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Pestana Grand Hotel
Article added on October 1, 2012

The island of Madeira is a Portuguese outpost in the Atlantic with a mild climate all-year long. The vegetation is lush and the islanders are tourist-friendly.

Cabo Girão is one of the highest cliffs in Europe with a maximum height of some 590 meters. You can admire it from some rooms such as 1311 at Pestana Grand Hotel, situated just a few kilometers away on the Atlantic Ocean.

Built in 2004, Pestana Grand Hotel with its 177 rooms and 116 apartments (in the vacation club area on the fifth and sixth floor) does not pretend to be one of the ultimate luxury hotels. Instead, it offers attractive packages. Therefore, most guests stay on a half-board or full-board basis. I remember mainly British and German tourists.

The interior and exterior designer of the hotel are by the architects Sinclair and Jimmy. The standard rooms as well as their bathrooms are spacious. There is no need to book a higher category. The bathtubs are in acrylic (acrilico) the wood tables in American oak (carvalho americano). All rooms come with a tea and coffee making facility. My Standard Seaview Room 1312 featured a table and a canapé next to the bed, a writing table with a chair and - as all rooms - a balcony with a table and two long chairs. That's all you need!

My welcome package consisted of a Bolo de Mel and a Miles Finest Doce Madeira Rich, a full bodied, fortified dessert wine with 19% alcohol, typical for the island of Madeira.

If you like swimming pools, Pestana Grand Hotel is the right place for you since it features the Madeira's largest pool area with some 1000 square meters filled with sea water. The Jacuzzi, the indoor pool with jet stream, the steam bath, the sauna, the gym as well as the hydra gymnastics and stretching lessons are all free of charge. In addition, beauty treatments and massages are offered (of course not included in the room price).

Pestana Grand Hotel is situated on Funchal's three kilometer-long beach promenade which stretches from Funchal to the village of Lobo Marino, which means sea lion in Portuguese. There are none there. If you are looking for sea lions, take a trip to the Desertas, three small islands of volcanic origin which form one of Madeira's natural reserves. Be aware that visits to the protected area can only be arranged upon a special request.

Pestana Grand Hotels offers an outside playground for children and for adults a billiard and game room as well as live entertainment at Coast Bar. During the week I stayed there, six different pianists/singers or guitarists/singers performed there.

Last but not least, for people who like to visit Funchal's city center without taking the nice walk along the coastline, Pestana Grand Hotel offers complimentary shuttle buses to the center and back.



A dinner at Taigne Moroccan restaurant

Most guests went for the large buffet for dinner. I have never tried it. Instead, I opted for one of the three other hotel restaurants. I did not neither go for the traditional Portuguese nor the typical Italian restaurant, but instead chose the authentic Moroccan restaurant Tagine.

The Moroccan chef Mohamed El Aagad (*1969 in Marrakech) told me that, from 1990 to 1993, he finished Hotel School Marrakech (1990-93), where he learned everything from taking care of the reception to cooking, in which he specialized from his second year on. He worked in several restaurants in his hometown, including at Hotel Palmeraie Golf Palace. He also went abroad to Titisee-Neustadt in Germany and Le Mans in France before being hired by the Carlton Alvor Hotel on the Portuguese Algarve coast in July 2000. Initially, he had been hired for a two-week stint to teach the restaurant staff about Moroccan cuisine. He stayed at the Algarve hotel until the end of 2003. The following year, he moved to the newly opened Pestana Grand Hotel, where he is still working today.

Moroccan chef Mohamed El Aagad told me that all dishes at Taigne are authentic, just the spiciness has bee adapted to the European taste. All ingredients can be found in Portugal. Moroccan cuisine differs from one region to another. All dishes are served at the same time.

The restaurant is named after the tagine (aka tajine) dish which consists of slow-cooked meat. Therefore, several tagines are of course part of the menu, for instance a beef tagine with plums and almonds. As a vegetarian, I went for other dishes.

My dinner at Taigne, which seats some 40 people, started not so Moroccan with an excellent glass of a Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial. It was followed by a selection of Moroccan Mezzah. My vegetarian version included cucumber with coriander, marinated eggplants, carrots and peppers as well as refreshing tomatoes.

Dishes at Taigne are accompanied by Portuguese wines. The sommelier suggested a Planalto 2010 white wine from the Douro region with a 12.5% alcohol level by winemaker Casa Ferreirinha, which turned out to be light, dry and fruity.

Subsequently I opted for a pumpkin soup with Harrisa, a spicy Moroccan pepper sauce, which was surely adapted to the European spice level since I enjoyed the delicious soup without “overheating”.

My main dish was a vegetarian couscous served with a spicy sauce, which was needed to flavor it. The portion was extra large. I only managed to finish a third.

For dessert, I chose an orange salad with cinnamon accompanied by a tangerine sorbet. It would not have been a Moroccan experience without a mint tea. The Moroccan version is in fact an infusion of a black tea from the Funchal market with some fresh mint from the hotel garden. Excellent!

Tagine restaurant offers traditional, authentic dishes as offered in a Moroccan home.



The Pestana Hotel Group

Hotel group founder Manuel Pestana was the son of a large family of farmers from the picturesque Madeiran village of Vila Madeirense, Ribeira Brava, located some 20km away from Funchal. At the age of 20, he emigrated to Mozambique in the south of Africa, where he made a fortune in the real estate business in both Mozambique and South Africa.

He came back to Madeira in 1966 and bought Hotel Atlântico (today's Pestana Carlton Madeira), which he transformed into the first hotel on his island of birth. Today Pestana Group operates 9 hotels on the island of Madeira. Pestana's only son, Dionísio Pestana, born and raised in South Africa, later took over his businesses.

Pestana Group is Portugal's largest hotel group and operates some 90 hotels around the world. Other investments include Vacation Clubs (time-share), real estate, business centers and travel agencies. Manuel Pestana died in 2008. His son Dionísio is the new CEO. He has three children.


The Pestana Grand offers the larges pool area on the entire island of Madeira. Photos © Pestana Grand Hotel, Madeira.

Books about the island of Madeira from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de. Books about Portugal from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.ukAmazon.fr, Amazon.de.


Aerial view of the Pestand Grand. Photos © Pestana Grand Hotel, Madeira. Books about the island of Madeira from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de. Books about Portugal from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.ukAmazon.fr, Amazon.de.


The view from the Pestana Grand Hotel. Photos © Pestana Grand Hotel, Madeira.


Rooms are large at the Pestana Grand. A Standard Room offers a table and two chairs inside as well as on the balcony. No need to book a larger room! Photos © Pestana Grand Hotel, Madeira.


The Moroccan restaurant at the hotel. Photos © Pestana Grand Hotel, Madeira.


A view from one of the pools towards one of the highest cliff in the whole of Europe. Photos © Pestana Grand Hotel, Madeira. Books about the island of Madeira from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de. Books about Portugal from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.ukAmazon.fr, Amazon.de.


View of the Pestana Grand Hotel with one of Europe's highest cliff in the background: Cabo Girão. The street leading to the Pestana Grand Hotel, Estrada Monumental, is full of hotels. The Grand offers one of the best views as well as the largest pool area in the whole of Madeira. Photos © Pestana Grand Hotel, Madeira.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.