A grand hotel in Goa

OUR FIRST VISIT to Goa was in about 2007. We stayed at a state run hotel in Colva, a seaside place in South Goa. It was August and the middle of the monsoon season. Much of the time, there was rain and frequently the beach was inaccessible because if the furious waves and wind dashing against it.

One day, we were driven to Panjim North of Colva, and stopped for lunch in the city’s tall Mandovi Hotel. The food served in its grandiose dining room was good. However, what impressed me most was that the hotel, which was built as a luxury establishment when the Portuguese ruled Goa, was a perfectly preserved and well maintained example of an old-fashioned inter-war European grand hotel.

Because the hotel at Colva was, to put it mildly, very badly managed, we left it sooner than we had planned and spent a few days in the Mandovi. As far as I can recall, the hotel was both comfortable and well managed.

In 2018, we paid another visit to Panjim, and had a meal in its restaurant, which looked the same as it did in 2007. Sadly, the quality of the cooking and service had deteriorated.

The Mandovi Hotel was constructed on a plot that had belonged to a Noronha family. The seven storied building was ready to receive its first guests in December 1952, on the day that the Cardinal of Lisbon arrived in Goa. The hotel was where important Portuguese persons stayed. It was the best hotel in all of the territories ruled by Portugal. Stepping inside it was like taking a time trip back to the 1950s, if not before.

Behind the hotel, away from the riverfront, there is a domed Chapel attached to the hotel. This was built by the Noronhas family in 1827, and has been used ever since.

December 2022 found us back in Panjim. We walked over to the Mandovi Hotel and were horrified to find that its main entrance was padlocked closed and the place looked lifeless. A bystander told us that the hotel closed about 4 years ago because the two families who own it are fighting over it in a court of law.

I hope that the Mandovi Hotel will reopen and that it’s remarkable late Art Deco and Indo-Portuguese decorative features will be preserved. Even if it’s interior is modernised, which would be a pity, I hope that the terracotta coloured bas-reliefs on the hotel’s external wall will be saved.

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