Quinta das Vistas
Review, history and photos of
the luxury hotel in Funchal, Madeira
Article added on January 26, 2011
The Quinta das Vistas - Palace Gardens in Funchal,
Madeira, is part of the Charming Hotels Madeira, owned by two locals. Since
the beginning of 2011, the four hotels are managed by the American
Grand Heritage Hotels, which will try to improve the standards even further.
The Charming Hotels Madeira consist of four Quintas in Funchal,
which operate closely together. Complimentary shuttle buses link the four
Quintas and bring the hotel guests also to Funchal's city center. Thematic
evenings are organized once or twice a week in each of the hotels. The
guests can enjoy dinner in all the places.
The Quinta das Vistas is the group's flagship. The original Quinta is still at the heart of the hotel - check the little red house
on the photo on the right - as today's presidential suite. The small Manor
house dates back to the 19th century and belonged to Luis Sousa, the
grandfather of today's RTP channel journalist María Luisa Sousa.
The larger hotel complex was opened in 1937 as the first private clinic on
the island of Madeira, by the legendary Dr Américo Durão. The clinic ended
operating after 52 years and was acquired by the Charming Hotels Madeira in
1998. It reopened as a hotel on October 4, 2002.
The clinic building could largely be preserved. Only both the restaurant
and, on the floor below, the pools were added. They enjoy one of the most splendid views of Funchal and the ocean.
The full hotel name is Quinta das Vistas - Palace Gardens. There is no
palace, but the five-star
luxury hotel is surrounded by a 12,000 square meter garden with some
centenary trees that are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. The mild
subtropical weather and the volcanic ground of Madeira is the ideal
condition for cultivating botanical species from the entire world. If you
walk around the park, you can find many different trees classified by their
common and scientific names, including Pal trees from the Canary Islands, Corallina da Abissina (Karat trees), Dragon trees, Madeira cedars (Cedrus
Juniperos) as well as a wide array of flowers including Estrelicias,
Agaphantus and Hydrangeas.
In addition, two swans - a happy couple - are swimming around a small pond.
Hotel guests can also use a nine-hole miniature golf.
The current general manager, Miguel Caldeira, has brought the vegetable
garden back to life. The chef de cuisine, Carlos Magno, cultivates
in his organic-biological garden herbal teas,
vegetables and herbs for the kitchen, including several kinds of peppers, cherry tomatoes,
zucchini and mint plants.
The hotel Quinta das Vistas
The Quinta das Vistas is situated on the brow of a hill, a twenty-minute walk above the heart of
the city of Funchal and twenty-five minutes by taxi from the international
airport of Madeira. Public buses stop a two-minute walk from the hotel.
The hotel offers seventy-one rooms on four floors, including a
presidential, three deluxe and four junior suites. Many rooms enjoy a
panoramic view over the city, the mountains and/or the Atlantic Ocean.
The welcome package in my classic panoramic double-room consisted of a traditional bolo de mel cake
and a bottle of a recommendable, sweet Duke of Sussex Dry Madeira with 19% alcohol by the omnipresent Blandy's wine
company. Incidentally, in the hotel restaurant, I tried a glass of Blandy's
Medium Dry Verdelho, aged ten years, as an aperitif before dinner. It turned
out to be my favorite Blandy's on my January trip to Madeira.
All the rooms and suites are furnished in the same classic, but contemporary style
using light colors. The wood used for
the beds, tables, chairs, desks and mirror
frames is painted oak. In the bathroom, the wood used under the sink and for
the mirror frame is natural oak. The beige stone used for the bathroom sink
tables, floors and walls is a Portuguese marble.
The spa and especially the pools - indoors and outdoors, overlooking Funchal
and the Atlantic Ocean - are among the hotel's highlights.
The restaurant and the chef de cuisine Carlos Magno
The restaurant La Belle Terrasse stretches over 180 degrees (half a
circle), with a large terrace and four separated indoor rooms with varied decorations.
Especially the window tables and the terrace offer a fantastic view of Funchal and the
Especially from March to September, al fresco dining on the splendid veranda
is a must.
I had a talk with the executive chef Carlos Magno (*1970), he had previously
worked as head chef in a restaurant in Santa Cruz and in one in Funchal.
Since 1999, he is the executive chef for the Charming Hotels Madeira.
He told me that the most important influence for him was Michel Roux, who
was the executive chef for several cruise ships of what is today Celebrity
Cruise. Carlos Magno worked on four ships. The fourth was the Zenith
with some 2300 passengers. There, for about nine months, he learned from
Michel Roux how to organize a kitchen, how to maintain high quality and how
to be ready when you open the restaurant. On the Zenith, the chefs
offered everything from gourmet food to the buffet, from French and Italian
to Caribbean cuisine.
At La Belle Terrasse in Funchal, Carlos Magno changes his menu twice
a year, whilst offering a daily recommendation of the chef, according to the
fish and meat he can find on the market.
All Charming Hotels Madeira offer special days in their restaurants, with
the possibility for the guests of all properties to participate. At Quinta
das Vistas, Wednesdays is the day of the degustation menu, accompanied by a
Fado singer. Fridays is the day of the executive chef menu.
Carlos Magno offers Mediterranean food with a creative touch. He features
local produce when possible. The meat production on the island of Madeira is
limited. Therefore, a part has to be imported from mainland Portugal. In the
deep waters of Madeira, it is not easy to catch fish. Local produce are
mainly the tuna (prepared as a filet or with oil and vinegar) and the black
scabbard fish, traditionally offered with fried banana. Carlos Mango loves
to try new things and to go beyond those traditional borders.
The restaurant La Belle Terrasse always offers a vegetarian menu. On
January 25, I
chose some of the creative dishes for my dinner, including cacao tagliatelle
with gorgonzola and walnuts as well as a cheese ice cream with wild berry
compote. My favorite was the tangerine sorbet with its strong taste, which
testified to the fact that it was a local produce.
On Wednesday, January 26, I listened to the excellent fadista
Her delicate voice was accompanied by a guitarist and a viola de fado
player. The tasting menu consisted of smoked duck, tuna and cod fish as well
as veal. My vegetarian options included for instance memorable tortelloni and a vegetable
risotto with truffles.
The wine list features mainly Madeiran as well as mainland Portuguese wines.
Carlos Magno is not on a Michelin star level yet, but he serves creative
dishes in a restaurant with a fabulous view, which alone is worth a visit.
The Quinta das Vistas (5*) is actually a luxury hotel with 71
rooms, incorporating the small original Quinta, which serves as the
presidential suite today. If you prefer a more authentic Quinta feeling, the Charming
Hotels Madeira also own Quinta Monte (5*), Quinta Estreito (5*) and Quinta
Some 50% of the guests of Quinta das Vistas come from the German speaking
countries Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The British market accounts for
30% of the guests; it has suffered a lot from the financial crisis. The rest
of the nights is divided among guests from around the world.
As in most of the hotels on the island of Madeira, the staff at Quinta das
Vistas is welcoming and genuinely natural.
Quinta das Vistas Palace Gardens, Caminho de Santo António 52, Funchal 9000
- 187, Madeira, Portugal.
The stunning view from a the presidential suite. Most rooms offer great views
from their balconies and terraces. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
The elegant lobby. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
The view of Funchal from the garden. Photos © Quinta das Vistas,
Grand Heritage Hotels.
One of the four restaurant rooms. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
The pool area from where you can overlook Funchal and the sea. One of the
best views in town, hence the name Quinta das Vistas. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
The aerial view of the hotel. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
The heated outdoor pool with a view. The hotel also offers a heated indoor pool,
a gym, a Turkish bath, a sauna, a Jacuzzi, a steam bath and a sensation shower,
all complimentary. Additional (pay) services at the Chandra Spa include chocolate massage,
aroma stone therapy, shiatsu, reiki and other treatments. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
The chef de cuisine, Carlos Magno. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage
A classic double room with panoramic view such as 414, where I stayed. They have a
table and two chairs next to the bed as well as a balcony with another table and another
pair of chairs. I could overlook the mountain area of Funchal. The room was in
an elegant contemporary design and with a nice bathroom with a bathtub. Photos © Quinta
das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
View of a suite. I would recommend the Junior Suite 26 with its large
terrace, with a sitting area with a table and two chairs, two deck chairs and
plenty of additional space. You can watch the two one-year old swans swim around the pond.
Incidentally, the swan is the symbol of the Grand Heritage group. Photos
© Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
Al fresco dining on the hotel veranda with its breathtaking view of Funchal by night.
Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
View of the restaurant. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage Hotels.
A view of the hotel garden. [Added on January 28, 2011: Quinta das Vistas
works closely together with the British Royal Horticultural Society, Seeds of
Italy and other organizations to preserve rare plant species]. Photos © Quinta das Vistas, Grand Heritage