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A very pleasant week on the lovely Island of Madeira, my second break there this year following my first visit in March.
A very nice hotel which is kept spotlessly clean and the vast majority of the staff very friendly & helpful. Was disappointed a couple of times despite going out early and putting a 'please make up my room' notice on the door handle by 8.30am to find the room not ready for my 'siesta' on arriving back after 2.00pm.
Apart from breakfast which was a superb buffet I did not have a main meal in the hotel as there were so many first class restaurants in the immediate area. I had lunch a couple of days at the pool bar and the food was delicious but rather disappointed at my wine served in plastic glasses!
Very slow service in two of the bars I tried so gave up trying as again there are so many bars in the area.
I took the VIP West tour which was excellent, the guide had superb knowledge and went out of her way to make it a great day.
I also took the Nuns valley tour which I had previously been on and this time they tried to pack too much into the trip, including a tour to a Madeira house for a tasting which could really have been left out.
The other tour I went on was the Sunday 'inner Madeira' including farmers market and this was a jeep tour and probably the best tour I have ever done. The guys who drove us could not have done more to make it a first class experience and they really gave us a taste of the real Madeira.
Was a bit disappointed also with the extra assistance I had requested, it was fine going out to Madeira at Gatwick and at Funchal airport and the hotel but very sparse on the return journey. No assistance offered with luggage at hotel and told by the rep at the airport I had to take my luggage and line up at the check in desk before I could be offered help, so having queued and had to stand for 20 minutes and manage my own case I was then offered assistance from the desk to the lounge where I was left and forgotten about until I managed to attract some ones attention who took me through passport control and then helped me onto the plane. However on arrival at Gatwick we were left on the plane waiting for 30 minutes for the assistance to arrive while the cleaners worked around us. We were then told we could wait but the buggys were at the top of the walkway and it would be quicker if we could walk that far to do so than to wait. Quite a long walk after such a long wait!
Leaves a slightly bitter end to the trip!
On the whole this is a very nice resort. We had to wait an hour for our room and were not offered a drink, this was a poor first impression. When we got to the room it was a very good size and in excellent condition. We had a bath with an incorrect plug which drained continually, this was fixed within minutes, strange that nobody had reported before. More English TV channels than usual.
We ate buffet style for the week we were there, the only comments I would make is that the selection of main courses was poor compared with the vast array of salads, vegetables and sweets. All roast meats were tainted by the amount of garlic used, sad to see whole legs of lamb ruined and I quite like garlic. On the plus side we were hardly ever bothered by vampires during our week at the hotel.
The open areas are very well kept and there are fairly exotic plants to look at. No problem with loungers in April. There is no drinks service to the loungers which is a bit odd in a hotel which tries so hard to get guests to visit their timeshare sales, you would think they would try harder to sell drinks.
This brings me to the subject of milkshakes. I am one of those strange people that don't always crave alcohol before noon so when wifey asked if I fancied a cold drink by the pool I studied the bar menu and selected a banana milkshake as the cool refreshing libation. I was disappointed when a tiny elongated glass thimble arrived. I took a pull on the straw and nothing happened, just that sound you get when you reach the end of a drink. The thimble was merely full of froth, I was so aghast that I didn't immediately notice the total lack of any flavour! In short I had been charged 4 euros for a thimble full of skimmed milk froth.
So, stay away from the poolside bar and you should be ok.
The walk into Funchal is fairly easy and in the other direction you can walk for about one and a half hours mostly along the sea front to Camera de Lobos, this is more challenging and pretty steep in places.
Madeira probably had the biggest proportion of "senior" visitors of anywhere we have ever been, it is very clean and picturesque.
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