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Quinta das Vistas
Review, history and photos of the luxury hotel in Funchal, Madeira
Article added on January 26, 2011
The history

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 garden

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 Atlantic Ocean. 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 Mónica Pinto. 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.

In short

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 Perestrello (4*).

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. P
hotos © 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 Hotels.

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 Hotels.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
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© Copyright  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.