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Quinta Jardins do Lago
Review, history, gardens and photos of the luxury hotel in Funchal, Madeira

Added on March 22, 2012
Staying again at the fabulous Quinta Jardins do Lago, co-owner Duarte Silva told me that all rooms and suites will feature from April 1, 2012 onwards a complimentary tea and coffee facility. All public areas, including the pool, as well as all rooms and suites will be covered by a complimentary Wifi. Mister Duarte was especially proud of the fact that, in March 2012, his hotel was number 1 on the travel portal Tripadviser when it came to customer satisfaction. New at the hotel are also guided garden tours as well as gardening lessons, if booked in advance.

Article added on January 25, 2011
The gardens
  
The island of Madeira is a natural treasure, situated at the top of a shield volcano. It enjoys a Subtropical-Mediterranean climate. Parts of its subtropical rainforest, which once covered the entire island, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Portuguese discovered the island of Madeira in 1419. The long history enabled the inhabitants to preserve the wild side as well as to develop the sophisticated side.

The five-star luxury hotel Quinta Jardins do Lago in Funchal features a fabulous 2.5 hectares garden, which is home to over 500 rare species of plants and trees. Walking around the lush garden is both a pleasure and an illuminative experience since most important plants carry a green label with its botanic name.

Among the many plants in the garden one can list the clock vine (Thunbergia mysorensis), the jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) and the subtropical dragon tree (Dracaena draco), to mention just three.

In addition, I spotted three different mango trees (from Brazil, Madeira and Venezuela). Over 90% of all  fruit, herbs and flowers used in the hotel come from the own gardens of Quinta Jardins do Lago.

In a small pond you can spot fishes, frogs, ducks and even two swans. When I walked by, a gray heron just tried to catch one of the smaller fish.

A short history

The original house of the Quinta Jardins do Lago was built by a Madeiran family in 1750. From 1751 to 1770, it was rented to the English wine company Lamar / Hill & Bisset.

In 1808, the historic Quinta da Achada (today's hotel) was the residence of General William Beresford (who became Viscount Beresford in 1823), the commander of the British Army in Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars in Portugal. Beresford's imposing 18th century sideboard adorns the dining room. In addition to the restaurant, the historic Manor House features today four junior suites in a more traditional style with old four-poster beds. The Junior Suite 201 has even a secret passage to its private terrace on top of the building.

In 1881, Dr. Monier-Vinard bought the Quinta. Incidentally, the name Quinta is a result of the fact the tenants had to pay their estate owners one fifth of their earnings.

Established in 1811, the Blandy family became the leading wine exporters in Madeira. John Blandy married one of the daughters of the Monier-Vinard family and, therefore,  acquired the estate.

In 2000, the Quinta Jardins do Lago became a small luxury hotel. Among today's three owners is still a member of the Blandy family, Georgina Blandy. The two others are Duarte Silva, who created the Madeira Wine Museum and who showed me around his beautiful hotel, and the Tavares da Silva family.

The restaurant

The Beresford features Madeiran and International cuisine. It is a regular restaurant with always a few vegetarian dishes on the menu. During my stay, they offered a risotto, ravioli and gnocchi. As for highlights, I especially remember an excellent passion fruit cheesecake, accompanied by a sweet passion fruit sorbet.

The Beresford
concentrates on Portuguese wines. I tried two white wines from the Estremadura region: a light and fruity 2009 Sottal with only 10% alcohol, composed of Moscatel and Arinto grapes, as well as a very light 2008 Lello from the Douro region with 12.5% alcohol, composed of Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Viosinho and Rabigato grapes.

The ambiance in the evenings in the restaurant with its 18th century wooden floors and the old and new oil paintings is charming.

While on the island of Madeira, you have to taste some Madeira wine. Among the three hotel owners is a lady from the famous Blandy family, who once owned Reid's Palace and is, among others, big in the wine business. Blandy's sweet Madeira wines are excellent as aperitifs and dessert wines. Incidentally, it is said that Madeira wine was used to toast the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America.

The hotel

The Quinta Jardins do Lago features several pieces of antique furniture and paintings as well as many newer oil paintings.

I stayed in the new wing of the hotel. Suite 303 is one of five Premier Suites, the best of the 40 rooms. On its balcony where a table with two chairs as well as two deck chairs. The Superior Rooms on the second floor are also very recommendable because the offer a good garden and sea view. But all 40 rooms, even the Standard Rooms on the ground floor, are elegant, spacious and come with a garden terrace or a balcony. There are no bad rooms at Quinta Jardins do Lago.

Among the hotel amenities are a heated pool, a sauna, a Turkish bath, a Whirlpool, a gym, a table-tennis table and a bistro in the hotel gardens. Their use is complimentary. [Added on April 22, 2012: Because the tree roots were destroying the tennis court and guests overwhelmingly preferred the trees to the court, there is no more tennis available. More things to do: In 2011, I forgot to mention the pool table in an area dedicated to games].

The Visconde bar features a Steinway built from 1871 to 1875. Occasional concerts not only take place in the bar, but also in the garden, with dances accompanied by violin and violoncello.

The head barman, Alberto Silva, is the president of the barmen's association in Madeira and the Azores. I tried his signature cocktail, the Jardins do Lago, created in the year of the hotel opening in 2000. It is a pleasant mix vodka, strawberry and banana liqueur as well as passion fruit jazz. The bar lady who prepared my drink carved an elegant swan out of an apple for me.



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The wall of a balcony overlooking the garden features a large panel of Catalan azulejos. The 17th century tiles were discovered by one of the Quinta's previous owners, Dr. Monier-Vinard, on the floor of a country house in Orange, France. He managed to purchase it a few years later. It is a brightly colored, naive and picturesque representation of the city of Barcelona.

Famous guests

My room was the Premier and Presidential Suite 303, where Helmut Schmidt and Peter O'Toole had stayed before me. Helmut Schmidt stayed at Quinta Jardins do Lago from January 29 to February 26, 2004 to write one of his many books, Die Mächte der Zukunft: Gewinner und Verlierer der Welt von morgen (published in September 2004). The assistant manager Adalberto Dinis remembers him well because, the heavy chain smoker, started the fire alarm with his cigar.

Peter O'Toole stayed in 303 for 24 nights in 2007. He told Adalberto Dinis the story how, as a boy, he went to the cinema with a girlfriend, in one hand the money for the tickets, in the other the money for the sweets. But the girl arrived with the money for her own ticket. O'Toole said that he should have married that girl; m
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Portuguese politicians also stayed at the hotel. There is a photo of t
he PSD politician from Madeira, Alberto João Jardim, together with José Manuel Durão Barroso, since November 2004 President of the European Commission, posing together with the tortoise Colombo. Incidentally, Helmut Schmidt also posed together with Colombo.

The
giant tortoise from the Galapagos island, who had spent ten years on the Bahamas before coming to Madeira by the hands of the English wine merchant Mr. Crown, has been living in the hotel gardens for already 45 years.

In short

About 40% of the guests of Quinta Jardins do Lago come from the United Kingdom, another 40% from Germany. The rest is mainly divided into Swiss, Belgians, French and a variety of other nations. On average, the guests stay nine nights.

In short, the Quinta Jardins do Lago offers a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere in a lush park.

Quinta Jardins do Lago, Rua Dr. João Lemos Gomes no. 29, 9000-208 Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.


The gardens and the pool. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


The Beresford restaurant. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


The Presidential Suite balcony, where I stayed. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


The pond with the ducks and the two swans. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.




The Premier and Presidential Suite bedroom, where I stayed. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


The swimming pool. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


The historic Manor House. u




View of the lush hotel gardens. General Manager Duarte Vieira da Silva lets the Parque Ecológico do Funchal grow plants on an unused part of his land to help replant the areas near Funchal devastated by a fire in August 2011. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


The al fresco garden breakfast. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


Peter O'Toole in 2007. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.
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The Premier and Presidential Suite's sitting room, where I stayed. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


A Superior Room bathroom. All bathrooms feature a bathtub and are built with two marbles, a rose Lioz marble and Encarnado de Pedra Furada, from Portugal's Sintra area. The difference to my suite is that the smaller room categories don't offer an extra shower and a hydro-massage in the bathtub. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


The garden view from a junior suite. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal.


On the left, the PSD politician from Madeira, Alberto João Jardim. On the right, José Manuel Durão Barroso, since November 2004 President of the European Commission. On April 2, 2004 they posed with the true celebrity of the day, the hotel's tortoise Colombo. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


Helmut Schmidt in the garden posing together with Colombo, the tortoise. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


Colombo is also popular with children. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.


A Junior Suite. Photos © Quinta Jardins do Lago, Funchal, Madeira.

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