Goa Travel: Unhappy Stay at AirBnB villa


goa villa tea

By now you all probably know that we went to Goa for the New Year,  and we had a lot of fun on the beach(Goa Travel: Beach Fun at Goa) and had a great experience of Parasailing (Goa Travel: Parasailing at Goa). While we loved our vacation, we had an unhappy stay at the villa we stayed in.

We had reserved an AirBnB villa called Kokum Tree Villa. It is close to Dabolim airport, maybe just a kilometer or so from the airport.  We were a big group of 10 people, 6 adults, and 4 kids. The reason we chose this villa was that we needed a kitchen for the younger kids. We wanted more of a homely atmosphere, and also a place where kids could be free and run around safely. This is not really possible in a hotel. However, though our needs were in sync with the amenities mentioned on the Airbnb site, things turned out quite different in reality.

Going by the list of available amenities specified by the owners of the place on Airbnb, we had working air conditioning, car parking, good breakfast,  and some toilet essentials. Let me mention here that the breakfast served was good.

What caught our first attention is that the property is extremely beautiful. It is a Mediterranean style villa with greenery all around, and it is sea-facing. You wake up every morning with a view of the sea. That is something life should be made of, correct?  The rooms are done aesthetically too. There are sea-facing balconies that bring in a lot of cool, pleasant air into the rooms. The entrance leads to a foyer lined with flower planters and another entrance that leads to the main building. The ground floor has a living space, a kitchen, and a dining space. There is a beautiful patch of green overlooking the sea.


Our bedrooms were on the first floor. The two floors are connected by a flight of wooden stairs. However, the stairs have no railings. It was terribly unsafe for kids to walk down the stairs. We put two plant pots on the landings and tied the two plants with a clothesline just to give an idea to the kids that they are supposed to walk on the inner side of the stairs. In addition, the first floor has two wings, the right and the left, and they are connected by a long balcony. The mid point of this balcony opens to the inside of the building without a wall. Simply put, you can stand on the first floor and see whats happening on the ground floor. There was a sofa placed at this junction but that sofa could very well topple down to the ground floor if pushed a little. That is definitely not kid-friendly.

If we see the AirBnB ‘Responsible Hosting‘ page, it clearly mentions ‘Ensure stairs are safe and have railings.‘ Also, under ‘Child-ProofingEnsure your home is safe for children, or else notify guests of potential hazards.’ Simply put, the place does violate the ‘Responsible Hosting’ policies of AirBnB.

The amenities on the site mentioned kid friendly, but sorry, the place is not suitable for kids who are still in the running-around age. If you have kids who are above 12 and who can sit and brood at a place, this could be a decent enough place for you, but definitely not for kids less than 10. If a house doesn’t comply to Airbnb’s responsible hosting policies, how can that house be listed on the site?

The amenities mentioned a kitchen. There was a kitchen but we were not really welcome to it by the hosts of the place. There were a lot of do’s and dont’s. The employed caretaker of the place, was however, very co-operative. He helped me take milk and some food for the kid (that I had carried in my luggage). It is understood that if there is one kitchen for the whole building, multiple usage of it may disturb the daily chores of the house, but in that case, guests would appreciate if there is a separate kitchenette for them, or if the kitchen is not mentioned as an amenity.  Below is an expanded version of the listed amenities of Kokum Tree Villa.


Kokum Tree Amenities

Laundry. I will be mentioning the listed amenities a lot for obvious reasons. The amenities mentioned ‘washer,’ and ‘dryer.’ When we asked about laundry, we were told that there was no in-house laundry facility, and we would have to get our laundry done outside. The owner of the place mentioned that they took their laundry somewhere near Dabolim airport, and we should do the same. Really?!  For us, it would be more of a vacation to the laundromat if we were to spend time dropping and picking up our daily laundry on a three day trip. I could then come back and post ‘Goa Travels: A visit to the laundry.’

I already mentioned that the villa was beautiful. However, one of the rooms didn’t have a door to the bathroom. There was a shade that we could roll down and that would separate the bath from the living. I had heard of an open kitchen, but not of an open bathroom! Imagine a living room with kids and your friends walking or chatting with a full view of someone actually sitting on a pot? So if you are sitting on the bed in the room, on one side you have the sea view, and on the other, you have the toilet view. Amazing right? Not really!. Im not sure if it was aesthetics, or if the door had actually broken down and was covered up by a rolling shade.

In addition, we found that the bedsheets had not been changed. Towels had not been changed or washed on any of the four nights that we stayed there. The bath essentials provided were toothpastes, towels, hand towels, bath soap, tissues. There was no shampoo in the bathrooms though it was mentioned on the site.

We were also specifically told not to eat upstairs. I was not really sure if I had come for a vacation or if someone had thrust me into a hostel where I would have to stick to the rules of the warden.

Another issue is that the villa doesn’t have a power backup. Im not sure if power disconnections are frequent in Goa, but the first night was terrible. There were two power failures, the first one for around 30 minutes, and the second one for a straight four hours. There was no backup. We had to keep the balcony doors open so the kids could sleep.

Overall, our stay was unhappy. We felt like intruders into a beautiful house. If I revisit Goa, and if I stay near the airport, I will definitely NOT reserve a room at Kokum Tree Villa, and I recommend you not to either.








Goa Travel: Parasailing at Goa


Sports and me? No.

Adventure Sports and me? No, no, no!

Sports and I have never really got on well together. The only sport I have in me is being a spoilsport. The one time I participated in a badminton tournament at school, I went to practise in a long billowy skirt that controlled my agility, and I seemed to have been swatting a fly more than playing badminton. I used to be a topper in class, but at that opportune moment when I almost fell trying to manage my skirt and racquet at the same time, my favorite teacher looked at me with disbelief and asked me to stand aside. I did stand aside that day.

Years went by and I became a little more sporty (if I can say that). Don’t snigger under your breath!

Last week when I was in Goa, water sports took the better of me. If you have read my last post on ‘Beach Fun at Goa,’ by now, you already know that we were a big group for a quick New Year vacation at Goa. I wanted to do something different. And Parasailing it was. Parasailing is different. I wanted to do that. Parasail.

parasail cropped

All six adults from our group were up for it and so were two kids aged five and eight. It was supposed to be fun. It was actually fun. We wanted to go to South Goa for a change of beach and settled on Majorda.  We started a little late because the guys had a hangover from the night before. Lets not get into that. The drive from Central Goa to Majorda was pleasant. The roads were good, narrow, and winding, and well laid out. Almost the entire ride was picturesque with trees lining up the road and houses painted orange, pink, blue, green, and white popping their beautiful heads in the midst of the verdant green. What caught my eye was an elderly lady in yellow sitting on a yellow bench in a yellow house. I smiled and held my curious gaze on her for as long as the car allowed me to.

Finally we reached Majorda. The white sands immediately caught attention. Ryan sat down in the middle of nowhere with his sand toys ready to dig up the entire beach. I convinced him to move to a more civilized location that had sunbeds and umbrellas.

After a great lunch and a good swim, we decided to try out water sports, and then the sporty person in me showed up. I was ready to parasail.

The whole thing goes like this. You go and tell them you want to parasail. They say ok. They quote a price. You quote down. (Beware! not too down because your life is practically in their hands). They quote mid way. You agree. You parasail, and then do a happy dance when you land on safe ground.  We settled at INR 800 per person for around 2 to 3 minutes of parasailing.

The parasailing guys brought jackets and strapped belts on us while a motor boat that was anchoring the parachute was almost ready to pull us up. When it was my turn, and when my belt was securely hooked to the parachute ropes, the speedboat far away suddenly started pulling me. I ran with the pull and suddenly realized that I had lost ground. Oh, and I was moving up, up, and up, and up, and I was high up! I was so high up that it was absolutely quiet around except for the consistent flapping of the chute. There was no human sound. Just pure carefree air, and the solitude of quietness.

It was ethereal. It was surreal. It was other-wordly. I felt like an exuberant kid stretching out her hands and taking in the tranquil air.

I looked down and saw a calm blue stretch, continuous and unending. Tiny waves swayed all over this stretch as if someone was shaking a jar full of water and causing small ripples in it. Feeling light as a bird, I looked straight at the beaming sun, and realized how close I was to it and to the sky.


I tried to look at the beach which was just a long line of white in sharp contrast to the wide blue.  I felt the movement of the parachute in another direction and looked down. The speedboat was a speck; I could just feel the tug of the chute and saw that my line of vision was changing.  I was moving to the right. Slowly, the white sandy beach was more in focus and I tried to spot the husband. It was absolutely impossible.  The beach was just spotted with black dots. So I just waved my hands to show my happiness.

Gradually, I could see more of land, and hear vague noises. I was returning to mankind. Yes, I was, and the beach was more prominent. Soon enough, the black dots I had seen from above started to show bodies, and I was just touching land. And yes, I could see the man standing there clicking my photo. We had been instructed to run when we touched ground. I tried to but almost fell down with the impact. I got up immediately, and by then the speedboat in the water had stopped, the parachute deflated and fell flat on the sand.


Extremely euphoric at the experience, I tried to picture the same tranquility I was in a few minutes ago, and the calm blue flashed before me. I smiled unknowingly.

Here is a short clip of the husband parasailing (though you wont recognize him, and there are a lot of natural sounds in the video). It is a quick watch. Do watch it and let me know your feelings!

The next and the last post on Goa Travel will be a review of the place we put up at. Stay tuned!





Goa Travel: Beach fun at Goa


We went to Goa for the New Year.

‘Goa for New Year eh?’ you ask with a crinkled forehead. I say ‘Yes.’

We reached Goa on the 29 of December, 2015 and stayed on till Jan 2, 2016. We stayed in Central Goa, and stayed away from the crowded beaches. A relatively smaller and less crowded beach made us happy. For two days, we visited Bagmalo beach (around 4 kms from Dabolim Airport). We also visited South Goa briefly when we went for parasailing at Majorda beach.

We put up at an AirBnB villa(coming up is a separate post with complete reviews on the villa) near Dabolim airport. Bogmalo beach was just a 2 km drive from our place. It was a decent beach with a number of shacks, and we enjoyed the sea just as much as we would have on any other famous beach there. The kids loved to be splashed by the waves. We were a big group and there were four kids with us. For Ryan, it was a first time at the sea, and I wanted to capture his initial reaction on seeing the huge waves. His eyebrows went up, and seeing so much of water break at the shore, the first few minutes, he would run back as the waves approached. However, seeing us dipping our toes in the water and walking through it, he mustered more courage to get down and stand in the water. However, the receeding waves also took away the sand that he was standing on, and he ran back as soon as he felt the losing sand under his feet. A few more attempts with discovering the water and the sand, and there was no looking back for him. He almost started living in the waves.


We, adults, had a great time too. We let the waves carry us and hurl us on the shore only to fill us with salty sandy water that hurt the eyes. Nevertheless, there was no dearth of fun despite the eye-biting sea water. The beach was moderately clean. We also had a lot of fun making castles and volcanoes with the sand. What also enticed me was collecting sea-shells. It seemed an infectious habit that also passed on to the kids, inevitably. They seemed interested in collecting a variety of shells, domed, flat, white, brown, with ripples, without ripples, with corrugations and without, and any other type that caught attention. By the end of the trip, Ryan and I had a huge collection that added to the weight of my bag. We also used some of these shells for a homework project for Ryan in which we made a sailboat on the sea complete with sandy beach and shells.

The sand on this beach was sandy, grainy, and sticky. We did come back with loads of sand on us that took us a lot of effort to wash off.

The shacks on Bogmalo were good. We tried Joet’s, Stiff Waves, Sarita’s and another one whose name I didnt pay much attention to. The fish at Stiff Waves was amazing. So was the cheese pasta we ordered for the kids. The vegetable pulao (rice pilaf with veggies) at Sarita’s deserves a mention. (On a side note, Sarita’s also has a showering station; paid of course.) We loved Joet’s shack the most. We had an elaborate dinner there and was very happy to see the service and food classy. The kids loved the Calamari Rings as much as we did, and we had a whole set of chicken and vegetarian appetizers followed by a main course of cottage cheese curries, Chicken Xacuti, Chicken Cafreal, Naans (Indian flatbreads with garlic or butter) with a lot of soft drinks and some alcohol. All in all, if you are looking for good food at Bogmalo, Joet’s is a must visit.

Another beach that we went to was Majorda in South Goa. We went there to feel a new beach after splashing in Bogamalo for two days. We also wanted to try adventure sports. The closest beach that fit our bill was Majorda. The sand here was less sandy, less grainy and more white. Very white. A lot of tourists were spending time here. There were a few shacks that served up really good food, and the umbrellas for the sunbeds on this beach were made of thatch that looked naturally wonderful. The waves on this beach were smaller, more frequent and easy on us that particular day. Ryan had a lot of fun running into and away from the waves, and he hoped to increase the sand level in the sea by carrying loads of sand from the beach and dumping them in the water. Soon enough, he understood that his strategy wasn’t helping when he decided to lie down in the water and let the waves sweep over him.

What was interesting to note was that the kids loved to play in the sand. They played with their sand toys as soon as we reached the beach, before splashing into the water, after splashing into the water, before lunch, after lunch till the evening when it was almost getting dark. We actually had to convince them to get up and pack their sand toys. I had never seen Ryan so dedicated to one activity for so many hours at a stretch.


The food on this beach was good with a great deal of fresh fruit juice options. The names of the shacks were mostly in Russian, and Im no good at the language. It is also sad that I didnt make an effort to ask for the names. We had fried fish and char-grilled chicken along with a combination of rice and Indian lentils with a lot of juices for lunch. For dinner, we tried a different shack. Creamy spaghetti, American Chopsuey, pancakes with chocolate sauce, vegetarian sizzler and some drinks made our evening more delightful especially after an experience of Parasailing on the beach. (Read my post on Goa Travel: Parasailing at Goa).

It was the first of January, and the boys at the shacks were all overworked from the previous night. They had not slept in more than 24 hours, and the tiredness showed on them. Our vegetarian and non-vegetarian orders got mixed up, extra pancakes showed up on our table uninformed, juices were extra delayed, but we understood that the boys at the shacks were terribly tired.

One point to note on this beach is that the washrooms look flimsy and makeshift. I didnt spot one concrete bathroom. Most of these are one room wood chambers at a raised platform. To reach the washroom, you need to climb up sand bags piled up together as stairs.


As expected, Goa tanned us beyond recognition. Thats an exaggeration I suppose. Even in December and January, the sun was warm and sometimes scorching. Evenings, nights, and mornings were pleasant. Don’t forget your sunscreen if you are going there. And your bottle of water. It is ironical that the sea was dehydrating us.

Ok, lets not blame the sea. It was the sun actually.

Watch out for more posts on my Goa travel. They are coming up soon!