Whether it's your first trip to this UNESCO protected island group or you are a wizened re-explorer, you'll feel right at home at the Gaivota, a delightful boutique elevatored apartment hotel across from the port in Ponta Delgada, the capital city. The warm courtesy of this group of hotelie pros, from the owner to the reception, kitchen and housekeeping staff, makes a stay at this hardwood floored, green-oriented, balconied refuge a true treat. I have stayed here three times now and each time I forget that I am from the US and not a Portuguese native. But then, that's what Azoreanos are famous for: the "I'll give you the shirt off my back" sense of welcoming and hospitality.
I had some medical issues this time and needed some foot detox treatment. The staff noticed I was hobbling around with really swollen ankles (lymph issue now properly addressed so my ankles are back to normal after about a year) and Bruno, the owner/manager, actually drove me to an appointment at a wonderful detox center (they use very powerful foot baths, which attract internal pollutants at the ionic level--your feet end up sitting in a swamp, just awful) and then arranged for the owner, an extremely generous man who only charged me for two of the five treatments I received for five days in a row, to pick me up for my appointment. That was wonderful as I did not have a car, speak four words of Portuguese (Rosetta Stone and I are becoming friends but very slowly), and was only a temporary resident of this lovely space. Nobody had to do anything for me, but they did anyway. I suppose if you came across as a "superior" American they would treat you politely but would be basically all about business. But during the times I have been there I have been my good ol' goofy-friendly self and they really appreciate it. Most of the staff speak English--and the interesting thing I have found about this country is that people think they don't know that much English and are shy about speaking it; they actually do understand what you have to say, esp if you "point and click...lol. This is especially true among the younger generation. When I met with Jacinto Moniz at the detox clinic, he spoke no English and I spoke no Portuguese. But between hand signals, pointing, a few words of French, from Fatima, his nurse, some Italian, some German, a smattering of Spanish, and lots of laughter we managed with the help of a part-time interpreter who worked at one of Jacinto's other businesses to make clear what I needed to do to continue with the detox in the States. Special thanks, too, to Bruno for his translation. Another indication of the over-the-top attitude about helping that makes Gaivota so special.
And that's only the medical issue. They are very happy to make suggestions if you ask about the best value for restaurants, etc., the regular tourist stuff. And once you get to know them and they know how much you really love the area, they refer you to people who can take you on all sorts of wonderful out-of-the way places. That is not to say that you don't need a game plan and that they will hold your hand as you venture into this wonderful country--they have too much respect for you to do that. What I mean is that when I have stayed at Gaivota I have felt as though I was a part of a team of mutually appreciative people who love where they live, genuinely care for their clientele, and are basically a very kind and caring set of souls.
The price of the Gaivota, for what you get--kitchen, daily maid service, etc.--is far from super cheap but very reasonable. If you like to ensure the quality of the food you eat by cooking it yourself, the kitchens are more than adequate. Not all rooms have balconies and most European business people tend to stay in the smaller rooms with no balconies. The light is good and all rooms are equipped with gorgeous bathrooms and hardwood floors. The place is quiet--unless, of course, there is a major holiday on and everyone in town is out running around madly--and the guests respect one another's privacy. Gaivota is popular with the business crowd--the more than adequate breakfast, health -riented by the way and generous if that's your only meal--and I had the chance to visit with others. 'Smatter of fact, one of my really good acquaintances I met at the Gaivota dining room.
I guess you can tell I enjoy my visits to the Gaivota LOL. I highly recommend you contact them if you are planning a trip to the Azores. (By the way, it's easy to get to Ponta. If you are already in Europe, head for Lisbon and then catch a flight to the San Miguel airport. If you are traveling from the States or Canada, head for Logan Airport in Boston. SATA has three flights a week that take only a few hours, are reasonably priced, and tend to land on time.) Note that unless you like cold damp wet weather, which tends to be the rule in late November-early February, you'll probably want to restrict your visits to March-October as they tend not to have central heating, only fireplaces. I suppose some of the highest-end residences have such amenities but then very likely the residents head for the warmer climes when the cold weather hits. Think Seattle...actually, Ponta is as uncrowded as Seattle used to be...The summer is the high season and there are crowds. Yet it's never really crowded, not for a major hub. People drive on the right side of the road and the bulk of drivers are not homicidal maniacs; there are pedestrian crosswalks and people actually stop.
There is a ferry to Santa Maria island every summer, and the highlight of this spot is a major music festival in August. Along with folk and classical, jazz figures in quite strongly and there is a really good jazz club in Ponta which is the gathering point of the many jazz musicians who participate in the Ponta Delgada nternational jazz fest in October.
Give the Azores a look-see. Say hi for me to the folks at Gaivota. And most of all, happy trails, wherever they may lead you!
Ask for a balcony suite...the view is really nice, even when the few floating hotels that can fit in...
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC