We have just returned from a fantastic, relaxing holiday at the Porto Mare hotel. It took about 20 minutes for the coach transfer from the airport - with Thomson's the cases went separately and we had to wait a few minutes for them to arrive at our room... The hotel is quite large, but doesn't feel it - in the one block there are effectively two adjoining hotels plus the Residence, an area of time-share apartments.
Check-in was quick and painless and we were allocated a room on the first floor not too far from the lifts. The room was much bigger than expected - with effectively two double beds - and a large balcony overlooking the gardens and pool area and with a sea view. The only thing missing was milk for the tea and coffee - maybe single-portion cartons of long-life don't exist on Madeira ?! We found the room quiet and relaxing - and the bathroom had a cracking shower... The girl who cleaned was very pleasant...and really appreciated the odd 'good morning' and 'thank-you' in Portugese. Power is the round 2-pin variety, the hotel did lend us an adaptor so I could charge our phones and my camera, but you may wish to take your own. And do take sun cream - even at Easter the sun is powerful at this longitude - I forgot to pack ours and we found it very expensive to buy.
Breakfast had a huge variety of items to choose from - catering for both traditional British tastes and the more 'continental' type of breakfasts - from cereals, fruits and breads to ham and cheeses to sausage, bacon and egg. Although the restaurant - with the option of eating outside as well as inside - was busy in the mornings we didn't feel rushed at all.
After relaxing during happy hour in the outside bar area, in the evenings we ate each day in the main (self-service) restaurant. The food was very good, plenty of variety with a different theme each evening - well-cooked and good quality. We didn't sample the evening entertainment, preferring to walk into Funchal centre or along the footpaths in the other direction. Note that it isn't really possible to get to the sea in this area - except for the harbour in Funchal itself. Elsewhere there are a number of stony beaches - but we only found one with sand (we were told imported from Morrocco...!).
We hired a car through Economy Car Hire as we had elsewhere before - not the newest of models available - but perfectly good enough for touring the island. Fuel was a tad cheaper than in the UK, roads outside Funchal were quiet at this time of year. Be prepared if you do travel for some very windy roads - the area is mountainous and getting from A to B isn't necessarily in a straight line ! The express route (dual carriageway) is a fast road and has a lot of tunnels - I tended to leave the headlights on all the time on that route. Buy a decent map - the free ones just aren't up to it.
With the exception of Funchal most other town/village destinations are very small and quiet. Parking is mainly free - however some villages had meters and a Euro gave you enough time for sightseeing and a stop for coffee and cake. The island is relatively small and can be well explored in a week.
Overall we had a very relaxing week, and we were both pleasantly impressed with the Porto Mare hotel. If we do return to Madeira we wouldn't look to stay anywhere else.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Porto Mare hotel occupies the central wing of the Vila Porto Mare resort and benefits from the use of all its facilities. There are many different corners and atmospheres here ... something new to discover every day. The rooms combine views over the ocean with tropical gardens. Four restaurants, six bars, an ice-cream parlour, five pools, SPA, sports and children's facilities... ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Porto Mare Funchal
- Porto Mare Hotel Madeira
- Porto Mare Madeira
- Porto Mare Hotel (Porto Bay) Madeira/Funchal