We booked this at short notice, and having read the reviews, were encouraged and hopeful to give it a try!!
The delay getting through Goa airports visa process meant that we didn't arrive until 2.30am, and our initial reactions were to be honest, not great. There were several members of staff asleep on the floor in the reception area, who woke up and let us in, once they heard us at the gate. We were shown up to our room and to be perfectly truthful, we were dismayed! A large room, with a corner sectioned off with blocks to create a bathroom, vivid yellow walls, thin patterned curtains and a large bed, with a large sheet throw.The furniture was old and scruffy and the only lighting was from ceiling spotlights, which were very stark and bright. We were told by the staff to check in the next morning. We were so shattered, we climbed into bed and decided that we would sort the situation in the morning.
After a few hours sleep, we decided to go to reception and express our disappointment. We were met by Anita and Puri, the owners wife who made us very welcome and offered to change our room. On reflection, we realised that ours, 209, was one of the largest, and overlooked both the pool and reception, and that the standard of decor and furnishing was standard throughout the hotel. Despite the visual appearance, the room and hotel generally was very clean. We walked across the garden to the breakfast area, and were greeted by Salvio, the food and beverage manager. He introduced himself, offered the menu, and asked our names and room number- throughout our 2 week stay, he always remembered every guests name and room number, without error- impressive! The B and B package included a standard breakfast, tea/coffee, juice and toast with jam, but most guests appeared to bring their own toast toppings (marmite, honey, marmalades etc) which Salvio was happy to keep in the bar fridge. Eggs, porridge etc could be purchased from the breakfast menu.It was clear that a lot of the guests staying when we arrived had been returning to the hotel for many years, and the atmosphere was like a friendly club, with most people knowing each other pretty well. We had a quiet 1st day, recovering from the journey and finding out what was what, and found other guests very helpful and informative about the local area. We exchanged sterling with Anita at reception at a very acceptable rate, and found out that anything purchased within the hotel (food/drinks) were added to an itemised tab, and could be settled in cash at reception daily/ weekly. Wi-fi (albeit slow) is available for 500rps for your stay.
We hired a moped for the 2 weeks from Joe, 2 houses up the road, for 300rps per day, and he didn't ask for any deposit, details etc, as we had come from the hotel, we simply settled when we returned the bike. We were able to purchase petrol by the litre from Joe and other bike hire places down the road for about 75rps per litre.
We had a lazy first day around the hotel pool, a lovely hot shower in the room and when we wandered down to the bar we're impressed how pretty the gardens looked, all lit up by fairy lights- lovely! There was a problem with mosquitoes in the evenings( totally out of the hotels control) but most people ended up at the pharmacy getting medication/treatments to soothe, so it would be worth ensuring you are prepared for these incase needed.
There are about a dozen small bars and restaurants within a 15 minute walk( out of the hotel and walk to the right down the lane) all offering similar, simple lovely food at ridiculously low prices, and the hotel hosted a great tandoori night once a week.
The beach was about 20 minutes walk, down the lane to the right to the crossroads, take a left and follow this to the end. There are several beach snacks here, with sun beds and umbrellas available to use, in return for you purchasing drinks/ food from their bar, and the beach is beautiful!
By day 3, we felt that we had also returned 'home'- we really enjoyed and embraced the relaxed comfortable environment that was present and had started to get to know some of the other guests, who were great fun! We booked the rice boat trip through Thomas cook, which was fabulous- an overnight cruise up the river on a converted rice boat- beautiful experience! We also went on a day trip with Betty's in Cavelossim- bargain at 1000rps each including all drinks and food and well worth doing!
Our 2 week stay went far too quickly and like so many other guests, we would definitely return in the very near future! If you are looking for a luxurious, high end hotel, this is not for you, but if you want a clean base to experience local Goan life- this is perfect! Thanks to Serafino, Puri, Salvio and Anita( plus the rest of the team who work constantly and happily) to ensure that each guest has an enjoyable stay- we certainly did!
This was our 5th stay at Dona sa Maria. We return because -
It is has a very friendly atmosphere, not like those large characterless hotels where no one speaks to each other.
We like meeting other return guests who we have made friends with.
The hotel rates are reasonable & it it a comfortable place to stay.
The room we had, in the Farmhouse annex, was large, clean & serviced daily with fresh towels & sheets. It had a balcony that looked over the adjoining fields & was great for birdwatching in the early morning & late afternoon.
All the staff are very attentive & helpful. The owners are on site most of the time & are always ready to answer questions or advise guests on places to visit, attractions etc. Th hotel also has a taxi service, laundry service & if a doctor is required this can be quickly arranged though , thankfully we have never needed that.
The hotel has a good lunch menu for light snacks ; the dinner menu is very extensive, rather too much on offer I would say. The meals are generally good & there are regular Tandoori nights . The vegetarian options are very tasty.
The beach is approximately a pleasant 15-20 minute walk or 5 mins on a scooter that can be rented nearby as can bicycles.
To sum up if you want 5 star accommodation then this isn't the place for you. If you want to stay in a quiet location, with a lovely swimming pool, a bar , great staff & feel that you are being looked after then choose this hotel.