Experience the rugged beauty of India’s west coast at Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg, a cluster of four-eco friendly villas overlooking the Arabian Sea. Set on a verdant hillside that descends to an unspoiled beach, each open-sided villa was designed in the spirit of tropical modernism, the revolutionary style made famous by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Polished concrete floors are contrasted with potted plants and furnishings carved from renewable coconut wood, creating an earthy look that sits perfectly with the landscape. In fact, eco-friendliness is at the heart of the hotel – but that doesn’t stop the staff from tailoring every experience to you. Maharashtrian meals are designed around your own preferences, butlers can deliver drinks to your pool and a team of expert guides are on hand to lead you into sacred forests and lush mangroves.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £552.40 (INR55,000), including tax at 15 per cent.
The standard rate includes in-villa breakfast, free airport transfers and welcome drinks. The premium rate includes all of the above as well as lunch and dinner, which are served in your villa.
Planning a party? The seclusion and small size of the property make it a winner for celebrations. Booked out in its entirety, it sleeps 20 in serene comfort.
At the hotel
Beach, free WiFi throughout, laundry. In rooms: flatscreen TV; iPod dock; bar counter with a fridge stocked with wine and beer; coffee machine; tea and a kettle; organic bath products by Ayca.
Our favourite rooms
The four villas are the same size and style, featuring pitched ceilings, polished concrete floors and furnishings made from coconut wood, a sustainable material with a rich, dark grain. All of the villas have two bedrooms, each with floor-to-ceiling windows and a private terrace overlooking the Arabian Sea. The living rooms can be also be opened up to the elements, using the sea breeze to keep the rooms cool in the tropical warmth; in the wet season, a wall of windows is installed, keeping the sweeping views but repelling any wind and rain. If we had to pick one, we’d ask for the villa that sits highest on the hillside, which has the loftiest views out to sea.
Each villa has a private infinity pool with sweeping views of the Arabian Sea. During the summer, the living rooms are open to the elements, making the pool terrace feel like an extension of the room.
There are two treatment rooms perched high over the beach, looking out over the treetops to the sea beyond. The spa menu draws on the ancient traditions of ayurveda and aromatherapy, providing a range of treatments designed to soothe mind and body alike. Coco Shambhala have collaborated with wellness brand Ayca to develop their luxurious range of signature oils and skincare products, which are natural, paraben-free and packaged in recycled materials, ensuring their treatments are as kind to the environment and they are to your skin.
If you’ve got them, bring a pair of binoculars – you’ll have a better chance of seeing whales from the terrace of your villa.
The stepped pathways and lack of adapted rooms make the hotel unsuitable for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome. A cot (free) or extra bed (free for under-12s) can be added to any villa on request. For adults and children over 12, an extra bed is INR300, or INR6000 a night on the premium package (which includes all meals).
Everything from the water supply to the layout of the rooms was designed to be as green as possible. The villas make use of renewable coconut timber, solar panels and energy-efficient architecture; they’ve also been designed so that they could be removed without leaving a footprint on the land. The hotel works closely with a private recycling plant, has its own water filtration and recycling systems, uses eco-friendly bath products, and is actively engaged in several local conservation projects. All the produce used in the restaurant comes from within a 50km radius, some of it from the hotel’s own garden.
On your last night, ask for a table to be set up overlooking the Arabian Sea.
As you wish – dinner is entirely on your terms.
There’s no restaurant per se – meals at Coco Shambhala are bespoke, and served in-villa at a time of your choosing. The hotel’s team of chefs will contact you before your stay, getting to know any preferences and dietary requirements so they can come up with a menu in line with your desires. The hotel grows its own herbs and micro greens, and sources all the rest of its produce from within a 50km radius of the hotel, making the meals a culinary survey of Sindhudurg’s lush interior and bountiful coast – expect spicy curries, fruity sauces and an abundance of seafood. Culinary director Shagun Mehra is equally skilled in other cuisines, however, so don't be put off if spicy food isn't your thing – she'll ensure your menu suits yout tastes to a T. She's also one of India’s best sommeliers, so you can be assured that the wine will be as fine as the food it's pared with. On request, you can dine in various locations around the grounds – some spots overlook the crashing waves, others are beneath the canopy of a tree, which will be illuminated by hanging oil lamps.
Each villa has an honesty bar with single malt whiskies, craft gins, fine wines and beers. There’s also a communal honesty bar under one of the cashew trees overlooking the sea.
Breakfast can be served any time from 7am to 11am; after that, meals can be served pretty much any time up to 11pm.
Your butler is on hand to make cocktails or bring poolside snacks.
Coco Shambhala, Bhogwe Turtle Beach, Near Parole village, Bhogwe Turtle Beach, Maharashtra 416523, India
The hotel sits just back from the coast in Sindhudurg, a secluded district of Maharashtra state.
Goa International Airport is currently closest, and can be reached directly from Delhi, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi. From there, it’s a three-hour drive to the hotel. Flights should start touching down at the new Sindhudurg Chipi Airport in 2019. Once they do, Chipi will be the closer option, only 30 minutes from the hotel by car.
The nearest station is Kudal, a 30-minute drive from the hotel. Unless you’re coming from one of the neighbouring states, it’ll be a long journey (10 hours from Mumbai, for example), so you’ll be better off flying.
Most visitors give driving a miss, opting to hire a car with a driver instead – the price difference between the two is often negligible.
Worth getting out of bed for
If the sight of the sun streaking across the Arabian Sea isn’t worth getting out of bed in the morning, we’re not sure what is. But if the views alone don’t do it for you, the sound of your butler delivering breakfast to the villa will. Once sated, you could answer the siren call of the sea, having the team arrange a snorkeling, scuba diving or dolphin watching session; alternatively, travel inland to explore the local mangrove forests in one of the hotel’s luxury kayaks (little Smiths can collect any plastic they find and exchange it for treats and gift shop vouchers). Eco-friendliness is at the heart of the hotel’s mission, and the staff are passionate about sharing the splendour of Sindhudurg with guests – don’t pass on a guided walk in the sacred forest on the hotel’s doorstep, which has been designated as a reserve for Indian bison and leopard. In the afternoon, join had chef and sommelier Shagun Mehra for a food and wine matching workshop or Indian cooking class. Built at the end of the 12th-century, Vijaydurg Fort is the oldest of all the forts on the Sindhudurg coast, and was famous for being nigh-impregnable during its centuries-long heyday. Though worn by time, the dark stone walls still loom high over the bay – a fitting reminder of the one-time might of the local Maratha navy. If you’re looking for a spectacular spot to cool off, take a drive into thickly-forested Amboli, a hill station in the Sahyadri Hills. The impressive Amboli Ghat waterfalls lure visitors from around the area, some of whom use them as an all-natural power shower. For litter-free sand and crystal clear surf, head to beautiful Tarkarli Beach, which is fringed with palms and strewn with fishing boats in a dozen colours.
All of your meals are included and the local restaurants are fairly basic – we’d recommend sticking to the hotel.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this eco-friendly hotel in Maharashtra and unpacked their wetsuit, a full account of their break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg in Sindhudurg…
Ask most travellers whether Sindhudurg is on their bucket list, and there’s a good chance you’ll be met with a blank stare – and that’s what makes it so enticing. Mostly wild and remote, this coastal spot is a few hours’ north of Goa, the famous sibling that draws most of the travellers that set down on the Konkan Coast. Sindhudurg, on the other hand, is still little known to international arrivals, which has kept its forests pristine and its beaches beautiful and quiet. Here, rugged nature and local culture are prized and protected in equal measure – and Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg is devoted to both with a passion.
Perched on steel stilts and sheltered by Mangalorean tiles, the four concrete-floored villas echo the seminal architecture of Geoffrey Bawa, a name that will excite any disciple of modernist architecture. But behind the picture-perfect pools and elegant coconut-wood furniture is a deeply green mindset – the hotel is positively brimming with eco-conscious innovation, right down to the fact that it could be dismantled without leaving much more than a few marks in the earth. Then there’s the staff, whose warm-hearted service seems to speak of a career spent in luxury hotels around the world, but who were actually all hired locally, ensuring a deep passion for the local area. There aren’t many hotels in the world with managers who spend the morning overseeing operations, then throw on their walking shoes and personally lead you on a trek through a sacred forest. This level of care and enthusiasm is nothing if not infectious – and Coco Shambhala Sindhudurg is rife with it.