As I mentioned yesterday, my wife and I rang in the new year in Goa at the Park Hyatt, a lush resort complex nestled in a very picturesque part of India. As is the case with many resorts over the New Year’s holiday, a “compulsory gala dinner” was part of the package, here at a cost of INR 13800 (~$210) each.
My first thought was that this hotel was out of its mind — I mean, come on, the average Indian earns INR 272 (~$4) per day. What kind of party would this possibly be? And there’s something you should know about me. If I am not traveling, my pajamas come on at around 6pm (unless I have worn them all day, which is often the case) and I don’t go out at night. Not often, at least. My wife and I are boring and we like it that way.
So a $200 dinner gala that stretched until 2am was not our idea of a good time. But to Hyatt’s credit, the party was nice. We figured at least the food would be good and it certainly was. Very good actually. The hotel set up the biggest buffet I have ever seen under a “big top” (the party was circus-themed) and cooks from each of the resort’s five restaurants were busy at work feeding a crowd of what appeared to be close to 500.
There was great Indian food, meats, Italian food, seafood, cheese, salads, and superb desserts. Alcohol is taxed heavily in India and was also included for free to a degree — the left side of the menu was free drinks and the right side was top-shelf drinks for purchase (click photo to enlarge). A bottle of Dom fetched $425.
The entertainment was also surprisingly good, primarily an Indian band that did a tremendous job in playing a wide genre of music. A few circus acts like a fire juggler and rope climber were thrown in as was a raffle, the grand prize being a trip to Thailand.
Our table was rather lethargic. British pensioners to our left said little and a Russian mother and daughter to our left spoke no English, or did not appear to (my wife’s greeting was returned with a blank stare). They were gone by 10pm. The hotel attracts a lot of Russian guests and it was mildly amusing to see many, many, many tall, slender, stunningly gorgeous Russian women in their early 20s arm-in-arm with fat, short, Russian men in their 50s. There was a man from Italy who was 95 years old dancing away in the middle of the dance floor in a glittering suit who apparently returns to the hotel each year for New Years. Hats off to him.
At the stroke of midnight an eruption of fireworks began, but by that time my wife and I were watching from our balcony and fell asleep soon thereafter.
Was it worth it? Let’s put it this way — I do not like mandatory parties, but it was better than I thought it would be.
Rs. 13,800 per person??? That IS insane, even by “star hotel” standards, especially if all you got was a buffet.
If you’d like to get a taste of some real Indian food and some beautiful scenery, and don’t mind a bit of a drive, hire a car and have them drive south towards Karnataka. There is a town called Karwar, just across the border – my mother-in-law’s hometown. You can get some incredible fish curry, and a view of both the mountains and Arabian Sea at the same time. It’s about 55 miles, so give or take 2 hours to get there. Worth the effort, though.
Was it worth it?
No! $210 for a New Years Party is insane, but is especially offensive and sad in a country where more than 50% of the population lacks the money to meet their basic needs.
Was here last year over new year’s for 4 nights (3 on points, 1 from the Hyatt card anniversary free night since it’s a Cat 4 property). Gala was not mandatory at the time, perhaps they’ve changed that? Or perhaps we slipped through in the reservation process somehow. Had no interest in the party, or at least not $200 per person of interest. We walked down the beach to the left (south) and found one of the seafood shack-type places. Had it almost to ourselves, they were very happy to see us and very friendly. Just ate prawns and fish curry watching the waves, washed down with some beers. Lovely evening. Party definitely seemed lively when we walked past on the way out and back.
Property’s supposed to convert to an ITC, or at least away from Hyatt sometime soon I believe?
And ha, so many Russians.