Just returned home after another great stay at the Lagoa Azul. Went for 3 weeks and would happily have stayed longer if we could have. This is our third visit and we are already planning our next trip! Will share our experiences and tips..........
Hotel Room - Good basic room - cleaned daily - both bath, hand towels and pool towels replaced daily. Our beds (Room 305) were extremely comfortable. Rooms come with bathroom - shower-sink-toilet. Air conditioning. ceiling fan. Balcony with chairs,TV - mostly Indian satelite chanels but we only had the tv on once during our stay. Each room comes with a 'mini-bar' which is basically a fridge which is stocked daily for you - couple of bottles of Kingfisher Large, cans of coke, soda water, limca (lemonade) Water etc etc. All are the same price as the hotel ( i.e. 85 rupees for a large bottle of Kingfisher ). There is a little drinks shop ( small red building ) 5 minutes walk from the hotel opposite Renton Manor Hotel. You can pick up some cans of Kingfisher Strong for 45 rupees ( 8% mind !) and some 'Madera' wine for about 250 rupees - we found Madera white to be one of the nicer wines and regularly had a bottle in the fridge. If you like a Gin and Tonic then you can pick up a 75cl bottle of 'Blue Riband' for 150 rupees ( yes- under £2 a bottle ! ) 'Twist' is the local tonic and is the one we prefer. Local brands of Whisky and Brandy are a similar price. I don't know if the drinks shop has a name but the locals call it 'Wiggies' - If you go you will soon realise why!.
Hotel Reception - Extremely well run and everyone very helpful. Safety Deposit boxes available at 50 rupees a day ( huge cavernous things - we shared one between two rooms). Money Exchange up to 8pm - worthy of note - the exchange rate is changed every few days and it not the best available - as an example the hotel was offering 76 rupees to the £ and you could get 79 nearby. We had travellers cheques and used the hotel rather than have to carry our passports around to get a better rate. Wifi is available for 700 rupees a week should you want it but you can only pick it up in reception.
Restaurant - only the one 'Tabla'. All meals are served here - Breakfast consists of toast, jams, boiled eggs, omelettes cooked fresh for you by the Chef ( go for a 'mix' but only if you like a few chillis ) and a small variety of Indian offerings as well as tea, coffee and tinned fruit juices. If you don't like eggs - you may wish to try pork sausages and bacon for around 150 rupees per portion - we like eggs so didn't bother. The lunch and dinner menus are very good and we have never had a bad meal there. Incidentally, when we arrived we were given some dinner vouchers which allowed us to have three free three-course dinners there each week which was very welcome and we did use most of them ( you could actually use them for lunches instead ). Incidentally, you can pay your restaurant , mini-bar and bar bills by credit card if you wish – we settled up each week and found it much easier.
Pools - two pools - one on the restaurant side and the other, better one in our opinion, on the reception side. Here lies our one and only gripe ... the sunbeds and parasols....there isn't enough room for the sunbeds that they have and there are simply not enough parasols. What makes matters worse is that, this year at least, the 'residents' ( those people that own an apartment and stay there for a few months at a time ) got into the habit of putting towels on several beds thereby stopping other guests from using them. One resident (who shall remain nameless) was seen to put towels on 3 beds and only use one all day. Others would put towels on half a dozen and use them for perhaps an hour late afternoon. It got to the stage where guests were having to put their towels on beds at 6am ( or earlier ) and many times I looked out at 615a.m. to find all but 3 or 4 beds had already been reserved. There is a bar / snack-bar at the pool and Mario is, as ever, helpful in getting your drinks and food. There is a limited snack menu or you can choose from the restaurant menu and Mario will fetch it for you.
Taxis – There are always taxi drivers outside the hotel (a taxi-rank of sorts). This year we noticed very early on that these taxis were simply not competitive and their prices were much higher than could be obtained from the drivers outside Renton Manor (5 minute walk away). An idea of what you should be paying is; Arpora to Baga or Calangute -100-150 Rupees one way or 250 return (Hotel taxis double this). Mandrem Beach – 800 Rupees return. Ashwen Beach – 700 Rupees return. You can get a taxi to the hotel from the airport and the cost is around 1000 rupees. As you leave the airport go to the taxi booth on the left before the exit – these are the government fixed price taxis (or you could use them as a guide and go outside and haggle for a better price). For the return journey the hotel taxis were 1500 rupees but we went to the little supermarket opposite Renton Manor and they arranged a large taxi for us for 1000 rupees.
Restaurants and Bars – Firstly, use the hotel bar and restaurant sometimes – we found it to be great. Others are; St Sebastians – 1 minute walk from hotel – great for drinks on way back from the beach and cheap-eats. Used it once for a meal and it wasn’t bad at all. Spice Oven – a few mins further down – very good – nice selection of meals and good value – always a good crowd there. All Spice – our favourite and always reliable – go there and try it – food is lovely and very good value – staff are brilliant – one of our favourites and one that you can always rely on. Nik n’ Nats – a new one that we tried – lovely food – they had ran out of steak when we went so had pasta which was lovely – 2nd time we went was late on and they said that had pretty much ran out of everything and didn’t seem that interested in asking us if we wanted food or just some drinks – little disappointed but will give them another go next time. Nicks Place – recommended by friends and we went there twice and found it to be great – excellent food and staff superb – try it. East Meets West – used to be our favourite but only went there the once – food ok but it was our priciest meal of the holiday at 4100 rupees ( for 4 including drinks ) but we were disappointed. It was nearly empty and there was no atmosphere. We later found out that the lovely lady that owned it had died and that, since then, it had gone downhill – such a shame. Kim Fa – Chinese restaurant in Baga – brilliant – always go there – great food and value. Florentines – a little off the beaten track this one – is at Saligao – 20 min taxi ride away (aim to pay 400 rupees return). This is one that both the locals and tourists use – the locals call it ‘Chogum’. It serves superb authentic Goan food at bargain prices – your drink bill will be more than the food. Be prepared to queue for a while as it’s always popular, particularly with locals – don’t get dressed up too much – casual is good.
Mosquito’s – don’t bother taking and creams or bands or those plug-in things – get them there. All supermarkets sell ‘Odemos’ cream which is very effective and costs about 80 rupees a tube. You can get a plug-in repellant from the phone shop in Arpora for 50 rupees and that will last you the holiday. See Phoning Home for directions.
Electrical Adaptors – we take one adaptor and a 4-way 1metre extension lead with us everywhere we travel (the bar type). That way we can plug all our electricals in at the same place. Adaptors can be bought cheaply at the phone shop.
Phoning Home – This saved us a fortune. UK networks charge around £1.50 a minute to make or receive calls home and 40p a text – buy yourself a local sim-card and cut the cost to a few pence. We took a cheap unlocked handset with us and bought an ‘Airtel’ sim card from the phone shop in Arpora ( Walk to Renton Manor – turn right and turn right again at the main road – walk about 200 metres and you will see a bright yellow shop with ‘Airtel’ and ‘Vodaphone ‘signs – it’s near enough opposite the little temple which you can’t miss – if you reach ‘Gods Gift’ supermarket which is on the opposite side you’ve gone too far – incidentally , ‘Gods Gift’ supermarket is great – we’ve used it for ages – they always charge the MRP – which is super-cheap). To buy a pre-pay sim card you will need two passport sized photos and a copy of your passport (they will sort out copying your passport if you don’t have one). An Airtel card cost us 600 rupees but for that you get 450 rupees in call time. The phone was ready to use straight away – texts cost 5 rupees and calls home cost the quivalent of around 4p a minute. If you use your call time you can recharge it at the phone shop for 150 rupees a time (there is a small admin fee so you will get 130 rupees worth of calltime for each 150 recharge).
So there you have it – me looking out of the window on a dull Saturday morning writing about somewhere where I want to be and you, presumably, are going or thinking of going….jealous….me….you bet !
We prefer the rooms on the reception side overlooking the pool. Our party had 305 which was a twin-b...
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