My partner and I have recently returned from a week at the Pestana Columbus. This is a difficult review to write as there is so much good about the hotel, but the parts that let it down really do stand out. The hotel doesn’t really live up to all the gushing five star reviews that are on TripAdvisor.
Upon arrival, check-in was extremely quick and we had e-mailed in advance to upgrade to a sea view room. The sea view room was good, but did have the disadvantage of directly overlooking the pool and associated noises.
The rooms are very large, clear and and well appointed. Not quite sure about the bath being in the bedroom or the fact that the toilet is a cubicle with a frosted glass door that looks straight into the room, not much privacy there. The sinks are quite badly designed with fiddly taps although the showers are fantastic. Overall the room was pretty good. The balconies aren’t very inviting. We had a table and chairs and a large concrete bed. Halfway through the holiday some pillows were put on the concrete to make a sort of settee although it did seem like there were parts missing! Be incredibly careful with the glass doors as I managed to walk straight into one, still sporting the bruise and cut on nose three weeks later. They really should have frosting on them or safety patterns so that stupid people (!) don’t walk into them. To be fair, reception were very helpful and provided the necessary first aid materials.
Wifi is free and reasonably fast which is a major positive.
We attended the Thomson welcome meeting which wasn’t particularly informative. Best advice is don’t attend and use the time to book the a la carte restaurants instead as the queue to book these is horrendous directly after the meeting. It does seem strange that although the guest relations office is open all day, you can only book a la carte between 11:00-14:00. Thomson do also have a leaving meeting on the second last day?! Never heard of that before so we didn't attend and just read the notes to advise us what time we would be picked up - not sure why that would warrant a meeting.
The pool in the Columbus seemed to suffer with the same issue as many hotels the world over suffer with - that of not being able to get a sunbed as half of them are already taken with towels despite no-one actually using the bed. The pool area also suffered from the highly annoying loud music that they seemed insistent on playing (some days it was louder than others). Can’t say what the Porto Santo next door was like sunbed-wise, but it was overrun with kids during the day so we avoided like the plague. The beach was lovely and we spent most days down there. Grabbed a windbreaker and an umbrella and we were settled for the day. It is easy to find a quite spot as the beach goes on for literally miles. The sea is lovely and warm later in the afternoon and the sun doesn’t set until around 21:00.
We did go for a few walks and the small main town is pretty and was great to escape the hotel. We also hired a 'bubble car' one day and drove around the island which was quite interesting.
Both hotels have snack bars by the pool area. We tried them both and weren’t that impressed, a lot of ‘beige’ food, so opted for lunch in the Columbus restaurant which was far better.
Both hotels also have indoor pools, sauna and steam rooms. For some strange reason the Columbus which is the more adult orientated hotel has an indoor poor for families and the Porto Santo which is geared for families has an adults only indoor pool. Very odd.
There is an animation team that flit between the two hotels trying to involve the guests in daytime activities. We avoided them as the idea of playing bingo during the day (or at any time!) did not appeal. The ‘flash dance’ which happens at 12.30 each afternoon involves people dancing like they are demented by the pool and is just as embarrassing as it sounds, this seems to then be repeated each evening and many people seemed to enjoy it. Unfortunately, the entertainment on offer is one big area where the hotel appears to appeal to the family crowd and not the supposedly five-star beach resort clientele.
The main buffet restaurant is a good size and the staff are pretty attentive, but sometimes you have to spend a while trying to catch their attention to fill your drink (or do as we did and help yourself from the area they store the drinks). The food itself was very hit and miss. Breakfast has the usual buffet selection and can’t really be faulted except for the coffee which is powder-mixed vile and the very very long queue if you want any eggs cooked fresh.
Lunch and dinner was a bit of a gamble, the food is never particularly hot and the wait for the freshly cooked food can be rather long as they seem to only be able to cook two or three of each item at a time. One evening we tried the buffet at the Porto Santo next door which was akin to a very busy school canteen. We made the mistake of going up to the buffet at the same time and returning to find our table had been cleared. To their credit the staff were very apologetic and immediately relaid the table. The food is pretty much the same as the Columbus but the dining experience is just horrible.
Of the four la carte restaurants, we dined at the Med, Italian and Madeiran. The Italian was the worst of the lot as it took an age to be served, the pizza wasn’t particularly good and the starter and desert are a slimmed down version of the buffet selection in the main restaurant. The Med purports to be fine dining, which is certainly not the case. The only nod to fine dining is guests have to wear long trousers and the mâitre d’ wears an ill fitting white jacket while swanning around not doing much. The tables are tiny and most people appeared to have trouble trying not to knock them over whilst the food was sub-standard at best. The Madeiran was the best restaurant we tried and also the most relaxed, slightly spoilt by having to listenin to loud folk music that didn’t hold with the atmosphere. Also note that this restaurant is (again) buffet starter / dessert, so not really a la carte at all.
The bar in the Columbus is rather quiet in the evening which suited us just fine. The cocktails were a bit synthetic so we avoided them after giving them the once over. The rest of the drinks are pretty standard for all inclusive, nothing really to complain or to write home about. The bar in the Porto Santo next door is ok outside but inside is like a large social club. We tried to avoid the evening entertainment as it wasn’t to our taste and we certainly didn’t see the attraction in the bar staff dancing on the bar every evening to some naff song when there is a queue of thirsty customers. On the Friday night the disco opens. We made the mistake of popping down to find it pretty much empty apart from two prams and some adults with their toddler children at midnight!
The main downside to the holiday was the sheer number of children running around screaming all day and night, hence we escaped to the beach. This has made us promise to ourselves that the next beach hotel will be an adults only hotel.
As others have mentioned in their reviews, many (but by no means all) of the staff are in general quite outstanding.
If the Columbus changed to adult only, with the option of going next door to the Pestana where it is more family orientated, it would be so much better.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Pestana Colombos is a 5-star All Inclusive hotel (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and domestic beverages) located on the Island of Porto Santo, on the archipelago of Madeira. Just 1 minute on foot from a beach known for being heavenly, the best beach in Portugal, with 9 km of sand, warm and crystal-clear water. This luxury hotel has an indoor swimming pool and two outdoor swimming pools, a pedestrian bridge to access the beach, a Kids Club for the little ones, as well as a spa with Jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath and Hamman so you can relax during your stay. For dining, we have six restaurants and two snack bars. All of the rooms are large and comfortably equipped with a bathtub, modest decor and stunning views, with free Wi-Fi and also each with a television with built-in DVD player. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Colombo`s Beach Hotel Porto Santo
- Colombo`s Beach And Spa Resort