Pestana, Porto Santo has much to commend it but still needs to improve in some areas before it can justify its claim to offer guests a genuine five star experience.
On the positive side the rooms are large, well furnished and in an excellent state of repair and decoration. The low-rise buildings arranged around the pools make for an attractive site layout. The gardens are mature and colourful and well tended by the team of gardeners. There are adequate numbers of loungers available both around the pools and on the upper-grassed areas. The staff attitude towards guests is outstanding. Room faults reported to Reception were fixed very quickly. Dining room staff were attentive, ensuring that used crockery and cutlery was cleared promptly and that drink orders were taken and delivered very shortly after guests were seated. When my wife was unfortunate enough to spill red wine on her white trousers, staff produced a stain-removal spray and were most concerned that the mark should not become permanent. Arrangements for moving guests’ luggage both on arrival and departure were exemplary.
So what was wrong? Basically the dining room experience could be much improved in terms of quality, preparation and presentation. Take Breakfast for example. At first sight there is a good selection of hot and cold items and an abundance of fresh fruit on offer. But I have never been to a top flight hotel that did not offer fresh orange juice (even if one had to pay for it). Again the yoghurts on offer were cheap ‘fruit flavoured’ ones rather than the better tasting ‘full fruit’ varieties. Where was the bowl of creamy yoghurt that could be mixed with honey or fresh fruit? Where was the smoked salmon to go with the scrambled egg? Fried eggs and bacon are essential elements of a full English Breakfast and to be fair the trays containing them were replaced once they were exhausted. But eggs and bacon cooked en masse in the kitchen and displayed on trays is more suited to motorway service stations than to a high-class hotel. Inevitably the food was luke warm by the time it reached the plate. Many hotels get round this problem by ‘show cooking’ and indeed Pestana had a tiny area devoted to this but it wasn’t being operated as it should. In my book, ‘show cooking’ involves preparing the item in front of the guest and when ready passing it piping hot directly from pan to plate. At Porto Santo it was interpreted as cooking items and adding them to a previously prepared pile so that the very attraction and purpose of ‘show cooking’ was lost. If a four star hotel like Los Jameos Playa in Lanzarote can get it so right, why does the five star Pestana, Porto Santo get it so spectacularly wrong?
Lunch and Dinner were typical ‘international buffet’ style meals with few outstanding features. Where were the usual ‘theme nights’ concentrating typically on Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, Indian, Chinese cuisine? The soups were always bland vegetable concoctions. Meat and fish dishes consisted of small portions presented in sauces that served to try to maintain temperature. After two weeks I was getting desperate for a slice of beef, lamb, pork or turkey carved directly from the joint or a piece of fish that bore some resemblance to the original animal. I like red wine but not necessarily the same red wine for a fortnight. Of course there were alternatives. We quickly found that the Dunas bar was able to offer an adequate lunch selection. The Pizzeria had freshly cooked food although the limited choice did not make it a practical alternative for every evening. The Mediterranean Restaurant looked expensive for a fixed rather than a la carte menu. Finally I think that the restaurant could and should have a stricter dress code for dinner. Wearing a football shirt and shorts looks out of place when the ladies are wearing long dresses and heels. You may think that I am being hypercritical but remarks made by some of my fellow guests tended to support my view. One middle-aged couple nearing the end of their stay said that they were beginning to dread the thought of going for dinner. Another remarked, ”I hope that my husband appreciates my cooking properly when we get back home!”
There are some other practical points that should be tackled. There is shortage of showers around the fresh water pool so people are going for a swim coated with a mixture of sun tan lotion and sweat. There are no facilities for changing out of wet swim-wear so one is left with a choice of lying out in a wet costume (a particular hate of mine) or returning to the bedroom to change. The evening entertainment is not to everyone’s taste. A five star hotel generally has a quiet ‘piano bar’ area where friends can sit on comfortable chairs and converse in a normal tone of voice. Pestana, Porto Santo could well benefit from a similar arrangement.
The location is good with easy access to one of the finest beaches that you could wish for. The Island is small but do take the opportunity to view it from the bus tour (or jeep safari perhaps) because the ruggedness of the North side contrasts sharply with the gentle slopes and fantastic beach to the South. If you are lucky enough to be there in mid September you should make a special point of seeing the enactments of Christopher Columbus’ landing – lots of parades, dancing and colourful medieval characters.
Was it value for money? A qualified yes but if you like palatable well-cooked and presented food then budget for eating out from time to time and do remember to take your orange squeezer! Would I go again? Probably not, given that the Island is so small that you can easily see it all in two weeks. Would I visit another Pestana Hotel? Quite possibly but I would read the visitors’ comments carefully first!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa is located on the fantastic Porto Santo beach , a sandy beach 9 km long, and it is surrounded by a tropical garden of 30,000 m2 and two enormous outdoor pools of a natural style, making it one of the best hotels in Porto Santo. This hotel in Porto Santo operates under an "All Inclusive" regime, making it the ideal location for anyone wishing to spend holidays in Porto Santo without any concerns at all. So, if holidays to you mean time with friends and family, enjoying the sun, the sea and the therapeutic sands of Porto Santo, taking a dive into the pool, exercising in the gymnasium, playing a game of tennis on the multi-purpose court, or simply relaxing in the spa, then the Pestana Porto Santo is the hotel for you. The rooms of the Pestana Porto Santo are decorated in tones of blue and ocean green and include a private balcony. Although it is a hotel with "All Inclusive", it has 3 restaurants that offer a selection of Italian and Madeira cuisine and three enchanting bars, which includes the "Sunset Bar", which has fantastic views over the sea. The concept of this resort in Porto Santo underscores the philosophy of preserving the environment, taking into account the needs of sustainability of the surroundings where it is located. Various solar panels have been installed and the hotel has its own desalinisation plant, which has earned the hotel "The Green Key" certificate for its environmental management. The beach of Ribeiro Salgado, which is a concession of Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa, was presented with the Blue Flag by the FEE - Foundation for Environment Education, due to the quality of the water, the information and environmental education, the environmental management, and the safety, services and support infrastructures. The main village, Vila Baleira, is a mere 5 minutes by car from this 5 star hotel, as is the 18-hole golf course, which offers you the unique opportunity of playing on a course designed by the Spanish champion Severiano Ballesteros; all this, with the sea as your horizon. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Expedia, LoveHolidays, Hotels.com, Odigeo, Priceline, TravelUp, TripOnline SA, Traveltool, S.L.U., HotelsClick, HRS, Evoline ltd, Cancelon, HotelQuickly and getaroom.com so you can book your Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa - All Inclusive Hotel Porto Santo
- Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort And Spa - All Inclusive
- Pestana Hotel Porto Santo
- Pestana Resort Porto Santo