“An amazing slice of serenity, sun and design. Cracking place to go !”
We did not read other reviews for this place, taking the cue from a snippet in a quality weekend newspaper in the UK which recommended it.In some ways it was good that we had not as the initial impact exceeded all expectation and things just got better.
It is a brilliantly designed hotel and the minimalist approach and clean lines of its design are appealing and sit cleverly with the rugged and dramatic Madeiran coast. It literally hugs the cliff and the views are stunning...looking down on Ponto do Sol is like peering into Toy town...such a neat place and so well kept by the municipality.
Our room was large, very well equipped (good kettle if meagre number of milk cartons and tea bags every day, but a small fridge that worked was very helpful) and had brilliant daily service. All the staff at every level were unobtrusive and so helpful.
The hotel was extremely quiet and restful except when a large wedding group turned up ( mostly those in their late 20/30's) but it was fun to see their enjoyment for the Friday evening and most were so hung over on the day after the wedding ( somewhere else on the island thank goodness) they didn't appear around the pool until late.
The pool area is very appealing and a wonderful sun trap. The hotel pool towels are large and soft, though we did not ask for change during our week, whereas the bathroom ones...so white and fluffy...were when we followed instructions about letting room service know. Pool bar service was not explained when we checked in and the helpful lady did not appear until after one o'clock some days so one was not too sure what was happening. The spa facilities are (as they say) very limited and the steam room was out of order for the whole week although the jacuzzi and sauna were functioning - but again small and during inclement weather and with guests wanting to use these facilitles more, I would think there is a great deal of pressure and disappointment about them. However we were there for the sun which did not fail us and had the weather been cooler we would have used the Hotel's shuttle service into Funchal....reception was very very helpful and had we wanted to do various things rather than enjoy the stunning views and pool I am sure they would have helped fill our time.
The food was superb. Breakfasts are hard to describe as the variety is amazing and the fruit and cheeses, bread and cake and cooked dishes scummy. There is no hurry either and I believe that they opened up at 7 and you could go down until 11.00 a.m.
We had Lunch on only one day - again first class - and every dinner was a real delight. Even though we were half board we thought we would be going out to eat if the menus were repetitive. This was not the case: we stayed in and ate for 6 nights, the seventh we visited friends in Funchal for dinner and were not disappointed with any of the three course meals served. We ate on the outside terrace for five of these nights and service everywhere was excellent. Prices for beer and wine are probably average, but we weren't shocked by the final bar bill at the end of our stay and felt the whole thing was great value for money. The Friday night Barbecue by the pool was well laid on although somewhat confusing as to what one did to ensure you tasted all the right things and there was no real 'menu' about what was being served...but it was once again, like all the food presented, excellent. The staff worked so hard to make it a success.
The holiday was a 'package'; with Thomson and overall I cannot fault them. They did not exaggerate anything and their service on the plane and arrival at Madeira was excellent. Not so good on the return trip. No sign of any Rep at the airport as we arrived for departure...we were picked up from the hotel as promised in a minibus ( incidentally too small for the 8 people he had been sent for so a second was summoned). The flight was delayed for 5 hours and there was no one sharing any information about this until two hours later when a rep wandered round the waiting area offering us all a light lunch in the cafe - sandwich, soup and a drink ( but only ONE drink !) After that we were reassured and indeed the flight did leave as promised, on time and made good time in retuning to Luton in what some were overheard saying on the plane ' in record time'.
Overall I rate Thomson - even though we were diverted to Tenerife on the outward flight ( a four hour delay) so flying with the company was somewhat 'eventful' but the weather caused the outward bound delay and a technical fault the return so we had bad luck. Everyone was very helpful and polite during these ' events' but that is what you would expect from a reputable company...though some things grate...like 'only one drink' during a five hour airport delay...why so mean when you should be stroking your potential returning customers. (It always amazes me that companies don't think a little more about this kind of thing...the end of the holiday and saying goodbye to clients is as important as the start and there was something missing in our experience of the final 10 hours with Thomson.)
We will return to this hotel. We liked its position, its high quality service, the excellent food , the friendliness of the reception staff, the efficiency of the place but above all for its style. Atheistically it is impressive - the lines of the buildings, the sculptured trees and gardens, the layout of interesting modern furniture and the sleekness of the bedroom fittings and roomy balconies. The ambiance was relaxing and soothing, and the staff unobtrusive. It was efficient and clean and easy. Because we were there in June when kids were in school it was beautifully quiet and serene (wedding party being the exception but nothing compared to some horror stories one hears of other destinations and hotels - this lot were classy and international). I really would not like to be there in the school holidays. It is not the place for small families, nor is there the space for them in the small pool area and the serenity of the hotel would be ruined I fear. Most of our fellow guests were in the age bracket 50-80 and from Germany, the UK and northern Europe. Many were keen walkers ( perhaps that is why the place was relatively quiet during the day) but all seemed to enjoy the pool and gardens on their 'rest days'.
All in all a great experience and one for which we are grateful. We will return - when schools are in session !
I would be happy with any room....overlooking the sea was good, but a mountain view would have been...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.