Perfect for a relaxed honeymoon or pre-wedding escape, the Portuguese island of Madeira is a year-round destination, and the luxurious Savoy Palace Hotel is the place to experience it in fine style
Words Sandy Cadiz-Smith
The idyllic Portuguese island of Madeira is part of an archipelago in the Atlantic. Although just a four-hour flight from the UK, it promises pleasant weather year round and offers spectacular landscapes, sparkling azure seascapes and an inspiring food culture. It’s a diversely remarkable and bountiful island with officially 24 different microclimates which means there always seems to be a place where the sun is shining. This is our kind of island.
And the magnificent five-star Savoy Palace Hotel is our kind of hotel and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. It sits imposingly overlooking the sparkling Atlantic across the pool’s inviting blueness. Funchal’s eclectic architecture climbs the hill behind – fabulous views wherever you look.
From the moment we stepped into the glistening marble lobby with its mesmerising chandelier and flower displays we knew we were living a truly palatial lifestyle. And this was solidly reinforced when we saw our suite at the top of the hotel. The huge space was dominated by a giant bed with the plumpest of pillows and softest of linen. At one end an opulent white marble bathroom was home to a super-large shower and at the other floor-to-ceiling windows looked out onto the balcony and over the sea. There was also plenty of wardrobe space, a comfortable seating area and a large desk.
We enjoyed the Savoy Premium Experience with its fabulous extras. In-room treats appeared like magic – the famous pastel de nata Portuguese tarts, macarons, exotic fruit and of course bottles of heady Madeiran wine. We had exclusive access to the Jacaranda Lounge and Club on the top floor, where we tucked into sumptuous breakfasts with exotic juices and bottomless tea or coffee. And my favourite thing of all – the hotel’s roof top with its infinity pools, bar, mega comfy loungers – and even more breathtaking views.
It also meant complimentary access to the stunning Laurea Spa. This 3,100 square-metre luxurious destination spa is inspired by Madeira’s beautiful Laurissilva Forest. The rich, verdant colour palette and striking floral accents create the soothing indoor garden feel and tranquil atmosphere. There’s a stunning (and enormous) heated indoor pool with invigorating waterfalls, Turkish baths, Himalayan salt room, sauna and jacuzzi and expansive relaxation areas for destressing. We also treated ourselves to superb muscle-relaxing massages.
When it comes to eating, there’s a world of wonder to discover at Savoy Palace. Lazy poolside days are punctuated by visits to the stylish Alameda restaurant just a stone’s throw away. We tasted inventive fish dishes including local favourites – scabbard, tuna and octopus – and the tastiest of salads. At Jacaranda on high we savoured a fabulous Nikkei experience with the freshest sushi and sashimi as well as other Japanese delicacies.
Best of all was the creative and mouthwatering tasting menu with wine pairings at Galaxia Skyfood. The restaurant offers an exceptional culinary experience in the most spectacular of settings with panoramic sea and mountain views. We tucked into a mouthwatering array of small dishes including Wagyu beef skewers, incredible foie gras and Santo da Serra cheesy tortellini plus an ingenious and delectable dessert selection all accompanied by fine local wine.
“With 24 different microclimates on this lush sub-tropical island just four hours away, there always seems to be a place where the sun is shining on Madeira”
Savoy Palace offers the ultimate in luxurious one-stop getaways with everything you could possibly need on site. But there’s also plenty to discover outside. We explored the volcanic island’s dramatic mountainscapes by jeep, taking the road less traveled and eating breakfast at a secluded picnic spot after some peace-inducing yoga.
We ambled along the unique lavadas (the network of mini-canals throughout the island that are used for irrigation), taking in stunning views and getting a taste of local life. And of course we took to the seas to commune with the schools of Atlantic spotted dolphins and took in the staggering view from the vertico-inducing glass platform of Cabo Giro – the highest sea cliff in the world.
There’s also the quaint Old Town (Zona Velha) with its poncha bars, restaurants and traditional shops as well as the colourful Mercado dos Lavradores. This foodie heaven sells myriad local flowers, vegetables and fruit (including more types of passion fruit than I knew existed). It’s also a great spot to pick up a souvenir. Because you’re definitely going to want to take a little bit of Madeira home with you.
Find out more about the Savoy Palace Hotel in Madeira at savoysignature.com
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