Spice Studios at the new Alila Diwa, Goa.
It’s been nearly five years since Goa, India’s dreamy, beachy west-coast state, has seen a new boutique hotel. Then, last December, Alila Diwa, a superluxe 114-room property in South Goa, opened its doors. When I’m in beach paradise, I’m hesitant to stay anywhere more than a few steps from the sand, but Alila Diwa’s location, overlooking a working rice paddy, was equally relaxing (Majorda Beach is just a quick bike or shuttle ride away). An infinity pool stretches out over the paddies, and I watched workers harvesting rice that I’d later eat at the hotel’s restaurant. For years, Martin’s Corner was the only option for an excellent authentic Goan meal in the area (its famous Goan sausage bread and sorpotel, a vinegary meat stew, draws India’s Bollywood celebs and cricket stars). But Alila Diwa, just down the road, is serving equally delicious Goan specialties in a gorgeous open kitchen. It also has a fantastic new cooking school called Spice Studios. Guests can accompany the chef on a 6:30 a.m. run to the fish market, then spend the morning in the kitchen learning to use a tandoor and preparing Goa’s signature fish curry.