Well, after 10+ hours travelling, without a cigarette (sorry!!!) we were absolutely shattered. The culture shock of India was something of a......shock!!!!!
We got onto our coach, after we avoided at least 200 men scrabbling for our suitcases and we were on our way. Being first time visitors to India we didn't quite know what to expect at all, except that this was a third world country, as I'd avidly read on this website for months prior to this holiday.
We got to our hotel after about an hours journey, after being given bottles of water by the coach driver and even my husband said to me that I'd chosen a cracker!!!!!!! We waited in reception, sat down in the most unbelievable comfy chairs by the pool, having registered and been given the appropriate wrist bands, with hot towels clutched firmly to our foreheads, along with winter coats of course, and were served with iced lemon water...heaven. Within the hour we were settked into our room - 161, an upper room, within sight of the pool and all the dining facilities.
The room itself had the biggest balcony we've ever seen, two single beds (pushed together within 5 minutes), wardrobe alcove, free safe (that operated with codes and swipe - and which the maintenance man also unlocked on the 2nd day free of charge, hubby having forgotten the code!!), tv, desk, etc. I had said, before being shown our room, that if we were to be offered a 2nd floor room I would complain, but on seeing this room, and balcony, I was smitten.
Food was absolutely fantastic, we were never short of anything to eat, The Seagul dining restaurant is next door to the main reception, passing the jewellery/chemist/crafts shop on the way. Mornings you could get cooked eggs (boiled, fried, scrambled, poached) from the chefs at two stations, pancakes or thin bread type waffles (sorry, can't think of a better word) freshly cooked from another chef. A wide election of cereals and juices, tea and coffee, fresh fruit, as well as the usual curry, sausage, bacon, etc. A word must be said for the extremely hard working and friendly waiters, who were constantly working, morning, noon and night, to keep drinks replenished and tables tidied.
After breakfast we'd retreat to our sunbeds - in the first week we didn't even have to do the early morning rush to reserve, the second week, children's Christmas holidays, we had no such luck.
Dinners and evening meals were of the same excellent quality - anyone worrying about the food need not, both myself and hubby are picky eaters, we loved everything they had to offer!!! Salad (mixed by an eager chef standing by with an unbelievable range of items, or you could just pick yourself), 2 types of soup, at least six types of bread for starters. Over to the main meals - three types of meat/fish courses, plus two chefs ready to cook two other meat/fish courses, then over to the middle island, where everything else was set out on dispaly, chips (once or twice), rice, nan, various curried vegetables, etc. As is usual, if you're not there early (and if you are you'll get shown to your seat personally) don't bother in term time......give it an hour or so, get a cup of tea or coffee, or an alcoholic drink from The Seagul bar or upstairs bar and sit in reception or on your balcony to wait it out.
Having missed our evening meal one night we resigned ourselves to meal service, menus were left in our rooms - main meals were all about 200 ruppees, these included fish-n-chips, golden fried prawns, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Tanduri Murgh, Pomfret Rechaco, goan Fish curry.....hubby settled on 2 x Dona Sylvia Clubhouse Sandwich (180 rp each), which came complete with dressings, salad and of course chips (or french fries, which, you guessed, I ate!!)
We wandered down to the beach our first day, walking through the beautiful gardens of the hotel and past the friendly security guards - we noted that there are no beach front apartments - only those facing the massage centre, and beautiful manicured lawns, the beach itself is a mere couple of minutes from here, you can hear it, but alas, the perfectly manicured lawns prevent you seeing it!! There were two ladies, one on each side, selling clothing who waved and said hello to us and then we saw it.....the sea!!!! Not before having at least half a dozen young men running to us asking us to try their shacks.....we resisted until we got to the last one on the left of the main drag - can't remember the name now, but it was absolutely excellent. The food was perfect, service attentive and what a view!! On our first visit we had six beers, two waters and two mixed omelettes.....bill came to less than £5, which included sunbeds all day. We went to the firework night, I've never seen so many crabs in my life!, I had the mixed omelette, hubby had the sea food platter.....and what a platter it was, lobster, king prawns and tiger prawns that filled half a plate, sea bass plus two other types of fresh fish, calimari, oysters, muscles, salad and, of course, the oblitatory chips (which I ate having become bored of watching hubby eat!!!!), seven beers, seven vodka and cokes and three waters each - plus a free firework display - bill? £14.00!!!!!!! At a certain point in the evening I had to admit defeat and headed around the back of the shack to the toilet, which had, according to our wonderful owner, full plumbing.....watched avidly by our adjacent table.....luckily the door had been left open, the toilet consisted of what appeared to be a silver cookery bowl in a lean to shack, with closing door.....I retreated to our apartment amidst the good natured laughes of our neighbouring table companions!
There were some fantastic trips on offer, Waterfalls, Date with a Tiger, Jungle Book, Floating Paradise, Hampi, etc, but we didn't bother. We did ask the First Choice rep if the Date with a Tiger trip, advertised in the handout as a 2 night, 3 day trip, by train, was accompanied - but he didn't get back to us, so we left it, being content with where we were. We did go on one of Jacks Cruises, excellent value for money, and very peaceful, we saw dolphins, flying fish and bats.....but we also stopped for over an hour and a half in the middle of nowhere for some strange reason.....when they're trying to sell you the trip they promise lobster, oyster and muscles, and a session fishing for crabs if you want....don't believe it, you get fish/rice for lunch and no option of fishing!
The package deal we were on initially included one meal per week at Mama Mia and Kebabs and Kurries, we were later sent a letter stating we were only entitled to one meal in each eaterie a week, so we booked our first meal in the specialist Indian restaurant, which was fantastic....Indian curry will never taste the same again. The second week we concentrated our efforts on Mama Mia, on the eighth day we tried to book.....and were informed that they were fully booked, on the nineth day, same again.....you get the picture, in the end we missed out completely on the Mama Mia experience, not for want of trying!
Snack were served in the poolside restaurant from 11.00 to 11.00 (as stated in the paperwork given to us by our rep, though we noticed that they "discouraged" people after 8ish. Tea and coffee unlimited,freshly cooked sandwiches (beautiful, all on toasted bread), mini burgers, etc.
The bar further along the walk serves alcoholic drinks - special compliments to the wonderful bar tender who had our drinks whipped up on arrival!!!! TOP TIP - take a couple of those thermos cups, they'll fill you up with whatever you want, including tea and coffee.
Around and about - Outside the hotel gates there wasn't much, there were about 40 shops, all selling the exact same thing as the next one was - although what they were selling was, in most cases, beautiful - exquisite hand carved furniture and ornaments, we wouldn't have been able to carry them home with us, as much as we'd have wanted to. There was a market, almost every day, further up the road, again, all seemed to be selling the same "I Love Goa" t shirts, etc.
The Chemist in town was just on the edge of the market, etremely cheap and the owner was very informative, we got ourselves some sleeping pills, for the journey home, and painkillers, all for pennies.
Christmas and New Year were fantastic, though if I'm honest if I booked again for next year I'd go for just New Year (the 0430 flight home on 01.01.08 was a bit draining). The gala meals for both occasions were unbelievable, they set up marques on the tennis court.....and oh my god, I was in heaven, I've never seen so much food, so well prepared....!!!!!! A few days before Christmas they hung fairy lights all around the comples and on the grounds.....it was absolutely beautiful walking around and looking down from our balcony.
Entertainment? After our meal we tended to head down to the beach for a couple of drinks and watch the sea, either that or we sat on our balcony. There was the bar upstairs, which had a couple of good shows on, but other than that there seemed to be an Indian group singing your usual Kareoke songs, ok if you're into that type of thing I guess. Again, we were more than happy watching everything around us!
Would I go again? Like I said, if I booked again for this time of year I'd spend Xmas at home and book India for New Year......sounded fantastic, we missed out because of our early flight unfortunately. I'd definately book this hotel again if I wanted a relaxing, or tour constantly, base. Next year we're going to give Nort Goa a try, then, who knows, hopefully, we'll be back at Dona Sylvia!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Overlooking Cavelossim Beach and set in 20 acres of beautifully secluded landscaped gardens, NOVOTEL GOA DONA SYLVIA brings to mind a quaint Portuguese village reminiscent of a bygone era – an architectural style that earned international acclaim for its architect, CHARLES CORREA….a truly wonderful and luxurious location for holidays, small meetings to large conferences. This luxurious 5 star beach resort is situated on the southern coast of Goa, about 45 kms from the airport and 15 kms from the Margao Railway Station. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dona Sylvia Beach Hotel Cavelossim
- Dona Sylvia Beach Cavelossim
- Dona Sylvia Hotel Goa
- Dona Sylvia Beach Resort Goa
- Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort Cavelossim