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“Beautiful place to stay”

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Aldeia da Fonte Nature Resort
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Lajes do Pico
Reviewed October 26, 2011

The grounds are really quite spectacular. We had some of the best meals of our entire vacation at the hotel restaurant. At night, we would fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean crashing against the cliff about 25 yards away.

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Daniel S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AldeiadaFonte, Public Relations Manager at Aldeia da Fonte Nature Resort, responded to this reviewResponded November 22, 2011

Hello Daniel,

Thank you for your feedback.
We appreciate the time you have taken to give us your review.
Glad we have achieved your expectations.
I take this opportunity to inform you that we are now working on our bedrooms to make them more confortable and beautiful. So next time you come visit us it will be a greater experience.

Sonia Rosa

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88 - 94 of 277 reviews

Reviewed October 26, 2011

Sadly, I only had time on my itinerary to spend two nights on Pico, but I was very happy to spend both of them here. What a beautiful place they have made! The grounds are lushly landscaped, providing habitat for many kinds of birds. The whale watching tower is a treat - I saw whales within about 30 seconds. I did not have time to avail myself of the other amenities and activities - the yoga/meditation room, day on a local farm, whale watching, swimming, etc., but appreciated having so many options. I did walk into Lajes for the Festa do São Pedro, which was a very satisfying experience.

My room was very nice, perfectly comfortable but not too fancy. As a solo traveler, I appreciated that it wasn't too large; having a huge room all to myself seems like a waste and just makes me feel lonely. The bed was perhaps a bit hard for my taste, but that seemed the norm everywhere in Portugal. And yes, the room had a little "beach house" smell, but that is to be expected when you are right on the ocean and not locked up in an airtight, antiseptic cube. I did not find it problematic, and with the windows open the fresh sea air made far more of an impression.

I found the staff to be very professional and quite friendly. I especially appreciated that the young man who checked me in and led me to my room carried my bag, so as to avoid the loud noise of rolling it across the cobblestones. Very thoughtful! Everyone I interacted with spoke English quite well, certainly much better than my remedial Portuguese. The owner even drove me into Lajes on the morning of my departure and helped me do a little personal business there before putting me in the hands of a good cab driver to take me to the airport.

The food was perhaps not "amazing," but it was perfectly good. I eat seafood but am otherwise vegetarian, so my choices were somewhat limited, as in all of Portugal. But I had no trouble finding something to eat. They seemed to be making an effort to cater to the tastes of foreigners, which is understandable but to my mind made the menu a bit of a hodge-podge. It was really pleasant to sip wine on the patio off the bar while making use of the wireless internet and meeting some of the local birds, as another guest played the piano in the community room above.

Overall, my experience was a very good one, and I would not hesitate to return or to recommend it to most people I know. I very much appreciate what they are doing here. This is not a posh hotel/spa catering to luxury travelers who expect to feel pampered and constantly waited upon. Nor is it an overly self-conscious Azorean theme park. It is a rustic seaside country villa with a few authentically rough edges, a strong ecological ethic, and a very reasonable sense of what is "enough" to make one feel comfortable and contented. My guess is they want to attract guests who are looking for something a little unusual and have a certain amount of self-reliance and environmental awareness. They have succeeded in creating a stunning garden environment that offers a quiet haven to return to after a day of taking in the sights and culture that Pico offers.

  • Stayed: June 2011, traveled solo
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1  Thank Steve P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
AldeiadaFonte, Public Relations Manager at Aldeia da Fonte Nature Resort, responded to this reviewResponded November 22, 2011

Dear Steve,

Thank you for taking the time to write us your review of our Hotel.
I take this opportunity to inform you that we will have some improvements in our bedrooms. Hope next time the bed is more your taste.
One of our managers, Mrs. Sonia Simas, is vegetarian and if the dishes we have on the menu next time you come here are not your taste please let us know that with the available ingredients we can make you another dish more of your taste.

See you next time you come visit our island,

Sonia Rosa

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Reviewed September 14, 2011

As all ready said here, this is beautiful and tranquil place, just check out the pictures.
The surface is quite big, so can wander all around discovering sort of private areas / small gardens with stone chairs, listening to the distant seashore and numerous birds. My favorite spot was beneath the whale tower (great to check out dolphins if you have the patience).
I found the staff friendly, wanting to do their best even though they can be overloaded diner time thus service can be slower. Do not hesitate to go to reception for any questions or room arrangements when you arrive, but better arrange with hotel before your arrival for room situation as,
depending on the period, when there are groups staying in the hotel, the terrace where diner is served can be noisy at diner time and after.
There are two rocky beaches nearby (around 10 minutes walking). The nearest one is great for snorkeling in a calm sea. The other one further west down the road is easier to access, with internal rocky pound.
I have regretted the lack of swimming pool (they have space for building one), and the lack of deck chairs.
To resume, it's a kind of enchanting paradise reserved for those with open mind and tolerant towards some gaps.
The others can go to a 5 star hotel if they search perfection!

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank David_de-La-Chapelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 12, 2011

I do extensive research on places before choosing them, and I read so many conflicting reviews here on Aldeia Da Fonte, but I'm so glad I went with my instinct and booked this gorgeous place. We arrived jetlagged and spent, drove from the airport, stopping so many times on the road to take in scenes of cattle roaming (probably the happiest cows on the planet), rolling hills, flowers, sapphire blue ocean, we thought we'd never arrive. When we did, I could not believe how beautiful this place was. The plantings, the gardens, the stone work, the antiques, the rooms themselves, are lovely. It was a wonderful place to stay in a location that made day trips all around the island easy and accessible. What was lacking? Our suite's kitchen was not well appointed. Making coffee through anything other than the Mr Coffee was a feat in logistics; one good thing--you won't lose any money in the gift shop because it seemed to be a collection of used clothes and discarded trinkets, nothing of interest. The lunch on the veranda of a ham sandwich and a cappucino or soda was almost free it cost so little; the dinner was good but not great. But the included breakfast (which even after extensive emails I wasn't aware of), was fantastic. There was a swimming hole but it was hurricane season and the ocean was roiling, so that was not worth trying without a rescue team --- but that was the case almost everywhere while we were there. Anyway, I would wholeheartedly recommend this place. Having your own sitting room with french windows out to verandas, the sapphire blue sea lapping the cliffs below, the scent of bouganvillea (sp?) wafting through the windows, the privacy the rooms afforded, it was all beautiful. The service was casual--they don't fawn over you, but when we wanted something, regardless of the time, we found someone and they got us what we wanted. It was lovely. I would go again in a heartbeat (and I checked out various other places on the island that tempted me before I went--I stlil felt this was the best choice).

Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
4  Thank Cassielo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2011

Stayed 2 nights and was upgraded to nice room with stone verandah. I have a bit of a dilemma what to write. It is a very special hotel with beautful grounds and nice staff (like Sidd and Sonia) but the rooms are not too great. They smell and are outdated, rustic, 1960's style. I had a bad first night, could not sleep on the very hard mattrass and only slept finally after getting myself drunk by wine.
Then I met Sonia who explained about the hotel, that hard mattresses are good and healthy and that everybody knows this and wants it here.
, but that they will bring a soft one. On that I slept like a rose the second night. Good enough breakfast. Dinner nothing special but Chinese buffet on Friday good.
I had a bad week, mentally and could not relax but that is not this hotel's fault. Nice walks nearby, to Sao Joao (little whale museum by a Brit living next door).
Impressive church there.
If you like TV, best in lounge. On rooms almost no channels. One German station (RTL), rest Portuguese. Surely no hotel for TV addicts.
Good bathroom. No heating in winter in room but it does not get cold.
Free internet PC (that I use now).


.


u

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled solo
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2  Thank dutchguy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 24, 2010

I've spent some time reading reviews of Aldeia da Fonte, and have been particularly interested in the bad ones. I can compile a short list of the perceived ills here, after which I'll say why they're off the mark (mostly):

- Rude/glum/uncommunicative staff who can't speak English
- Smelly rooms, small beds, bad view, general ambiance
- The bar queue
- It's not the Ritz, it's not good for kids, people smoke everywhere and so on

The only problem that I see here that I can agree with is that sometimes you have to wait a long time for your drink. I've been visiting the Aldeia da Fonte once a year since 1999, and that likely will include two trips this year. I've been through what must be a half-dozen staff rotations and consider some of them old friends by now -- they know it takes a long time to get served at the bar because they're usually too busy trying to make sure all the diners get served. If I had to choose, I'd go with prompt food service.

What about the rest? Surely there must be some conclusion that you can draw from the negatives, even though the positive reviews appear to outweigh them. As a regular visitor to Pico who is neither Azorean nor Portuguese, I think I understand what irks the complainants. It's Pico itself. This is one of the largest islands in the Azores, but it is not yet a sophisticated tourist destination like many places you would visit elsewhere in the world or even on islands like Sao Miguel or Terceira. It is a rustic place that has come a long way in a decade, but still is a working island with working people who are only discovering what modern tourism can be and who are still updating their infrastructure to handle it. This is not my way of saying, "Relatively speaking, it's come a long way so you should be satisfied with what you get." It's my way of saying that you must be prepared for what you are buying before you arrive. If you want the Algarve, Bali or the Florida Keys, by all means, go there. Pico is a less refined place with its own charms, but grinning natives doing the local dances and flourishing mai tais is something they do elsewhere.

So how does Aldeia da Fonte fit into this? It is a locally run hotel, owned and operated by two people who are intent on giving you a different kind of holiday, one that could involve yoga, hiking, mountain climbing whale watching, some spelunking, swimming in the ocean or a pool, learning about a place that until only a few decades ago was an extremely rough place to live and various other pursuits. Having been a repeated guest of their restaurant, I've never been able to complain about a meal, nor have I been able to complain about the state of their rooms. I simply cannot say that I have ever encountered any bad things. On an island that has very few options for holidays other than one or two other dilapidated hotels and an assortment of bed-and-breakfast rentals, Aldeia da Fonte is not a measure of last resort just because it's the only game in town. It sits on some beautiful land and the accommodations are beautiful and comfortable. If it seems that there might not be enough to keep you or your children occupied, it's because this is a place where you should be looking to the nature around you to relax, and that is something that Aldeia da Fonte provides in spades -- even if you can't see the ocean directly outside your window.

And what about the staff? Your complaint is not with the staff of Aldeia da Fonte, it is with the citizens of Pico, and perhaps other Azorean islands as well. What you see as their glum, rude, uncommunicative nature is simply their somewhat reserved attitude. The Portuguese are not the cheeriest bunch in the world, but as one reviewer said, your friendliness begets friendliness. I have never seen an employee of Aldeia da Fonte try to be anything other than gracious and eager to please after I've introduced myself. As for their language skills, all the dining staff and workers who deal directly with guests speak English. It might not be the best English, but that happens when you go to some countries.

By all means, you should ignore the bad reviews and do spend your money on a stay at Aldeia da Fonte -- IF... and of course there is an IF. You should book a holiday there with the awareness that generally speaking, Pico is not Disney World, so it might be hard to entertain your children all day long. You might consider it more of a couples retreat. You should also be prepared for a few other things:
- It's true; there are few restaurants nearby. There are few restaurants on the entire island. To deal with that, you should:
- Rent a car and be comfortable with driving stick. The car sets you free to drive all around the island, which over the years, has gradually built up a number of activities that can keep you busy for a week.
- Think about using those stoves in the rooms at Aldeia da Fonte, tiny as they might be. There are only so many places to eat. (PS, try Ancoura D'Ouro in Madalena, one of my favorites, if you're looking for a change. More places, the Lagoa run by my friend Tomas, are opening up in Lajes, just down the road from the Aldeia da Fonte. Also see if you can get dinner at L'Escale d'Atlantique - but good luck with that.
- Remember that Pico, like most of the Azores, is not beach country. These islands are the tops of great big volcanoes. They are made of lava and mostly are ringed by cliffs. There are some wonderful public swimming pools here and there on the island -- just ask. And remember that you have to drive to them like you have to drive to everything else.
- The weather is indeed unstable, as one reviewer noted. July and August are beautiful and sunny, but rain is a constant threat. Bring something to read for those rainy days and ask Sonia about the books upstairs. If you run out of something to read, there is more up there.

Above all, remember that the island is still getting a professional grip on modern tourism. If you want pampering, there are other places to go. If you want to stay in a clean, fresh, different and interesting place that is free from the chains of corporate hoteliers, and are interested in learning about a new place with guides like Sonia and Antonio, by all means call them and book. Such a stay will not be to everyone's taste, but the adventure of any holiday, no matter how calm it might be, is discovering something new.

Robert MacMillan
New York City, May 2010

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled solo
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12  Thank easymac73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 23, 2010

A charming hotel - albeit a little Fawlty Towers - we did call out for Manuel at one point. Lovely staff - especially in the restaurant. Food was nothing fabulous but fresh and tasty. The front desk was a little disjointed. The rooms were in wonderful individual buildings made of the grey lava stone. Beautiful landscaping. Very lush. A walk down to the beach - or hike rather. Beautiful views of the mountain and the coast. A little damp of course - one of the rooms we 'tried' was closer to the cliffs- higher up within the property was warmer. The boiler went out - but we were moved to another room. Rooms were not overly plush but fine, clean with a sink and fridge. Free internet in the communal room above the restaurant. 5 minutes from the harbour where we were booked for whale watching for 6 days. They make a mean gin and tonic.

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled with friends
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2  Thank livestotravel121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Aldeia da Fonte Nature Resort

Address: Caminho de Baixo | Silveira, Lajes do Pico, Pico 9930-177, Portugal
Location: Portugal > Azores > Pico > Lajes do Pico
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 2 Hotels in Lajes do Pico
Price Range: $84 - $163 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Aldeia da Fonte Nature Resort 4*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Aldeia da Fonte is a "Charm Hotel" conceived to be a bastion for truly sustained ecological tourism. Its edification was based on the traditional local architecture and involved mainly the use of regional natural materials, such as basalt, our volcanic rock. It is a five-building based hotel, perched over the sea, having the splendorous Pico Mountain for background. The surrounding artistic gardens, with most of the original flora preserved, reflect the care and elegance invested on this serenity haven. The hotel provides 32 charming accommodations, each with personalized decoration that includes restored antiques and recuperation of various objects, depicting history and local culture. Its restaurant, "Hocus Pocus," has earned reputation of the best restaurant of the island. An Oasis of peace and serenity, in the Atlantic Azores, midway from America to Europe. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Aldeia Da Fonte Hotel
Aldeia Da Fonte Nature Resort Pico/Lajes Do Pico, Portugal

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