Having traveled across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Goa over the last decade or so, we have often missed out on certain popular destinations. One such place is Gokarna where Archana has never set foot to date! So, for our October travel plans when we searched for the best resorts in Gokarna, CGH Earth’s name popped up. We had never stayed at a CGH Earth property before but had heard a lot about it from our friends. So, we decided to stay at one of the best resorts in Gokarna – CGH Earth SwaSwara.
Roads to Gokarna
CGH Earth Swaswara is located at a distance of 480 kms from Bangalore and two major routes lead to it.
Route One – 480 kms, 10 hours
Bangalore – Tumkur – Chitradurga – Harihar – Sirsi – Gokarna
Route Two – 520 kms, 11 hours
Bangalore – Kunigal – Arsikere – Shimoga – Sagar – Honnavar – Gokarna
We chose to take route one as a major portion of it traverses through the Bangalore – Mumbai highway. Till Chitradurga the roads are excellent, but beyond that, due to construction, there are numerous diversions. Once you steer away from the NH near Harihar, you will drive through rural roads and then the Western Ghats. Roads are mostly good with some bad patches along the way. The drive took us 10 hours while going and 9.5 hours while coming back with one long stop for breakfast/lunch.
Even though we have started traveling, we take all the necessary precautions to stay away from contracting COVID. Eating out on the way is not an option so we always carry breakfast, lunch, and beverages for our road trips. Just outside Kunigal, we took our breakfast break near a small open field. With our batteries recharged after a hot cup of homemade coffee, we set out towards our destination, making good time on the highways. By 2:30 pm, we were at SwaSwara, having driven for about 10 hours from Bangalore. Most of the best resorts in Gokarna are either located near Om Beach or Kudle beach and SwaSwara is perched on a prime hilltop space overlooking the Arabian Sea.
COVID Safety Precautions at Swaswara
As soon as we were out of the car, we were greeted by Swaswara Gokarna staff who were dressed in PPE kits. Our luggage was taken to the reception and immediately sanitized with a disinfectant. Due to the pandemic, hotels around the world have started to implement stringent precautions to ensure guest safety.
With social distancing so pivotal in preventing covid-19′s spread, reducing contact with others is a priority. There were no forms to be filled during check-in as we had already done that through an email.
Changes are being made to housekeeping, food safety, and guest check-in and checkout. And now it’s all about more cleaning. The most common measures include increasing the frequency of cleaning public areas, increasing the number of hand sanitizers available, using specialized products for wiping, and training teams in protective protocols. Heightened cleaning protocols for high-traffic areas such as the front desk, fitness centers, and pools, as well as other high-touch surfaces throughout the hotel, using a hospital-grade disinfectant
Over the course of the next 3 days, we noticed how religiously the staff cleaned every nook and corner of the property. The rooms, restaurants, activity centers, reception, outdoor areas, and other public spaces were constantly sanitized thoroughly. A peek into their kitchen showed us how the cooks wore hairnets, gloves, and sanitizers at all times!
About CGH Earth SwaSwara
SwaSwara is a tranquil and secluded resort spread across 26 acres of land surrounded by gardens, mini forests, ponds, and coconut groves just beside the beautiful Om beach in Gokarna. The name SwaSwara translates to Self-Voice or the Voice of the Inner Self. Draped in earthy colors and inspired by the elements, the beachside retreat is a wellness sanctuary focused on rejuvenating the body, mind, and spirit. The minute you enter the compound, you leave behind the world, only to escape into a natural environment full of tranquillity and relaxation.
SwaSwara offers specialized wellness programs with various ayurvedic treatments, yoga exercises, diet plans, and revitalization programs. Whether you are looking to destress, lose weight, revitalize, or just relax in a private beachside retreat, SwaSwara offers everything for every kind of traveler. Where luxury travel is concerned, SwaSwara is one of the best resorts in Gokarna!
The Villa @ SwaSwara
The Konkani villas at SwaSwara are nothing short of art that has come to life! They are named so as they were constructed in true Konkani style – laterite walls, wooden pillars, coconut thatched roofs, and a lovely open-air bathroom! The Spirit of Life is truly embraced in the architecture all over the retreat. The retreat has 24 beautiful villas that have been constructed using natural materials and are very eco-friendly.
As you enter, you will see a storage section on the right and the bathroom next to it. On the left, is the air-conditioned bedroom that has a cupboard along with a small study table. The usage of glass is quite prominent and adds a touch of class along with long white drapes that open to the view of the green, private garden and sit-out. We loved how the garden and sit-out have been carefully integrated into the villa, proving much need private space that is absent in most resorts in Gokarna.
A passageway up the stairs takes you to another big sit-out that is great for yoga, meditation, and for enjoying the cool ocean breeze. The yoga deck on the first floor and the private courtyard garden area where we spent most of our time! The villas give you your own personal sanctuary full of tranquillity and the view of a beautiful manmade pool in front of the sit-out. Couldn’t have asked for anything better!
Food @ SwaSwara
This was the surprise element! We have stayed at a lot of wellness and ayurvedic retreats who serve non-fat, no oil, healthy vegetarian food, and to be honest, we’ve been disappointed most of the time. Even though we had read tons of reviews of SwaSwara, we weren’t aware of the kind of cuisine they served. Having traveled almost 500 kms on the first day, we were looking forward to a hearty dinner as we were starving! But when the menu came, we were taken aback a bit. The dishes were limited and we had to choose one soup, a starter, one main course along with a dessert.
SwaSwara serves healthy food that is carefully crafted by its experienced chef. The food is mostly vegetarian and the only non-vegetarian that is served is eggs and seafood. All dishes are cooked with little or no oil, minimal masalas, and cooked to perfection. This we realized when we took the first bite of the grilled fish we ordered. It was pure heaven in a small bite and that’s when we realized why SwaSwara follows a fixed menu for all their guests. Since it’s primarily a wellness retreat, the food is designed to be light on the stomach, delicious and healthy too! Once we understood this, we relished every single meal there. Even though we are non-veg lovers, we didn’t miss eating chicken at all!
It is unbelievable how the food that is cooked with such simplicity can be so tasty. And to get a glimpse of how it’s done, we attended their cooking class where we got the opportunity to whip up some of their signature vegetarian dishes!
Sustainability Practices @ SwaSwara
Blending luxury, architecture and nature isn’t a simple task but is essential in driving sustainable business practices in hotels. CGH Earth understands how important it is to provide world class infrastructure to its guests while taking care of the natural surroundings it is set in. This understanding has led to some award winning green practices that the retreat follows
Located in front of the Konkan villas are two huge water reservoirs that harvest rain water. This water is then used for irrigation, cleaning and other uses around the retreat. With a total of 3 water reservoirs in the property, SwaSwara can collect about 18 million litres of waters coming in during the monsoons. The introduction of fish in these reservoirs ensures that the water is free from insects and mosquitoes.
SwaSwara is a self-sustained property and even their waste is recycled! The waste water is re-used in the gardens and the kitchen bio-waste is converted into gas that is used for cooking and to prepare organic ferlitizers.
Things to do at CGH Earth SwaSwara
Food is an essential part of travel and is really important to us! We take our food personally and enjoying good food is a really integral part of our journeys. We’ve written about the great experience we had with the food at SwaSwara and one of the focal points of the experience was the cooking class they offered to all the guests.
Every day, the chefs at SwaSwara offer cooking classes that highlight the process of healthy cooking. Guests go into the kitchen to learn how to cook healthy, tasty food, and improve consumption habits. The classes are pretty immersive and Archana and I prepared two dishes that we would have for lunch. None of them took more than 10 minutes to make! The one-hour session was very interactive as the chefs guided us through the cooking process, explaining how and why they use certain methods of preparing food. If you visit SwaSwara, then this is a must-do activity!
We all complain about how less we are connected to nature in the cities we live in. We worry about not having healthy habits and even though walking is the simplest activity to indulge in, most of us hardly do it. Going for a nature walk is one of THE most effective ways to feel calmer, to help improve your overall health, and even to stimulate creativity.
Spread over 30 acres of lush greenery, SwaSwara has the perfect setting to head out into nature, connect with the elements, and reduce your stress and anxiety. The guided walking tour takes you through the entire retreat, down the hillock it is located on, through the mini forest area within the property premises, along the coastline, and then towards the Meditation Hill before you head back to your room. The walk is conducted every day at 6 am and 4 pm and you can book your slot at the reception.
Not many resorts in Gokarna can get you as close to nature as SwaSwara can. Here you don’t have to imagine waking up to the chirping of birds – you actually do it. The retreat has a huge green cover and a water body that provides a suitable environment for birds to come in. Some of the most common ones you can spot are the Hornbills and the White-bellied Sea Eagle! You can join their expert guide and experience the joy of seeking some elusive feathered friends. Acquire basic bird watching skills such as binocular use, locating a bird, and the basics of identifying it during the birding tour there.
Have you ever experienced the feeling of fresh clay beneath your fingers, giving shape to something beautiful? Tap into your artistic side with a lovely piece or have a good laugh at the weird shapes you manage to make. Pottery promises to be a definite stress buster for those overworked and restless nerves. Archana was the perfect candidate as she managed to make something that resembled a drop! At Swaswara, you can take up guided pottery sessions with their in-house artist who is more than willing to help out with some handy tips.
When time stands still, you get to do what you love. Spending 3 days at SwaSwara was probably the best part of 2020 that was full of stress and confinement. At SwaSwara all we did was relax. The natural elements, beautiful open spaces, waterfront views, and the stress-free environment was exactly what we needed to help us rejuvenate and de-stress. The huge villa with a small garden and private sit-out gave us the luxury of space we never get to experience in our flats. The proximity to the beach meant that we could just walk down and see the stunning sunsets anytime we wanted. And the scrumptious, healthy food made sure we never left the restaurant feeling uneasy!
SwaSwara could have been made into an extravagant, opulent property. But CGH Earth chose to follow their theme of ‘Spirit of Life’ and infused the retreat with nature and natural elements. There is life everywhere at SwaSwara – from the numerous plantations in the retreats to the countless birds who flock to the trees and the watering holes.
When you arrive at SwaSwara, all you do is to introspect and cleanse your mind, body, and soul along with living a healthy living in a spectacular retreat set right on Om Beach. SwaSwara is one of its kind experiences in India and a must-visit for any wellness traveler. And this is what makes it one of the best resorts in Gokarna for wellness and rejuvenation programs!
How to get to SwaSwara
By Road – Gokarna is connected to all major South and West Indian cities through a network of National and State highways. From Bangalore, you can take the Mumbai highway to get to Gokarna. From Mumbai and Pune, you can take the same route as well.
By Air – Dabolim airport in Goa is the nearest airport about 140 km away. The airport is well connected by flights to Indian and international cities. From Goa, you can hire a private cab or a bus to get to Gokarna.
By Rail – The nearest railway station is at Ankola, about 20 km from Gokarna. Trains from several cities including Mangalore, Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram, Veraval halt at the station. From the station, taxi services are available for Gokarna.
Best time to visit Gokarna
A fantastic beach destination, Gokarna is a place that can be explored throughout the year. However, those who want to enjoy a bit of a comfortable, pleasant climate can visit Gokarna between October and March. During this time of the year, the weather remains quite comfortable and not at all humid. Compared to it, March to May happens to be quite hot and sultry to roam around and explore Gokarna. The monsoons hit the coast around June and continue till the end of September. The torrential rain can limit the amount of time you spend outdoors, so it might not be a good idea to visit Gokarna during these months.