My goal is to create enough wealth through a responsible and sustainable model, to allow those who work to build up the business to retire with me. From a gardener and maid to a manager. – Giles Knapton in an interview with Grin on responsible tourism
It was this line in the interview that served as the motivation for this post. Coco Shambhala gets added to my bucket list of places to visit. The name has popped on several occasions over the last few months for its sustainability, eco-friendly villas in Goa. Goa is one destination best avoided during the summer. But, Coco Shambhala is different. It is much cooler because of its lush vegetation.
Getting listed as one of the 25 best beach villas in the world is no mean feat for a property. The story of the genesis of Coco Shambhala by Giles Knapton, a self-taught designer/expat in India who first came to the country as a young backpacker, is as inspiring as it is tasteful aesthetics.
Coco Shambhala is a set of four luxury villas set on a 3800 sq. meter property in Goa. Flanked by lush vegetation on all sides, the four villas come with 2 large bedrooms, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, a large verandah in the ground floor and a sit out in the first floor. In the center lies a large pool.
I was keen to know more about this wonderful property and wrote to the folks at Coco Shambhala who were kind enough to bare their wisdom and experience.
- What sets Coco Shambhala apart from other commercial properties in Goa? Enlighten us with one environment-friendly initiative that perhaps we can emulate at homes too.
Coco Shambhala Goa was envisioned from Giles’ first trip to India as a backpacker and then the desire to create a space for discerning travelers, that offered them simple, elegant luxury. At Coco Shambhala, the team is a family and we welcome our guests as friends. It’s as simple as that!
Among the many environment-friendly initiatives at Coco Shambhala, the one that stands out is our garbage disposal system. This is an issue close to our hearts and we follow a process that entails sorting dry, wet, biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. All compost is used in our tropical jungle style garden to nourish the soil and all the remaining waste is sent to a government approved sorting facility in Goa. We believe that proper garbage disposal is a necessity to keep our planet healthy and we promote this strongly!
- Can you narrate one memorable incident at Coco Shambhala?
Amongst the many incidents, one truly stands out. Very often, we host clients who are celebrating a special occasion—a birthday or an anniversary. However, we have a Canadian couple who visit us each year for 12 weeks! Their bond with the Coco Shambhala team grows with each annual visit and one of our fondest memories with them is their weekly movie night, to which everyone (staff and other guests alike) is invited. This may not be in keeping with “Regular” hospitality but this in part, also sums the philosophy behind Coco Shambhala- to live as a family and treat guests as our friends.
3. Goa is harsh in summer..with such thick foliage around, does one get to feel the difference within the property?
In terms of design, we strongly believe in building structures that are in keeping with the local milieu and climate. Both Coco Shambhala Goa and Sindhudurg have luxury villas designed with large, open air living pavilions set in the midst of tropical, jungle style gardens. And one definitely feels a quiet coolness, stepping into Coco Shambhala, as the palm fronds, firangipani trees and bamboo lull one’s being into calmness. This is proved also by how many people stay with us in the summer, even though Goa is not a summer destination.
4. Who is your ideal guest?
We don’t believe in having parameters for our guests. Everyone is welcome at Coco Shambhala. And we are fortunate enough to say that we have never had any guest who didn’t enjoy the experience we offered. Since we welcome them as our friends, like all good friends, they keep coming back!
5. Why this particular spot for the property? what’s the story behind it? how far is it from the sea?
Giles has been scouting the Sindhudurg coast for nearly a decade now. The absolute remoteness, stark beauty and unexplored beaches of this coastline make it the ideal location for our guests, who want to get away from the hectic city lives of today into space where they can truly relax. While Coco Shambhala Goa is located in Nerul villa, 500m from Coco beach, Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg is a mere 200m from the beach. The villas in Sindhudurg have 02 bedrooms and a large living area with private infinity pools, facing out to the sea.
Sindhudurg is a magical land; home to fort ruins, unexplored beaches, pristine forests that adorn the coast of the Arabian sea that hums with rich sea life, including whales. After 60 years, whales were spotted off the coast of Sindhudurg last summer and Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg is a wonderful vista to watch these beautiful mammals. Some of the team at Coco Shambhala has sighted them, without binoculars, from the property.
Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg is a collection of 04 luxury villas that are unique in design and architecture. Raised high on steel columns, these non-permanent structures strive to blend into the tropical landscape—02 bedrooms with private balconies facing out to the sea, a large and completely open living pavilion and a massive private infinity pool; all set in the midst of planted, tropical jungle style gardens.
I dream of going there some day with the family. Until then, got to do with the pictures…
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Image Courtesy: Coco Shambhala