I was in India for the most of April. I flew to India in Air Canada Business Class using a combination of my E-Upgrade credits on Air Canada and the Worldwide Companion Pass. In India, I spent a few days in each one of these cities; Delhi, Dehradun, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Goa and Mumbai. While every city was a short and sweet day, the longest stay in any city was Goa. At Goa, we chose to stay at the St Regis Goa.
Booking the St Regis Goa
The idea of Goa started off in the dining room with my uncle, aunt and two cousins. This would have been my uncle and aunt’s first vacation in their life, so me and my cousins wanted to ensure a unique experience. We agreed to do a small vacation using my small stash of Marriott Reward Points.
I opened the app, and came across the following three options:
- JW Marriott Goa: 40,000 Marriott Reward Points or INR30,000 / night (~C$500)
- W Goa: 57,000 Marriott Reward Points or INR35,000 / night (~C$600)
- St Regis Goa: 72,000 Marriott Reward Points or INR29,000 / night (~C$500)
The currency conversions are not exact. They are the currency conversion I used in my head as I was determining the best use of points.
I immediately booked the JW Marriott Goa as it was the newest hotel that opened just a month prior to our stay. I booked the JW Marriott Goa using 160,000 Marriott Reward Points for 4 room nights. For the remaining 2 room nights I used my 2 Free Night Certificates, one each from the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card (Personal) and American Express Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card (Business). However, when I presented this option, my family suggested that not having a beachfront resort in Goa defeats the purpose of going to Goa.
Beachfront Hotel – Finding the Best Deal
On my previous stay at the St Regis Mumbai, the butler was in Goa training the staff to the St Regis standard, at the then newly opened St Regis Goa. I also recalled hearing about the St Regis Goa through Ajay reading his blog when he identified it was a re-flagged Leela. While I have great respect for the Leela brand, staying at the St Regis Goa for 3 nights for 2 rooms, would cost me over 400,000 Marriott Reward Points. I did not want to spend that many points.
We compared the pricing of the St Regis Goa and the Taj Goa as alternative resorts. Although the St Regis Goa was more expensive, we felt my Titanium Status would make up for the added costs with a complimentary suite upgrade for my uncle and aunt. We decided to pay cash for one room and points for the second room. This was a horrible use of points, but I also did not want to spend C$1,500 for a three night unplanned vacation.
When booking any St Regis resort, the Marriott STARS rate provides complimentary breakfast, US$100 room credit in addition to any other offers. I reached out to my agent, who realized the Senior’s rate was the cheapest rate, even after accounting for the room credit through Marriott STARS. We proceeded to book the Senior’s rate (on the account of my uncle and aunt traveling as well).
Transportation to and from St Regis Goa
All of us landed at Goa through an Indigo flight, and we decided against using the airport transfer from the hotel. St Regis Goa was charging INR5,000 (~C$100) for an airport transfer and we felt like we could find something at the airport instead.
This was a horrible idea. We only saved about $50, for an hour long journey, and in that journey had to deal with an old vehicle that had a barely functioning air conditioner. As the family vacation expert, I got the back seat of the van, in the last row, and only I know how relieved I was to walk through the doors of the St Regis Goa.
On the way back, we got a vehicle through St Regis Goa and it was money well spent.
If you want to save a few bucks, you could actually do a short walk to the Holiday Inn just a few minutes down the road and get their vehicles instead. However, because they compete with the St Regis, their cars could not actually drive up to the St Regis. Had we just been cousins, this would have been an easy option, however, with my uncle and aunt, we decided it was worth just booking the car through the hotel.
Check-In at the St Regis Goa
As we got out of the vehicle, there was a team of a few colleagues to greet us, led by Kanika. Immediately, they applied a bead-garland on everybody’s head. My uncle and aunt went to the lobby, while me and my cousins went to the reception to check ourselves in.
During check-in, all of us received a cold coconut water. After the hot car journey in, all of us requested for re-fills which was generously provided by the hotel.
We had two room reservations; one for the basic King room for two adults, and a Premier Conservative Room with 2 Twins, that could accommodate three adults.
On the way to the room, we came across a Bloody Mary display. For those that do not know, the St Regis has an unique Bloody Mary at each hotel. My cousin immediately asked for three Goan Mary to be delivered to our room to start off what would be an epic Goa vacation.
As a Titanium guest, I was eligible for one room to receive a complimentary suite upgrade. Initially the hotel upgraded the Premier Conservative Room to a Suite, however, we wanted the base king room to get the suite upgrade. This way, my uncle and aunt would be staying in a suite which was very important to everyone. It was an unexpected request for them, so the hotel kindly let us have both rooms until the twin room had been cleaned up by housekeeping. They also promised me to setup an extra bed as well for the entire stay.
Not many hotels would give away a second room to freshen up while the main room is being prepared. That was a very kind gesture by Kanika and her team.
Base King Room at the St Regis Goa
The base king room at the St Regis Goa was as cookie-cutter as it got; it came with a King size bed, a walk-in shower, and separate bath-tub. In a luxury hotel, there were two features that I felt were lacking: a his and her sink and a larger full size bath-tub. The room also had a corridor to place the luggage as well. I am also glad that the bathroom contained single use shower amenities. Although I understand the sustainability requirement, from a hygiene perspective, there is something comforting about using the single-use amenities.
There were also three very delicious tarts as a welcome amenity in the room. I’m glad we received three tarts, otherwise, we would have an interesting time dividing two tarts by three people. In addition to the tart, I found a small chocolate bar, and what appears to be a chocolate hammer. This was the first time I saw a hammer to break the chocolate.
Finally, the room also had a nice patio overlooking the water feature. Although it would have been a great place to relax, the weather was extremely hot, meaning that patio would have gone essentially unused.
Premier Twin Conservatory Room
As you walk in, once again you will find a long corridor with a baggage rack. I do find it interesting, in most places in North America, the standard is 2 Queen beds, but in Asia, I typically see 2 Twin beds. Ironically, the twin beds were quite close together.
We also had a bit of a covered patio in the room. The extra bed was ultimately placed here. Between me and my cousins, we had to decide who would be sleeping on the extra bed. Unfortunately, the in-room air conditioning at the St Regis Goa was not that great. However, the air conditioning on the covered patio was amazing. This made our sleeping decisions far easier; do you want to sleep on a nice bed in a warm room, or a bad bed in a cold room. Ultimately, I took the proper bed closest to the window (that’s my preferred bed in a two-bed setup).
The bathtub was actually a full sized deep soaking tub which made for a very comfortable bathing experience after a long day in the sun. This room also came with His & Her sinks, which, okay, we were three guys, so it really wasn’t used as that, but the two sinks are always appreciated. The walk-in rainfall shower head also provided a nice water pressure, once again for a comfortable shower after a long hot day outside in the city.
Standard Suite for Platinum Upgrades at the St Regis Goa
I did not get a chance to take a peek around the standard suite since my uncle and aunt had made themselves comfortable by the time I visited the suite. But the Suite living room was very spacious, enough to accommodate the five of us during our evenings. It also had a guest bathroom and the guest bathroom even contained an extra make-up table with a chair. After all, a St Regis guest, cannot be standing up and putting on their make-up.
How can there be a discussion of the St Regis Goa without experiencing the champagne sabering event. As Napolean said:
“Champagne: in victory, one deserves it; in defeat, one needs it.”
Here is the champagne sabering video of the St Regis Goa.
In addition to the video, here is the beautiful venue of the champagne sabering event including a gorgeous sunset view.
Dining at the St Regis Goa
We had most meals at the St Regis Goa, including breakfast every day at the resort.
I must also recognize the entire dining team across the various outlets. They were all friendly, helpful people, who made the dining experience at the hotel, perfect.
Indian Dining Options
Let’s start off with the most important meal picture; Bhature Choley and Paneer at the St Regis Goa.
The Indian food options were beyond delicious. I still remember the taste of a masala kulcha full of onions and cheese. It was so delicious, all of us ate the kulcha with just pickle.
Their stuffed paratha selection was also delicious. I believe there was a two day rotation of the stuffed paratha variety at the St Regis Goa:
There were two weak points in their dining though, their Italian food could have been better. But also, you shouldn’t be traveling to Goa for Italian food, so I cannot put any fault on the chefs at the St Regis Goa.
Their dessert selection was always on point. I will give credit to the staff at the St Regis Goa, as vegetarians, buffet do not excite us that much, due to a large selection of non-vegetarian food. But the dessert was extremely attractive. The staff allowed us to order a la carte off the menu and then allowed us to go to the dessert section for the buffet to enjoy the variety. We even asked for one of the dessert menu items to be repeated, and the chef made a separate batch for us the night prior to our check-out.
Bread and Pastries
This is a video of the breakfast pastries on offer at the St Regis Goa.
During every buffet, their breakfast, lunch, or dinner, they also had a variety of warm breads. Every bread selection I tried was delicious.
Freshly Squeezed Juices and Smoothies
Finally, their selection of freshly squeezed juice could have improved drastically. I asked for a strawberry and banana smoothie, but the server let me know there are no fresh strawberries in the restaurant. For a hotel of this caliber, I expected a larger selection of higher quality smoothies.
High Tea at the St Regis Goa
As part of our dining, we also had an opportunity to enjoy the high tea at the St Regis Goa in the Drawing Room.
Their Gol Gappa and Patty were absolutely delicious. I’m sure even the chef got tired of serving us extras after a while. I don’t think anyone even had any tea with their high tea, all of us were too engrossed in eating their Gol Gappa (Dahi Puri) and Patties.
Dining near the St Regis Goa
St Regis Goa is incredible in a way that as you leave the resort through the beach, on the right side, you will enjoy a typical Goan food shack with beer and seafood. I don’t consume either, but certain members of my family do, so it was a daily ritual during sunset to walk from the resort onto the shack to enjoy a daily beer. There is also a nice restaurant located just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. Once again, I did not really try much there, also because of the food safety standards at these locations, but my family were very happy for a change from the regular St Regis dining menu.
The best part about the Swimming Pool was the caves behind the waterfall. As I approached the waterfall to enjoy the water pressure on my head, I noticed that I could actually go “behind” the waterfall. It was very cute and we definitely enjoyed the experience of going there.
In addition to that, there was always a server walking around the pool area for any additional food & beverage options, which we indulged in thoroughly sitting on the beach beds. I’m also glad that the server also re-arranged some furniture so all five of us could sit together, since most of them are designed for couples.
The thing I still can’t get over at the St Regis Goa is the sunset. It was beyond gorgeous.
The beach was also very interesting. There is a private beach component guarded by a security team, but there is also a public beach right in front of the hotel. The best way to realize which part is the hotel beach and the public beach is to look at the color of the sand. I don’t know the reason behind that, but that was a great indicator. The public beach sand color was much darker and a lot dirtier than the beach that was part of the St Regis Goa.
I wanted to add another section for this report. The overall property was absolutely gorgeous. It was full of greenery and overall felt like an amazing place to be spending time in Goa.
The video below shows the buggy ride from our room to the beach. So much greenery that it was absolutely beautiful.
To be honest, I totally forgot about the complimentary morning coffee or tea extended through the St Regis Butler and nobody reminded me either.
I did take advantage of the packing service, as I had a busy travel schedule ahead of me. And I’m glad the butler packed it just the way I would have liked.
Service – Failure and Recovery
Unfortunately, I experienced a few service failures at the beginning of our stay.
Extra Bed Delivery Timelines
The first snafu happened between check-in and the second room being ready. The staff told us that when the second room will be ready, they will also setup the extra bed for us as well. When we got to the room in the evening, there was no third bed at all. That’s typically not a problem one quick phone call, and it gets resolved quite quickly. Except, we waited for 20 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Then 40 minutes. Finally, someone comes over with bedding but no extra bed.
That was rather absurd, there was no sofa bed in the room. There was a chaise at best, and the staff were going to prepare the third bed on the sofa chaise, which doesn’t really reflect well on the St Regis brand.
We asked them to come back with an extra bed. That took another 50 minutes. So, after coming back to the room, it took the staff 90 minutes to get an extra bed well past midnight. Although I was not sleeping on the third bed, suffice to say, my cousin was extremely upset at that experience.
The next day, we enjoyed a leisurely day at the hotel. We came back in the evening to notice that neither of the two rooms had housekeeping service at all. Many hotels across the world are relying on reduced housekeeping as an environmental initiative, but I never imagined it would have a significant impact at the St Regis brand.
I called up the butler service, and they said we can do housekeeping right away. Except, we are now in the room. I actually wouldn’t think any housekeeping staff to be comfortable being observed by people in the room as they clean up the room, so I told them that they will have to do it when we leave the room for dinner. The butler service later told me that we had declined housekeeping which was why the room was not serviced. However, none of my cousins had any interaction with the housekeeping team.
When we got to dinner, we met with my uncle and aunt, and they genuinely assumed this hotel does not come with housekeeping service either because their suite was not made up either. I would understand if one room was not serviced because someone mis-spoke, but to have both rooms not serviced, seemed like housekeeping dropped the ball in a very big way that day.
Ultimately, my cousin and my uncle/aunt, who I had raved so much about the St Regis brand, at this point assumed housekeeping is not a brand standard, and the typical turn around time for any request by the butler team would be in the 60-90 minutes range.
I did let the front desk team know of my displeasure, and more importantly, how my family now perceives the luxury brand to be a rather budget brand in terms of their service. During our day trip to experience the city of Goa, we got a call from Kanika, the front desk associate. She mentioned that your concerns were raised in a management meeting, and to make up for it, we would like to extend the High Tea service to you and your family.
That gesture was greatly appreciated by everyone even though we never asked for anything to make up for the service failures. I will also give credit to the high team dining team, my uncle and aunt came very late after taking a nap, and despite them coming well after high tea service had ended, the chef still served them what would turn out to be a delicious high team.
We also received a delicious selection of chocolates and a bottle of wine to make up for the service issues. Me and my cousins had finished the chocolates in about 10 seconds.
Overall, the stay was incredible. Yes, there were service issues, but once they were made visible to hotel management, they were rectified immediately which I appreciated.
I look forward to my next relaxing vacation in Goa. Hopefully on my next trip, I’ll be able to actually step outside the hotel to see the city!