Arrived at the hotel at 12.15pm and were pleasantly surprised that one of our two rooms was ready and the other about 30 minutes later, so we could unpack and start the holiday straight away. Room was an excellent size with two large beds together, LCD TV and DVD player, fridge and nice bathroom with great shower water pressure. My wife also commented that someone had thought about mirror placement !
We had requested adjoining rooms and were very pleased this was noted by the hotel so our teenage boys were not too far away. The rooms faced the side road and Melia hotel with a side sea view and were initially slightly worried about noise, but we don’t really sit on the balcony and with the balcony door shut there was not a problem.
It was evident that the hotel is very well looked after. You could see people discretely touching up paint and plaster here and there and the hall way carpets all looked and smelt as if they’d just been laid.
Breakfast was very good with various eggs, nice fresh fruit and a glass of fizz. The only item absent was smoked salmon, but everything else was present and correct and very nicely presented. Although there were a fair few family groups staying, it was difficult to get a table of four together most mornings, though the staff were good at moving two two’s together when asked and it was very nice to be sat outside overlooking the pool.
As well as their a la carte restaurants, the hotel have a buffet dinner offer with three nights for 24.50 Euros per person per night, but bearing in mind drinks were on top we thought that was quite pricey and preferred to dine outside at the many local restaurants. Of those, our favourites were the Chefe Steak House, Solar da Adjuda and Sabor da India and we didn’t pay more than 85 Euros for two courses and a bottle of wine and soft drinks for the boys at any of them.
The pool area and gardens are lovely and getting sunbeds was not a problem, though some people do seem to think one umbrella per sunbed is not unreasonable and therefore there was occasionally a shortage of those ! There’s a nice grassed area to the front of the hotel overlooking the sea which has rattan sunbeds, but you’ll need a decent base tan as there are no umbrellas. The main pool has a nice island in the middle with seating around the perimeter and it was a lovely place to sit and chat. We also liked the jacuzzis and indoor pools. Not that many families and the children were all well behaved which made it a tranquil place to be despite this being school holidays.
The pool bar and indoor bar has a happy hour most days from 5.00-6.30pm, but it was only on our penultimate day we realised two cocktails are included each day for a very reasonable 3.00 Euros.
We used the free bus into Funchal which you pre-book at reception and has three drop off points, the furthest being best for the market, old town and cable car. Funchal is a lovely town (albeit undergoing some serious construction work at the moment) and well worth a morning or afternoon exploring.
Madeira is a terrific island, everything is very well kept, it’s very pretty and we had a very good feeling about the place just driving to the hotel from the airport, through the many tunnels. Shame it has no beaches to speak of, (and it would be nice if it were duty free) but that’s probably a contributory factor as to why it’s not overrun with families during the holiday and has such a nice uncrowded feel.
We really enjoyed our time at the Porto Mare and I’m sure we will return in the not too distant future.