Find serenity in this unique Goan haven
Designed from scratch by owners Erika and Salvador in 2007, Avalon Inn is a restful resort in Mandrem, a small and buzzy seaside village in North Goa, located a 1.5-hour taxi journey from Goa airport.
Nestled between quiet fields and two well-established yoga villages, with the beach and the local village only a 10-minute walk away, the inn is well positioned for those who wish to explore the delights of North Goa.
A welcoming reception
One of the first things guests will notice about the reception is the marble flooring, elegant windows and high-beamed ceilings, which echoes the Indo-Portuguese inspiration found throughout Avalon Inn.
The friendly owners are very accommodating and go to considerable lengths to give guests a taste of Goan country living, which is the perfect marriage of simplicity and vitality.
While breakfast isn’t provided at the inn, don't let this put you off as it's only a two-minute walk to the nearby yoga village where one can easily find healthy, reasonably priced breakfast options.
Accommodation options at Avalon Inn
Guests can choose from a variety of accommodation options, including lovely stone cottages, bungalows and the main villa. All the rooms have been carefully curated in a traditional Indo-Portuguese style, resulting in a quaint and serene haven.
I stayed in a lovely pink bungalow set in a crescent of five amongst coconut palms and fragrant Frangipani trees. Inside, the facilities include a spacious bedroom and separate wet room. There is a small, open wardrobe with ample shelves, a bedside corner unit – complete with kettle and cups – and the obligatory mosquito net. Thanks to the clay-tiled roof and a ceiling fan, the rooms remain cool and pleasant, even on a hot day.
I loved waking every morning and heading out to the private veranda, which featured built-in stone seats and comfy cushions, where I would enjoy listening to the sound of beautiful birdsong as the sun rose.
For those who are looking for a truly unique experience, the Opal and Pearl stone cottages with their open-air rain showers, are a popular option. Located only 20 metres from each room, these showers give guests the opportunity to shower beneath the stars and a canopy of palm leaves. Each cottage also offers a fridge, kettle, ceiling fan, private veranda, toilet and wash basin.
Villa Joia is literally and figuratively the jewel in Avalon’s crown – Joia means jewel in Portuguese. This magnificent building houses four rooms over two floors and it boasts a fantastic panoramic platform at the top of the house that overlooks the surrounding countryside and views out to sea. It’s a flexible space that is often used for small receptions, recitals, private events and yoga largely due to its size – 56 square metres - and cool marble flooring.
Each of the rooms (Ruby, Topaz, Onyx and Amber) are fully equipped with satellite TV, fridge and hot drink making facilities. They are the most comfortable at Avalon and include a private balcony and ceiling fan. The upstairs rooms offer a two-seater corner bathtub and downstairs there is a small kitchenette for those who opt for self-catering.
If you’re looking for harmony and tranquillity, Avalon Inn is just the ticket. Its attractive layout, comfortable accommodation and lawned garden – a rarity in India – sets it aside from other options in the locality.
Prices vary according to season and length of stay. It’s best to book direct rather than going through an affiliate. Their season runs from 1st October – 31st March annually.
Ashiyana, North Goa, India
Far from bustling tourist hotspots, hippy communes and the trance-loving crowds of Goa, you’ll find Ashiyana - a magical place full of yogic wonder and serenity.
A must-stay for yoga rookies and experts alike, this English owned and managed resort is unique in its offering. Health is at the heart of the resort, which has been lovingly curated to sooth, tune and detoxify. No alcohol or smoking is permitted, there is no room service, mini bar or comforts that are typically fitting for a resort of this calibre. But that’s what makes it so perfect.
The resort is set amongst peaceful palms overlooking the Mandrem River. Within the resort there are a variety of reflection areas and a natural swimming pool for guests to enjoy and the beach is only a two-minute walk away.
Ashiyana is one of the most serene resorts I’ve ever come across. It offers a distinctive kind of luxury that’s likely the envy of other resorts. Admittedly, this is one of my favourite places in the world, so I am pretty biased. But it really is special; the staff are exceptionally friendly, and the vegetarian and vegan food is so incredibly delicious you don’t even miss meat.
Choose from a selection of peaceful accommodation options
Ashiyana’s accommodation is designed to cater to a variety of budgets from the simple to the sublime, including Shahi Suites, Raj Luxury, Raj Doubles, Palm Grove, Lodges, Riverview and Beach Huts. Prices vary but all rooms are en-suite and for those enjoying a Yoga Holiday, the tariff is priced per person per day and includes room, two meals and two yoga classes daily.
Unwind at the Ashiyana Spa and Treatment Centre
Ashiyana offers a comprehensive list of treatments including Ayurvedic head and foot massages, aromatherapy and nutritional. Classic Swedish massages and deep tissue are also available in addition to yoga massage, Shiatsu, Reiki and even Re-birthing.
One-to-one private yoga and meditation sessions are also on offer to revitalise and heal. Their Urban Antidote Rejuvenation Retreat is well worth exploring.
Experience yogic bliss at its best
Ashiyana has some of the most accomplished yoga teachers in the business, mostly from across Europe and India. Each class suits all levels and they offer a plethora of yoga genres to ensure there is something for everyone.
Imagine practicing yoga in a wonderful oak-floored shala while the sun rises, the rainforest wakes with birds and a variety of wildlife welcome the beginning of a new day as a cool breeze drifts in. Once you’ve experienced this kind of enchanting, immersive yoga, it’s difficult to enjoy doing yoga in an enclosed indoor space with fluorescent lights.
Ashiyana offers yoga holidays that include flexible drop-in classes twice daily, plus yoga retreats and certified yoga teacher training courses. Because the annual Monsoon rains prevent Ashiyana opening all year round, its season runs from 1st October until 30th April. They are closed between May and September.
Tuck into delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan cuisine
Meals are buffet style and guests can choose from a selection of different areas to dine in depending on their mood; from family areas, silent areas, tree huts or large communal tables for those who fancy meeting new people to share their stories from the day.
I loved both the food and the people I met during my visit. It’s rare to go on holiday and want to share moments that could last a lifetime with complete strangers but at Ashiyana this level of friendly intimacy is commonplace and I’m still in contact with people I met there a few years ago.
New this season, Ashiyana has employed a restaurant manager to help expand their menu and oversee their diet plans and detoxes. Nutrition is central to everything they do, so you never have to feel guilty about indulging!
The beachfront is the epitome of raw beauty, and the gorgeous sea is bath temperature by dawn. Along the beach there are around 10 different beach cafes, restaurants and shacks offering a variety of food and drinks. There are also lots of persuasive women selling wraps, beads and other gifts. Don’t be annoyed by this, though, some of the best conversations in Goa happen here. From my experience, the vendors are well mannered, articulate and most have a great sense of humour.
Mandrem Village & Surrounding Area
Mandrem is a simple village. Its main street offers various shops, shacks, cafes, hotels and street vendors. The technicolour night markets are also a short taxi ride away. The capital of North Goa, Panjim, is slightly further afield, but well worth exploring. Its Portuguese influence adds a unique charm. Here visitors will find glorious temples and churches and family-owned homestays and guesthouses for those wishing to stay overnight.
Ashiyana, which means ‘home’ in Hindi does exactly what it sets out to do – helping people to truly relax, something we are eternally grateful for. So, treat yourself to a unique yoga experience in Goa and make it your home away from home.
Pricing differs according to season and is based on availability.
*All views and opinions are my own.
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