Arrival/Check-In: Landing early at Madeira Airport, an architectural marvel, we picked up our rental car for a little tour of Funchal before heading to the hotel. After taking the cable car to the peak in the village of Monte and the Botanical Gardens, we set our sights on checking in. The hotel lies just west of the center of town and up a high hill, offering spectacular views.
Unfortunately, even at 3 p.m., our hotel room was not ready, so we waited in the lobby lounge for about an hour before we could fully check in.
Guest Quarters: We stayed in room 508, a mini suite with views looking over the west end of the harbor and out to the Atlantic Ocean. The room’s entrance hallway featured a wooden floor and a large bathroom to the left. The left wall of the main room included a king-sized bed with an end table on either side. At the end of the suite, a sitting area with a table and two upholstered chairs flanked the doors to the patio. The patio also offered seating, with two white wicker chairs and a matching table. Back inside and on the right of the room stood a writing desk and a wooden chest with a well-stocked minibar that also held a flat-screen TV. The room was comfortable and well-appointed but a little cramped when the two of us put our bags on luggage stands. The closet at the rear of the room was well-designed with glass-fronted drawers that offered a view of the items inside. There was also plenty of hanging space for coats and jackets. Every guest receives a carafe of Madeira wine, which makes a nice addition to the amenities in the room.
The large and spacious bathroom featured a separate tub, shower and double sinks. The walls were covered in a lightly tinted pink marble, and there was a host of amenities from the Belmond Reid’s brand.
Services/Amenities: Reid’s has several fine restaurants to sample. Let me warn you that if you intend to try William Restaurant, the Michelin-starred restaurant on the property, you must make reservations prior to your arrival on the island. We had some fine meals sitting on the veranda off the lobby and dining room. The staff here is friendly, accommodating and helpful with wine selection. At the hotel’s Ristorante Villa Cipriani we were fortunate to make a reservation the night before, but I also strongly suggest making reservations here prior to arriving. (I suggest this for any of the top-rated restaurants in Madeira.) Cipriani is magnificent and lovely with outside seating when the weather permits. I enjoyed a starter of beef carpaccio and a main course pasta dish with shrimp, which was delicious. I was most shocked by the amount of cigarette smoking on Madeira — any outside restaurant has a smoking section that is overpowering. The breakfast is impressive at Reid’s, served on one of the pool levels. You can choose from the buffet or order cooked items off the menu.
Reid’s really has everything — high tea, three swimming pools on levels close to the ocean (two saltwater and one fresh) and several fine-dining options. From this property you can walk to the center of Funchal, where you’ll find many sights to see and plenty of outside restaurants. You can easily use the property as a base for touring the island; you can either drive yourself or Reid’s will arrange a car and driver for the day at a reasonable fee.
◆ Brush up on your manual transmission driving; the hills on the island are steep and the roads are narrow.
◆ Take the cable car to the top to the Funchal Monte Botanical Gardens; it proves a good start to your tour of the town.
◆ Madeira is a secret golf getaway with two courses on the island and one on Porto Santo Island. Reid’s will reserve tee times and arrange for a shuttle to pick you up. You need to take the ferry for Porto Santo; golf and lunch packages are available.
Belmond Reid’s Palace
Estrada Monumental 139
tel 351 291 71 71 71
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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