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“Nice hotel, but staffing issues continue”

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Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa
Ranked #9 of 20 Hotels in Santa Maria
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 30, 2011

First time in an all-inclusive hotel like this, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The food was generally good, as were the drinks. Rooms were large, but try not to get a room facing onto the road, which is very noisy because it is cobbled. Nice pools and the beach is soft sand with some shells. However, just at the water's edge are sharp rocks. On the first few days the waves were quite large and I wouldn't recommend going in straight in front of the hotel. If you wander over to the left (looking out to sea) there were easier entry points, but, unless the sea is pretty calm, you still need to be careful, as the problem is getting out without being caught by a wave on the rocks.

The beach in Santa Maria is nicer sand, but not good for snorkeling. The hotel is out of town, so probably better for people who just want to stay in the resort.

The dive shop to the right of the hotel provides free snorkeling equipment and boogie boards and alsor runs surfing, windsurfing (good instructor) and kite surfing lessons. Its and efficient well run outfit with good (new looking) kit and instuctors with a good standard of english.

The staff at the hotel were nice but there still appear to be teething problems. Our table was given away several times when we went up to get the next course in the buffet and the restaurants' waiting staff had a chaotic feel. Nobody had a role and as a result everything was highly disorganised. The hotel really needs to hire some very experienced restaurant managers, who should instigate some discipline.

The toiletries weren't replaced unless you asked (or the bottles of water in the fridge, which meant you had to remember to take them from the bars). On one occassion our towels were taken but not replaced. The hotel needs to ensure it always has someone with a good level of English on the front desk and that the staff refer customers to this person rather than looking blankly.

Other points - if you're a chocoholic you'll be dissappointed by the desserts and the relative scarcity of chocolate icecream.

Room Tip: Don't book rooms that face onto the road.
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  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank pickle076
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TortugaManagement1, General Manager at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded January 4, 2012

Dear Guest,

Thank you for having chosen to spend your December break with us at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa and for having taken the time to write your opinion on our hotel and our services.

I’m pleased to know that you are happy with your room and our food and drinks. The climate condition that affects the Atlantic Ocean at this time of year can result in big waves and strong currents. We do usually have a floating jetty in place to facilitate the entrance to the water. However, due to the climatic conditions and for safety reasons we have decided to remove it until the conditions for its installment are favorable again.

We are located about 5 minutes drive (by taxi or by the free hotel shuttle bus) from the town of Santa Maria, thus allowing our guests to enjoy some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of a town but also easy access to town if they should desire it.

The concept of five star all-inclusive service is quite recent to the island, we allow our locally hired staff the opportunity to learn and develop their professional skills and some of the newly hired staff are still on training and this may take some time. However, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by this.

Water is placed in the mini bar upon guest arrival, mini bar refill is with extra charge and, as part of our all-inclusive service, guest can easily ask for bottled water from any of the bars free of charge.

For most of our staff English is their third, fourth or even fifth language, while we are aware that some need intensive English training and we are working on training them as they go, you will find that they should be able to understand you if spoken to slowly.

We are sorry that you were not able to find enough chocolate ice-cream to satisfy your need, we try to offer a large variety of ice-cream flavors, including chocolate, in order to please the diverse taste buds of our multinational guests.

Once again thank you for your feedback, we are working on continuously developing our services in order to ensure the complete satisfaction of our guests. We hope that you will return to visit us again in the near future.

Best Regards,
General Manager

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Reviewed December 28, 2011

We have just returned from 2 weeks at the Tortuga and are wondering if we actually stayed in the same hotel as some of other reviewers? Upon arrival at the hotel we were greeted and checked in within 10 minutes and immediately shown to our room - well more than a room, it was a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, huge living/dining room apartment. Each day the room was imacculately cleaned an towels/toiletries replenished.

The grounds are beautifully laid out and well maintained, they look far more mature than you would expect from a newly built resort. The pools look beautiful and although we never used them (we are beach people) again we saw them being cleaned daily and the chemicals being adjusted.

The food in all of the restaurants was very good and the main buffet restaurant did in fact feel like a restaurant rather than a 'canteen' which we've experienced in many 'all inclusive' resorts. The menu at Aqua changes every few days and on 17 December which was my birthday they arranged a cake, and the waiters/waitresses all came and sang happy birthday to me which was lovely. O Grille was great for lunch and snacks and although there would be many people waiting for tables at around 1pm we would just get a drink and wait for the maitre'd to call us (well done Elizabeth)! During our stay the new snack bar at the main pool was opened so this may take some of the strain off the O Grille at lunchtimes.

Without exception we found the staff friendly and helpful and whilst there may have been language barriers with some, we are after all visitors to their country and should be prepared to learn some of their language. However with a few smiles and some miming we found we got understood and even got to know a few words. We would just like to give a special mention to Elizabeth who managed the tables at the restaurants brilliantly, Jose, Antonio, Michel and the bar staff at O Grille and our favourite waiter Daniel who was forever smiling even when people were sometime pretty obnoxious towards him.



Yes there are cats - but there are also a lot of tourists who are feeding them! The cats could be a problem in the future if the population isn't controlled so maybe a programme to neuter the females would stop this as we did witness the cats using the beach as a toilet on many occasions.

Flies - you are in the tropics, and they are cooking in the open - I'll say no more!!

Overall we had a fab time at the Tortuga and would go back in future.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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9  Thank jachyd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TortugaManagement1, General Manager at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 30, 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for having chosen to stay with us at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa for your Christmas break and for having taken the time to write a review on our hotel.

I’m very happy to know that you have enjoyed your stay with us and that you were pleased with our facilities and services, I’m also glad that our staff was able to make your birthday a memorable one. Thank you for mentioning our staff, I will forward your message to them and write a personal note congratulating them.

We do have program in place to neuter the female cats, we have a vet who would come in periodically to do a check up on them. Since cats are territorial animals, the neutered cats that we have on our hotel will keep more stray cats from coming into the hotel.

Once again thank you for your comments, on behalf of the hotel and its staff, I would like to wish you all the best for 2012 and we are looking forward to having you at our hotel again soon.

Best Regards,

General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2011

We have just come back from a wonderful week on the Island of Sal in Cape Verde. The flight with Thomson is not great but it is the only direct flight onto Sal. We booked with Captivating Travel and cannot fault the service we recieved. The lady that helped us with our booking was very helpful and had visited the hotel so she told us exactly what to expect. The transfer from the airport to the hotel was great, we were not herded onto a great big bus with a tour guide shouting into a microphone but we were on a small bus with 2 other couples and the representative was able to talk to us all in a very personal manner. The check in at the hotel is quite slow, hopefully this will improve in time. The 2 bedroom apartment we had was lovely, very clean and spacious and in a great location overlooking the main pool. We were told the hotel was full but there was still plenty of sunbeds and it never felt overly busy. The restaurants were all good in different ways. The O Grill was our favourite, directly on the beach and the food was great! The main buffet restaurant was good with a wide choice available. The local beer which is included in the AI option was pretty good, the Cava was also very nice. The red wine is not great and is served way to cold. Overall the hotel was good and I think it will get better as time goes on. The staff are all very friendly and they all speak some degree of English. Santa Maria town was great! We loved it! The locals were wonderful and unlike the Carribean we felt completely safe walking around on our own. Sal has a really special vibe and we have already booked our trip back for 2012! We are combining our trip with a 2 night stay in Lisbon on route to Sal, this way we can experience Portugal and fly on a decent airline!! The staff at Captivating Travel have been fantastic, cannot do enough for us, we definately recommend them to anyone.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with family
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7  Thank kevin s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TortugaManagement1, General Manager at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 30, 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for having chosen to stay with us for your holidays and for having taken the time to write a review on our hotel.

I’m very happy that you’ve enjoyed your stay with us and that you were happy with our facilities and services. We greatly appreciate your comments and we will take note of them as they will allow us to continuously ensure the satisfaction of our guests.

On behalf of Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa and its staff, I would like to wish you and your family all the best for 2012 and we are looking forward to having you as our guests again soon.

Best Regards,

General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 28, 2011

We stayed at this hotel for 7 nights 7th- 14th December travelled from Manchester with Thomson.
Check in at the Melia Tortuga was good and we were welcomed with a non alcoholic cocktail that certainly hit the spot following a long travel. The check in process was efficient and the staff were extremely welcoming.
The apartment was fantastic, it had a double and twin bedroom, lounge, full kitchen including washing machine and a fantastic bathroom.We had a ground floor apartment, if you like to leave things out on the balcony ask for a first floor one, however I left things out to dry when we were in the apartment and due to the extremely good weather it was dry in an hour.We were situated near the quiet pool but not overlooking it, our apartment was quiet. I reported that the bedroom window would not lock on the first night and it was fixed first thing the next morning, this was good service.
We had gone here for a full relaxation and that is what we got. if you want lots of activities and noise then I am not sure this is for you.
The hotel and grounds were imaculate and well maintained, they have made the grounds look mature and the shrubary and flowers were well maintained, they even have a man who waters it in the early hours of the morning.
The food was good in the O Grille and in Aqua which we visited twice it was excellent. We found the breakfasts in Spices were good as they have a chef cooking fresh fried eggs, omeletes and pancakes on request. The only down sides were in the O Grille the menu was the same for lunch and evening. I felt a different menu would certainly help, however the ambience and open air aspect was fantastic. We ate mostly in the O Grille as we felt although the buffet in spices was ok it was not as good as O Grille.They were in the process of installing pizza ovens near the poolside bar, this will be a great addition to the complex.
There were plenty of sun loungers by the pool and the music by the pool bar was just the correct volume.
The beach was amazing and also plenty of sun loungers, tables and shelter. The sea near the hotel was rocky but people did go in, watched by the life guard. However we walked 20 mins to the left toward tSanta Maria and the sea there was sandy and the waves were amazing.
all the hotel staff from reception/bars/restaurants/cleaning and maintenance were friendly and helpful and most spoke reasonable English.If you want sun al year round, fantastic beaches and relaxation then this is the place for you. Cape Verde is at present unspoilt by tourists. If you get chance the catamarran and island tour are defintely worth a visit.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Hazel U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TortugaManagement1, General Manager at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 30, 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for having chosen to stay with us at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa and for having taken the time to write a review about our hotel.

It is very nice to know that you’ve enjoyed your stay and that you were pleased with our facilities and services. I’m also very happy that you were happy with the restaurants and the food. The Ôgrill is a beach restaurant with a concept for BBQ and light snack, hence its fixed menu, however, we will take note of your comment and we thank you for it.

On behalf of the hotel staff, I would like to wish you all the best for 2012 and we hope to have the pleasure of having you as our guests again soon.

Best Regards,

General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2011

We stayed at this hotel for 7 nights 7th- 14th December travelled from Manchester with Thomson.
We are not going to let the joke of a flight colour this review which is of our experience and is our opinion.
Check in at the Melia Tortuga was painfully slow and disorganised (a word that will appear again in this review) we were the last of our party to be checked in and our room was not ready. We were advised to go to the nearby bar and get a drink and they would find out what the problem was with the room. About 15 minutes later we were shown to our room 309 near to the reception area and perfect for our needs.
The room itself was fabulous and had 2 bedrooms a full bathroom and a shower room a kitchen and a large sitting room leading to a patio which had a table and 5 chairs. Equipment was top quality.
The grounds of the hotel are quite mature for a newly opened property and were well laid out with an abundance of plants and shrubs.
The layout of the hotel is very good with well thought out quiet areas and areas where activities should take place note the word should as there was little evidence of anything happening.
I assume due to the room layout that the hotel is aimed at families, however, we were pleased that we did not take any children with us as they would have been bored out of their brains. Not so much as a pool table, playground or any food on the menu aimed at anyone who is not an adult although there was a kids club for the very young.
Staff were plentiful around the hotel, the problem we felt is that no one knew what their role was and so bars, eating areas, cleaning etc. became frustrating. For example one night in the Sway bar there were 7 staff in the bar area but a large queue because no one was sure of what to do for example to serve to collect glasses or to wash up (there was very little evidence of waiter service). In the main buffet restaurant there were plenty of waiting staff but sometimes we had to wait for ages to get a drink and on other occasions 3 different people would ask. The word disorganised is not strong enough.
We did think that there should have been a drinks menu provided on each table in each of the bars as it was impossible to know what was available, not much was on display and so one had to ask if a certain drink was stocked and as many of the staff spoke little English this could sometimes lead to misunderstandings.
As the issue of food is subjective we have chosen not to comment on this other than to say it could have been a little hotter.

This may be a non smoker thing but there were cigarette ends left under and around sun beds that were never swept up during our whole stay and for us that is disgusting. In general the grounds needed a cleaning regime including the pools which we never saw being either cleaned or tested.
Room cleaning although very good was again disorganised. On the Monday and Tuesday our room was not cleaned until almost 5pm then on the Wednesday when we were due to leave the cleaner showed up at 8.45am and was most put out when we refused to let her clean the room explaining that we were leaving that day. What was that word again?
We can see where all the reviews are coming from both positive and negative as the hotel is one that you will either love or hate, we found it very very frustrating. It could and should have been so good but it just wasn’t but by the same token it wasn’t so bad.
Would we return? Probably not. Would we recommend it? Again probably not. But we are glad that we went and experienced it.
Cape Verde may grow into a great holiday destination but at the moment there is much to be learned and very little to do outside of your hotel and at the Melia Tortuga very little to do at your hotel.
If anyone has any questions don’t hesitate to ask.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank caz3008
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TortugaManagement1, General Manager at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 27, 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for having chosen to stay at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa and for having taken some of your precious time off to write a review on our hotel. We greatly appreciate your opinions as they will serve as guidelines for us to make improvements where necessary to ensure the full satisfaction of our guests.

It is nice to know that you were pleased with our rooms and infrastructure, but on the same time we’re sorry that our services were not up to your expectations. Upon your check-in you were given an information sheet containing the entertainment program for the whole week, you can also find the same information on your TV, and on the program we have activities also for young people. The Kids Club is aimed for children until the age of 12 with the program exposed on the entrance wall.

Our hotel is the only all inclusive hotel in all of Cape Verde that provides waiter service to serve drinks and table service in the restaurants. Others have food displayed at the buffet with self-service and drinks from a dispenser in self-service too. The Meliá culture values are based upon human interaction which allows the guest to live the “experience” of the destination, if one always has to serve oneself and interact with machines there will be little a difference in being in Cape Verde or in any other country.

Traveling is not just going from one place to another.
The journey is in every sensation, in every detail that surprises you.
In every person who shows you something new.
Because the journey is feeling.


We have already taken more precautions regarding the cleaning of the grounds under the sun beds, thank you for bringing this into our attention, we will take note of your comments and make the improvements.

We hope that this does not discourage your from visiting us again in the near future.


Best Regards,

General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 17, 2011

Before I begin I'd just like to point out that we are neither owners or management of this hotel.

After reading some of the reviews on here before we went we arrived with an open mind as to what to expect and here is what we found...

On arrival check in was quite slow, but as we'd been cramped up on a plane for over 6 hours it was nice to stretch our legs in the warmth with our welcome drinks and take in our surroundings which were spot on.

We were in one of the apartments about half way down the complex. Again this was lovely, clean and fresh with a great balcony.

The surroundings are fab, again very well maintained, lovely gardens. Two main pools with plenty of sunbeds. The main pool with the bar and music was ok, music wasn't too loud but they were in the process of building a new eating area, not too distruptive but we did move to the quiet pool in the end.
We never had a problem getting towels but then the hotel didn't seem overly busy so I'm not sure what it would be like when it is.
Just be warned that the pools are VERY cold, it takes a couple of laps to get used to the water!

The beach itself is not rocky, there are plenty of sunbeds again. You can't go into the sea from this beach as the sea bed does have rocks but if you walk about 10 minutes along to the left there is a fab beach. You have to be careful in the sea as it is quite choppy sometimes.

There are three resturants to pick from:

The O Grill is in an amazing location, right on the beach front with fab views of the sunset. Food here was great, tasty and plenty of it. Cocktails were a little hit and miss depending on what you ordered but nothing to complain about. We were always seated and served quickly.
Yes there are flies, but at the end of the day you are in a warm climate, when food and warm climates mix you are unfortuantley going to get flies.

The main buffet resturant, Spices, served up amazing breakfasts, loads to choose from. The fresh pancakes were lovely. Lunch was ok, again plenty to choose from but we prefered to stay outside and eat at the O Grill. Tea again plenty of choice, they have different themed nights each night. Some of the food wasn't overly hot but you always saw them bringing out fresh dishes.
We did hear a few people grumble about the food in here, but considering they have to import pretty much everything over to the island, I think they did a pretty good job. Ok it might not be 5 star for food, but I imagine doing a 5 star buffet for the amount of people they have to feed is difficult.

We ate in Aqua a couple of times, it was nice to be served rather than having to go up and help yourself, portion sizes not huge but the food was really tasty.

All the staff were friendly and helpful and would always say hello to you where ever they were. Most speak great English.

The hotel itself is outside of Santa Maria, the location is very peaceful the perfect place to just chillout.
We walked into town along the beach which took about and hour and a half, but paddling all the way in the sea was great. If you don't want to walk there is a shuttle bus or you can get taxis very easily. There is alot of development work going on around the island but we didn't hear any noise.

Overall I'd say the hotel does deserve it's 5 star status. It is still in it's early stages and any business no matter how big or small is going to have teething problems to start with. The other thing to consider is that tourism is still very new here compared to other more developed countries. So a 5 star in Cape Verde probably isn't going to be the same as somewhere like Eygpt.

This of course is just my opinion. Go with an open mind and find out for yourselves but we would certainly go back. It's a great place to just chill out and go along with the 'no stress' of Cape Verde.

Room Tip: Try and get a first floor room, they are more private.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled as a couple
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18  Thank BethM86
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TortugaManagement1, General Manager at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 20, 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for having chosen to stay at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa for your holidays and for having taken the time to write your review about our hotel, your opinions and constructive comments are very important for us as they serve as guidelines for us in our continuous effort to ensure the complete satisfaction of our guests.

I’m very pleased to know that you’ve enjoyed your stay with us, that our facilities are according to your standards and that you’ve enjoyed our services. During the months of December to February the weather is not as warm as other months, it drops down a temperature or two and it is windy hence you may find the water cold, but as you’ve said after a couple laps one is able to adapt to the temperature of the water.

Once again, thank you for your comments, we are very pleased that you will return to Cape Verde, we hope that it will be soon, and we are looking forward to having you as our guests again.


Best Regards,

General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 13, 2011

I have just got back from a week at this resort and I have to say that I would not return. Dawkinsrocks' review covers much of what is wrong with the place so I need not write too much. There is a lot of development around the hotel and there is a truly gruesome estate agent who works the bars in the evening. Fortunately he has the naffest label obsessed dress 'sense' so he is easy to spot.

I have noticed reading the reviews that every time there is a bad one there is a flurry of activity getting good posts on the board which I have to say is suspicious when you consider how obsessive the management is about this site. In fact their diligence about responding is freaky and now I know why.

The resort is spectularly mediocre and it seems that the management want to address this with trip advisor activity rather than change. After all, the negative reviews all say pretty much the same things, they are all accurate and they go back months.

The only way you will enjoy this place is by going with very low expectations.

Room Tip: Ask for an upgrade
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank Lynda L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TortugaManagement1, General Manager at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded December 15, 2011

Dear Guest,

Thank you for having stayed at Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa, we always reply promptly to the comments of our guests as part our company’s strategy for 2011/2012 to implement the social networking project which includes a response protocol for Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor and Bookings.

Guests’ comments are very helpful when the criticisms are referred to a specific service. Generic comments, be it positive or negative, such as our hotel being “mediocre”, doesn’t allow me to make the improvements where needed that ensure the satisfactions of our distinguished guests.

Once again thank you for having written your review, we hope that this experience did not discourage you from visiting us again in the future.

Best Regards,

General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa

Address: Urbanizacao da Cabocan | ZDTI Ponta Preta, Cape Verde - Sal, Santa Maria, Ilha do Sal 4111, Cape Verde
Phone Number:
Location: Cape Verde > Ilha do Sal > Santa Maria
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Santa Maria
#3 Romantic Hotel in Santa Maria
#6 Top resorts Hotel in Santa Maria
#7 On the Beach Hotel in Santa Maria
#7 Luxury Hotel in Santa Maria
#7 Spa Hotel in Santa Maria
Price Range: $169 - $360 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 286
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The 5 star Melia Tortuga All-Inclusive Resort is located in the southeast of the island Sal, only a few minutes from the colourful town Santa María and Amilcar Cabral international airport. During your stay you will find relaxation and fun right on the fabulous Algodoeiro beach, with its white sand and turquoise waters. The resort offers spectacular suites and villas with up to 4 bedrooms, private garden and swimming-pool. Set in gardens there are 2 magnificent adult pools and 2 pools for children. Experience Yhi Wellness with sauna, Turkish bath, whirlpool, thermal circuit, fitness facilities, massage and beauty treatments. Dining options include a variety of 4 restaurants and bars, offering a selection of international and local cuisine. The Melia Tortuga All-Inclusive is also the perfect destination for windsurfing, kitesurfing or scuba diving. Events for up to 200 people can be organised in 2 meeting rooms with natural daylight. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Melia Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa Cape Verde/Ilha Do Sal - Santa Maria

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