The Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces group has certainly been busy in the last few years. Operating 66 hotels in 42 regions of India, along with another 16 resorts across the world, this luxury hotel chain has advanced innovation in the hospitality industry since its birth in 1903.
Taj Cape Town opened in 2009 and last year contracts for Taj properties Jammu and Kashmir have been signed. In 2010, Taj was chosen by the Credit Suisse Research Institute as one of the 27 "Great Brands of Tomorrow." To see what all the fuss was about, I took the chance to experience the Taj brand in two completely distinct properties. My experiences indicated the Taj brand will likely flourish for generations to come.
At this lush sanctuary tucked along the shores of the Arabian Sea, time nearly stops. Several times during my stay, I caught myself wandering and not caring what time or even day it was. It was glorious drifting in a hammock overlooking the nine-hole executive golf course and beach. I also didn't mind lying near the Lobster Shack, squeezing lemon on fresh, fat lobster while local kids danced on the shore.
Taj Exotica is one of those perfect places an adventurous traveler hopes to find. The stunning 56 acre resort has plenty to offer guests right on the property, but also is close proximity to daily doses of exploration. Our first day included a two-hour tennis match and a tour of the new greenhouse.
The greenhouse brimmed with dozens of varieties of foliage that make Taj Exotica mimic a romp in a perfectly groomed rainforest. After tennis, we ventured into the Jiva Spa, a temple-like structure modeled after the temples of Kerala. Spas are the paramount feature of all Taj properties. The innovative and extensive list of yoga, meditation and Indian aromatherapy treatments offered at this spa were impressive. We even enjoyed an invigorating group yoga session one late afternoon.
Post yoga, we opted for Adega Camoens, one of the resort's restaurants and lounges, for tea. We were pleased to find Taj Exotica considered teatime nearly as essential as spa services! We drank and indulged on a tower of exotic nibbles while passively watching the sun dip into the calm Arabian waters.
Later in the evening, we gathered with jovial guests from Australia and Britain at the ocean front restaurant, the Lobster Shack. Hardly a "shack," this outdoor restaurant invites guests to select catches of the day to be prepared by the chefs. They were happy to dazzle guests with heaping plates of delectable finds from the sea.
The next day, a chipper taxi driver took us to temples and towns all around Goa, passing elephants, bright blue and pink Portuguese inspired homes, and spice plantations. He seemed a bit surprised when we requested he return us to Taj Exotica; but after telling him about our first day at the resort, he then said, "I'd be going back, too!"
The Taj President, set within the balmy tree lined streets of bustling Mumbai, has found the delicate balance between trendy and relaxing.
Several elements made the Taj President a true urban oasis. Our deluxe suite was a marvel in Asian inspired woodwork. From the cherry wood floors to the light beechwood wall paneling, my travel companion and I felt the sense of nature all throughout our room. In the bathroom, slate and granite filled the space, adding a Zen ambiance to our suite. I particularly noticed the thick and textured beige curtains that closed off the view of the city's highrise when it was time to sleep in our tranquil setting.
The Taj President's pool also juxtaposed urban views with a relaxing, modern space. Rows of sleek lounge chairs lined the sparkling pool, ideal for basking in the sun's rays and from the reflections of windows from the soaring highrise towers.
Down just a few stories from our suite and pool, the trendsetting elements of the Taj President subtlety emerge. This Taj property is home to four noted hot spot restaurants, the scene-stealer being the Thai Pavilion Restaurant. Following the design from our Asian inspired suite, the Thai Pavilion Restaurant boasts floor to ceiling textured woodwork and heavy wood laden furniture. The kitchen is a gleaming space that showcases chef performances nightly.
Those who love to see culinary art up close are encouraged to sit at the handsome bar, a front row to kitchen crescendos. Across the lobby, the sleek and sexy Wink bar and lounge pulses with the night's rhythms. One late evening, we spotted well-dressed patrons flocking to and from this lively spot. Next door, Trattoria inhabits the corner space of the lobby, serving an array of hearty, yet elegant Italian cuisine. I particularly liked the bruchetta, heavily stacked with fresh tomatoes.
Overall, whether in blissful isolation near the ocean or shrouded by the urban jungle of highrises and lofty city trees, the Taj excelled in offering guests modern, invigorating and relaxing stays with its Vivanta line. Somehow unfretted by custom in a traditional land, the Taj, and its ever expanding empire of fine resorts, is welcoming and imaginative.
Taj Exotica Resort & Spa
PO Box 2117
South Male Atoll