When I visited Coco Shambhala, Giles was away, but I could clearly detect his definitive and all encompassing sensibility unfolding around me.
“Many years ago, I stumbled into India as an inexperienced young backpacker, filled with dreams of beaches and temples, but from the first moment I crossed the threshold between airport and street, it was so much more than I could ever have imagined,” Giles Knapton a young Englishman, owner cum designer of the establishment says this whilst talking of the genesis of Coco Shambhala, a one-of-a-kind holiday resort in Goa.
With a passion and a song in his heart Giles started out by buying a piece of land in the village of Nerul in Bardez near the Coco beach in Goa.
He and a young architect from the UK designed the villas and gardens. He says, “I conceptualised the project and between myself and the architect, Tom Livings, we planned Coco Shambhala.”
The establishment is composed of four villas loosely surrounding a central pool. The ground areas in between are filled with native tropical foliage in a design more commanded by the space rather than by a particular landscape style diktat. Each villa is composed of two spacious bedrooms, a private jet pool, 2 bathrooms, 2 dressing rooms on the ground floor and topped with a kitchen, a large pavilion and sit-out on the first floor.
The interesting thing about the bathrooms is that in some of the villas the shower is al fresco. Nature’s bounty of birds, trees, breezes and even rain keeps you company while you indulge in personal grooming. That’s right, you are never far from nature in this property; the breezes, the chirping of the birds, the trees, and the sweet smells of the garden fill your senses completely, emptying them of all city-bred stress and worries.
Coco Shambhala is actually poles apart from your average Goa luxury resort. Rustic, earthy, following the lay of the land are the thoughts that come to mind when you think of the architecture of the place.
Floors are mainly constructed out of yellow oxide tinted cement. Outdoor showers have local smooth pebble embedded floors. Copper vessels commonly found in the kitchens of Goa are used as bric-a-brac or wash basins and sinks.
Talking about the indoor accessories, they dot the spaces freely in no particular format but clearly speak about someone handpicking them with love from the area around.
All modern creature comforts are at hand in spite of the innate rusticity.
One strange thing about the place though is that there are no dining room timings; this is because there is no dining room! All guest defined meals are prepared on request at a time suitable to the guest and brought to the room.
“Susegado” – is an evocative, exotic, emotive word used by the Goan people to describe their way of life, their desire to take it easy and experience each day through their senses. A stay in Coco Shambhala is fully representative of this Goan ‘mantra’, for spending time here cannot simply be defined as a holiday, it is an experience that will revive, revitalise and reawaken your senses to the wonder of architecture and nature.
In Giles own words, “ When you deserve an interlude of pampering and calm mingled with the excitement of discovering a new country – come find your way to Coco Shambhala!”
Text By Mala Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy Coco Shambhala