From its stunning sea views over the Atlantic to its luxurious spa, its restaurants and well-appointed rooms – everything about the Melia Madeira Mare Resort and Spa justifies its five-star rating. It’s located right on the Lido Promenade with easy access to the main shopping and restaurant areas of Funchal.
Although the famous lido pools are just 350 metres away, you’ll probably prefer the exclusivity of the hotel’s own pool with its Balinese sun beds and drinks from the O ilhéu pool bar. If it should turn cool, there’s a heated indoor pool with a whirlpool. The hotel is understandably proud of its gym and Spa facilities and, to help you keep in shape, regular classes are arranged including dance, yoga, pilates and aqua aerobics.
Dining in Madeira is always a pleasure, make sure you enjoy the cuisine for which the island is famous especially its seafood. Breakfast is served buffet style in the Mare Nostrum restaurant and you must dine at least once on the deck of the Il Massimo à la carte restaurant with its magnificent sea views. Evening entertainment is pretty low key with regular live music.
Madeira’s mild climate makes it an ideal destination at any time of the year and it’s a beautiful island to get to know. The 500-year-old capital city of Funchal is best explored on foot. Don’t miss the 16th-century Gothic cathedral, the Farmers’ Market where you’ll be tempted to try bolo del mel (honey cake) which is delicious and the Säo Tiago fort which now houses the Museum of Contemporary Art.
It would be a shame not to stop off at one of the wine lodges and taste that Madeira wine! There are two world-renowned Botanical Gardens. The Madeira Botanical Gardens and the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens which you can reach by cable car and enjoy superb views on the way. If you’re hiring a car, head out of town and explore the levadas, the old irrigation channels which now open up some superb walks amid unspoilt and beautiful scenery.
There are plenty of boat trips on offer which give you to chance to search for whales and dolphins. Taking a dip knowing you’re actually swimming in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is quite an experience. Madeira is world famous for its festivals. On New Year’s Eve, the firework displays are legendary, matched only by the display for the Festival do Atlantico in June. If you come in April or May you’ll be able to enjoy the renowned flower festival, Festa da Flor, which culminates in the colourful parade, the Cortejo Alegórico.