We stayed for a week in early October, after getting a good deal on lastminute.com. Transfers were included and we were promptly picked up. We opted for a superior room and got the amazing view across to the bay. On arrival, the receptionist asked us what we wanted to do and sorted out a couple of tours for us. This was not hard sell and seemed a genuine concern for us to get the best out of the holiday.
This hotel is well out of the bustling hotel sector up on a hill and is perfect for just relaxing in the delightful gardens or round the swimming pool where you can try and spot how many people are reading Fifty shades of grey.
We don't eat meat and if you are on dietary restrictions, you will definitely find the restaurant's menu a little needing. However the staff were very pleasant and although not particularly cheap, we coped fine and enjoyed the food and wine. We were not on half board and to be honest, would not have wanted to order much off it.
You can hop on the local bus which runs regularly as you are not guaranteed a seat on the shuttle bus which is limited on spaces. The local bus takes a fairly direct route down town and is very cheap at 1 Euro 90. The bus driver will even tell you the end of the line! I enjoyed the local flower and fish market, just across from the end of the bus line. Some people have said they have walked down town. To be honest that would have scared me - as to have a spectacular view, you do need to be at the top of a twisty road!
I would recommend the organized minibus tours. We did one to Santana including the Quiemadas national park. That included a 13km levada walk and was great fun. The other was a trip round the West of Madeira to Porto Moniz. This included an excellent 3 course meal and plentiful wine. The guide - Paul, was fantastic, pointing out various plants and fruits and for around 40 euros including the meal it was excellent value for the whole day. Being picked up at the hotel was a real bonus. I had been dreading having to go into town first.
I am really glad we stayed at the hotel and the staff were never intrusive and were all very polite. Funchal is an interesting town, however I am glad we were able to retreat to the hills and admire it from a far.