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Hotel Riu Palace Cabo Verde
Ranked #4 of 19 Hotels in Santa Maria
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 July 2014 via mobile

Me and my partner (both ages 24) went here for a week in early may! Weather was great, at least 30 degrees everyday! Tip: when we booked the garopa hotel was £90 more expensive, don't do it, there's no difference and there connected! Food wasn't bad, a bit repetitive but definitely tasty. Pool areas were great and never had a problem with getting a lounger for the day! All inclusive lunch menu was same daily pasta, pizza, hot dog, burger, chips and salad however after breakfast u don't want too much anyways. We hired a car for €60 which was brilliant although if going to sea the sharks etc don't stop and ask for directions with locals as they ask u but then give u a tour for 'free' which u then end up paying €20pp!! A walk into Santa Maria is well worth it and the water near the fish market is beautiful, well worth an afternoon there! Wouldn't go back to Cape Verde as once uve been for a week that's it really how well worth it for a week away! Was a great holiday!

Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
1 Thank LUFC1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 July 2014

Spent 2 lovely weeks in the Riu Funana in June - First time in Cape Verde and after reading some reviews was a little apprehensive but i have to say we had a brilliant time and cannot understand the negative reports that are on here!
The hotel is spotlessly clean and you see the staff constantly cleaning and picking up every little thing even down to the cigarette butts on the beach.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated and serves a large selection for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also 4 specialist restaurants situated in either the Funana or Garope (adjoining hotel) which you need to book a couple of days in advance that make a nice change.
The staff are very friendly and helpful and work tirelessly to ensure you need for nothing.
Our room was situated in block 3 which was half way between the reception and the beach which suited us fine. Rooms were cleaned to a high standard with tea coffee facilities, a fridge and a safe.
All inclusive was brilliant as we could have what we wanted when we wanted.
There is a lovely pool there with plenty of sun beds and a bar but we spent all of our days on the beautiful beach. The beach had gorgeous white sand and crystal clear sea and we were more than happy to sit there and watch the world go by. The sea can sometimes be a bit rough when the waves crash onto the sand and i did get wiped out a couple of times but that all adds to the fun! The beach bar is open from 10am and included in the AI.
There is a dive school situated right next to the beach bar which offers different experiences and my husband went out on the Seabob 3 times as he enjoyed using it so much.
We walked into Santa Maria to watch the fisherman come in at 11am with their catch and had a drink in a beautiful restaurant over looking the whole bay.
We did an island tour on a 4x4 jeep with Elvis & Soussa who were very knowledgeable and told us all about the islands. I will just say dont wear your best clothes on this tour as we came back covered in orange dust and looked like pandas when we took our sunglasses off..
All in all we had a brilliant holiday and would recommend you visit if you want a totally relaxing holiday, the Island's motto is No Stress and we could understand why..

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
6 Thank Shaz1207
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 July 2014 via mobile

Just arrived back from 2 weeks at the Riu Funana. As with most reviews, the flight wasn't great, cramped, no entertainment etc. Check in was super fast, we stayed in block 5, which is close to beach & both pools. Rooms & bed are huge. My tip for using the tv, as you can get films & some channels in English. Go to tools on the remote, go down to language & change to either English or undefined. Watched some fab films. Food is good, with plenty of selection. Soft drinks can sometimes taste a touch chemically but overall good. No need to reserve beds early in the morning as there's plenty of loungers throughout the day. The pool can be cold but it's a welcome break from the sun. All in all it was a relaxing break which is just what we wanted.

Stayed July 2014
5 Thank VickyBaz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Burton on Trent
Level Contributor
15 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 July 2014 via mobile

Well what can I say the holiday over all was excellent,I don't normally like big hotels but this didn't have that (so big I'm lost)feeling.The food choice and taste was good and the service great.Drinks were everywhere and you never had to stand in line.The hotel is very clean,from your room to the pool,spotless.The beech is the best I've ever seen and the colour of the sea is beautiful,we swam every day and never had a problem and the wind is more of a welcome breeze. We enjoyed it so much we booked again for Sep this year,and would just like to say a big thanks to the Tomson Reps, Stacy and especially Claire you were fantastic.

Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
6 Thank mandulia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
42 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2014

We decided to book this holiday after reading the many reviews of the Riu Funana resort in Sal, Cape Verde. There were loads of great reviews and some bad ones too. We weighed up the reviews and decided to book our two week family holiday through First Choice. Now onto the actual review! We were at the Riu Funana from the 17th June to the 2nd July

The Flight….
The one thing putting me off were the reviews on every website saying how bad the flight was. That almost stopped me from booking, there were no good reviews of the flight and rightly so. There were four of us (adults), my son is tall and hates being cramped and is slightly claustrophobic. We decided to book extra leg room seats for me and my son. The price for those extra few inches on the outbound flight was horrendous - £55 for the two seats one way! Bear in mind we had already paid extra for pre booking our seats (they never took that off on the outward journey). The plane is an old 757, small seats, no entertainment (no TV, video or even Wi-Fi or plug sockets) and really cramped. The flight is with Thomson Airways and takes around 6 hours to get to Sal, from Manchester. The excuse I was given for the small plane was that the runway could not cope with larger planes. RUBBISH! It’s the 3rd biggest runway in Africa and is one of only a few in the world that can take the space shuttle landing. Other countries and other airlines have bigger planes and give a better service. If that was not bad enough, the flight refreshment prices were shocking! You’re stuck on a cramped plane, and expected to pay a small fortune for a drink. The food was what you expect, it was about edible. No problems at either airport, check in and times were spot on. Our return journey the extra leg room cost only 61 euros for us both. I would advise 100% on getting extra legroom if you can afford it. If not you will have a terrible cramped flight!

One thing we were not expecting was being mugged by the bus driver. Our rep sent us to the bus at the airport, we took our suitcases and as the driver was putting them in, he was holding his hand out in an aggressive manner saying “you give me euros, 4 people 10 euros”. This was pretty intimidating and not what I was expecting. I only had 4 euros in change and he snatched it out of my hand.

The resort, checking in and rooms...
Riu rate this resort as 5 star, First choice 4 star+, I personally would give it a 3.5. Why? Well read on!

We were staying in the Riu Funana, about a 20 minute drive from the airport, it looks pretty spectacular as you drive up to the front. We were greeted in the reception with some fruit juice. Check in was easy and straight forward, our bags were delivered to our room in about 10 minutes.

The sprawling lobby area was immaculately clean and bright, filled with people looking ever frustrated at the dreadful Wi-Fi on offer. I will get this out of the way now - the WIFI is the most frustrating thing about the holiday. The only place you can get it is in the lobby and you never get more than 30 seconds connection before it cuts off, so Skyping is almost impossible. I would rather pay for a better service than use a free one that’s useless.

We had a twin and double room, it had a main door then two doors to each room. Our rooms were 4009 and 4010. The rooms were pretty small, both had a nasty smell of damp and massive cracks running from the floor right across the ceiling. I have a feeling these rooms are not used very often as the damp smell had gone after a couple of days of use. The bed was large and not too bad, the shower was hot and powerful, and there was plenty of drawer and wardrobe space. I have read reviews complaining that there are only polystyrene cups in the room, we just got some proper ones from reception. No problem!

The TV, well it’s a big TV and you have the choice of BBC news or SKY news, unless you can speak German or Portuguese. Pretty useless for us British..

The rooms were cleaned daily, new towels and always a nice design with the cover on the bed, or towels. On my wife’s birthday they created two swans out of towels and put them on the bed.
The site is huge, but very well laid out and maintained. It houses both the Funana & Garopa hotels so around 1000 rooms over the massive site. You would expect it to feel cramped and busy, it never appeared that way walking around.

The Pools & Beach
The pools are pretty big and there are plenty of sun loungers. We never had a problem once getting a lounger around the pool. You do get the ignorant ones who towel up loungers in the morning and don’t return until late afternoon. Sorry to be stereotypical but yes, it’s the Germans that are guilty of this! The pools are not heated, so can be a little cold when you first get into the water. Once the initial shock has passed its pretty refreshing.

The pool bar is understaffed and to be honest, the only rude staff I encountered on the whole site worked here. The pool bar manager only seemed interested in the young women and would always serve them first with a smile and then pull his face at anyone over 30 years old. This wound me up a few times and on the last day I actually said something to him about it.
The pool area is clean and well maintained.

The beach! First you have to run the gauntlet of tour guides offering you everything from 4 x 4 tours to boat trips. This can be pretty daunting at first as these guys smell fresh tourists at 100 metres. Plenty of people book tours with them, so they are good at what they do. They are a lot cheaper than the tour operators. The beach itself is breezy, the sand is pretty sharp and when picked up from the wind you feel it on your legs. The beaches are really clean, with staff always walking round clearing up the mess left behind. WHY CAN’T PEOPLE CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES?! If you want a sun lounger you have to get up early and towel them. The beach area fills up really fast. We were there two weeks and not once was the sea green flagged. The sea at this resort is rough, big waves and a strong undercurrent. We went into the sea on the second day, it was funny, as one wave knocked you over, it sucked you back into the sea and then another came and kept you under the water. I would always be careful if the flags are flying orange or red.

The beach bar is fantastic and included in the price of the holiday. You will have read in other reviews about the dogs and cats. Yes there are a few around, all very friendly and nothing I would worry about. I asked a local why so many - It’s obvious when you think about it. Its nature’s way of keeping rats and mice away. No need for poison or traps, natures very own pest control are free to roam.

One thing I forgot to mention here was the wind and breeze. Yes there is always a breeze, not a strong one and it’s really welcome. It’s warm but very refreshing. It was also lull you into a false sense of security when it comes to applying sun lotion. We made that mistake and burnt pretty bad. Keep the lotion topped up and don’t assume it’s not hot! When the breeze stops you feel like you’re in an oven.

The food and restaurants
The food, believe it or not is not that bad for a resort this size. Everything is fresh and nothing is cooked in bulk, so there is never food sitting around for more than a few minutes. This I loved as it was always hot and fresh. Most of the cooked food is cooked where it’s served, so you can see it prepared and cooked. I have a sensitive stomach and not once did the food upset my stomach. The food can be a little boring at times, but so what?! We did not care as you could have pasta one night, meat and veg another, pizza, salad, fish dishes, loads of fruit and salad and cooked meats. The tables are cleared and reset straight away. The staff are fantastic and always refilling your glass and taking away plates. We tried the oriental restaurant which was something special and the food was amazing. The grill was ok, nothing special. More meat that was about it. I wish you did not have to book in the morning and if you were lucky get a place in 4 days. You could not book the restaurants in one go, one at a time when the bookings opened up.

One thing that was pretty frustrating, there was nowhere to get any snacks after 10pm. So if like us you’re an early eater then you can be hungry in the evening. I was surprised that there was no snack bar open later. All in all the food was good, the service was first class and we were happy.

Bars and Drinks
There are several bars around the resort, all serving the same drinks and cocktails. The bars are clean and the staff are always friendly. I was surprised that the local beer was really nice, chilled to perfection and tasted good. I am not a wine drinker so cannot comment on the wine. The spirits are not cheap nasty ones, which are usually found in all-inclusive resorts. I love Jim Beam whisky and that was available. The measures are good and if you want more or less, you simply ask. The cocktails are all premade, poured into a blender with ice and blitzed and poured. I tried them all and they were all good and refreshing.

The entertainment team are absolutely fantastic, they are super talented and give 100%, whether it be the daytime activities or the evening shows. The heads of entertainment team were fantastic too. Mario, I think from Spain, was as camp as a Eurovision TV presenter and loved the sound of his own voice and, had too much of a tendency to mess about with the sound and lighting controls way too much. This annoyed a lot of the guests and the acts alike. Claire from Sunderland was fantastic, full of fun and our British representative.
Daytime, there is not a lot going on. Bits and bobs round the resort, but nothing too extensive. This is how I like it. If you want a game of darts, bingo, Zumba, water polo or air pistol shooting, it’s available. I did a bit of shooting and darts, to be honest it was pretty rubbish. But hey, it was a bit of fun to break up the day. No Stress…

The evening entertainment was very hit and miss. All the Cape Verde entertainment was amazing, the Africa show and Cape Verde show should not be missed, and other shows like Rock Station and Studio 54 were good too. What was pretty dire had to be the brought in entertainment. First Charley Starr she was on twice when we were there. She did the worst Tina Turner and Lady Gaga Tribute I have ever seen or heard. I have heard better karaoke in the working men’s clubs across the north east of England. Her two dancers were good, without them I think she would have been booed off. People were actually laughing at her Tina Turner tribute.

The staff
The staff in the main are totally outstanding! Friendly, helpful and do an amazing job. There was the odd one who was not the norm, but in general I thought they were to be some of the best staff I have ever come across. One lady who looked after us in the restaurant every evening (we always sat in the same place) was called Sonia, she was amazing and friendly. A young lad working the bar area was Kimber, he was another really top guy. So friendly with the guests and always had time to make conversation. His English was outstanding and his whole attitude was a credit to him. What I really admired was that the staff don’t work for tips, so they are good because they are paid to be and want to be, not kissing butt to get a tip. (We did leave tips to a couple of members of staff before we left).

The Thomson team
We booked with first choice part of the Thomson group. Our rep Claire was totally fantastic. She was so nice and helpful. She knew what she was doing and always took time to speak to you without any hard selling. She took us out on the Saturday morning for a stroll into Santa Maria and gave us a fantastic tour, this was free and really good.

Blinky’s Tours
I will be 100% honest here, our holiday would not have been so great if it was not for ex-pat Blinky. Blinky runs a small tour business on the island and she will sort anything for you. It does not matter what you want to do, she will arrange it or put you in touch with the right people.

We booked Blinky for our Island tour on the back of the 4 x 4, it was amazing and well worth the 25euros each. The tour took us around the island, through the desert, into the salt lake, past shanty towns, through the capital, up hills and we even managed to drive through a sandstorm. This was pretty cool as it does not happen very often.

Blinky arranged the off road buggy tour for me and my son (65 euros). It was probably the best experience I have ever had. Not for the faint hearted. I drove and my son was the passenger, we followed our tour off road around the island. There was some seriously heart stopping moments, flying up hills and then down them, over sand dunes and across deserts. Our guide would stop off at various tourist spots (to cadge a smoke off someone he knew) and then off again. Our buggy broke down, the drive shaft broke on one side, so we swapped buggies and the last half of the tour was a bit calmer, which was a shame. But hey, it’s fine. No Stress!

We also went on a night out with Blinky, 10 euros for the night out, we got some shots, played a daft game, and met some amazing people. Saw Santa Maria away from the usual tourist traps. It was eye opening but in a good way. We went to a religious festival, there was a band in the square and hundreds of Cape Verdeans. We never felt threatened or intimidated. The people were so welcoming and danced with us, introduced themselves and really made us feel welcome. We hit several bars and finished off in a sort of take away that did this weird meat or meat free wraps. OMG, best tasting thing ever! No idea what it was I ordered and ate, but it was better than a Bigg Market kebab.

Blinky also arranged from my wife and daughter to try a Segway. They loved it and booked a session driving them on the desert.

Santa Maria
Santa Maria is a small fishing town at the southern end of the Sal, it’s the closest town to the resort. A short walk or taxi ride takes you into the centre. There are bars, restaurants and souvenir shops and a fantastic beach. There is an amazing working fishing pier, where, at about 11am the small boats arrive with fresh fish that is all prepared on the pier by women. It’s an amazing sight to see and if you don’t see this then you’re missing out on something special. Santa Maria is all friendly but beware, the street sellers selling fake Ray Bans, hats, fake Rolexes are really a pain. You get sick of saying no thankyou and hearing those works… ‘Ohhh beautiful family, welcome to Cape Verde, no stress’ before you know it they have sun glasses in your hand that is nearly impossible to pass them back. Whatever you do don’t accept a free bracelet or take hold of something to look at, as they won’t take no for an answer and in a lot of cases people buy to get rid of them. Now, don’t get me wrong, they are not aggressive but you have to say no thankyou and avoid making conversation with them.

Take euro’s, small notes only (Do not take 20’s and 50’s). Try and have the right money when buying things. Always barter, never accept the price they are selling for. If you have spare money, tip the staff in the resort and outside in bars or restaurants. We took a suitcase full of new tooth brushes, pencils, colouring pads and other stuff for the local school. This is a very poor island and the locals are great so it’s good to bring something with you. It’s charity but you see where it’s being used.

If you are booking a tour, just look out for Blinky. She can be found on Facebook under Blinkys Tours.

We loved it so much we are going back, hopefully next year, it’s the Caribbean without the stress and the long flight.

Room Tip: Room 4000 & 5000 are closest to the beach and pools, but furthest from reception
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  • Stayed June 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
15 Thank Garygggggg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 July 2014

This hotel complex is huge! But managed so well!

Big positives - 1.exceptionally clean and well maintained throughout. 2.lovely smiling friendly staff, all work so hard especially housekeeping and servers in the restaurant. 3.gorgeous pool and beach area - no matter what time of day there was always enough sun loungers available.

So easy to just relax and enjoy every moment, good selection of food and drink available right throughout the day, loads of entertainment and activities running. Beach is gorgeous although the sea can become very rough quite quickly (hold onto your bikini tops if a wave catches you!). Tour guides on the beach entrance can be overwhelming on your first trip to the beach as they stand immediately in front of the gate and you have no choice to walk passed them but they are all so nice and happy to have a chat or leave you be if you say your not interested.

We stayed one week and that was quite enough really, wouldn't be keen to have spent two weeks here. Food was perfect for us, we didn't even try the speciality restaurants as we were happy in the main buffet restaurant. Nice cool bedrooms - we used the extra blanket most nights. We did get quite a few mossie bites so take some insect repellent! Good wifi service in the reception which is nice area to relax before and after dinner.

  • Stayed June 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1 Thank M_R_13_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 July 2014 via mobile

Had a great holiday value for money on the all inclusive. Entertainment team worked so hard. We booked the trips via the rep as insurance was included. Our friends went on the trips outside on the beach and said trip was good but we wanted to be insured. Went into the town to a french restaurant called chez pastis excellent but same prices as home but well worth a visit. Would definitely go back very relaxing and enjoyable holiday.

  • Stayed May 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1 Thank Sam B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Palace Cabo Verde

Property: Hotel Riu Palace Cabo Verde
Address: Cabocan Lote A2, A3, Santa Maria, Ilha do Sal, Cape Verde
Phone Number:
Region: Cape Verde > Ilha do Sal > Santa Maria
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#3 Luxury Hotel in Santa Maria
#3 Top resorts Hotel in Santa Maria
#3 Spa Hotel in Santa Maria
#3 On the Beach Hotel in Santa Maria
#4 Romantic Hotel in Santa Maria
#4 Family Hotel in Santa Maria
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Palace Cabo Verde 4*
Number of rooms: 500
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Situated on the island of Sal in the Cape Verde Islands * Main building and 2-story annexes * Situated on the beach front together with the ClubHotel Riu Funana * Complimentary sun loungers and parasols on the beach * 1.5 Km to Santa Maria * 15 km from the airport * Credit cards accepted: Visa ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Riu Funana Santa Maria
Hotel Riu Palace Cabo Verde Cape Verde/Santa Maria, Ilha Do Sal

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