I turned myself into a tourist again; this time, I went to our sister island. to the Porto Santo Hotel & Spa (www.hotelportosanto.com/en/), one of the oldest hotels, built in 1962. The hotel has undergone refurbishment, and leaves nothing to complain about: a nice, spacious room, totally quiet, with Side Sea view, but not too close to the beach – when the sea is choppy, the churning of the waves may be too much at night. Everything was spick & span clean, and the breakfast buffet leaves nothing to desire. The Hotel also has cheerful staff; granted, at this time of the year, they do not have to manage the crowds they face in July and August. The restaurant served me a very decent vegetarian lasagna for my Christmas Lunch
The Spa is also to be recommended; the pools have less jet water outlets than you would find in the Vila Baleira Thalasso pools but it compares well. A cold pool with a heavy waterfall balances with the bigger pool, also with a cascade, and a Jacuzzi possesses some small jets to massage you lower back. The steam bath is quite good; shaped like the dome of a mosque, it offers space for at least 20 persons, with an opening on the top to let the steam out into the heavens. You can have massages and such, and they can apply a special therapy by wrapping you up in the golden sand.
The hotel has direct access to the beach. My local tour guide Carolina told me that it has decreased in width during the years – erosion is visible on all corners of the island – but the beach looked quite substantial to me; the dunes seemed to me to be getting higher. The access bridges are in good shape, and walking on the beach is a pleasure. (I saw no swimmers, but there were only a few tourists around.)
It is always nice to do an excursion by jeep, the tours take 2.5 – 3 hours and give you a good overview of the island. On one stop, you can support the local economy by buying local herb teas and homemade cakes and liquors; during the trip, enjoy the sights and revisit old ones you may have forgotten since you were there last.
The Christmas decoration in “Town” was a nice touch. Most of the restaurants close during the winter months, but you can obtain a simple snack and good soups – they know how to make soup there! – in any bakery (and in the latest attraction, the new Pingo Doce Supermarket)
As before, many shops are closed, and the still existing ruins make the place look a bit drab. Funny, the erosion seems to lower the spirit of endeavor of its inhabitants. It could look better. But it exudes a very special “charm” that cannot be found on Madeira Island.
info at madeira-weekly.com