By Sinead McManus
Escape to Casa Susegad, a colonial Portuguese mansion in the picturesque village of Loutolim in South Goa with a ‘treat this home as your home attitude’, a hideout from city life, perfect for romantic strolls and lifelong memories
As the monsoons come alive, we are blessed to witness the revival of the countryside in Goa.
Covered in lush green vegetation with local farmers tending to their crop, each sight is a picture postcard.
With an opportunity to escape from the daily grind to the beautiful interiors of Goa, a friend and I headed south to explore a magnificent 17th century residence, which I had been meaning to visit for a number of years and we soon found ourselves in Loutolim, often described as the prettiest village in the state. The area in and around Loutolim, including the adjoining villages, is home to around 34,000 people, in gently rolling hills a few hundred feet above sea level, with many large and charming well preserved houses dating back to the Portuguese era.
Casa Susegad, a restored colonial mansion, set in an acre-and-a-half of grounds, surrounded by forest cover in a quiet corner of the village.
Greeted by the owners Norman and Carole Steen, a British couple, who have made Casa Susegad their home since 2005; they opened up their house to guests two years after its restoration.
The private boutique hotel or heritage guest house offers exclusive and personalised services to guests. All the rooms are spacious and well appointed with high standard en-suite facilities, air conditioning in three of the five bedrooms, deep sprung mattresses and every other comfort.
Three rooms are named after semi-precious stones, and the room colours reflect this. The Rose Room, The Carnelian Room and The Turquoise Room, all have samples of the respective stones they are named after in the decorative floor borders. The Sunshine Room gets its name from the warm, calm and romantic atmosphere. The host’s Suite is available by negotiation as part of a whole house let.
Each room opens out onto its own terrace area with a granite-topped table, comfy chairs and canopy if required. As we settled in, we discovered the laid back environment our hosts had incorporated for their guests. With a ‘treat this home as your home attitude’, the bar is self-service where we made note of our drinks in their Honesty Book. Leisurely breakfasts are served when and where you desire – on your personal terrace, in the common dining area or out by the swimming pool. And all other meals are decided on the day, based on your pallet preferences and the availability of ingredients at the local market. Guests can also accompany the staff on their market visits to experience the buzz of a typical Goan bazaar.
We tucked into a delicious lunch prepared by the dedicated staff and enjoyed it with both, Carol and Norman as well as the rest of the guests. A carrot and ginger soup for starters, followed by a scrumptious main course of zucchini and peanut burgers, lentil patties with bimbli and chilli jam served with a shaved vegetable salad, dressed with argan oil and palm vinegar, pomegranate seeds and coriander with a hearty serving of roasted garlic mashed potato. Served with coffee, the dessert was a sponge crumb with fresh mango pulp and cinnamon cream with homemade nut granola.
A leisurely stroll through the spacious and well-maintained property followed by the house dogs in tow, threw up cosy nooks and crannies where you can whip out your binoculars for a spot of bird watching or laze on the seating provided, some in the form of tree swings. Additionally, the swimming pool area is a great place to relax with a glass of wine in hand or indulge in some chit chat.
Unspoilt by tourism, Casa Susegad is the ideal atmosphere to whisk your loved ones away on a holiday or weekend break in a pretty location, a peaceful retreat for two.
Rs 6600 inclusive of tax for 2 people that includes breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea and formal dinner.
. (Sinead has lived in Goa for the last seven years. She currently works for four international travel magazines, including National Geographic Traveller UK and the Association of British Travel Agents, where she promotes India as a destination to the trade and consumer market of the US and Britain. She also contributes articles on travel, hospitality and wellness to local publications).