For a long time now I have been a fan of RIU Hotels. It is however several years since I have stayed in one so it would be interesting to see if I still held them in such high esteem.
My current stay was at the RIU Palace in Madeira situated on the sea front of Canico de Baixo. Entering reception on arrival brought back memories of the RIU welcome, smiling receptionists and glasses of Madeira Wine being proffered. Check-in was swift and efficient including the inevitable wristband having selected the ‘all inclusive’ option.
My room 1452, on the 4th floor was nicely furnished with twin beds, lots of hanging and drawer space with no shortage of hangers, sometimes in short supply at hotels whilst a sliding glass door gave access to the balcony and a view of the blue Atlantic. The balcony receives sun most of the day so if you just want to relax with a book and still get a tan then this is the room for you. Bathroom was well appointed, bath, shower, toilet and bidet plus various toiletries including a small sewing kit. Bottles of still and sparkling water are supplied and these can be replenished from reception as can the free beach towels.
Two restaurants, the main dining room and a speciality restaurant which can be used free of charge once a week during your stay, more of that later. A central buffet and live cooking area dominate the large dining room where the choice is sufficient to satisfy the most discerning diner and the quality excellent. Breakfast, a choice of five fruit juices, cheeses, salads, cereals, fresh and preserved fruit and of course the traditional ‘British Breakfast’ with eggs of your choice. Sparkling Wine and Smoked Salmon is available some mornings. Lunch, again buffet style, tempts you with soups, a large choice of starters, main courses and sweets. Dinner is an elaborate affair with a choice that has you spending more time choosing than eating. The soups are some of the most memorable tasted and for the right reason. Lunch and dinner both have wine served, as much or as little as you want. You can also choose Al Fresco dining which at night is quite romantic looking through the palms to the illuminated swimming pools below.
The speciality restaurant, “Brazilian Rodizio” or "Grill Palace", on alternating days was a delight. My night was ‘Rodizio’ and although a fixed menu it was excellent. Starters were a mix of cold meats with mixed finely chopped salad followed by the main course, a mix of Sausage, Pork, Lamb and Beef all served separately. The two separate cuts of Beef, rare and medium rare come on a large skewer from which the waiter slices as much as you require and then there are the vegetables if you can manage them. To finish, ice cream with fresh pineapple topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce all washed down with an excellent Rosé making this a meal to remember. What is noticeable are the large drinks measures that are only matched by the smiles of the people serving them. Funchal the capital is about 10km away but easy to reach thanks to the hotels complementary coach service. The island is beautiful, life is laid back and the people friendly. Flowers are in abundance, gardens well-tended with manicured lawns and even the roundabouts are picturesque. Take a trip on the Ho-Ho bus and you will find small fishing villages with sandy beaches, fabulous views of the out laying islands as you climb high into the hills. Visit the artist’s alley near the cable car and see the painted doors or visit one of the small chic restaurants. If you are looking for a holiday destination away from the crowds of the major mainland tourist resorts then Madeira could be just what you are looking for.
Do I still hold RIU hotels in high esteem? Yes certainly. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and can’t wait to return.