The Vidamar Resort (formerly the CS Madeira) sits at the top of a cliff in the tourist hotel zone along the Estrada Monumental. The unusual topography means that the reception / lobby area is actually on Level 4. All rooms have a balcony and sea view. There is free car parking for guests in an underground car park.
The public areas are smart and comfortably furnished, Free internet terminals and wi-fi are available in the lobby / bar area, where you will also find a free ‘book exchange’.
My room was of a good size and well furnished. Everything you would expect in the way of amenities for a hotel of this standard was present and correct – air con, safe, coffee / tea making facilities, TV with international channels. My only issue was that the mini bar was locked – I don’t know if this is hotel policy, but when I explained that I had medication that needed to be refrigerated, it was quickly unlocked for me. A complimentary fruit platter was a welcome touch. The bathroom has a full bath with integral shower, and a reasonable selection of complimentary toiletries was provided and topped up daily.
Meals are of the buffet type. Evening meals are themed – Portugese, Italian, Seafood etc, with separate salad and desert buffets. Hot and cold breakfast buffets were available – eggs were pre-cooked rather than cooked to order which was a shame. The choice of main courses in the evenings was somewhat limited (typically a couple of meat dishes, a fish dish and a pasta), but the quality of meals was very good. Just one complaint – the high price of drinks with evening meals; I realise the hotel has to make money, but € 2.30 for a small bottle of still mineral water / € 4.50 for a large bottle is pretty outrageous (the same brand of mineral water is made available at breakfast, free of charge).
The hotel staff were, almost without exception, extremely polite and helpful.
The hotel has no beach (very few parts of Madeira do). Instead, an elevator from Level 1 takes you a concreted area at sea level with several elegant but rather small pools. Sun loungers were plentiful, and staff are on hand to provide parasols, cushions and towels. A jetty provides access to the sea for anyone who wants to swim in the sea, although there were several ‘at your own risk’ notices, and a red flag was flown on some days. There is also a narrow garden stretching the length of the hotel, accessible from Level 2, with a putting green at one end. I might have spent a bit more time there if there was any seating, but it was pleasant nevertheless.
Being in a tourist accommodation area, there are more restaurants, bars, tour agencies, car rental outlets and souvenir shops within walking distance than you can shake a stick it. There are several supermarkets in the vicinity for anyone who wants to stock up on water, beer, soft drinks etc – the cheapest I found was a mini-mart called Pingo Doce; turn left outside the Vidamar and it’s about 5 minutes walk along the Estrada Monumental on the right hand side of the road. The large ‘Forum Madeira’ shopping centre is a further 15 minute walk. A pleasant ‘promenade walk’ begins just a short distance from the hotel and continues for a considerable distance – turn left outside the hotel and after 1 or 2 minutes walk bear left, downhill towards the sea front immediately after the bus stop. Turning right from the Vidamar, Central Funchal is an easy 20 minute walk away, but be warned that one section has a moderately steep incline – fine on the outward leg, but harder work on the return journey; some guests are happy to walk into the city but prefer to catch a bus back. On the subject of buses, Funchal has an extensive and efficient urban bus network. The bus stops close to the Vidamar are served by Routes 1 & 2 to the city centre sea front and Route 48 to the hill town of Monte. Tickets are a flat fare € 1.90 if purchased from the driver, but anyone planning to use buses regularly would be better off obtaining a Giro (rechargeable pre-payment card) which gives a reduced flat fare of € 1.30, or an unlimited use pass, available in 1, 3, 5 & 7 day durations. Note these and the Giro’s are only valid for buses running in the Funchal area.
Other useful tips. English is widely spoken and understood. The weather in Funchal is changeable, and it’s always advisable to have a jacket or warm top to hand. Madeira is in the same time zone as the UK, so no need to adjust watches. Transfer time from the airport to the hotel zone is about 25 minutes.
All in all, the Vidamar is a high quality resort hotel, with useful free extras such as internet / wi-fi and car parking which are not always offered by other top end hotels. I've always found it a good rule of thumb with resort hotels to knock a star off the official rating to gain a more realistic view, but the Vidamar comes very close to justifying all 5 stars. Given the superior quality of rooms, food and staff, I would be happy to stay again.
Some premium rooms offer in-room wi-fi and, I believe, a free mini bar, and it is sometimes possible...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.