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“Good - but not five star”

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Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive
Swansea, South Wales
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Good - but not five star”
Reviewed 1 October 2011

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!

Room Tip: If possible get a pool facing room in blocks 1 to 6. They face south facing so have sunny balconies...
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank gliderpilot636
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Angela Q, Gerente at Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive, responded to this review, 13 September 2016
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for your review.
We are pleased that you had an enjoyable time with us at Porto Santo.
We hope we can welcome you again.
Best regards,

Ângela Quintal
Unit Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Lisbon, Portugal
Level Contributor
207 reviews
91 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 September 2011

For 2nd consecutive year we went there for vacation. One thing was diferent than last year: all inclusive system. One thing that makes a huge diference. Despite being a beautiful resort in a wonderfull location (best of the best beaches), the service wasn't a 5 star category. Perhaps a 4 star would suit better for housekeeping, restaurant, food and bars. The breakfast was boring, everyday the same thing excpet changing breads variety from one day to the other. The quality of oat meal varied from a liquid soup to the regular standard known by everyone. The waiters didn't collect dirty dishes on the table so quickly as they shoul. The dinner buffet was regular, not a 5 star, and some days (Açores day and Asian day) about 3 star category, considering the not matching of dishes you could see at the buffet and the ones written at the outside restaurant menu. The housekeeping didn't left us neither one daily soap. Twice i had to ask to please leave us at least one soap. The terrase wasn't properly cleaned from the beach sand. They have must to improve, and the all inclusive seems a good thing, but it has transformed the Resort on a crowded place (Germans, Englishes, Polishes, fewer Italians, fewer Spanishes and even less Portugueses), making you sometimes to wait queing to enter restaurant to have dinner.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Pedro P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Angela Q, Gerente at Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive, responded to this review, 13 September 2016
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for your review.
We are pleased that you had an enjoyable time with us at Porto Santo.
We hope we can welcome you again.
Best regards,

Ângela Quintal
Unit Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Surrey
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 September 2011

Loved this hotel - have travelled for the last 4 years to the Carribean and was a bit wary of coming back to Europe! Shouldn't have worried at all...this is a little gem!!!....check in great, luggage taken to your room for you so you just go to the bar or to get some food whatever....went straight to The Sunset Bar which was lovely. I loved the way anywhere you went on this complex there always seemed to be water!! Very chilling! Don't worry about the people who have written on here that the food isn't warm or is repetitive....mine was never cold (and we stayed there for 14 nights!) and of course over this period some of the same dishes were served...so we just tried another!! We varied it ourselves!! It's quite simple really!! The pools were lovely and clean. Service was great. Especially a big thank you Jose and Neilio who always were very lovely....Dunas is more basic, but we ate in there some lunchtimes - there were burgers etc BUT there was also so much different salad too so no complaints!!...we tried the Medittaranean twice - the first week was lovely, the second week we had steak on a Stone....we didn't think the steak was very good quality....and we also tried the Italian and I had pasta which was great but my husband said he could get a better pizza out of Marks!! So they are the only 2 small "complaints" we would bring back with us....the rest was pure chilled and good and polite service!!! No surliness at all in our experience....go, have a great time!!!! Thanks Vee too....Just DON'T go if you want an action holiday, this is for relaxing, good food, good wine and good people.

Room Tip: Our room was 1021 which was quiet, away from car park and pool
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  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank CocoSurrey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Angela Q, Gerente at Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive, responded to this review, 13 September 2016
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for your review.
We are pleased that you had an enjoyable time with us at Porto Santo.
We hope we can welcome you again.
Best regards,

Ângela Quintal
Unit Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Swindon, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 September 2011

We stayed for a week at the Pestana during late September. At this time of year many guests were older, which made for a more laid back atmosphere. Having researched the hotel in advance our stay was enjoyable and about what we expected. As other reviewers have said, arguably it isn't a true 5* hotel, but as they're not charging 5* prices that shouldn't come as a surprise.

The hotel and grounds are attractive, the room blocks are in a horseshoe around one of the outdoor pools. Rooms are decorated in a pleasing nautical style and have plenty of space thanks to the sitting area. We emailed the hotel a couple of weeks before arriving to request a first floor room not overlooking the road or car park, and on arrival were happy that they'd accommodated our request (and they responded quickly to the email).

Food is one thing the hotel needs to improve. Choice of dishes in the buffet restaurant is unimaginative and needs improving, though the quality is acceptable. The pool bar snacks are the usual lunchtime fare (burger, meat sandwich etc), the Italian a la carte is good (especially the pizzas), and the Mediterranean is the best – this is reflected in the charge of 17.50 euros pp. Seating is a little cramped in the restaurants, and this became a pain at busy times. Service was really good though, some of the best we've encountered at an AI hotel.

There's a good choice of bars. The main bar has indoor seating for the entertainment, and round the corner is a set of chillout beds. On the terrace of the bar you get a good view over the grounds, pool bar, and to the sea. Our favourite was the beach bar which was rarely busy, and from which you could sit with a drink looking across the beach and out to sea.

What a fantastic and scenic beach! It's 9km long and not crowded, not even busy. There are sunbeds on the beach outside the Pestana which you have to pay for (an umbrella can be had for free if you want to lie on the sand instead). We found this to be a good thing, otherwise you'd never get a free sunbed on the beach as there aren't many. Luckily, it means the oiks with their sunbed hogging activities are restricted to the hotel grounds. Talking of sunbeds, we found most of those in the hotel grounds to be an unusual design and uncomfortable. There are big cabana type beds near the pool bar, if you can get up early enough before they're all taken.

The grounds are well kept with lots of flowers, plants, and various types of cacti. Also, it was good to see someone touching up paint in our villa block corridor, this attention to maintenance shows how serious management is about running a successful hotel.

Top Tips: If it's overcast and not too warm then try to get a sunbed in the pool conservatory where it's warmer. If you book the holiday with Thomson then don't book their island tour excursion, you can book exactly the same tour through reception for less. Also, during our stay all the pool villas were unoccupied, so you may be able to negotiate a discount on the upgrade price.

Overall we enjoyed our stay on this charming small island off the main tourist trails. The staff were great, most were friendly and helpful and spoke good English, but it's good to learn a few Portuguese words just in case – if only to avoid the mistake one person made of saying Gracias for thankyou.

Does it pass the “Would we ever go back?” test? Absolutely.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Beanerd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Angela Q, Gerente at Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive, responded to this review, 13 September 2016
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for your review.
We are pleased that you had an enjoyable time with us at Porto Santo.
We hope we can welcome you again.
Best regards,

Ângela Quintal
Unit Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Northampton, England
Level Contributor
10 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 September 2011

My husband and I have just returned from the Pestana Porto Santo and we had a lovely lovely time and have come back very relaxed and chilled out. In fact on our first day back we have visited our local Thomson branch to ask them not to tell anyone about it and also get a quote for next year!

On arrival check in was quick and painless. We arrived in our room shortly followed by our cases. Our room was on the ground floor, with the biggest bed I have ever seen and lots of storage space. The bed was comfy and the room was thoroughly cleaned every day, very quiet room which was perfect.

We were on holiday for a week and spent most of our time around the pool. One morning we did go on the jeep safari which we would highly recommend as it is a great way to see the island and the guide was very informative.
We were very lucky with the weather as it was really hot and sunny. We visited the beach most mornings for a lovely walk to watch the sunrise. The beach was very quiet and the sea was wonderful, really warm and clear. The Beach was also very clean.

With regards to the food, we found it to be excellent. Lots of choice of salads, mains and desserts in the Mares restaurant. We dined early (around 7pm-7.30pm) and it was not crowded at all. The food was very tasty. The staff were really attentive and readily filled up your wine glass which is always a plus!!! We also ate breakfast at the Mares restaurant and again quite early so found it quiet and again a good choice. We ate lunch at the Dunas bar and found the food of good quality with lots of choice. We did eat at the Pizza restuarant one evening and the Pizza was excellent. The choice of starter was limited here however you could go through to the main restaurant to get something there, this was also the same for dessert.

Porto Santo is a hidden gem and sadly I think it will become much more commercialised in the coming years which may spoil some of its charm. I would recommend this hotel to anybody who is after a really chilled out relaxing time.

It was truely wonderful and we cannot wait to return very soon!!

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Sharpie1984
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Angela Q, Gerente at Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive, responded to this review, 13 September 2016
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for your review.
We are pleased that you had an enjoyable time with us at Porto Santo.
We hope we can welcome you again.
Best regards,

Ângela Quintal
Unit Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Little Sandhurst, England
Level Contributor
15 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 September 2011

This Hotel/Resort has got to be one of the nicest I have ever been to. The complex is not too big that you get lost, the whole area is really really clean and the staff are super friendly and nothing you ask is too much for them. The room/villa we were allocated was at the quiet end, room 612, but it had a seperate bedroom and living room and was superb!. The Terrace had it's own bit of green at the front and the gardens surrounding it were well kept. The swimming pool area's were clean and not too cluttered with sunbeds, but there were always plenty available.
The beach too was great, lovely soft sand. The only downfall here is that you have to pay for the Sunbeds as the beach is owned by the government not the hotel!
Now for the not too good bits. The food, although the quality was good, there was never really enough choice. They need to get that sorted out pretty quick. Quite a few people were moaning about this.
Also, the evening entertainment is a bit of a let down, a couple who sing for about two hours (boring) sorry couple, and then either Bingo or some kind of show, which I have to say, are not really that good. (Needs a good entertainments person to sort out)
If you are looking for a week away, then this is the place to go. I wouldnt want to be there for two though, I think you would soon get fed up with the food and there is also not a lot to do in the surrounding area!

Room Tip: Rooms in Villas 5-6, 7-8 are much quieter.
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Snuffs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Angela Q, Gerente at Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive, responded to this review, 13 September 2016
Dear Guest,

Thank you so much for your review.
We are pleased that you had an enjoyable time with us at Porto Santo.
We hope we can welcome you again.
Best regards,

Ângela Quintal
Unit Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Norwich, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 September 2011

This hotel is in a wonderful setting if you want to relax and unwind,accommodation lovely,spotlessly clean everywhere,staff all helpful,friendly and very hard working,nothing is too much trouble for them.The beach is only a few steps away and is vast,nearly deserted and beautiful.food and drink plentiful and available all day.Porto Santo is a beautiful island ,very unspoilt it would be a real tragedy if it became too commercialised .This is the second time that we have been to a Pestano Hotel and they are certainly very good at giving the customer satisfaction.Brilliant company,lovely hotels.

  • Stayed September 2011
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank judy200452
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PPS_JPA, General Manager at Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive, responded to this review, 28 September 2011
Dear Guest,
Thank you for taking the time to post your recent experience at Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa.
We are glad to hear you had the chance to enjoy our hotel and the fantastic beach of Porto Santo.
We appreciate your great comments on our other hotels worldwide.
We sincerely hope to welcome you back as our guest in the future again!
Warm regards,
João Paulo Araújo
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive

Property: Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive
Address: Estrada Regional 120 | Sitio do Campo de Baixo, Porto Santo Island 9400-105, Portugal
Region: Portugal > Madeira Islands > Porto Santo Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 On the Beach Hotel in Porto Santo Island
#2 Spa Hotel in Porto Santo Island
#2 Luxury Hotel in Porto Santo Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Pestana Porto Santo All Inclusive 5*
Number of rooms: 328
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 
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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

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