The Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort in Goa, part of a chain already established in Gurgaon and Pune, makes creative use of the property&rsquos Portuguese history, with renditions of medieval Christian paintings and stained glass windows forming a quaint motif throughout. And even in the high heat that is April in Goa, Lemon Tree is a cool oasis in the heart of Candolim, running lengthwise from pool to Spanish-style-courtyard-fountain to beach. The pool is certainly the centre and highlight of the hotel set amid palm trees and a green lawn, with its own little bar, the first thing you&rsquoll want to do upon arrival is strip down and jump in.
I&rsquom lucky enough to be staying in a Heritage Room in Goa, however, so the first thing I actually end up doing is enjoying the long walk down to my base for the night. The Heritage block is a century-old Portuguese mansion, and each of the six large rooms is separated into living and sleeping sections. Arriving with the misconception that this is a &lsquobudget&rsquo hotel (it&rsquos actually full-service and upscale), I&rsquom especially impressed with the room&rsquos two flat-screen TVs, DVD players, WIFI access, cool green views and sense of luxury. Standing on my personal sit-out that faces beachwards, I&rsquom also intrigued by the small pool not five feet from me. Apparently this is the private plunge for residents of the Heritage Studio, a huge duplex affair that can be connected at request to an additional Heritage Room, making it an ideal set-up for a family vacation.
The hotel&rsquos regular rooms are no less pleasant, though. Some have a small balcony attached, while others lead into a private, shaded strip of lawn. But in Candolim, a short walk away from countless shops and restaurants, your room is hardly where you&rsquoll be spending your time. If you&rsquore too lazy to venture out, try the in-house restaurants outdoor Palmeira Grill, and the cheerful Citrus Café, which overlooks the lovely pool and contains a pool table. The food&rsquos standard/good, pretty much exactly as you&rsquod expect it to be. What I do find unexpected &mdash particularly in Goa &mdash is the efficiency and congeniality of the hotel&rsquos staff.
If you must work, a small business centre is well equipped with Internet and flat-screen PCs. But how dreary you&rsquod much rather check into Fresco, the spa. A tempting menu offers options for the two Kerala-style massage rooms &mdash pick from traditional treatments, herbal wraps, body polishes or a cocoa butter massage (yummy) before a session in the sauna. A gym next door contains the essentials and also overlooks the pool. With all the amenities Lemon Tree offers in one of Goa&rsquos most ideal locations for tourists, the only question I really faced was what should I do next
Where Candolim, Goa
Accommodation 60 rooms 1 Heritage Studio, 6 Heritage Rooms, 29 Garden Rooms, 10 Pavilion Rooms, 14 Plaza Rooms
Tariff Season/off-season rates (doubles) Rs 15,000/11,000 (Heritage Studio) Rs 13,500/9,500 (Heritage) 10,900/8,000 (Garden) Rs 9,800/7,300 (Pavilion) Rs 9,100/6,600 (Plaza) packages available
Contact 0832-3988188, www.lemontreehotels.com