|It’s always sunny at Santanas!|
If you are heading to Candolim on Goa’s beautiful Arabian Sea coast, you could do very much worse than stay at the fun, friendly Santana Beach Resort. One of the last few family run hotels in Goa this hotel knows what its customers want, and gives it to them. It has a fantastic location right on the beautiful sandy beach and is set in lovely gardens sprinkled with Balinese statues, fountains, murals and a couple of swimming pools.
This is a hotel with personality – individual touches abound, -thanks to its owners Verner and Leanne – I was particularly taken with the living plant wall at reception.
Santana Beach Resort opened in 2005 after extensive refurbishment of the existing previous property. It is a busy, happy, 55 room hotel, with holiday makers and their needs always centre stage. Guests come from the UK, Russia and Finland but there are also plenty of Indian families here too. There are always lots of staff around the property smiling, saying hello, and willing to help with anything at all from carrying stuff to sorting out the Wi-Fi. On one occasion a member of staff in the bar could see I was having trouble with my mosquito bites (things love to bite me) and brought over an unsolicited ice cube to ease my itching agony.
|Service with a smile|
The ‘Bath and Binge’ Calamari beach bar is where it’s ‘at’ at Santanas. A few metres from the hotel right on the sea front , the bar has live music at lunchtime and then at dinner time too. There is a different performer every day and they are all local Goan musicians, although the song catalogue will be very familiar to the British visitor. You really can’t hear Hotel California too many times. There have been quite a few celebrity visitors here too and their photographs are proudly displayed. In particular cricketers are treated like gods here in India, and a visit by a few famous faces never does business any harm.
There is a huge menu to choose from here with both Indian and English dishes available, and the food is very good. I actually had one of the most memorable meals of my trip here which consisted of a huge delicious Indian lobster. With its gorgeous vivid orange shell with white spots and stripes it was so beautiful a crustacean that it was almost a crime to eat it. Almost. It was grilled to perfection and served with an ice cold glass of Chenin Blanc. A lunch to reckon with indeed.
Later we enjoyed the eightie’s play list as we sipped our Bailey’s over crushed ice and we also enjoyed the next day’s lunch at the Splash Pool with its swim up bar. You will not go hungry here. Candolim beach boasts a long stretch of beautiful golden sand which is peppered with colourful beach shacks trying to entice you in with the powerful allure of free Wi-Fi.
|We all want Wifi|
The sea is as warm as a bath but you must be careful as there is a very strong undertow. It’s fun to jump the big waves, but if you miss time things you can end up being ‘washing machined’ by them which isn’t fun and you may never see your sunglasses again either. Life guards are vigilant along this bit of coast – they know when tides and weather make the waves dangerous, and vigorous whistling and gesticulating ensues to get folks out of the water to safety.
Verner is a very committed hotel owner and the dedication of himself and his wife has really paid off here. With 50% repeat business and 85% occupancy there isn’t much need to advertise and Verner knows that guests value cleanliness, good food and outstanding service. There aren’t lots of managers here either and everything goes through him. No hierarchy means everyone takes responsibility for themselves – a management technique which quite a few UK organisations could usefully learn from.
|Make mine a Mojito|
We also agreed that the switch to a much cheaper on line visa service is a big improvement. It’s now possible for visitors to come to India pretty much at the last minute (previously, you had to wait weeks for a visa) and this is a very good thing for tourism here. Further changes are also coming in which will mean that people can travel in and out of Goa on charter or scheduled flights in a more flexible way.
The staff are the people who make the Santana Beach Resort special, and they make you feel as if nothing is too much trouble for them. Coupled with great value, the lovely food and top location you are pretty much guaranteed a very happy holiday here in gorgeous Goa.