10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Romantic weekend at vila galÃ©
"Stayed last year at vila galÃ© and had a lovely time. Great hotel, lovely views, but think the food could be a bit better. Breakfast was 5 star!"
- Travel date: Tue 4th of September 2007
Grounded flight accomodation
"Our plane was hungry on takeoff and decided to ingest some birds of the feathery variety. We were forced to return to Madeira. First Choice shipped the entire plane load to this hotel which is about 10 minutes from the airport and this is were we stayed for an extra two nights on the end of the holiday. Absolutely brilliant service from First Choice. The hotel is very good. Facilities are excellent. Some aircraft noise is obvious as it is literally on the flightpath less than a mile from the airport but you soon get used to it and the hotel is good enough to not let a small annoyance like this bother you. If I have one gripe about the hotel it would be the food, served in buffet fashion, which is fine, but the areas after about 30 minutes of service do get messy and they are not cleaned often enough. The quality of the food I would rate as above average but not excellent. Catering for so many people is a difficult ask. Best features of the hotel are it's bedrooms, communal areas and an EXCELLENT POOL. All in all a very good hotel which deserves it's 4* rating."
- Travel date: Mon 27th of August 2007
very satisfied with this hotel
"We really enjoyed our stay in this hotel. It was clean and comfortable. We much prefered Santa Cruz to Funchal as it was quiet and 2 euros for a bus to Funchal was very reasonable. We hired a taxi for a whole day (9-5pm) to take us to the North West of the island which cost us 100 euros, this was not bad as the cost was between four people and noone had the stress of driving in Madeira. We would stay there again as it is a quiet, modern hotel and the breakfast is good."
- Travel date: Mon 13th of August 2007
Good Hotel,Worth a visit
"I stayed at this hotel for 1 week, mid July with my boyfriend (both in our 20's). The hotel is in the very quiet village of Santa Cruz, and actually further away from town then we'd hoped but this being the worst point.
Hotel very clean and staff helpful, in general a relaxed atmosphere, and for any advice or tours & trips you will have to ask at reception as these are not advertised. The courtesy bus that runs in to town and back very useful, although we tended to take a taxi back from Funchal on several occasions (cost around 25 euros) as it was later in the evening and buses not running.
The spa & gym facilities were both good value and in great condition and although donât open until 10:00am, they stay open until 10:00pm in the evening, and spending the last part of the day sitting in the Jacuzzi overlooking the sea is not a bad way to end the day. Tried a few treatments and was very satisfied with service and price.
Breakfast was great, offering wide variety of teas, breads, fruits and healthy options and also noticed that it would alternate slightly each day so different options were available. The pasta lounge Italian restaurant within the hotel was pleasant enough offering several choices of traditional Italian foods and was reasonable price, but often empty but nice change of scenery and also with regards to dinner was not much choice within the local area. A must for dinner when in Funchal is the hidden gem, Quinta Palmeria, which is located near by casino area (on the main road). This is advertised as wine bar and art gallery but hidden to the side is a stone staircase which leads in to the hidden garden and grounds of an ex-country home. Offering fine Portuguese cuisine, a variety of meats and the best red wine on the island, I would definitely recommend this to anyone going in to funchal for romance, excellent service and good food, finding this on our final night made the holiday for us. Nightlife pretty non-exsistent, especially within Santa cruz. Overall the weather was much better then expected, drinks and food within the hotel good value and I would be happy to recommend staying for a relaxing quality break, the chain Vila Gale well respected and of high modern standard."
- Travel date: Mon 23rd of July 2007
first class hotel
"Traveller from Scotland We stayed in the hotel for a week on a bed and breakfast basis.Rooms were very clean and comfortable and there were no disturbances from the aeroplanes in fact we became anoraks and took a great deal of interest in watching them land and take off. Breakfast was buffet style but the chef who cooked the omelettes was not available at the weekend when the hotel became busier. Eating out in Santa Cruz is basic but reasonably priced. We had a good meal in the Restaurante La Villa although this was more expensive. The coffee and cakes in the cafe across from the hotel were wonderful. Local buses are an experience not to be missed and not for the faint- hearted.
It is worthwhile using the free hotel mini-bus into Funchal.On arrival we were given a Vil Gale Light card which we were told gave discounts but this has to be activated before it can be used and we were not told this until we checked out so there was no discount forthcoming. The entertainment in the hotel at night was to say the least not really entertaining.Taxi to and from the airport costs between 7 and 10 euros. We would go again to the hotel."
- Travel date: Sat 21st of July 2007
Well worth its rating
"We stayed in Vila Gale in June 2007.
The accommodation exceeded our expectations. Room very spacious and clean. Linen changed everyday, something we dont even get to do at home!
Facilities great, plenty of room everywhere.
The swimming pool is absolutely amazing (great size and lovely sea views). Noise from the Airport wasnt a problem at all, if anything the regular nearby church bells seemed more dominant. Evening entertainment wasnt our cup of tea, local dancers one night. We must say though we admire their culture.
Plenty of variety at breakfast, including healthy options and lovely custard pies. Wasnt too impressed with evening meals though (chips cold, veggies boring). Its like going to another English restaurant for a 3 course meal.
We rather preferred to taste the local cousine from a handful of local restaurants. Not too impressed with Portuguese cousine though, nothing special about it (too salty!). On the positive side, it didnt give us any tummy upsets.
Santa Cruz is generally a quiet town with very limited shopping and night life. However the town is full of culture. We happen to have been there at the time of the carnival. Beach is nice and quiet, probably due to the fact that its pebbly. Access to Funchal is easy with good public transport.
This was a perfect destination for hikers like ourselves. It met our expections.
I love my boyfriend."
- Travel date: Thu 28th of June 2007
Delighted With Our Choice - Thoroughly Recommended
"My wife & I (both in our early 30's) thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Vila Gale Santa Cruz and would recommend it to anyone who's looking for a contemporary, relaxing base on Madeira, away from the capital Funchal. We stayed for 7 nights in late April, and paid a remarkable Â£33 per night/room including breakfast - booked through Expedia.
I would suggest to get the most from any extended stay here a hire car is essential. The hotel is convenient for the airport, and it took just 15 mins from collecting our car to being in our room. Check-in was smooth, and we were upgraded to a wonderful sea view room on the top floor of the hotel. I had emailed the hotel in advance and requested a quiet room on a high floor, my wife was 5 months pregnant and we were visiting Madeira, looking for a peaceful break. If sensibly priced I would suggest going for the sea view option without fail - the views over the village and ocean were a real bonus and the evening breeze more than welcome.
Car parking was simple. We paid around 35euro for a weeks' underground parking, access was signed by the large 'parking' sign above the ramp down. Just follow the road to the left of the hotel once you've come over the little bridge. We had no problem with payment nor validating our pass daily.
In choosing this hotel we followed our usual rule and picked it because of it's age and style. Opened just over a year ago we expected it to be fresh, contemporary, clean and comfortable - it was. Having read further, the whole of the Vila Gale chain appear to be very well regarded. The rooms were modern but not 'minimal', and the comfortable superking sized bed and blackout curtains meant lots of sleep for us. Breakfast was more than acceptable, with fresh breads, fruit, yogurt, pastries, meats, cheeses. The egg chef cooked fresh fried eggs & omelettes, which I often washed down with a glass of sparkling wine, left on ice & included in the buffet. Our Â£33/night often felt like extremely good value at this point!
Although April, we enjoyed clear skies/20 degree+ for at least 5 days of our stay. The sun was warm enough to get me into the pool - although as others have mentioned that did involve some swift lengths to acclimatize. Cold, yes it was. The location of the airport/runway caused us no issues. The rooms were well soundproof, and whilst lazing around the pool the aircraft were just something to watch, it's hardly Heathrow!
With a car, access to Funchal is simple. It's about 15mins on the main highway, and then 5 mins down to the centre of the town. My best advice for reaching the centre of Funchal simply, is to:
1. Stay on the highway (there's lots of 'Funchal' exits) until you pass the 2 Repsol petrol stations that are directly opposite each other.
2. Then take the very next exit (750m further), it appears quickly after leaving a short tunnel.
3. Once off the highway turn left at the lights and go through the tunnel (do not turn right) and follow this road straight down to the centre.
4. Once at sea level & facing the ocean, turn left at the lights and after about 200m you'll see a multi-story carpark to your left. This proved well priced, easy to access & is situated adjacent to the 'old town'.
We spent some of our time in Funchal and would recommend Ristorante Villa Cipriani at Reids Hotel for a slightly more expensive (but lovely) evening meal, or indeed Afternoon Tea at the same establishment - a cake fuelled splurge in a classic English fashion (book both well in advance).
Back in peaceful Santa Cruz there are 5 or 6 small, low key places to eat. We found Restaurante Praia Das Palmeiras (on the promenade, tables facing the sea) on our 1st night, and returned twice again for simple garlic & olive oil king prawns with bread to mop up - a great meal enjoyed overlooking the sea. It was often at this point, having seen the concrete 'Hotel Zone' in Funchal, that were relieved to have chosen Santa Cruz, ahead of the city, for our break."
- Travel date: Thu 21st of June 2007
Mixed review- Excellent and poor
"Our thoughts on Vila Gale are similar to some other reviews we read before going.
The hotel is modern and very attractive. The rooms are pleasant and a good size. The impression of Santa Cruz is of a small seaside resort with a very pleasant promenade and some character reflected in the church square and streets around there. It is a pity that the end of the runway is at one end (although we didn't hear any noise from planes) and the main road viaductat the other . From our room we had a very good view of the viaduct and the hills in the background (front of hotel)not seaview. We quite liked the view from the room as we could see people coming and going and had a view of church square as well.
We were on B&B so highly recommend trying some of the restaurants around the square such as Bom Jesus(reasonably priced and good portions) and in the streets leading off it as although some look a bit basic, the food is good. I imagine the food in the hotel would be a bit uninteresting if breakfast was anything to go by. I personally had plenty of things to choose but if you want hot food forget it... all of that was lukewarm, apart from the cook who would disappear and reappear to cook eggs (fried or plain omelette). The staff in the dining room were reserved and to a certain extent at reception
too until you made an effort to break through their reserve and then they were overall very helpful and pleasant.
We didn't use many of the facilities such as the spa so can't comment on them. Saw the end of one show which looked quite good and another which was mediocre.
Our main disatisfaction was really related to the car parking. We arrived at the hotel at about 2ish on a Sunday. There are very few parking spaces in front of the hotel and then we asked the porter where we could park. He didn't understand us but eventually waved us to around the corner of the hotel and we discovered the underground parking (with the music constantly playing). It's like a normal parking where you take a ticket (which it is) . Think the hotel should give information on how to get into the hotel car park and access into the hotel via the car park before arrival. We had problems with the barrier and a voice contact with reception said there was a door inside the parking to reception. We then looked for the door in the fairly large underground parking and asked some English people returning to their car and one of them found it. They didn't know where the door was as they weren't staying at the hotel. Naturally we had parked unknowingly a long way from the entrance to hotel. We finally found our way to Reception and were told it would be 31.50 for the week to park there. That was acceptable as it was difficult to find car parking close to the hotel and it was put on our account. We were told we had to register the ticket at reception every day and then would have 15 minutes to leave the garage.
It just wasn't a practical solution as we would have to wait while people were checking out etc just so we could validate the ticket to go out.
Several times we had problems validating the ticket and one day when we were leaving the car park we had to speak to a receptionist via the voicemail and she was very unpleasant. We did complain about this and the lack of a requested wake up call one day but we didn't hear any more about it although her colleagues were very apologetic.
Overall if the management could overcome it's weaknesses such as the hot food problems and the car parking, it would be a very pleasant place to stay."
- Travel date: Sat 2nd of June 2007
Chic Contemporary Hotel
"We are couple in our mid-forties from Lancashire, UK and we enjoyed a very relaxing week at the Vila Gale. The hotel is beautifully kept and with lovely modern contemporary interiors. For us we were very happy being only 5 mintes by taxi from the airport and we were fascinated watching the aeroplanes coming in to land at the airstrip clearly visible from the pool area of the hotel. There was no noise early morning or late into the evening so we were not bothered at all (although our room was at the front of the hotel not sea view so it may have been more noticeable that side). Outside pool is gorgeous and I could not resist a swim even though pretty chilly in March. Will be fabulous in the summer. The indoor pool, jacuzzi, Turkish bath, sauna and variety of showers and hydotherapy were beautiful and I did not resent the 7.50 Euro per day charge - well worth it. My husband used the small gym several times also (included in the 7.50). Breakfast had a good choice but hot food was luke warm so did not bother after first day as lots of nice fruit, meats, cheeses, breads and pastries to enjoy. We did not have dinner in the hotel but enjoyed visting the litle restaurants in the village. Bom Jesus and the one next door to it (beside the church) were very friendly and good food -very reasonably priced. Very little in Santa Cruz but still very pleasant to stroll along the pretty palm tree-lined promenade. We took the local bus to Funchal several times (about 45 minutes via mountain villages and only 2 Euros with spectacular sea views) . Funchal is lovely -very civilised. We were very glad we hired a car for 3 days to explore the island a bit further afiled. Driving not for the faint-hearted as very steep and windy roads and the locals are in a lot more hurry that those not used to the roads AND driving on the right!. Worth it though to see other parts of the island. Back to the hotel........room very comfortable ....huge bed ....glorious soft pillows (spares in the wardrobe). Free safe. Lovely bathroom with nice toiletries and lots of lovely white towels. Flat screen TV wth DVD/CD player ...we took a few movies with us to watch in our rooms at night which was nice. Note: walls are very very thin....we could hear every move of people either side so playing TV or music loud could cause a problem for neighbours or for you if next door to it. For us the Vila Gale was pretty much everything we want in a hotel ...we aren't bothered about hotel entertainment etc... we didn't stay in for any so can't comment on that. A very nice relaxing holiday."
- Travel date: Sat 31st of March 2007
best place on Madeira
"This is a place where you can relax. It is a romantic place directly at the coast. The hotel is 4* up. Food is fine. Lots of fruits, 3 choices for the meat and the breakfast is really for everybody. The staff is excellent. The public is mixed, from young to old, very international without any dominant country. The environment is still very authentic. You really feel like a guest.
To pay for the wellness is OK since then it is more quiet. The wellness area is in a superb location, with ocean view.
Internet is via the normal public service. Euro 5 per hour.
Madeiry, you need a car. Parking at the hotel is Euro 4.50 per day.
Although it is very close to the airport, the planes only bother once or twice a day. They cannot destroy the quiet en peaceful environment.
I disliked the "background" musice from the hotel. sitting on the balcony, you donot want to be disturbed by Tom Jones type of music for 6 days in a row. The management has to learn that music is also important for a good feeling. The loudspeakers were unable to handle the music, etc. Complaining did not help much. At least the outside music level can be lowered on request. For the rest, a perfect 14 days."
- Travel date: Sun 4th of March 2007