THE image of Goa as primarily a cheap and cheerful package destination is fading as more upmarket operators enter the destination.
While the budget deals in north Goa remain a popular option for those who want a laid-back holiday with plenty of nightlife, developments in the south are attracting a different client seeking peace and quiet in luxurious surroundings.
The most significant development is the opening of the five-star deluxe Taj Exotica in south Goa, scheduled for October. The beachfront hotel boasts 136 standards rooms, two presidential villas and two deluxe suites with private pools.
Somak, Cox and Kings and Kuoni are all planning to introduce the property when it opens. Somak in particular believes the inclusion of the Taj Exotica will shift the emphasis of its brochure to the higher end of the market.
Product manager Stuart Britton said: “We are making an effort to push the quality end of our product. Unlike the big players, we can’t operate purely on volume so we’ve got to go for the higher-value client.”
Somak also intends to take advantage of the launch this November of a premium service on Monarch Airlines’ flights from Gatwick to Goa to attract higher-spending customers.
Cox and Kings product manager Charlie Riddout said the new Taj fits well with its existing portfolio in south Goa, which includes the Leela Palace and the Goa Renaissance. But it is also looking to offer alternatives to luxury hotels.
Its new brochure features Siolim House, a 300-year-old Portuguese manor house set in its own grounds with six bedrooms and a private swimming pool.
Ridout said: “There are quite a lot of old colonial houses and palaces being converted into guest houses in Rajasthan and it will happen in Goa too. The market is going that way as people are looking for more peace and quiet.”
Clients can book a room or the whole house, depending on the size of the group, from £60 per night including breakfast.
Riddout added: “It will be the clients on tailor-made holidays who will go for these properties.
“Those who have been to India before or who have travelled off-the-beatentrack, will want to delve deeper into the country.”
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