Two weeks ago, I found myself in Goa, after a work-trip, stranded because of an unrelenting local taxi-strike. Always an over-preparer, I had already booked an Airbnb for the day. But as someone who couldn’t drive, or ride a scooty, I had no means to get to this picturesque villa located about 7 km from my hotel. With the host, Collin Mascarenhas picking me up from my location, this was only the beginning of the gracious hospitality I would receive at Lar Amorosa.
The Portuguese-themed homestay at Sangolda was a passion project for Collin who works in Inventory Management in the Oil and Gas industry and has lived out of Goa for 17 years. He bought a three-bedroom, then-dilapidated mansion from a friend and, with the help of a Portuguese architect, transformed it into a 12-room Bed-and-Breakfast within a year.
Although I reached after breakfast hours, I am still greeted by the friendly staff with a steaming cup of filter coffee, masala omelette and a loaf of delectable Goan bread. I sit in the dining area, looking less at my plate and more at what Collin has achieved with the place. The red mosaic floor retained from the original house feels like a comforting coolness against my feet. The wooden planks on the roof, the iron grill verandahs overlooking the space merges perfectly with glass chandeliers from Dubai. A laughing Buddha graces the surface of a refurbished old basin. Among numerous knick-knacks and memorabilia collected in a showcase, there were three ostrich eggs which immediately catches my attention. Collin informs that he got them from a trip to Kenya.
And that’s how multicultural the villa is - over half-a-century old! An enclosed well inhabits the backyard, along with a swimming pool, jacuzzi and barbecue. Further ahead, there is a tree decorated with fairy lights for a bonfire night. At the entrance, the doll house from the old property resides alongside a laterite stone sculpture by veteran artist Subodh Kelkar. The original seashell windows have been restored in the rooms, giving them a vintage feel; the thick walls inadvertently cutting off mobile connectivity at times, truly helping one disconnect.
From his travels across the Middle-East, Asia and North America, Collin has managed to curate an experience for his visitors that only a few can ambitiously aspire to. From bookshelves stocked with inspirational tomes to minibars in every room and takeaway menus so that one can order whatever it is they please - comfort is the cornerstone of this place. “We don’t specialise in food; but, we always have recommendations for the best places around,” he adds.
Having expressed the desire to visit the beach ever so slightly, the host personally drops me to Calangute and even picks me up when there is not even in an auto rickshaw in sight at 7 in the evening on a Friday.
Personally, I find hotels a tad bit impersonal and quite frankly, intimidating. I am wary of ordering room service, asking for an extra towel, or even a tea bag for that matter, anything that might cause the slightest inconvenience. And as an avid traveller, I always try my level best to seek out places which are likely to provide a more tangible and memorable experience. In the case of Lar Amorosa, it was difficult to not be enamoured by the place which is mindfully designed to be a leaf out of a coffee table book on Goa’s history and warm hospitality.
And honestly, I cannot wait to go back.