We stayed 7 nights (arr. Saturday 25th February 2017 dep. Saturday 4th March). This was part of a package that included flights with Norwegian, half board in a superior sea-view room and private transfers to and from the airport. The package was purchased almost a year ago in a sale for around £550 per person.
The private transfer was about 20 minutes and we arrived before 7pm.
We checked in and were allocated a ninth-floor, tower two room 931. There are two towers, each with ten floors. Reception is on the 4th Floor of tower one – which is really the ground floor entrance, although as the hotel steps down in tiers to the sea, each floor opens at ground level. I’d say that our room was almost the best location – probably only beaten by 1031.
The room was large, modern décor, clean, with a king-sized bed.
The bathroom was modern, clean, with toilet, bidet, double washbasin and bath with shower.
I would have preferred a separate shower cubicle rather than a bidet.
A welcome bottle of wine and bathrobes and slippers were provided.
The view from the terrace, which had two chairs and a table, was lovely:
We found the buffet restaurant on the 2nd Floor. It’s a large space with an outdoor terrace. At this time of the year it was warm enough to have breakfast, but not dinner outside. You wait at the entrance and are taken to a table – we never had to queue.
The waitress took our order; a bottle of red house wine and a large bottle of water – total EUR15.50. The house wine was pretty good and we stuck with that throughout the week. The buffet was pretty good, with plenty of choices. The omelette station was great for breakfast and the chefs were always friendly. The evening pasta station was friendly, but pasta arrived in a sauce soup, rather lightly coated – we later realised that this training probably came from the chef at Mamma Mia.
Here’s how it looked the next morning.
Here are daytime views from our room terrace:
And here are some views from just outside our room on the 9th floor:
Here’s how Tower 2 looks from the pool terrace level:
The outdoor terrace and infinity pools looked great. Unfortunately the pools weren’t heated and were too cold to go in. The half-indoor/half-outdoor pool was slightly warmer, but was so small that it felt crowded with just a few people.
Two visits to the Thalasso Sea Spa (Thalasso vitality pool, Steam room, sauna, showers, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas with sea view) were included. To get there we took the elevator to the First Floor, walked past the half-indoor/half-outdoor swimming pool, along a corridor, into another elevator and down to the spa. We were given two towels each. We were already wearing swimwear and didn’t need the changing rooms – there were showers between the dry and wet saunas and near the entrance to the pool.
The floor consisted of large marble-effect tiles. Exiting the shower, the tiles were ridiculously slippery, even when wearing the hotel slippers. The pool area had a normal non-slip surface. It was so bad that on our next visit I had a shower in my room and went direct to the pool.
The sea water pool consisted of a series of water jets, a waterfall and a walk-against-the-current curve. It’s certainly not a pool that you can swim in, as beneath the surface are blocks for sitting or holding that you would bang into. There was also a Jacuzzi, which was inexplicably situated up a series of steps. The best aspect was the large windows that looked out toward the sea.
The hotel bar had a good atmosphere, with live music and EUR 5.00 cocktails. We noticed a few guests with what appeared to be ‘all-inclusive’ wristbands. I asked about these and it turned out they were on an all-inclusive deal arranged by the UK Saga Holidays tour operator. This included lunch, plus wine at the table and free drinks in the bar. I enquired about upgrading to this option but was told it was only for Saga – I’ll definitely compare Saga against other deals next time.
There are three dine around restaurants; Mamma Mia (Italian), Casa das Espetadas (Madeira) and Koi (Japanese). Guests can choose the ‘half-board’ set menu or à la carte with a EUR 15 credit.
We looked at Koi and it appeared to be mostly sushi – I love sushi but maybe as a starter, I’d like a Japanese table barbeque or a teppanyaki grill rather than just sushi. It was still on our list until we tried Mamma Mia and decided that if they couldn’t manage Italian, they’d really struggle with Japanese.
I used the laundry service for some shirts – I think it was about EUR 7.00. The hotel has a self-service laundry on the third floor of Tower 2. I should say that I think this a great idea as nobody wants to pay 3 Euros to have a pair of socks laundered. The laundry has a washing machine, tumble dryer and ironing board.
However, there wasn’t any obvious instructions as to what we should do or how we should pay. We met a lady there who was attempting to dry some clothes in the dryer. She explained that they had to buy a token for the dryer from reception and was already on her third token as the clothes weren’t dry. Also after starting the dryer, the door locked until the time was up. The washing machine was free and even had an automatic feed of liquid. We set our washing going, returned after an hour and used the washing line over the bath to dry things.
Included with our room was a daily litre bottle of water. This almost never appeared and so we left a note on the bed each day ‘Por favor, deixe uma garrafa de água’ and that resolved the issue.
It’s quite a long walk from the hotel into Funchal town – coming back would be all uphill (save your legs for lavadas). The hotel runs a shuttle, but I think it only does a morning and afternoon run. There is a public bus stop nearby. The hotel reception sells daily and multi-day bus tickets and you can just swipe these when you board the bus (10 minute ride into Funchal town).
We hired a car for a couple of days and were able to access the hotel car park for free – just swiped our room key at the barrier.
The Wi-Fi in our room and throughout the hotel was very good – much better than I was expecting.
Our return flight was not until 18:00 and the front desk were good enough to extend our checkout time until 14:00.
We really enjoyed our stay at this hotel and would definitely return.
VidaMar Resort Hotel
Estrada Monumental 175-177
(+351) 291 717 700