Dining outdoors gets a whole new meaning with Goa’s first sky-dining experience at Grand Hyatt Goa.
It’s one of the best seats in the house.
We are strapped into a well-cushioned chair, which reclines for comfort. It swivels on both sides (to 180°). There’s enough legroom to stretch our legs or let them dangle.
We could be on an aeroplane ready for take-off to an exotic destination. We are airborne but aren’t flying. And, we are already at our destination: strapped into a seat on a metal platform suspended from a height of 160 feet overlooking the beautiful Bambolim coastline.
This is Fly Dining Goa, a dining experience that combines the thrill of being in the air without the Economy seating! The seventh such experience in India, and the first in Goa, Fly Dining is an initiative of Vindev Adventure Hospitality, co-founded by Devi Prasad and Vinay Kasetty. The project launched in Goa three weeks back and is available at Grand Hyatt Goa.
On a balmy winter evening, we make our way to the gardens at Grand Hyatt Goa to experience Goa’s first dining experience in the sky. The structure stands out instantly, a metal deck dangling in the sky, surrounded by swaying coconut palms. Closer, we spot dangling feet and hear live music.
Fly Dining has five experiences spread through the day: breakfast, high tea, Sundowner, and dinners; the last session ends at 10 pm. We are there for their famous Sundowner experience.
At 5.30 pm, we are invited to join an unusual dining table: a rectangular structure, with a narrow platform in the centre, and 24 seats attached on the outside. We strap ourselves into the seats using safety belts. In minutes, we are off, pulled upwards by a German Terax Demag crane that’s taken up residence at the Grand Hyatt. Around us, the trees and surrounding property melt away till you see only the sea and the horizon (on one side). The sun at this point is sinking fast, painting the sky in vivid hues. People get out their phones: it’s a ‘bucket list experience’ after all, and deserves to be recorded. There’s a photographer on board to aid with those recordings: he clicks away as couples make heart shapes with their hands, throw their arms in the air, clink glasses, and generally make the most of the unique backdrop.
Once the immediate thrill dies down, the mocktails come out: Tropical Paradise, a syrupy sweet orange juice and Sprite drink.
Once the sun sets, the food comes out on small trays, a red and black Non-Veg Bento. These are hors d’oeuvres: Thai chicken satay, lamb seekh kebabs, canapés filled with apple in a punchy mayonnaise, vegetable skewers, and tomato bruschetta. For a touch of sweetness at the end, there are white and dark chocolate truffles.
Earlier in the evening, Executive Chef, Grand Hyatt Goa, David Ansted tells us they chose food that was familiar but also offered “a little bit of an adventure”. Each session has a different (though limited) menu for a three-course meal: Pongal, fruit, granola bars and muffins for breakfast; samosas, lemon tea cake and cookies for High Tea; tartlets, ravioli or biryani and tiramisu for Dinners.
Our meal was decent, and familiar, in contrast to the novel thrill of dining up in the air.
The excitement of being up in the air is experience enough. The photos don’t stop. The buzz of chatter increases, broken only by background music. At that height, the few moments of silence we get are beautiful.
Goan sunsets are surreal. Watching the ombre sun go down on the horizon while painting the sky in vivid hues is magical. The wind creates ripples in the waters, empty except for the odd sailboat. As darkness descends, our dining space gets lit with soft yellow lights, with vibrant blue ones beneath. Most sessions have an entertainer, but ours is just restricted to recorded music.
The sundowner experience seems like the best time to dine in the sky, though we learn that people enjoy the dinner session (mostly because the darkness helps them forget they are suspended in the air). Some guests have spoken about how 45 minutes may seem a little long. But, if you focus on the view and if you have good company, time passes quickly. Looking down, even if you don’t have a fear of heights, isn’t recommended.
Fly Dining will see some changes in the future. They will add a drink — maybe wine — with the meals. The food may change, depending on feedback and season. Though an experience best enjoyed in small groups, a party could work too. Special requests are accommodated as well. On our ‘flight’, a couple celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary ordered a cake and cut it to much applause.
There are some restrictions: no pregnant women or heart patients allowed on board; the minimum age is 12 years. Guests are recommended not to drink and ‘fly’.
As an experience, Fly Dining certainly is unique. It offers thrill, a fun story to tell people, unusual views and photos, and bragging rights.
For more details, visit www.flydining.com. ‘Flights’ start at Rs 2,999 and go up to Rs 4,999.