After a trip that saw us late leaving UK and an aborted landing, we arrived at hotel 15 minutes after they finished lunch. Told nothing available, but snacks were available from pool bar. OK, take bags to room and only one very soft pillow each. Went down for snack only to be told that snacks weren't included in All Inclusive (AI) - always had been everywhere else we stayed - but free snacks were available at tea time, just when we had our welcome meeting! Ordered extra pillows but despite numerous reminders took 3.5 hours for them to be delivered, so missed our afternoon catch up nap after a long day. During this period we did our discovery walk, only to find a rather run down marina area. Air conditioning didn't work but told it was too early in season, even though it is advertised. They did offer to change our room, but the new one only had a walk-in shower, so we stayed where we were (something to request if you like a bath!).
However, none of these things mattered by the time we left. It turned out to be one of our best holidays. The staff were all amazing, speaking excellent English, and all had a sense of humour -best staff we have come across in all our years of travelling. There was no loud music around the pool, just nice gentle background music and the same in the evenings, small groups (special mention to The Grumpies - brilliant group, could've listened to them every night!) and specialist dancers, ranging from latin American to Calheta folk group. All the guests were friendly too, whatever language you spoke!
There is a supermarket which stocks nearly everything and a pharmacy just across the road and a few restaurants around the marina area. There is a bus service (not sure how regular but only week days) and a taxi rank opposite hotel entrance. Although the hotel runs a bus service to Funchal (17.50 euros each return) we took one of the local taxis (40 euros each way). They ran a good service whereby you were given a business card by the driver and you phoned him when you were ready to be collected, so you could spend however much time you wanted - either longer or shorter than the minibus. The hotel also put on a couple of free trips, you need to put your name down early, as there is a maximum capacity. If you can get a group together (which we weren't able) several people went on a trip with Nelson (he's well known locally!!!) and for 120 euros he will take you round half the island in a day with various stops, so if you can get 6 people, that's a bargain at 20 euros each. Plus he lived in the UK for several years and speaks excellent English.
Breakfast was very good (but no fresh omlettes :-( which my husband loves), lunch and dinner were ok if you liked salads. But the hotel has a good deal going with their a la carte restaurant next door. If you wish to eat there, you can get a voucher for 13 euros per person towards the cost of dinner, but you need to obtain this the day before you wish to eat. We ate there 3 times as the food was excellent. The prawns in Madeira wine were out of this world, as was the baked stone steak. For a local dish - if you like fish - the black scabbard fish with banana was delicious. They also do pizzas. You have to pay full price for drinks, but certainly worth a visit early on to see if you prefer eating in there.
Limited choice of drinks in AI - just one cocktail of the day and no local liqueurs. Their rum is not the same as Bacardi and has an acquired taste which we didn't get! Brandy and coke was good! AI finished at 10pm, so you can imagine a lot of people left early, so it was nice and quiet!
Also, ice creams are available in the pool area, but there is a charge of 1.5 euros - again usually included in AI.
But all said and done, we had a superb relaxing holiday and if that's all you are looking for I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the hotel. They are building another hotel at the other end of the marina and when the area is finished it will be a smart little area. I am sure we will be back when we want our batteries recharged.
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- Also Known As:
- Calheta Beach Hotel
- Beach Hotel Calheta
- Savoy Calheta Beach Madeira