Having spent a lot of time taking a balanced view of this establishment and how it enhanced our holiday, we feel that excellent is the correct rating.
In agreement with Miguel2770, the service, charm, facilities and location of this hotel are very good by the island's standards and the housekeeping was as good as we've experienced anywhere.
We chose to go bed and breakfast so as to frequent a variety of local eateries and bars in the evenings. We found the breakfast was a good spread compared to normal Mediterranean standards and that of many international four star hotels. The madelines were especially tasty morsels, we like well cooked bacon, and this was available regularly. The only negative was the coffee at breakfast, either self dispensed from a fairly old Douwe Egberts machine that tasted like barley cup, or a jar of instant Nescafe.
However, the hotel operates a pool bar and a beach bar from 9-6, both of which offer a higher grade of coffee for around a euro, which is what we opted for each morning with our madelines. If you are a coffee lover, then there is excellent coffee to be found locally at Le Prive,(eve only) Palm beach or La Villa :) all within 200 yards of the hotel grounds.
We noted some previous comments about the number of pools here and we are pleased to say that the newly refurbished main pool was reopened whilst we were there, bringing the number of pools up to 3. At the time of year that we visited, there are more than enough sun loungers on the beach and poolside, so no 4.30am rise to get a towel down!
Whilst we didn't experience the half/full board fayre, it looked to be predominantly grilled fish, salad and potatoes, rice and bread, we were told by other guests that it was tasty and fresh. There are two a' la carte restaurants within the hotel, however they were closed, due to early season and the fact that the majority of guests were on full board basis. There were a few families with very well behaved and pleasant children, but the clientele was predominately 25-65 year old couples. The Tortue bar upstairs has a modern and sophisticated colonial decor, chilled background and great live music, quality discreet staff and a good range of reasonably priced international spirits.
We opted for an upgrade to an executive room and we felt it was very good value for money. We had a fridge in our room to enable us to stock our own "mini bar" and snacks. We had a view of the sea from our terrace and the pool was a few steps away. The bed was a King size very firm (to our taste) and we slept like babies every night. There is also a ceiling fan and air con unit in your room for your comfort.
Outside the hotel
The Beach - Probably one of the best in the world, clean, safe, tidy, soft white sand with a gentle and occasionally powerful swell in a balmy 28 degrees of clear azure water. The opportunity to see locals working, playing and using the beach and the bay is in perfect harmony with tourism that we feel adds an extra dimension to a beach holiday. There are very few hawkers using this part of the beach.
There are a multitude of local dogs that spend time on the beach, most of whom are adopted and kind of looked after by the hotel and their guests, but if you are not a dog lover, no stress, they won't pester you.
In Town - Having such a close location to the main town, it is easy to get into the main street in a couple of minutes from the room. Whilst there re 40 restaurants listed you do have to try a few to find a good balance between quality and price. Generally, local fish is the best choice in the evenings however, you can get good Italian and continental style snacks in the day. See our separate reviews for these places. In summary, the best places on the beach front that we experienced were 'La Villa' and 'Palm Beach'. In the streets further back from the beach, you can do a lot worse than the locally frequented 'Pensao Relax' and 'Cafe Creoulo'. The international menu at Morabeza's 'Aquarius' (Beach bar) is of a high standard and worth the money (10euro dishes), in our opinion. About 4 streets back from the beach you will find bijou local's bars with 'grelhados' outside grilling lovely tasty, well cooked chicken for around a euro a piece with beers at the same price.
Culture - It is completely safe to walk around Santa Maria seemingly any time (we are night owls) The Cabo Verdeans are friendly, warm and easy going folk, with an understated but proud sense of soul and spirit. It has to be mentioned that there is a large contingent of 'Street Hawkers' of west African origin, who will persistently try to sell you sunglasses and baseball caps or ask you to look in their shops, however they are not as relentless as those experienced in other parts of the world.
We have three tips for managing their commercial zeal. Firstly, use the beach road - by La Villa and Palm Beach as this is quieter that the main streets and the Travessas leading from it, allow you fairly unhindered access into the town. Secondly, we found that acknowledgement and some interaction with firm expression of zero intent to buy, or visit their shop was a diffusion to their enthusiasm.
A final tip is that the longer that you are there (more tan) and the more you uphold tips 1 and 2, the less the concentrate on you, maybe in search of 'greener' folk. In town there are Cabo Verdean shop, easily identified by the fact that the proprietor will not try and entice you in. Of particular note for genuine Cabo Verdean artisan crafts and artifacts, we recommend the Craft shop (blue doors like a boat shed) at the lower end of the high street on the corner near Cafe Creoulo (shop closed on Sunday)
General - Island tour. We booked via the tourist office (Wooden Cabin outside the blue CV Telecom building 50 yards to the right out of the Morabeza) We got an air coned comfy minibus with a friendly and informative driver/guide called Ola, who spoke perfect English. We did a half day and we felt this was more than enough to see and experience the sights. Lunch on the stop off in Espargos was tasty and really good value for money at 7 Euros for 2 toasties, fries, 2 drinks and a coffee!
Cheap bottled water is widely available and isn't bad, but we recommend taking the time to buy Portuguese or Italian bottled water which is relatively inexpensive.
We noted that the conversion rate that you can achieve by buying the closed currency Cabo Verdean Escudos is £1=130CVE or 1Euro=110CVE. When you consider that most places quote prices in local currency or 100 CVE to the Euro, then there could be a financial advantage to converting your particular currency to CVEs beforehand, or use the ATMs.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Morabeza We are located on the beautiful Santa Maria Beach on the southern most part of the island of Sal, Cabo Verde. We are confident that you will find your stay at our hotel to be a most enjoyable and memorable one ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Morabeza Hotel Santa Maria
- Hotel Morabeza Cape Verde/Santa Maria, Ilha Do Sal