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Quinta do Monte
The luxury hotel with its panoramic gardens in Monte, Madeira
Article added on April 10, 2012

Monte, the hotel and their history
Monte is where the international winter tourism in Madeira started in the 19th century. For the wealthy families of Funchal, Monte has been a cooler summer refuge pretty much since its establishment in the year 1565.

In full, the parish and suburb of Funchal is known as Nossa Senhora do Monte. Because of its climate, Monte was said to be healthy for people with all sorts of lung problems. That is why the hill became the place where the Scotsman William Reid opened an accommodation for tourists, before he went on to establish Reid's Palace in Funchal.

The Reid family lived in one of the most prestigious Quintas, Quinta do Bom Sucesso. Built in 1881, it is since 1960 part of the Botanical Gardens of Madeira. Situated some three kilometers from the center of Funchal, it offers over 35,000 square meters of luxuriant vegetation. Today, you can reach the public, Botanical Gardens from Monte by cable car.

In the 18th century, the British Cossart family, who was involved in the trade of Madeiran wine early on, built a Quinta in Monte, some 600 meters above the sea-level city of Funchal. In the early 20th century, the Cossart family sold its Quinta do Monte, one of its many properties, to a wealthy, Portuguese family.

In the year 2000, the Quinta was transformed into a hotel. Four years later, the luxury accommodation was bought by the local group Charming Hotels of Madeira, who also own and run Quinta das Vistas, Quinta do Estreito and Quinta Perestrello.

The old manor house of Quinta do Monte became the area of the reception, the bar, the billiard room and other public spaces; all floors are in warm Casquinha wood from Brazil. In addition, the Quinta was enlarged by an indoor and outdoor restaurant to its right a well as a hotel complex above the historic house with 42 rooms, including 4 suites and 2 superior rooms.

From the times of the Cossart family, the hotel still owns some 40 paintings as well as some antique pieces of furniture, which are all currently in a renovation process and could ornate the hotel again as early as at the end of 2012. Near the elevator, you can find two Papageien++ aquarelles from 1949 by the German painter Max Römer, who lived many years on the island and also traded local embroideries.

I stayed in the superior room 307, the best deal in the hotel, because it is basically a junior suite. My welcome package included a traditional bolo de mel cake and a bottle of Blandy's Madeira Duke of Clarence.

All rooms and suites feature a balcony with a table and two chairs from where you can admire the Atlantic Ocean, the city of Funchal as well as the hotel garden.

The panoramic gardens of Quinta do Monte and the surrounding areas

Quinta do Monte is set in an historic, panoramic garden. It combines protected species of the indigenous forest of Madeira (Laurissilva), including Til, Loureiro, Vinhático, Barbusano and Urzes, with exotic trees, some of which are 300 years old, including a Red Eucalyptus Tree and a Platanus.

In the hotel park, just a few meters from the main building away, connected through a traditional pebble stone walkway, you can find the Chapel of Our Lady of Conception. It was built on the site of an earlier chapel in 1935/6. Its revivalist, neo-baroque style, popularized in Portugal by Raúl Lino, is the work of the architect Edmundo Tavares. His brother, the painter Américo Tavares, painted the ceiling of the chapel and made the drawings after which the traditional, religious tiles were made at Fábrica Santana in Lisbon. The Chapel's stained glass windows were designed by Ricardo Leone.

Just below the hotel is a private botanical garden with a private museum, which holds a collection of minerals and gems as well as of contemporary sculptures from Zimbabwe. The property belongs to Madeira's wealthiest man, Joe Berardo (*1944), who made his initial fortune with a gold mine in South Africa. He also owns a famous contemporary art museum in the Belém quarter of Lisbon: Museu Colecção Berardo.

Next to the hotel stops the cable car which goes down to the city of Funchal. Just five minutes on foot from the hotel is the terminus of the other cable car, which goes down to the already mentioned public Botanical Gardens of Madeira.

Among the famous inhabitants of Monte was Charles I of Austria, the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1921, the Council of the Allied powers sent the former emperor, together with his wife Zita, to the isolated island of Madeira in order to make sure that he could not make another restoration attempt. Monte became the former emperor's final exile destination. He not only owned a Quinta in Monte, but he was also buried there. The property of Austria's last emperor is now state owned. The house itself is empty, but the elegant garden is open to the public, a ten-minute walk from the hotel away.

Monte is not only famous for its illustrious inhabitants and tourists, for its gardens and cable cars, but also for its Toboggan Rides. Ernest Hemingway enthusiastically mentioned them. However, toboggan sledges have been riding from Monte down to Funchal from as early as the 1850s already. Nowadays, the wicker baskets only go half way down to Funchal, which has become too busy a city. The maximum speed the toboggan reach on their downhill ride is close to 50 km per hour! The starting point of the wickerwork toboggan run is just 50 meters from the hotel entrance from where you can actually see it.

Quinto do Monte has an excellent location, also if you would like to explore one of the island's many levadas. In the 16th century, the Portuguese started constructing aqueducts to carry water to their agricultural properties. In total, the irrigation canals span over 2100 km around Madeira. The Levado dos Tornos, which spans from the East to the West coast of Madeira, passes close by the hotel.

A vegetarian dinner at Monte Garden Restaurant

Monte Garden Restaurant offers Portuguese cuisine, not just from the island of Madeira, but from the entire mainland too. The chef is Mauricio Gonçalves, born in Madeira in 1982. He has been with Charming Hotels Madeira since 2001 and was appointed to  head the kitchen at Monte in February 2009.

Fish and meat are typical for Portuguese cuisine. I went with the vegetarian menu, which was not very Portuguese. My dinner started with an amuse-bouche with fresh cheese, salad and grilled olives.

I chose the only white wine by the glass to accompany my dinner. Since they had run out of Rocha Branca, made of 100% Arnsburger grapes, they brought me a Terras de Avõ 2010, made of 100% Verdelho grapes from Seixal in the north of the island of Madeira, which turned out to be a fine choice.

Among the different bread rolls I chose the one with olives. My first dish was a stuffed zucchini gratin provençal style, with the zucchinis sliced in half. The fresh, light and simple dish turned out to be my favorite of the evening.

My second course was a vegetable crepe filled with thinly sliced vegetables. On the menu I read about a soy sauce. On the plate, I found in addition a curry sauce. I liked the slightly Asian feeling.

It was followed by a tomato and basil risotto with garlic sautéed mushrooms. The tomato sauce also contained small tomato cubes. It was a huge plate to which I added some additional parmesan. This dish alone would have been enough for dinner.

As a dessert a chose a Mango aspic and apple puff with mulberry coulis. Mango is a local produce and therefore always fresh. The apple puff were two small crepes filled with thinly sliced apples. As through the entire dinner, the presentation was excellent, the cuisine on the solid side. At Monte Garden Restaurant, they have no gourmet ambitions.

Courtesy buses bring guests to the other hotel restaurants of Charming Hotels of Madeira, which allows you to have dinner with the chefs at Quinta das Vistas and Quinta do Estreito too. Try the cuisine of Carlos Magno at La Belle Terrasse, he is the executive chef of the entire group and offers the best culinary experience.

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The historic Quinta in the foreground, the hotel built in the year 2000 in the back. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

From my room 307 as of all other rooms too, you can see Funchal and the Atlantic. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

The fireplace - public area. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

View of my Superior Room 307, in fact rather a junior suites (one out of just two), the best deal in the hotel. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

The garden restaurant. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

The hotel has a small indoor pool in a separate building. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

View of one of the public areas, here on the first floor, between the bar and the restaurant, which would be on the left. Behind the bar is the billiard and games room. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

View of the indoor restaurant. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

Quinta do Monte by night. Photos © Quinta do Monte / Charming Hotels Madeira.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
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© Copyright  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.