A Fully-Fledged Therapeutic Haven Sees the Goan Shores

Devaaya Retreat then, Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat now…


SPEAK ABOUT vacations in India, and the population here – a millennial major – would only dream about the titbits of nightlife, beachside sunbath and water-sports, among other activities, celebrated throughout the expanse of this geographically small yet highly potential western state of the country – Goa. Not confining it only to the domestic crowds, but a majority of international travellers also opt for long-stays along the beachside resorts and hotels, be it Calangute, Vagator or just for sightseeing of the monumental churches in Velha Goa (Old Goa).

Moreover, being a prime juncture for Hindu pilgrims, Marcel town in Ponda, Goa also overhears indistinct sounds of bells ringing at one of the several temples, round the year.

Summing it all up briefly… with a rich heritage that dates back to over several centuries, Goa offers vivid diversity in the products (accommodation, entertainment, amenities, etc.) to the travellers of all ages, visiting the state from the world over for varied needs.

Having that mentioned of the diversity of Goa… Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga – which have seen an outbreak globally for their enigmatic steadfast healing characteristics – Goan shores too felt the importance of practising the same and hence were placed integrally under the roof of Devaaya Retreat in the Divar Island on the Mandovi river which connects with Velha Goa on the south-east side. The retreat, which recently underwent rebranding hence boasting of AccorHotel’s Mercure badge now, we at BW Hotelier visited the property to know more about the ‘Retreat’ as a product, ‘Mercure’ gelling with the ‘Retreat’, and business dynamism following the rebranding.

Devaaya Retreat then, Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat now…

Devaaya Retreat, conceptualised and managed by Alcon Victor Group over the past years has since been having a prime hold in the market with a staggering per cent of Occ. at the Retreat secured predominantly by Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs). In a bid to attract the domestic market too, Alcon Victor Group recently partnered with the French hospitality company AccorHotels’ Mercure brand to further surge the number of Indian visitors to the retreat by providing them with attractive economical therapy plans clubbed with short-duration stays, while abiding by international hospitality standards.

When asked about the particularity in picking on ‘Mercure’ as the managing brand for the property, Varun Albuquerque, Director of Alcon Victor Group informed that ‘Mercure’ as a brand defines itself for flexibility in local influence to the property, be it in terms of property façade and in-room design, or services, or F&B, etc., hence making it easy for them to keep the old-world architectural charm while catering the patrons with best-in-class services. Reiterating AccorHotels’ Mercure brand’s philosophy, Sanjay Pagi, General Manager, Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat said that all the Mercure properties are a portal to their destinations, wherein “here at the Devaaya Retreat, which comprises of a majority of local staff, they are knowledgeable about Divar Island and Goa at large, hence can guide the guests the places to visit during their leisure time.” Also, the décor of the property, which has a tale to tell about the vintage Goan Architecture and its cultural heritage, is kept intact by Mercure which also underscores its versatility as a brand, added Pagi.

Speaking about the upscaling done during the rebranding of the property, Albuquerque said that there were some soft touches given to the property like refreshing the café, furnishings, and training the staff.

Reach and Strategic Positioning

Located on Divar Island, the 57-key Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat is easily accessible to & from the Dabolim Airport which is just an hour’s drive away.

Situated in a secluded setting, the property enjoys scenic views of backwaters of the Mandovi River engulfed by lush greenery, hence offering a panoramic repertoire for the camera lens to feast upon, and an atmosphere much desired by the ones in the search of tranquillity.

I along with the group of other journalists couldn’t hold our horses from stepping into the Jetty Restaurant on our first evening at the Retreat, just to savour our eyes to the sight of the still water, extravagant silence and a flock of egrets flying right above the backwaters. During this winter season, one can also see the setting sun leaving a long trail of hazy vermilion colour to the skyline.

Seamless best-in-class hospitality married with tailor-made therapies

During the dinner, right under the stars, at Amboi – the poolside restaurant of the property, a couple of glasses of warm tulsi water accompanying the succulent buffet spread kept me satiated for longer hours, hence discarding the unhealthy practice of munching on junk savouries in the name of midnight hunger pangs.

The second day of our experiential started with the dawn of early-morning yoga session while facing the still backwaters, and the reverberating ‘Aum’ chants followed by other Yogic Kriyas while enjoying the sight of the Sun rising slowly. This warmed us up quite well to further start the day with a soulful plate of freshly cut fruits, Goan Poi with ghee and honey, and some South Indian delicacies at Manos.

A property tour is indeed needed to learn about the infrastructural amenities maintained by the property. The Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat boasts of 28 well-furnished therapy rooms (modern/ rustic), a large yoga pavilion, river-facing venues, hydrotherapy rooms, mud bath areas, physiotherapy rooms, a fitness centre, swimming pool, jogging track and an array of diet centres serving pure vegetarian and customised ayurvedic diets. The property also offers tailor-made corporate yoga programmes through its ‘Self-Management of Excessive Tension’ programme, custom-made for professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

The programmes are guided by a set of skilled doctors, vaidyas and therapists who guide personalised treatment plans, based on the patron’s condition. Accordingly, the guest is then recommended either a 3-day stay, 7-day stay, or a possibility of extension based on consultation with the physicians.

Following the prescription by the ayurvedic physicians, the guests undergo healing programmes performed by expert therapists and are also recommended specific daily routines, regulated nutritious diet, and wellness activities. The treatments include Abhyanga, Panchkarma, AntarSnehan, Virechan, Basti, Svedan, Shirodhara, Pizhichil, Navrakizhi, and Nasya.

I was recommended Abhayanga – a full body massage including warm essential oils performed by two therapists – on the first of the three days of my therapies, for which, the therapists – who hail from Kerala – maintained a high level of coordination throughout the therapy. With all the massage points addressed in the hour-long Abhayanga, followed by a steam bath in the traditional wooden box and some refreshing herbal tea, combined all-together was truly rejuvenating. The other two days included Shirodhara and Navrakizhi respectively, which had their own benefits like eliminating mental exhaustion and promoting digestion.

On consultation with the physicians, Naturopathy and personalised Yogic Kriyas can be further tailor-made for the patrons.

Leisure-Time Excursions

Following the sessions of a day at the property, one can find enough time to explore the Divar Island as well as its neighbouring Vashi and Chorao Islands for their natural calmness and to spot some rarely found fauna species in the mangroves, spotting which needs discretion! Pagi further increased our excitement by mentioning about the ferry-tour to Cumbarjua Canal – a habitat of Indian mugger crocodile. However, we opted to visit the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary in Chorao Island, based on a majority call. We kept it for the last day of our experiential. The evening before, we ventured to Panjim, to pack our bags with a couple of packets of Goan flavoured cashews, and to enjoy the long trailing views of well-lit Casino Ships followed by authentic Goan delicacies at a local restaurant in the city.

Way Forward for Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat

During the on-season, visitors from Germany, Switzerland, and Italy mark to be the top FTA market visiting the property, and the Retreat records an Occ. of 75-80% during this time. With all that mentioned about the strategic location, list-long therapeutic sessions, economical packages, and memories to reminisce, Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat, in its first year of operations since the rebranding, strives to be recognised and become the hub of Naturopathy, Ayurveda and Yoga even during the off-season months of the calendar year, and hence is eyeing to have 40-45% bookings during this time for the first year, said a confident Pagi.

As per a statement issued by AccorHotels, Jean-Michel Cassé, Chief Operating Officer, India & South Asia, said, that the traditional wellness market is increasing rapidly, and people are looking for solutions to urban stresses and lifestyle-related health issues. “Our partnership with the Alcon Victor Group is based on complementary strengths and we look forward to working together in successfully positioning this new offering from #AccorHotels,” he added.

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