Turiya Villa in South Goa, which now serves as a luxurious heritage boutique stay for tourists, was once a passion project of a Goan sailor in the 1920s that Sandesh Prabhu, an interior designer, ensured to make his own.
Around 100 years ago, a seafarer by work, a Goan used to travel to various countries. Once he bought land in Canacona village in South Goa and started building a house on it as a passion project. Since he would often have to travel, he established the house in chapters but owing to his work, he managed to source raw materials from abroad. He resided with his family for years before his descendants sold it out to an English couple in 2005 who further sold the villa in 2010. When Sandesh Prabhu narrates this story, he does not forget to recount how the passion project of that Goan sailor became his endearment leading him to create the now Turiya Villa in South Goa.
The interior designer, Prabhu, who was raised in a town called Curchorem – around 20 km from Margao, was always fascinated with the antiquity of the villas in Goa and had a great longing to make one according to his wish. It is certain that with this acquirement, Prabhu finally got to work on his dream and the result is the experiential boutique stay for tourists.
Of a great allurement for period pieces and having got the villa with its century-old charm, Prabhu did not want to intervene with the modern equipment and he made sure to travel to the majority of the places, both in north and south to obtain scrap substances to be used as resources for his villa.
Having worked as an interior designer in Mumbai for a long time, Prabhu had enough contacts who would tell him the suitable places for it. So, it is not a matter of surprise that he used waste materials from old houses to even some broken materials from a 200-year-old temple from the South!
When Prabhu bought the house, it was already designed for a family stay, and he also thought of restoring it for weekend gateways with his friends and family. With a two-bedroom and a bathroom, the villa was in good condition, but due to a lack of appreciation for such heritage properties and being unable to maintain them, the sellers would have sold it to Prabhu, as he assumes.
Nevertheless the cause, he began with the process of restoration by converting the windows, which were many in the house, with French doors. The patio was then made to open in the garden and two more rooms with attached bathrooms were built.
Prabhu welcomed several friends during this time who would often refer to the villa as a white elephant to spend on but he remained determined on his decision. “Due to space and budget constraints in Mumbai, people hardly demand such giant construction. Moreover, they prefer to keep their interiors modern. Hence, the restoration of the villa was a great opportunity for me to explore with the rustic charm,” he says.
There was also a garage-like portion outside the main villa or the old wing that he used to build 4 rooms with attached bathrooms alongside one more room for the manager of the place and called it the new wing. Now, the villa had a total of eight rooms ready to serve the guests and though, Sandesh Prabhu had not initially thought of indulging in the hospitality business, it emerged as a good and feasible option for him to maintain the villa.
While Prabhu restored the villa and added various specifications, it still stands as an architecture highlighting the Portuguese influence with the yellow-coloured boundary walls and large embellished balconies. Mangalore’s tiled roof appears as a slope, which not only helps during the monsoon but also displays a great example of diverse materials used in the villa.
The entire setting has been kept rustic with terrazzo flooring and a lot of inlay work. Not only teakwood and sandalwood furniture have adorned the place, but also cold distressed furniture pieces. Each room is distinctive in appearance from one other and yet match and looks good together. Doors as well are non-identical, while windows have allowed the painted birds to perch on them. Walls have special places for frames, all discreet for each room. Prabhu claims that not a single piece has been taken from any of the shops but has been accumulated from various places like crockery from Sikkim and Pondicherry.
Surrounded by Sapodilla, Coconut, Mango, Avocado, Frangipani and Bougainville, the villa is also not very far from the popular Palolem beach, being 3.5 km and is centrally located to other nearby attractions. The availability of tonnes of food options around could not let the ‘Goan Thali’ at the villa sustain longer, for which only a 24×7 self-service tea station is present for the guests. On the other hand, the large dining room allows them to sit together for the free complimentary breakfast and as Prabhu has noticed, the guests often become friends, exchange numbers and plan itineraries together.
However, the villa also offers a day-out package to tourists, wherein post breakfast, they are taken on a tour to local markets, spice plantations, and old Portuguese houses that have a heritage essence and are included in the Goan heritage list. The team comprising 6-7 people from the villa also arranges for lunch, a few times, at these houses. This apart, one also has an option to celebrate special days for which the team is forever ready to create the mood with some exquisite decorations.
Turiya used to see a lot of foreign tourists from across the world like Germany, Japan, Korea, Australia, etc. and it fit well for them who would escape harsh winters in their countries to soak in the sunlight at Goa. Though with the COVID-induced pandemic, the villa served more domestic travellers and for Sandesh Prabhu “they are extremely difficult customers to please”.
It was only after the increasing number of Indian tourists that the villa is currently under the construction to install ACs in all rooms. Previously, Prabhu did not want to create false ceilings and add ACs to keep the place more sustainable keeping in mind the actual ceiling is 20 – 25 feet from the ground.
The villa is likely to open again in June this year after the renovation. Meanwhile, those swaying trees, chirping birds, and the sound of sea waves well surround the place!