As Indian entrepreneurs try to splash the coastline of Goa with colour and sound, Goan Louis Rodrigues is attempting to maintain the elements of the land through the Nirvana Hill Resort conceptualized by him in Curtorim village of South Goa.
Ten cottages, ascetically placed on a hill overlooking a lake around 14 kilometers to the closest beach, Nirvana Hill Resort could be what Goa comes closest to hinterland tourism with the state being too small to offer the variety offered by others.
“The beauty from our beaches will never vanish but the tourists will. We hardly see foreigners like we saw before and beach tourism is relatively unknown to tourists from India. Hence this niche,” explains Rodrigues.
Perched on a hill leading to the famous Miracles Chapel in Curtorim and overlooking the famous sweet water lake, Nirvana Hill Resort sets one on a journey through mind, body and soul sprinkled with the presence of birds on trees.
“This concept was visualised for anyone who wants to fuse a break with routine and self-realism. Here, one can swim enjoying the silence of the hill, work as the bird chirps or just enjoy a drink as ones thoughts go racing just wondering at the lake in front,” offers Louis who started working on the project before the pandemic.
Each cottage has something different to offer – there is a tree house; a cottage with a private pool; cottage with a jacuzzi; and all have a view of the lake, which adds a different dimension to staying on a hill in a village.
Hinterland tourism, according to Ernest Dias COO of Sita Travels, is picking up in Goa. These top end places are enjoying good occupancy compared to other places. “There are a few facilities that are doing very well. There is a niche for such tourism,” suggests Ernest.
“I was happy to discover this place. It helps me take a break from my work in the capital and rejuvenate. It is so peaceful and so much in tune with nature,” discloses Sofi from Germany who travels to India on work.
Nirvana has a bar and restaurant that provides meals prepared by a chef from New Delhi who is being trained on the secrets of Goan cuisine. The curries are authentic Goan as are the fish meals.
“We started the restaurant a month back and are happy because our chef is fast getting the taste of Goa and his North Indian food is a treat,” says restaurant manager Johnny Seixal, as he serves kebabs. A tasty meal for two with premium alcohol comes to around Rs 5,000 at the restaurant.
With five star resorts on the beach catering to corporate and high end tourists and with no significant return of foreign tourists after the pandemic, Nirvana Hill Resort with around 80 per cent occupancy since October 2023, is clearly chirping happily along with the birds in the area.
“We have an exclusive clientele and we want to keep it that way. Local, Indian and foreign tourists prefer the exclusivity offered and that is going to be our focus. Cottages vary from Rs 4,000 to Rs 12,000,” shares Louis.
“The concept of Eco resorts is picking up in Goa. Though foreigners have not yet opted for such places, top end Indian clients prefer to stay in such places instead of being on the beach,” disclosed Orlando Nunes owner of Trail Blazers Tours and Travels that handles British charter, Olympic.
“This bar and restaurant is different from others because it insulates us from the normal grind in Goa. Over here, we come, enjoy within the privacy and serenity offered,” says Yuri Figueriedo who claims to be a regular visitor, as he sips his single malt.