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The Telegraph
| Sunday, September 20, 2015 |
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Hollywood by the beach

Planet Hollywood’s new hotel in south Goa is a great place to take a break beneath the gaze of the world’s top movie stars, says Treena Mukherjee

  • Photos of Hollywood hotshots like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise greet visitors at the lobby of the Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Goa

It was Marilyn Monroe who greeted me at the movie-themed Planet Hollywood Beach Resort in Goa — well actually a picture of Marilyn looking pouty alongside other big-screen stars like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise at the reception. Situated on the sun-kissed shores of the picturesque Utorda Beach in south Goa, the resort is the new party place for revellers wanting to hit the beach.

“This is the only beach in Goa which has white sand, we’re really lucky to be here,” Anand Chatterjee, the resort’s general manager, told me when I arrived to take up residence in one of the resort’s 110 rooms (it also has five suites and 15 tents).

Well the sands certainly are glittering and the gentle waves breaking on the shore offer a totally restful ambience. As I reached the resort, a bright lobby lay in front of me with many stars at the counter. I had view of the expansive beach as well as of a stunning swimming pool from the picture window of my room that I was sharing with Penelope Cruz — well a photo of her looking gorgeous as usual!

The rooms at the hotel are divided into eight blocks and each block features a different Hollywood genre such as comedy, drama and superhero adventures through artwork and photographs. There are canvas paintings of different characters like the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, unforgettable dialogues of Al Pacino and Robert de Niro to read on the walls as well as movie posters and stills.
 

  • The rooms at the resort feature Hollywood-inspired artworks like this canvas painting of the Michael Jordan-starrer movie Space Jam

The furniture and artwork in the lobby and in the Heart Bar was designed by the talented Gauri Khan and the resort is modelled on the Planet Hollywood Beach Resort in Los Angeles — it’s also the only Planet Hollywood resort outside the US.

For fitness buffs, there’s a gymnasium that’s packed with cardio-vascular, strength and endurance building equipment. There’s also a place set aside to do Yoga and a steam room with Jacuzzi along with trained masseurs (natch). And if you want to give yourself the Hollywood star beauty treatment, there’s also a beauty salon. Whereas the swimming pool floor is embedded with blue lights that give it a unique edge. 

Instead, I chose in the evenings to stroll in the resort’s tropical garden. There’s also a coconut orchard in the resort sprawling over a verdant 10 acres.

Then I was off to try the local cuisine. It couldn’t get better than a hearty Goan meal at the resort’s Fame restaurant. I dug into a tangy Goan prawn curry, sanas, chorizo and Goan chilli chicken (the Goan style is a bit high on spice).

To cool my tongue down afterwards, I sampled Bebinca with baked yoghurt topped with a scoop of tender coconut ice cream. The other restaurants of the hotel are Planet Dailies — an all-day eatery, the Shack Poseidon — a beach shack, and the Cigar Lounge.
 
Then, if you want to live it up there’s some loud, thumping disco music in the evening, but I was ready to hit the hay so that I could get up early and go sightseeing.

I woke up to the sound of the waves on the beach. After breakfast, I set off with a huge food hamper by my side in an Audi A8, kindly packed for me by the hotel staff. I was out to make the best of the short two-day break I had in Goa.
 

  • The swimming pool has been given an extra edge with sparkling blue lights set in the flooring

We drove along the twisting roads flanked with cashew nut trees from the southern part of the state to the north along the Mandovi River. I was spellbound by Old Goa and its quaint  Portuguese-style houses with latticed windows and marvellous porches in the front and its intricately carved churches.

A must-visit on my list was the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa. The magnificent basilica steeped in history, holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier. The church was thronged by visitors and a few old women with prayer beads in their hands.

A trip to Goa can never be complete without seeing the Dona Paula beach in Panaji, the state capital. It looked perfect as the sun set behind the rocks.

As I prepared to go back to the resort in the twilight, I had one thought: “Memories are made of this.”

  • MAP BY NILRATAN MAITY. NOT TO SCALE

READY RECKONER

♦ How to get there: There are direct IndiGo and Jet Airways flights from
Calcutta to Goa and one-stop SpiceJet flights from Calcutta to Goa 
♦ Where to stay: At Planet Hollywood Beach Resort rates during the high season
start from Rs 10,500 to Rs 11,000 approximately and Suites cost between Rs 45,000 to 50,000 approximately