Cabo Serai, is a stylish eco retreat in Cabo de Rama, South Goa. The southern part of Goa still maintains its charming slow susegad way of life. Lush forests, majestic laterite plateaus and rolling hills make up a landscape that is dramatic and picturesque. Here, pleated in the folds of nature, perched on a hill, flanked by steep cliffs dropping into the Arabian Sea, lies Cabo Serai. “Cabo” meaning cape in Portuguese and “Serai’ meaning abode in Hindi.
One with the outdoors when you stay in the Luxury tent:
In keeping with their philosophy of barefoot luxury, Cabo Serai goes that extra step to embrace an eco-conscious way of life and to balance this with high levels of comfort for their guests. I am inspired by their approach to sustainability and their ability to make it agreeable to guests thus, setting a fine example for all to follow.
Low impact design:
The spacious and stunning Luxury cottages and Luxury tents are spaced far apart for privacy. They are built with least impact and without cutting any trees. Intelligent design allows for ample light and sea breeze to keep you cool without turning on the aircon.
Nestled in nature:
Bed and bath linen are sustainable fabric and the team puts out a note about changing linen every alternate day (unless you require it) to save water. Perfect way to involve and educate guests. Toiletries are made using coconut oil extracted from their coconut trees. Have never experienced such organic bath amenities before. Every evening the team places a homemade ubtaan which is just pampers your skin after exposure to sun, sand and sea and leaves it feeling so supple.
Water is in a copper dispenser and no sight of those plastic mineral water bottles! There is a tea coffee bar with options of leaf teas and coffee all placed in glass jars. I enjoyed my cuppa with a book from their mini library in my room (all second hand books). A thoughtful beach bag made with recycled plastic and absolutely sustainable as it is so durable. Ideal to take your belongings to the beach. A walking stick, sunscreen lotion, torch, umbrellas and whatever else you can think of is there for your comfort.
Copper water vessel and tea/coffee setup in rooms:
Sipping away at copper enhanced water on the deck:
Organic Bath amenities:
In love with these beach bags….I bought a couple of them!
The lighting is soft to avoid disturbing the environment and the beings that inhabit the native forests in which the rooms are nestled. Lamps are all bought from local suppliers from the neighbouring villages.
Turmeric being grown in their garden:
A lot of the ingredients are grown in their plantation and the rest are procured from the villages around. The food curation is left to the chefs, who decide the carte du jour based on availability of fresh produce. Breakfast is melange of western and Indian choices. Lunch offerings are international and dinner is local Goan fare. My favourites from the menus were millet pancakes, quinoa upma, red amaranth risotto (simply to die for), alsande tonak (a Goan delicacy of black eyed peas) and the vegan dark chocolate mousse.
My fruit bowl for breakfast comprised of the sweetest papaya, bananas and pineapple; all grown in their fruit plantation. I tasted the amla (gooseberry) pickle with sumptuous aloo parathas and learnt that it was prepared by one of the local staff using a blend of Goan spices. She said it’s her mother’s secret pickle mix! The amla itself was harvested from the 60 odd, varying varieties of amla trees flourishing on the property. The interesting thing is that each variety bears fruit in a different season ensuring availability of this super food all year round. While walking around, after a light lunch of organic mesclun salad and chilled homegrown pumpkin soup, I noticed a paan (Beetle leaf) vine creeping up a coconut tree. I enquired with the gardeners to be sure I was making the right guess, and surprise! The staff thoughtfully presented it to me after my meal that night.
The amlas came from here for the pickle at breakfast!
Chilled homegrown pumpkin soup:
With environmental consciousness at the core, the menus favour plant-based options. Seafood is procured daily from fishermen in surrounding villages. Thought has gone into curating meals that don’t hurt the planet, that are not wasteful, that are authentic to the local region and that use organically grown ingredients. Knowing this leaves you physically and mentally feeling well, rejuvenated and at peace with yourself.
Bliss after my lunch!
Coconut oil extracted from their home grown coconuts:
Unlike other hotels I have stayed at, even in jungle locations, Cabo Serai sets the benchmark for mindful landscaping. Preserving the environment is at the heart of every plant they have added. The most impactful decision was to leave the native landscape as it is. Minimal intervention involved planting only a few native flowering plants around the rooms and pathways, and avoiding any invasive species. This is one of the few places I have visited, where the forest is completely devoid of lantana, an extremely invasive species that has taken over the forests in many parts of India. The indigenous flora attracts a plethora of butterflies and birds that are such a joy to observe.
Bauhinia flowers in bloom:
Most of the staff at Cabo Serai are hired from the villages surrounding it. While speaking to one of the lady gardeners, I learnt that she would have to travel 20 kms changing three buses to get to her previous place of work which involved growing paddy. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to work at a place that is a 10 minute walk from her village, Gaval. She tends to the organic garden. The other staff too have similar stories. Fishermen who catch fish early morning and then work as part of the security team rest of the, have an assured income that is not dependant on the catch of they day. They also supply their daily catch to Cabo Serai which ends up on a guests’ plate for lunch!
Other initiatives include beach clean ups, procuring ingredients not grown on site from local villages, engaging fishermen to provide boat rides as an additional source of income, sterilisation of stray dogs in the area to keep their population in check etc.
Local villager tending to the organic garden:
Adorable beach dogs!
Coconut husk being used for mulching: