Goa luxury villas, India
How Goa luxury villas, India makes a difference
Water is the single most essential resource and I started here. Goa gets a large amount of rainfall but much of it is wasted as a run off. We dug trenches in several key places to stop the run-off and let the water seep in. Within a year, the water table has risen considerably, not just for us, but also in the areas surrounding us.
With the abundance of water, the original trees which had been just surviving till then started thriving. We planted an enormous number of trees found naturally in the Western Ghats. We grow many vegetables, fruit and herbs. The daily menu therefore features whatís fresh in the garden. Right form the start, we have used only our own compost with only cow dung as an addition. Our garden produce therefore is totally organic.
For the construction of the villas, I chose those spots which had only scrub and no trees needed to be compromised. The construction uses all material sourced locally. Much of the wood used in the construction is either recycled old wood, or salvaged packing material. A bare minimum of cement and concrete has been used so the villa walls have the charm of hand packed mud-like surfaces.
Our in-house restaurant, Mimosa serves many traditional Goan dishes, some of which are fats disappearing from the menus of all but Goan homes. We do not serve red meat, but a wide choice of fresh sea food, chicken and of course, vegetarian fare.
The lighting throughout in the Villas is by low voltage CFL lights. There is generally enough natural ventilation in the rooms which is augmented by electric fans so that the air conditioners hardly need to be put on except the very warm summer months. For the pathways solar lights have been used throughout. About half out water heating source is also solar. We try and sensitize our guests about the importance of switching off unnecessary electrical appliances and lights when not in use.
Where possible, we have used recycled paper and done away with much of plastic. The garbage collected in separated into plastics and bio-degradable. All food waste and bio degradable waste goes into the resortís compost heap and the plastics are sent to the local authorities for disposal.
Any water that comes out of a sink, shower and taps goes into a separate tank where it gets filtered and used to irrigate the garden. The overflow from the non-chlorinated pool also gets used in the gardens.
Wildlife - With the many trees and plants we have planted in our 8 acres, the Villa gardens attract a host of birds. Many are resident species while we get many winter visitors too, making it a real birdwatchers' delight.
Waste - All our waste, leaf litter as well as kitchen waste goes into our own compost pits to make rich manure for our gardens. The water from the showers and sinks goes to tank from where it goes through natural material filters before being released in the gardens. Wherever possible, we use recycled paper, woodless pencils and bio-degradable materials.
Water - Earth's single most precious resource. Goa is luck to get a large amount of rainfall per year. However, most of the precious water is lost as a run-off. Right at the start of the work on the Villas, we dug trenches in strategic places to prevent the run-off, allowing the water to be soaked into the earth and thus re-charging the aquifers.
Our guests are asked to reconsider before giving their linen for laundry. The guest toilet flushes are fitted with water saving choice.
Energy - We use solar lighting for all pathways. Half of the water heating is also done by solar panels. Elsewhere, we use energy saving bulbs. Although the guest rooms have airconditioning, the villas have been designed to have maximum of natural ventilation. This cuts down the need for the air-conditioning quite a lot.
Building - One of the joys in the creation of the Villas, was the method of construction. Being a Goan and a builder, I have thoroughly researched the traditional methods of house construction. I have adapted those to the modern times and the result are the villas which have all the characteristics of a an old Goan home. High ceilings, red tiled roofs, large verandahs, in-situ benches etc. The wood for the houses is either recovered from old bits or come from packing crates. Shaped into Goa's famous arches and charming shapes by local carpenters, the villas now are great examples of vernacular Goan architecture.
There are many activities the guests can enjoy at the Villas. They also have the alternative of doing nothing but simply letting in the peace of the place repair and rejuvenate city-stressed minds and bodies. We can arrange for Ayurvedica massages using traditional oils, or a slightly newer concept of reflexology.
My own research paper into the medicinal uses of Aloe Vera was selected to be read at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. The Wildflower Gardens have a large number of medicinal plants and I would be delighted to show guests around and describe the many ways into how Ayurveda makes use of them.
Friends & Neighbours - In the Villas, I have consciously tried to stick to local traditions of building and gardening. Our water harvesting efforts have helped not just us, but the area surrounding us by creating accessible water tables and a larger tree cover.
The food prepared at the Villas offers many traditional Goan recipes which are slowly being edged out by generic `tourist' food. We are also delighted that produce of our own gardens goes in the dishes. Any surplus fruit and vegetables are distributed through a local organic food outlet.
The excursions that we support are chosen also for their own sound operating practices and low impact activities. We support those who support the community by employing locals and for operating activities which are in harmony with nature.
We support local heritage walks with keen supporters and action groups for saving Goa's cultural and architectural heritage.
Campaigning for Change - From my student days in college, I have been a social activist. I have been a member of `Utt Goenkara', an organisation dedicated to fighting illegal construction and indiscriminate buildings. Through this, we ran a successful campaign to remove a Draconian law which would have seen almost all of Goa's green areas into highly developed lands.
Goa luxury villas, India