby. If you’ve ever fallen asleep to trance music (picture Koh Phi Phi but way more beats-per-minute), you know it’s a little difficult. This is a typical problem in Goa and one that is hard to escape on any beachfront property in Goa. I slept fine, but my boyfriend couldn’t sleep so it is worth mentioning. Staff apologized for the noise, although we both knew nothing could be done; afterall this is still Goa.
Our stay was so beautiful and intoxicating that instead of one night we are staying for two. We are moving locations to his other Goa property so I can check that out for you all as well. Just 1.5 km down the beach, called Amarya Paros. This property is also very well hidden, and directly beachfront, with a restaurant overlooking the Arabian Sea. It was opened to accommodate the many visitors who wanted to stay with Amarya group.
This place has the Amarya Shamiyana charm and amenities for the most part. It’s brand spankin’ new on a pristine, secluded beach. There are a few differences, so I’ll focus on those. This resort is more off the beaten path so to speak; you will wind through a sleepy village following signs posted on trees until you come to the resort. Friendly staff helps you check in with the same deliciously cinnamon flavored iced tea. There are options for either tents (8), or a 3 BR transformed colorful Portuguese villa that is either rented out as one or individually. The villa’s garden is full and vibrant.
The tents here sit on sand and line each side facing in toward each other, so they are a little less private. The porches have sun loungers, and they have beds down the path at Turtle Beach covered with bamboo shade. The tents are smaller, have a more rustic feel than the mystic one at Shamiyana. Recycled wood from fisherman’s boats make the entire look. Again, no mosquito net, but it’s never a problem by the sea. At this resort, there is no shopping boutique or spa, but yoga is offered. The bed is a smidge smaller and there are no fluffy robes. The rooms here are a little less expensive than the tents at Shamiyana, so you’ll have extra to splurge at the breathtaking beachfront café.
The restaurant has the same menu, an additional dinner menu. Mostly scrumptious seafood, I opted for the chicken breast with mustard sauce and Ben got the kingfish tartare and tuna steak in a black pepper crust. It was lick the bowl good. The restaurant has a classy beach vibe- if that’s even a thing? It’s a great place to watch the sunset over the sea.
Small local shops line the almost deserted beach and you can watch the fisherman pull in their catch. You would almost forget Anjuna is just 20 minutes away while you fall asleep listening to the waves crash. Now I am beached out and a little sunburn, it’s back to Goa and little Huckleberry Finn.
Book your stay!
- To book head over to the Amarya Group website. Keep in mind they have two properties in Goa and two in Delhi. Rooms at Shamiyana range from 5,900 to 7,900, (except for two weeks in December when they are 11,500 which is normal in Goa for peak Christmas-time season). You can add people to the rooms for 1,000 per person; they will transform the day beds into fluffy beds.
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Thank you to Amarya Group for my magical stay at Paros. I was not asked to write a favorable review- opinions will always be my own.
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