• Feni stir fried prawns in action!

Travel review: Cashew Trail at Park Hyatt Goa.

  • Feni stir fried prawns in action!

Hello, everyone.

I feel happy to find myself typing a blog post after what seems like a century, but I’m sure all of you are going to enjoy reading this one.

Here’s sharing the experience we had during our 3-day-stay at Park Hyatt Goa’s annual #CashewTrail festival. Enjoy the pictures clicked by Lensplate and do write back if you have any questions or queries.

Fresh ripened cashews on trees
#CashewTrail 2015
Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa
AddressArossim Beach, Cansaulim, Goa 403712
Phone0832 272 1234

About Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa: Nestled along the pristine Arossim Beach and 15-minutes away from the airport, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa is a charming Indo-Portuguese village housing 250 pousada-style guestrooms and suites. Set within 45 acres of landscaped gardens with glimmering waterways and lagoons, the resort is a perfect reflection of the character and vivacious heritage of Goa. Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa offers a selection of prized restaurants and superlative culinary experiences, an award-winning spa, one of the largest swimming pools, picturesque function spaces and ‘Camp Hyatt’ for young guests. Coupled with gracious and personalised service, the experience at Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa is impeccable.
For more information and reservations, visit www.goa.park.hyatt.com.

Every year during harvest season, Park Hyatt Goa celebrates the journey of Goa’s beloved fruit: the cashew. Snehsha and I decided not to give this festival a miss again this year. So on Thursday (16th April 2015), we began our road trip from Mumbai at 4:30 AM and reached our destination 13 hours later, at 5:30 PM. The drive did get us extremely exhausted and dehydrated (special thanks to summer heat in Goa) but what we enjoyed the most during our drive, was the sight of this surreal sunrise which gave birth to excitement and hope to have an unforgettable holiday ahead, mutually in our hearts and minds.

Sunrise at Mumbai-Pune Expressway
That long drive at sun rise.

I’ve stayed (and reviewed) my experiences at Hyatt properties before. The sweetness in their hospitality has made me smile gleamingly one too many times than one too seldom. We were harrowed and irritated when we reached the property after our drive, and all we cared about was checking into our room as soon as possible.

Our gloominess didn’t last for long because the management took less than 5 minutes to have us moved into a buggy, and feel pleasantly surprised in our room with a bottle of red wine, assorted chocolates, mango jam, puff sticks, marshmallows and a gorgeously attractive box of artisanal Cashew Trail Spa Kit.

We travel at least once in 3 months to know for a fact that very few hospitality brands go the extra mile to make guests smile.

Got pleasantly surprised by Park Hyatt Goa
Thank you for being so sincerely & unpredictably sweet. 

After freshening up, we headed straight to Park Hyatt’s Village Square. The management had organised a special dinner to celebrate Goa’s favourite drink. Their special 5-course menu was paired with fresh Urak, one year aged Feni, an Oak Cask 2012 edition feni and a Port Oak Cask 2010 edition feni.

Feni paired dinner at Park Hyatt Goa Resort & Spa
Vegetable Cutlet with garden herbs & cashew chutney, paired with one-year-aged feni.

The feni-paired dinner that night was a tribute to Goa’s local culture, ingredients and flavours. A story worth relishing and cherishing with good food and great company. Valentino Vaz, and his pioneering distillery Madame Rosa, have been instrumental in producing and promoting Feni all around the world.

Amongst everything we tried that night, we enjoyed the combination of Oak Cask 2010 feni, which almost tasted like cognac, with this silky smooth cold cheesecake.

Alle Belle Cold Cheesecake w/ Cashew Jam, paired with Oak Cask 2010 at Park Hyatt Goa
Alle Belle Cold Cheesecake w/ Cashew Jam, paired with Oak Cask 2010.

After dinner, we walked around to explore the massive 45-acre property and returned to our sea-facing room only to wake up on time for our bus tour the next day. Our trail began at 9:30 am, where we were introduced to our tour guide and host: Charlie. Before the bus went any forward, he promised to react selectively to our tantrums and began our journey on a mischievously helpful note:

“Okay ladies & gentleman, if you look on your right, you might miss what’ll appear on your left.”

After a long 2-hour-drive, our first stop for the day was Valentino Vaz’s feni factory. When we reached, we were greeted with fresh cashew juice and an audiovisual to explain the entire process of deriving feni out of cashew fruits.

First process of distillation of cashew juice.

We got to watch the work in process , step by step, at Madame Rosa Distillery.

After getting acquainted with the process of distillation and taking more than necessary selfies with each other, we walked into the forest to find and pluck cashew fruits off the ground. It was fun to hunt for the plump and ripened fruits from oddest spots on trees, odd enough even for monkeys.

Did you know cashews are picked only when they fall on the ground after they ripen completely?
Did you know cashews are picked only when they fall on the ground after they ripen completely?

Cashew fruits ready to rumble!
Cashew fruits ready to rumble!

Cashew fruits being plucked from the ground
Ouch, that gotta hurt!

Cashew plucking at Madame Rosa Distillery Goa
Spot me in this picture to win 100 new friendship points.

After that entirely new experience; including the part where we felt our skin was darkening and melting due to the heat; we assembled near the bus and hopped into it for our next halt: Savoi Spice Plantation.

Before we explored various spices at the plantation, we decided to have lunch first, because we are the kind of people who wouldn’t miss a single meal even on the day our world supposedly ends.

Here’s what our traditional Goan meal looked like.

Onion bhajjiya at Savoi Plantation Goa
Welcome to Savoi, here have some piping hot onion bhajjiya!

Fresh Urak with Limca and Betel Leaves
Fresh Urak with Limca was served with crunchy chakli & bhajjiya on the side. 

Prawns Rawa Fry at Savoi Plantation Goa
Prawns Rawa Fry for the soul, served on the buffet in a natural clay bowl.

Traditional Goan food at Savoi Plantation Goa
Surmai fry, squid masala, Goan prawns curry, kokam curry, fresh alphonso mangoes & more.

After our stomachs were full and merry, Charlie lead us to a long walk into the plantation, and helped us discover sources of fresh spices and fruits; including clove, cinnamon, betel leaves, jackfruits and many more.

Hey flower, have you gone bananas?

 Hibiscus Schizopetalus
Fruits & spices on the jungle wall, who’s the prettiest of them all?
Hibiscus Schizopetalus

A walk to remember forever at Savoi Plantation Goa
A walk to remember forever.

Our last destination on that journey was a local cashew factory, where we saw the entire process of drying, roasting, cooling, peeling, grading and packaging of Goa’s global pride: cashew nuts. The process seemed way too tedious for the measly salaries of workers out there, but it was fascinating to watch and know most of them; especially women who selectively assorted final despatches in different grades; worked there solely because they sincerely love cashew nuts.

Crushing of cashew nuts in a Goan factory
Crushing cashew nuts is a tedious process, which requires consistent patience.

Cashew factory in Goa
Did you know the oil you see here can burn human skin?
Workers usually use spare coconut oil immediately on burns.

Grading of cashews by women in Goan factories
Bigger they are, higher their grade, higher their market-price will be.

A handful of these fresh cashews in your mouth would feel heavenly, don’t you think?
Well, I tried and I can confirm that it does.

Our long journey that day was informative and educative about how truly resourceful the cashew is. All that walking in the heat drained us out to an extent that we looked like war soldiers returning from a battlefield.

Before I left from Mumbai, a few friends had told me about Park Hyatt Goa’s iconic Sereno Spa. Well, returning to Park Hyatt Goa in that state was a clear sign for us to go check it out and make the most out of it.

Exclusive #CashewTrail spa treatment, at Sereno Spa, Park Hyatt Goa.
Exclusive Cashew Trail spa treatment, at Sereno Spa.

We opted for an exclusively seasonal Double Cashew Therapy for 90 minutes.

Our couple’s therapy included a full body treatment with cashew oil, followed by a quick shower and a procedure we had never experienced before. They coated us with cashew moisturiser, wrapped us with plastic sheets and let us rest in there, like caterpillars rest in cocoons. We don’t know about caterpillars, but we surely felt like butterflies afterwards.

Outdoor spa treatment at Sereno Spa Park Hyatt Goa
Outdoor spa treatment at Sereno Spa.

After our unbelievably relaxing spa treatment, we sipped on some soulfully good green tea and stared at this wall nailed with frames and tokens of achievement, enjoying the Sereno silence we shared.

All awards won by Sereno Spa, at Park Hyatt Goa, Cansaulim.
All awards won by Sereno Spa, at Park Hyatt Goa, Cansaulim. 

Our first hand experience of #CashewTrail left us highly exhausted but equally impressed with the management’s capabilities and consistently helpful hospitality.

Welcome to #CashewTrail Sunday Brunch!
Welcome to #CashewTrail Sunday Brunch!

To conclude and celebrate the end of 4th edition, Park Hyatt Goa hosted their annual Cashew Trail Sunday Brunch on Sunday, 19th April 2015, open under the bright blue sky, right in the middle of the gigantic property – at Magical Forest.

Fresh Urak (first distill of feni) with blue curaçao.
Fresh Urak (first distill of feni) with blue curaçao.
Held on to this glass, with uncountable repeats flowing in almost all day.

Feni stir fried prawns in action!
Feni stir fried prawns in action!

The atmosphere on that high-spirited family afternoon was undoubtedly an exciting experience to be a part of. It had a dedicated zone for kids; with games, tattoo art, painting and an exclusive cashew fruit stomping area; to keep them busy while their parents indulged in socialising, drinking, eating and cooking in the competition.

You’re going to enjoy pictures of these cute munchkins below.

Cashew stomping for kids
Cashew stomping for kids.

Painting zone for kids
Painting zone for kids.

Special buffet for kids too
Special buffet for kids.

Kid playing football at Park Hyatt Goa
Special thanks for being so cool, footballer kid.

An array of delectable food was lined on the judging table, as the couples who participated in the cooking competition were ready to display what they created with cashew and its forms.

Five of us judges chose the best 3 dishes, and those winning couples got a free holiday weekend each, at different properties owned by Hyatt across India.

The participants, before they began cooking.

The winning dish, created by the couple behind Thalassa in Goa.
The winning dish, created by the couple behind Thalassa in Goa.

Barbecued turmeric prawns
Barbecued turmeric prawns.

I couldn’t have wished for a better way to end to my experience at Cashew Trail 2015.

I visit Goa almost once in every 3 months but this time, it was tough for me to bid adieu. After spending 3 unforgettable nights in a lavish sea-facing room at Park Hyatt Goa; with a private hot tub, an outdoor shower area and an uncontrollable urge to order prawn curry rice just before I leave…

I’m sure I’ll go back to Park Hyatt Goa soon.


Goodbye prawn curry, I’ll miss you.

What’s Garma-Garam?

The property is unbelievably vast and the rooms are surprisingly spacious. Please do not leave without visiting Sereno Spa at least once.
What’s Thanda?
If you’re not used to walking, especially walking in the heat, get ready to test your patience with buggies that drive around the property, like free cabs.
Dakaar Level
Room Service
Happy traveling, bhookads!

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