For about a year or so, going to India, Goa specifically, was an unmissable trip as it was to celebrate our family friend’s wedding.
Goa, compared to other Indian states, is smaller and divided into two: the north and the south. While North Goa is popular for being a party hotspot, South Goa is known for its enchanting beaches, and The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort & Casino is located in a beautiful location in South Goa.
After a delayed flight into Goa International Airport, also known as Dabolim Airport, we disembarked the plane to find representatives from Zuri White Sands awaiting us at the baggage hall to help collect our luggage.
We then split up into two large jeeps (ensuring our bags and my wheelchair could all fit) and headed to the hotel.
The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort & Casino on Varca Beach is a 45-minute drive from the airport. The drive to the hotel was very scenic as I loved driving through the winding roads in lush, green palm-tree laden landscapes. The car was also large and comfortable and we were thankful to have gotten chilled bottles of water as the heat was crazy. I’m talking 30-degrees Celsius plus here!
Arriving at the lobby, I quickly alighted once the hotel provided me with their own wheelchair as mine still had to be assembled. Then, in the lobby, after a wonderful welcome with flower garlands, I noticed how enormous and airy it was.Goa’s Portuguese background was prominent in the rustic-inspired architecture with white walls, waterfall features and plenty of potted plants, along with sofas, all creating a nice casual holiday vibe.Then, to my surprise, I was whisked away to my wheelchair accessible Zuri Superior Room, where the entire check-in process was completed. I loved the attention to service as it meant that guests could enjoy their holiday well.
We were warmly welcomed with refreshing coconut water. Always a crowd pleaser, this was the perfect start to my stay in Goa. Then, as we waited for our room service order of French fries, I settled in the room.
The room had chic interiors with white textured walls, contemporary pieces of artwork, a double bed, a spacious wardrobe, a vanity area with a desk and a seating area with a coffee table.With a breath-taking view of the lawn below, the room had a TV, a telephone, electronic safe along with a tea and coffee making facility. In addition to a fruit basket, I found a jar of scrumptious cookies and a selection of Indian snacks including Masala Lays crisps and Kurkure. Mmm! Water and a newspaper were provided complimentarily daily.
The bathroom was wheelchair accessible with a toilet, a shower with a seat, a sink and a selection of premium toiletries.The room was lovely and expansive, but I wished it had a full-length mirror, as it would’ve been convenient when getting ready for the various functions. So, I’d often end up in my Mom’s room, just to use her full-length mirror.
Throughout our stay, Wi-Fi was complimentary. It was weaker near the beach, but throughout the rest of the hotel, it worked well.
Festivities and Facilities
The wheelchair room is located on the first floor of the hotel, adjacent to the lobby. So, to head down to access the rest of the hotel’s facilities, I had to use the service elevator. The old-school manual elevator where the doors had to be slid open by hand before it would move added quite a dramatic flair to the charm of the hotel.
To access the ground floor from the elevator, we would walk through long pathways. While it’s not for everybody, I thought it allowed Diva (who would accompany me) and me to sneak a peek into the behind-the-scenes of how a hotel is run, especially one with hundreds of guests. If anything, it gave us a deeper appreciation for the staff, who were always helpful and ready to guide us. It took us a while to get our bearings, as the wheelchair accessible routes were slightly longer, but the staff would always happily drop us at the final destination.
The rustic and dreamy Portuguese-inspired architecture was noticeable in the colors and details of the building as the resort houses rooms around central courtyards. The waterfalls within the courtyard, the beautifully landscaped lush lawns flanked by cashew nut trees and coconut palm trees create an oasis of tropical charm and grandeur.After wolfing down our room service lunch, we rushed to get ready to head for the Lagnotri. This is the traditional beginning of all wedding celebrations where the wedding is officially flagged off by having the bride’s side bring the invitation to the groom’s side.
Taking the elevator down, the Lagnotri was held at the Oyster Room One. A nice indoor room that can sit up to 100 people, the room is perfect for all kinds of events. There were several of these rooms in the hotel around a courtyard that houses a gorgeous waterfall. Behind the room overlooking a small garden, everyone mingled over 4 o’clock tea and snacks, after which the ceremony began in the room.
Later in the evening, we headed out to the Fins & Rambooze, the beachside restaurant and bar, where a Welcome Party to welcome all wedding guests was held.The bar is actually on top of an abandoned boat structure, making it a brilliant titanic-style photo opportunity.
As we danced and drank by the beach, the décor of blue-lit tents and fluffy pillows on blankets by the bonfire looked incredible. We truly had a blast.
The next day, a Mandvo, a pre-wedding traditional Indian ceremony, was held in the Oyster Room One for the groom, while the bride’s side had a puja going on simultaneously in another room. Diva and I, running late, as usual, arrived just on time, to see the ceremony end. But in our defense, it had started at 7:30AM. Yes, you read that right!
After a quick breakfast, we quickly changed and headed straight to the pool. Zuri White Sands has a huge meandering pool that runs across the entire property, giving it a lagoon-like appearance.
And with pretty bridges across the pool, with stone sculptures and cobbled pathways, the pool was a popular hangout spot for guests between wedding ceremonies, especially at the swim-up pool bar.Besides swimming, the hotel also offers many activities such as archery and shooting and the hotel is well equipped with tennis courts, jogging and cycling tracks, and a gym. The Maya Spa, a premium luxury spa, offers a wide range of massages, treatments and a wide range of amenities such as steam rooms, saunas and Jacuzzis, ideal for those looking for some rejuvenation.
The hotel also has a renowned casino, that, unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to explore, but I hear it is quite popular.
Following a relaxing swim, we headed for lunch and then later in the afternoon – the Mehendi held at the smaller pool.
Usually, this is where the bride and ladies would get a mehndi tattoo applied.
As the DJ played some beats, the guests mingled, stopping by the local bangle maker, a chic wooden swing and a cute rickshaw photo booth, all decked out in gorgeous orange and pink floral decor.
Of course, as usual, this was followed by a mini-meal of some Indian street food such as pani puri and bhel served with cutting chai.
The Mehendi was a chilled-out hangout, where Mom, Diva and I all got mehndi applied on our hands.
While the Mehendi was going on, Diva, our friends, Dad and I snuck away for a few minutes to go shooting, one of the recreational activities among archery and others, available at the resort. It was fun to watch them shoot (and miss).
As we were heading to our rooms to get ready for the evening activities, we took a detour to the beach to blissfully watch the sun go down. Despite being in the resort for almost 24 hours, I hadn’t had a chance to see the beach. It was beautiful and clean. The water glowed under the golden rays of the sun as it sank into the horizon.
That evening, we got dressed for the Sangeet, a fun party with music and dance. Held at the Unicorn Ball Room, a large ballroom near the spa, the Sangeet was peacock-themed.
With stunning table décor, the room was divided into a dance floor, a seating area with tables and a dedicated bar area. I loved how spacy it was as I didn’t have to worry about running over anyone’s feet by mistake.
The Sangeet was exciting as both the groom’s side and bride’s side put on show-stopping performances with the night ending with all of us dancing away.
The next day, we had a free morning where my aunt and uncle who spend a few months in goa every year visited us. We hung out by the pool at the poolside restaurant. Then, after a lovely lunch at Waterfalls Café, we got ready for the main event – the wedding.
We met on the well-manicured hotel grounds for the wedding jaan (wedding procession).
Since we were from the groom’s side, we arrived at the wedding venue on the beach near the Fins & Rambooze restaurant, dancing to the beat of the dhol (Indian drum). The bride’s family welcomed us with Indian snacks (naasto) and some chai. Soon, the bride arrived and the wedding started. Set up on the grass, the wedding stage overlooked the beach.The wedding ended at sunset and we celebrated with thirst-quenching fresh coconut water (a great reprieve in the heat).
In the evening, we arrived at the gardens by the beach for a formal Reception, where the bride and groom had their first dance to a stunning fireworks display.
Following an exquisite buffet dinner of Indian food, we were ushered into the Oyster Room One for a fun after-party, late into the night.
It is rumored that Dad had to drag Diva and me out, in fear of missing our return flight to Mumbai.
Oh, I cannot stop raving about Chef Farooq Baig’s excellent hospitality skills. Zuri White Sands Goa has several restaurants: Sake, an Asian restaurant that offers live Teppanyaki, Tangerine, a bar with live entertainment, and Fins & Rambooze, a beach restaurant and bar serving local Goan delicacies. Waterfalls Café is a 24-hour multi-cuisine coffee shop with buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Since we were there for a wedding, we ate at different venues within the hotel, but the food menus for the wedding covered a range of cuisines from Italian to Pan Asian to Indian. From chaats to Mughlai meals, the food was not only delectable but varied to cater for all tastes. They even had fresh Maru Bhajias one day – a huge hit with the guests!As usual, breakfast at Waterfalls Café was my favorite. With fresh dosas, pancakes, eggs in any style, pastries, cereal and fresh fruit to choose from, I’d often have to carefully pre-plan what I’d want to eat.
It’s safe to say that I tried the dosa on my first day and it didn’t disappoint.I’d also like to commend the chef’s ability to cater for individual dietary requirements, such as vegan and no-chilli diets with ease. It truly makes people’s holidays when they can enjoy good, delicious food without having to worry about it.Final Thoughts
At the end of our stay, the hotel representatives dropped us back to the airport in two cars. The friendly staff even helped with wrapping my disassembled wheelchair and checking it in, usually a gargantuan task that sometimes makes travelling by air a little difficult. With their assistance, it made our travel to Mumbai smoother and I’m grateful to the hotel for these extra services.
Really, The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort & Casino is one of Goa’s crown jewels. With gorgeous architecture, clean, spacious rooms, excellent food, outstanding service and a clean beachfront location, whether you want a destination wedding, a quiet family holiday or just a relaxing getaway, a stay at The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort & Casino is right for you.I’m already looking forward to going back soon.
DISCLOSURE: I was invited to stay at The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort & Casino to experience their property firsthand. Accommodation for Diva, my caregiver and me was complimentary, however, as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.
Photos, unless stated otherwise, are by Diva Shah