This is the second time in a row we have executed Goa’s biggest and most sought-after awards ceremony at Goa’s iconic property the Planet Hollywood Beach Resorts, Goa. The event this time was very special due to many new additions which we will unveil as the story progresses, but what is most important is that the event was attended by the who’s who of Goan society and it was presided over by His Excellency, Governor of Goa- Shri P S Sreedharan Pillai Ji.
Incredible Goa, primarily a society magazine, is now the only magazine in the lifestyle segment that gets published every month and provides platforms to the people that no other publication magazine has given before. Some of them have also been given the opportunity to receive the most prestigious award of the year in Goa.
In the last 7 years, Incredible Goa has already honored and appreciated the work of the hundreds of incredible Goans on its print and digital platforms and it will keep providing these platforms to more and more people and businesses for years to come. Let us take a quick look at our heroes of 2022.
1. Shruti Tiwari – Awarded for Excellence in Wedding Planning
Shruti Tiwari is a Mass Comm Graduate from Jabalpur University and has come a long way to become one of the most prominent wedding planners in the country. She started her journey as a journalist at Samay AAJ TAK until one day she realized that her passion lies somewhere else and she commenced her new journey toward becoming a wedding planner.
Initially, she faced a lot of struggles: it was a new field and she had no proper support system. But what she did have was passion, and hunger and that became the fuel for propelling her forwards. With a clear roadmap in mind, she decided to learn the skills required and joined a production house.
She worked day and night without looking at the watch and with her 6-year-old son at home, she had to manage a double role as a mother and an event manager. Time began to tick and she did not realize when she had touched the finish line. Today she runs the most successful wedding planner company in Goa catering to clients from all over India and overseas. Her achievements are countless but that is backed by lots of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.
2. Amita Salatry – Awarded for Excellence in Culinary Skills
Amita Salatri entered the field of culinary art at a very early age, working her way up to eventually become the Culinary Queen of Goa. She is popularly known for her show ‘Ruchik’ on T.V., Radio, and Stage, as a cine artist, social worker, writer & singer and is also known as the ‘noted compere’ and ‘interviewer of Goa’.
She is the winner of the ‘Best Actress State Award’ for the film ‘Tyaag’ and she is a noted writer and the winner of the ‘National Literary Awards’ instituted by Cochin and Pune. She also won the following awards: the Yash Damini State Award, the Gomant Kala Bhushan Award, and the Kamal Patra Award of Jaycees.
She has also acted in more than 10 films, 5 telefilms, and 20 dramas. She has also acted in ‘Zee T.V.’ Serial ‘Mumbai Police’, performed her cookery shows on E T.V., Travel X-P English Channel, and NDTV and has been part of the TV serial “Goa’s Freedom Struggle” Directed by noted Hindi actor Mr. Ramesh Dev.
3. Poonam Shirsat – Awarded for Excellence in Soft Skill Training
Poonam Shirsat is the founder of the Skill Company and is in the field of education since 2009. She is a certified neurolinguistic programming practitioner (NLP), certified life coach, personal development coach, success coach, and wellbeing coach from IBPCT.
In the year 2020, she launched a Skill Company, which aimed to bridge what our current education system wants and present the industry demands. Her career in training began with the setup of her academy in Nagpur. She is referred to as a ‘Gentle Giant’ of the Academy who ensures focus and dedication.
With experience in grooming youth in personality upgrading, anchoring, and soft skills, she has been invited by several educational institutions and corporate bodies like Zara, Cadila, Meditab, Medispray Pharma, Hotel HQ, Job Secura, Lokmat Group, and others. She is also the resource person for the Goa State Innovation Council and for Bajaj. Having traveled around 20 countries so far for work and for leisure, she believes it has been global and practical lessons of the corporate world and social behaviors.
4. Venkatesh Dempo – Awarded for Excellence in Tourism Tech Startup
Venkatesh Dempo is a child prodigy and at the tender age of 7, he acquired the skill of coding and robotics at the age of 12 he won the most prestigious “Google Code to Learn Contest 2022” for creating an app “Tourism de Goa caters to tourists visiting the state.
He developed a liking for coding right from a young age but what made him get really involved with it was the lockdown. During the lockdowns and even after, there were no physical classes and it gave him a lot of time to work on coding. Currently, he is a 7th Standard student at Sharda Mandir School, and besides coding and building robots, he also loves to sing and play the guitar
He also started his YouTube channel called DRAG which is an acronym for Dempo Robotics Academy Goa where he gives online coding, app building and robotics lessons. At present, he is conducting workshops all over Goa for children of his age and teaches them the basics of coding and robotics. Apart from this, his social media handles Tourism de Goa which helps in promoting Goan businesses and upcoming events related to Goa’s tourism industry
5. Katya Coelho – Awarded for Excellence in Wind Surfing Sports
Every parent wants their kids to do well in school and academics, but there are a few who encourage their children to take up sports as their career goal. Katya Coelho is one such example who has made her mark in the sports arena by reaching the Asian Games and Olympics and that has become possible due to the unwavering support of her parents, especially her father, who trained her right from the age of 11 and made her one of India’s topmost windsurfers.
She has been in this sports field for more than a decade now and has achieved a great milestone. She thanks her parents for giving her the opportunity to excel in the sports arena but she does not want to burden her parents and hence she supports her passion for sports by utilizing funds she makes from her involvement in small businesses.
6. Praveen Gaonkar – Awarded for Excellence in Classical Music
Praveen Gaonkar has done his M.Com., N.E.T., and Ph.D. (Doctorate in Commerce) Thesis on ‘An analytical study on problems and prospects of industrial estates in Goa’. After working as a professor at S.S. Dempo College of Commerce & Economics for 26 years, he decided to take voluntary retirement to pursue his dream in the field of music.
His musical journey started from home under the tutelage of his father the Late Shri. Pandurang Gaonkar. He completed his studies in music at Kala Academy for 8 years and graduated with distinction (Sangeet Kushal), and then secured post-graduation with distinction (Sangeet Parangat) under the able guidance of Pt. Kamlakar Naik of the Agra Gharana.
He continued his journey into the world of music under Pt. Kamlakar Naik for a further 10 years. The rigorous training he received was founded on the Indian educational principles of the Guru Shishya Parampara. He received further training from the great vocalist of Agra and Jaipur Gharana, the Late Pt. Prabhudev Sardar, a senior disciple of Pt. Nivruttibua Sarnaik and Pt. Jagannathbua Purohit. Currently, Pravin is honing his advanced skills under the able guidance of Padmashree Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty and Pt. Satyasheel Deshpande. He has also been fortunate to get guidance in light music from the renowned playback singer Pt. Suresh Wadkar.
7. Planet Hollywood Thane City – Awarded for The New Iconic Luxury 5-Star Hotel
Situated in the upcoming business district of Mumbai, Thane City, Planet Hollywood – Thane City is the second of its brand in Asia. Now you can experience luxury and sophistication at Thane’s first 5-star hotel.
Planet Hollywood epitomizes what it means to live in the lap of luxury. From the moment you step in, be dazzled by the welcoming and vibrant look the lobby has to offer, unwind in Hollywood-themed rooms with contemporary interiors and experience all bespoke offerings.
The hotel offers an exciting array of top restaurants serving the finest cuisine and top-notch beverages, all with a unique and glamorous atmosphere. Adding to the celebrity lifestyle, the hotel has a rooftop pool and restaurant for you to soak in the lavishness. Planet Hollywood, Thane City is situated in an up-market condominium-style township in the city of lakes.
8. Aiden Vagator by Best Western – Awarded for The Most Promising New Boutique Hotel
Situated just 950 m away from Vagator Beach, bringing a touch of global hospitality to Goa, Aiden Vagator by Best Western is a boutique hotel that combines luxury, comfort, thoughtfulness and service like no other.
With its central location and close vicinity to beaches, popular restaurants, clubs, and marketplaces, this boutique hotel is our appropriate choice for the most promising new boutique hotel in Goa. Aiden Vagator Goa is the first Aiden in India by the Best Western Chain of Hotels and our very well-deserved winner of the award.
9. Angry Sardar Courtyard – Awarded for Best North Indian Cuisine Restaurant
A highly rated, casual dining restaurant situated in Anjuna running since 2016, Angry Sardar Courtyard is best known for its specialty – authentic North-Indian food available throughout the day with the kitchen operating 24 x 7 now also offers vegan food options.
An experience of exclusively crafted cocktails & other beverages at the infamous truck-themed bar to pair with your meal and satiate hunger pangs in the most vibrant ambiance & hygienic service. Enjoy some loud Punjabi music & polish off that last plate of dessert!
10. Hammerzz Night Club – Awarded for The Best Nightclub of The Year
Launched in October 2019 Hammerzz Luxury nightclub has been conceptualized keeping the varied moods of party lovers in mind.
It comprises a classy nightclub, the first of its kind in India with a 10000-foot ‘funktion one’ sound of 20000 kW, lights, LED walls, and a large dance floor with a VIP Lounge making it the most promising Luxury Night Clubs in Goa.
Party animals from across the country and all over the world flock to this club to have a jam of a time. This club has the capacity to accommodate 1000 people and it hosts the best DJs.
11. Planet Dailies – Awarded for Best Multi-Cuisine Restaurant
A lavish and daintily presented buffet featuring International, Far East Asian, and Indian over breakfast, lunch, and dinner is the focal point of the Planet Dailies restaurant. The restaurant has an interactive kitchen for the guests to experience food making.
The restaurant also has an a la carte menu featuring fresh garden salads, gourmet sandwiches, wraps and local curries. The restaurant’s al fresco dining is a great place to enjoy a late breakfast or a laid-back lunch over fruit cocktails.
12. Monty Sally – Awarded for Excellence in Fashion Design
Praveen Saldhana AKA Monty Sally is a fun-loving and creative person with a passion to excel in the field of fashion design. His inspiration for designs comes from the places he’s visited, the paintings he admires, and the music he felt all from real-life experiences.
His affair with fashion design started when he first saw Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Yasmeen Ghauri walk the ramp. According to him, the combination of beauty, craft, ideas, and style was too much to miss out on.
His role models in the fashion industry include Thierry Mugler, & John Galliano. He has never had a ‘fanboy’ moment because he doesn’t believe he could love or idolize anyone more than God and family. He just loves their work, that’s all.
13. Felipe Alvares – Awarded for Excellence in Fitness
Felipe Alvares is armed with the internationally recognized Fitness Certification – ACE (American Council on Exercise) and for over a decade he’s lapped up the intricacies of the science of fitness, age notwithstanding!
Proficient, qualified, and passionate, he is now a name that stands out in the lifestyle and fitness industry. Convinced that fitness has no age bar, he has gone on to transform and help individuals who vouch for a better quality of life…
All thanks to the personalized touch that he introduced and added to their lifestyle and fitness regimes.
14. Mahesh Pai – Awarded for Business Coach of The Year
Mahesh Pai runs the ISO Certified Finance company and he is also a business coach who has made his mark in Goa by delivering 100% growth and success to all his members who are a part of his business coaching.
His members include prominent high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs, builders, architects, doctors, industrialists, event planners, and many more. He has already been awarded various State & National Level Awards to name a of them are the National Choice Award, Outstanding Achievement Award, India’s Brand & Leadership Award, and many more
15. Brahmanand Shankhwalkar – Awarded for Excellence in Football Sports
Brahmanand Shankhwalkar is an Arjuna Award winner for his unmatched achievements in the game of football. He is a legendary household name and a famous Goan soccer player arena who set a trend in Goa’sfootball fraternity by achieving milestones that no other player has ever reached. His name will go down in history as one of the pioneers of Goa’s football fraternity.
During his journey, he earned many trophies and medals. He received the state award in 1977, the Player of the Decade award while with Salgaocars and later on he joined the Churchill brothers. He then worked for the Sports Authority of Goa and then he received the Arjuna Award in the year 1998, which is one of the highest awards in the sports arena. Later on, he was promoted to the post of Director of Sports (Coaching Cell) and in the year 1995, he retired from football.
16. Bipin Kadam – Awarded for Excellence in Tech
Inventions are born from a need and he invented the ‘Maa Robot’ for his daughter who, due to a rare mobility disorder disease, is unable to take care of herself. Coming from the small town of Kudal situated in Maharashtra, Bipin Kadam came a long way to be in the position he is in today. Without a great start in life with hardly any educational opportunities and hailing from humble beginnings, this lack of resources did not stop him from achieving his dreams.
He started off as a drilling operator in the lathe machine which is a rotating workpiece similar to a cutting tool. He had a lack of resources and education but that did not stop him from achieving his passion and that passion gave him the opportunity to succeed in whatever he did. He moved from a manual lathe machine to computer operated machine and soon the time came when he decided and succeeded in making a robot to help feed his daughter.
17. Sachin Rane – Awarded for Excellence in Tea Startup (Namaste Chai)
Sachin Rane is a passionate, self-educated entrepreneur who has made his mark in the consumer products segment. At a very young age, he took the leap as an entrepreneur & entered the FMCG market with a bang.
Being the brainchild behind the brand we know as Namaste Chai, he now has 30 franchises, 200+ staff employed across India and a base of loyal and growing customers, both offline & online. One can say, his vision of making Namaste Chai India’s leading beverage brand is well on-course.
18. DNA GOA – Awarded for Best Internet Service Provider in Goa
DNA is a pioneer Internet Service Provider company in the state of Goa starting its operations in the year 2017 with a vision of connecting every Goan with high-speed internet. The company started with the vision to provide cost-effective high-speed broadband to households and offices through cable networks. DNA – Digital Network Associates – in collaboration with Chandan Group Goa launched low-cost internet services in 2017 in Goa.
Today they provide high-speed internet & WIFI services in the entire state of GOA including areas like Panjim, Caranzalem, Miramar, Patto , St.Inez, Taligao, Altino, Dona Paula, Bambolim,Chicalim, Porvorim , New Vaddem, Baina ,Sada ,Mangoor Hill , MPT, SwatantraPath, Vasco, Verna, Colva, Margao ,Fatorda , Gogol,Borda ,Navilim, Comba, Ponda, Honda, Malbhat, Bicholim ,Monte Hill, Aquem ,Rumdamol, Tivim, Mapusa, Anjuna, Calangute, Candolim, Guirim ,Arpora, Parra ,Pilerne, Sangolda, Shanti Nagar, Morod, Canca, Khorlim, Ganeshpuri, Duler, Baga and Calangute.
DNA Digital Network Associates Pvt. Ltd. has established a large-scale IP network infrastructure with a capacity of 10Gbps and is further scalable to 100Gbps comprising the city of Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Palghar.
19. Dr Celso Fernandes – Awarded for Excellence in Social Service
A dental surgeon by profession with 27 years of experience in private practice & a financial field by the passion he is fondly referred to as the Financial Doctor of Goa. Dr Celso Fernandes has the unique distinction of being a life member as well as the State President of the Indian Dental Association, also a Life Member and a Melvin Jones Fellow of Lions Clubs International and have been a member of Lions Club of Margao for three decades.
He currently holds the position of Founder & CEO of Nave Marg Foundation, which is a charitable arm of Nave Marg Financial Services and till date, it has undertaken the construction & renovation of 12 school toilets across the state of Goa, built two football playing arenas for Kiran Nike tan School, Sancoale and Our Lady of Rosary School, Caranzalem.
He fully funded and provided the infrastructure for TERI Coastal Education Hub at Goa Velha, was at the forefront in providing relief materials during the Covid-19 pandemic and in 2021 launched the unique ‘Living Happily with Diabetes’ Clubs across the state of Goa, which, as of today, is spread across 22 locations with a total membership of over 800 members who are assisted in keeping their sugar levels under control avoiding all complications associated with diabetes.
He was awarded the Dentist of the Year in 2011 by the Kerala Dental Association, Lion of the Year by Lions District 317B in 2013 and MFRT Samman Award for the Mutual Fund Round Table Conference held at Hyderabad.
20. AUDI GOA – Awarded for Best Luxury Brand of The Year
This is anew category of the awards introduced by us this year to give a platform to luxury brands in Goa.
Audi’s moto is ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ which literally translates to ‘progress through technology. This German luxury brand is known for technology and style as much as its performance, well-crafted interiors, and its trademark Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Nearly every model is a solid performer with a high-grade interior. Ride and handling are accomplished, and the cabin is quiet. Audi win in the best luxury automobile brand in Goa.
21. EL Shaddai – Awarded for Excellence in Street Children Education
El Shaddai is the first, and perhaps the only, charitable trust in Goa that works towards the education of street children. Started by Anita Edgar and Matthew Kurian, El Shaddai operates in Goa and other States in India, implementing the Child Rights Act 2003/05 for orphans, street children, and children coming from economically desperate conditions.
Here underprivileged children and destitute women are cared for and provided with food, clothing, shelter, and education, for a better future. They have seven residential homes, three day care centres, three community centres, a destitute women’s shelter, four schools, and cottages for seniors who are attending universities, colleges, technical institutions and professional training centres & working.
They provide community sponsorship programmes for financially challenged children and they also have 39 slum schools and slum outreach programmes which provide educational facilities and community health camps for slum children and women.
22. Sachin Pai Bir – Awarded for Excellence in Restaurant Business
An engineering graduate with a Master in Engineering in Information Technology and a computer engineer by profession, Sachin Pai Bir started his career as a visiting faculty at the Goa Engineering College while his father was working at the State Bank of India. Today he runs a successful business but he comes from a family that believes in service and a steady secure job.
The business was never on his bucket list- it just happened accidentally and with this opportunity, he transformed it into one of the biggest brands in Goa called Copperleaf, a multicuisine fine dining restaurant chain, presently operating from two locations in Porvorim & Panaji.
Copperleaf Porvorim is a 180-Seater outlet that started its operations in January 2016 whereas Copperleaf Panaji is a 300-seater outlet with spacious seating, spread across 10,000 sq. ft. of ground & first floors opened in 2021. Both the outlets include 5-star amenities, such as splendid international standard washrooms, wheelchair accessible entrances, wheelchair accessible washrooms, and the list continues. Copperleaf also offers takeaway services and its own food delivery service.
Sachin found his true calling in the restaurant & hotel industry and is passionately involved in it for the last 19 years. He is a pioneer in setting trends in the restaurant industry & tirelessly transforming the hospitality Industry. He is an alumnus of Goa College of Engineering, Farmagudi Goa.
23. Dr Mohan Krishna – Awarded for Excellence in Single Malt Distiller
Dr Mohan Krishna has put Goa’s name on the global map with his award-winning Three Monkeys Indian Single Malt whisky. He is the world’s first liquor marketing doctorate and recipient of the “Alcobev Marketing Guru” and “Marketing Scientist of the Millennium” Awards. He has been listed in leading international magazines as one of the most influential personalities in the global liquor industry with 40 years of rich and profound experience.
He is an award-winning first-generation successful entrepreneur who founded the “Cheers Group” in 2009 in Goa and carved it as India’s leading Single Malt company. he is the only Asian to initiate setting up a distillery in Scotland with his award-winning “Labrodog Scotch Whisky”.
24. Bhuvan Sheth – Awarded for Excellence in Real Estate Business
Bhuvanish Sheth aka Bhuvan Sheth joined the family business as Director of Finance and Marketing after completing his MBA in International Business from the United Kingdom in 1998. The company is involved in the business of builders & developers in Bangalore, Goa & Mumbai. It has developed more than 2 Million sq ft to date including Nova Cidade Township at Porvorim, Goa and even, the iconic Mall De Goa, Goa’s biggest destination mall having a variety of International and national stores, cinemas and a food court. The company has started a new division – Sonhe Homes which builds luxury and premium villas.
Later on, he started Nizanta Retail Ventures Pvt. Ltd. in 2016. The company is engaged in the retail garment trade of and is a franchise of leading international brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein Jeans, US Polo, Benetton, and Jockey and national brands like Zudio and Deal Jeans. In a very short span of time, the company has opened 9 stores. He is shortly launching his own fast fashion brand COVE which will be manufacturing women’s western wear.
He is also the Director of Jai Bhuvan Projects Pvt. Ltd. The Company is involved in the business of hospitality. At present, the company has two hotels in Goa, a 35-room business boutique hotel with restaurant and banquet facilities in Panjim and a 42-room business hotel with Banquet and conference facilities in Porvorim Goa.
He is also Director at Ampersand Digimedia and Entertainment Ltd. The company is engaged in the production and post-production of television software, 2D & 3D animation software for the entertainment industry, audio-visuals and multimedia presentations for corporate clients. The Company has also produced and telecasted Marathi Serial on Doordarshan – Sahyadri Channel. It also does media events and promotions.
He is also a Trustee in S.S.S. Shet Education Trust. The Trust is running English Medium School – Jnyan Vikas School in Porvorim Goa. It has around 425 students from classes ranging from 1st Standard to 10th Standard.
25. Vinayak Khedekar – Awarded for Excellence in Folklore Studies
He is Goa’s renowned folklorist and Padma Shri Awardee, and his persistence and dedication and self-belief elevated him to the position he is in today is a sheer example of the saying that ‘nothing in life comes easy’.
He belongs to a small village called Savoi Verem situated in the Ponda Taluka. He does not hold any institutional degree or higher education certificate but what he achieved in his lifetime is something that very few people reach. He is the author of 18 books: 14 in Marathi and 4 in English and those books are now a source of the heritage of Goa for researchers and students of literature and English.
His journey started as a priest at the tender age of 12 but he learnt Sanskrit at the age of 9 when his thread ceremony was initiated. Later on, he went on to become a journalist and travelled across the states in search of stories related to customs, culture, community and beliefs.
He served a long tenure at Kala Academy as a secretary and that gave him an opportunity to do a lot of developments at Goa’s cultural hub today. Whatever schemes and programmes that Kala Academy run had been started by him. He had documented many things related to the custom and culture of Goa that had almost vanished with time and due to his timeless contribution to the culture and customs of the society he was conferred with the Padma Shree in the field of Folklore.