The hotel is situated at the southern end of the island of Sal, part of the Cape Verde archipelago. Like many we were here for the climate (very little rain falls) and whilst the UK was seeing temperatures fall to between 2 and 9C as November progressed, we were being treated to a daily 30C, with overnight lows around 24C. The Sensimar shares the site with its sister Melia Llana hotel, which in many ways is simply a mirror image.
We had a beachfront room on the 1st floor, which had a balcony with table and 2 chairs offering beautiful views over the golden sand beach. The rooms are a generous size with plenty of floor space to walk around the firm but comfortable king sized bed, sofa, 2 armchairs and coffee table. Everything seemed clean, fresh and new and there’s plenty of facilities within such as, AirCon, fridge, kettle, coffee maker, TV and mini safe. The bathroom is also of generous proportions with a double washbasin, bath (with integrated jacuzzi) and a and shower cubicle. The bathroom is also well equipped with hairdryer, toiletries, slippers and towelling bathrobes. A lot of thought has gone into the design of these rooms, with many small but important touches e.g. a non slip mat for use in the shower or bath, a separate room for the toilet, a retractable clothesline in the shower (although that could have been better positioned) and an SOS button no more than 2 feet off the floor, ideal if anyone slipped and fell. The rooms are well soundproofed, so even though there is some music to be heard from either within the hotel, next door or the nearby Bikini Bar, it’s muffled nicely when you close the door and our sleep wasn’t disturbed.
From a facilities perspective this is very much 5 Star. 2 decent sized pools with plenty of thick cushioned loungers around it, plus even more on the beach. The beach is largely golden sand and a man made bay has been constructed to protect swimmers/snorkelers from the strong current. The gym has some of the latest technogym equipment, plus weights, floor mats etc. Each day there is a multitude of displays, classes and events going on, the aqua aerobics class is particularly good, but if that’s a little energetic, there’s quizzes, wine tasting etc. The complimentary WiFi is pretty reasonable in your room but it can be quite slow at peak usage times and in the public areas.
This is an all inclusive, adults only resort. The included food is primarily provided out of the Lattitudes restaurant, which is buffet service. The food was of a good standard and there is a huge choice of dishes each night, plus special evenings where a chocolate fountain or themed dishes are available. The hot food was generally kept hot but I’d like to see them check the temperature of the dishes more regularly, to stop the odd luke warm dish slipping through. For each full week you stay there is the option to eat once at each of the a la carte restaurants, the Culinarium and the Casa Nostra (Italian). Both are very pleasant and a change from the buffet, the dishes were good rather than outstanding, but it was nice to be served at your table. There is also an Asian restaurant, at extra charge, and with no allowance being made because you wouldn’t be eating in the buffet. I think this put people off as it wasn’t very busy when we were there. Whist men are required to wear long trousers in the evening and swimwear isn’t allowed in the restaurants at anytime, food is also served at the Riviera poolside snack bar, where there is no dress code. There’s even a guy who goes round the pools with a trolley load of pizzas at lunchtime, if leaving your lounger is just too much effort. Whilst not an issue for us, it should be noted that a small number of cats have free roam of the property, including the al fresco areas of the restaurants. Good quality local drinks are included but premium brand spirits or alternative wines are chargeable.
The route from the beach up to reception (most of the rooms flank this path) has a gentle slope and is finished off with 2 short batches of stairs (about 17 steps in all) to reach the level where the main buffet restaurant is located. The steps can be avoided by 2 ramps. The majority of first floor bedrooms are not accessible by lift and I’m not sure if Casa Nostra restaurant can be reached step free. So whilst accessibility is largely good, prospective guests with mobility issues should check that their individual needs can be catered for.
The majority of staff are very friendly, quick with a smile and provide a high standard of service. The team rapidly respond to any issues that arise and follow up well to ensure resolution and satisfaction. The area they let themselves down, and thus get a 4 star rating for service is in the restaurants. Some of the staff have a bit of an attitude, look bored and unhappy, often not making eye contact when they are talking to you. The drinks service at all meal sittings is a bit slow and is particularly poor at breakfast, with many guests not getting tea/coffee until after they had finished their breakfast. Whilst tables are cleared fairly quickly, they are a slow to be reset in the buffet.
Multiple TUI reps are on site and the main rep for us was Houda. Typically at the reps welcome meetings I’ve nodded off 2 mins in but Houda was informative, bubbly and humorous and held everyone’s attention. A range of excursions are available for extra charge but a daily complimentary shuttle bus to Santa Maria is provided.
The management seem quite responsive to customer feedback and were making changes for the better during our stay. Whilst there are a few areas that need improvement, they aren’t much more than niggles and I’m sure changes will be made to address these.
We had a wonderful stay at TUI Sensimar,, totally chilled, relaxed and adopted the “No Stress” catchphrase of the locals. I’d be absolutely delighted to return here and take a break from the chilly winter weather at home.