My holidays in the Hotel Calheta Beach
For years or even decades, I had the firm opinion that one only visits once a vacation place and/or an hotel. Madeira is the first island that I have visited two times and the Hotel Calheta Beach is the first hotel where I spent two holidays; And now I am already sure that there is not much time left until it will be written here that I have already been three times in the Hotel Calheta Beach war.
The hotel complex Calheta Beach
The hotel Calheta Beach is a 4-stars hotel and belongs to the hotel chain Galo Resort Hotels that consits on a total of 4 hotels (all in Madeira). The Calheta Beach is the newest hotel of the chain; it was not opened until November 1999. Thus, the rooms are still new and the palm of the hotel zone is respectively small. Also the clamberers did not really start to to grow exuberantly.
The hotel Calheta Beach has a total of approximately 100 rooms, thus it is a middle-sized hotel. Approximately 70 employees take care of the guests. Despite normal double rooms, there are also junior suites for the upper standard and master suits for a little luxury holiday. Nearly all rooms have a straight view to the pool area and to the sea. The few rooms at the back side of the hotel have a view to the shopping centre in front of the hotel.
Sorry, a shopping centre right in front of the hotel? This is a plus factor! In dead, one has only to cross the street and there is a supermarket, a little coffee shop and other little shops. In the supermarket, everything is avaiable what people and tourists need to live and also - this is hard to believe - it is opened seven days a week until late in the evening. This is what I call luxury! Of course, the hotel management is annoyed about the fact that most of the tourists buy their beverages in the supermarket at a cheap price instead of using the mini bar, but as a tourist one also has to think economically.
Those who want to have a good drink in the evening rather prefer to go to the pool bar or to the big bathing area in the basement at pool level. There are some comfortable arm chairs to let a beautiful day come to en end. And those who want to check their level of alcohol can try to play some billard or try the dart board...
The bath resort Calheta, situation of the hotel
While in Madeira, the majority of the tourism takes place close to the capital Funchal, at the south west, some little places developed to some attractive bathing resorts, therunder the little city Calheta.
I describe Calheta as a "little city", as the place has just 6.000 inhabitants. Actually, Calheta can not even be described as a little city, as there are not any typical characteristics of a little city as a city centre, pedestrians area, shopping centre etc. Calheta rather consists on many little city districts that form together Calheta. Virtually, the city extends from the sea level up to a few hundred metres height. Only this dimensions make clear, that we are not talking about a classic city.
Anyway, Calheta became the most important place of the south west part of the island. Calheta is either developing to a touristical centre as also to a popular meeting place. Maybe Calheta is increasingly getting more significance because it has an own gas station.
The hotel Calheta Beach is of course situated at the very top of the place, right at the sea. Before the hotel was built, at this spot there was only a throughfare. At the other side of the street there is the shopping centre and behind it, the cliffs poke out to the sky in a height of more than 100 metres. One might wonder why there are so many parking places near the hotel. During the week, these parking places are empty, but in the week-ends, the local people come to the beach of Calheta and there is a lot of life in the little city.
Beach and pool area
The most important thing of an hotel in a sunny island is, of course, the pool area, as here one possibly stays for days in order to get really recovered. The Hotel Calheta Beach has a beautiful pool between the sea and the hotel and with a lot of space for deck chairs. The deck chairs that are positioned straight at the reeling to the sea are specially pleasant. If one lies on one of those decks, one virtually only sees the distance.
The whole pool is divided in two, a little basin is arranged only for the children. Both basins are connected to each other by an ugly concrete construct. It puzzles me what the architects thought by this design. But instead, this building offers a lot of topics of conversation for the pool guests; by this way, one makes the acquaintance of other people... Now, a competition for young artists is supposed to make an attractive gem of this concrete block.
Despite the big pool, the hotel has a little roof-deck on which one can lie. Indeed, there is not a pool in the roof but instead some showers to cool down. From the roof-deck there is a fantastic view to the sea, and in the evenings one can watch some wonderful sunsets.
By building the hotel, the whole sea area was rebuilt. From an extended catwalk at which numerous fishing boats are docked, the whole beach area was divided by huge boulders from the remaining sea. This has, of course, a lot of advantages for the bathers: within the basin, there are hardly waves, as they are caught by the wall of boulders. One also does not need to be afraid of the big fishes, but instead one will discover some flocks of young fishes enjoying the safe life in this beach basin. Of course, everybody has to to walk up this wall for at least once or at least swim up to the wall and sit on the warm stones. But there is to be cautious: on the pleasantly warm stones, also little crabs like to have a sunbath and, as known, they can nip!
During my first stay at Calheta Beach, shortly after the opening of the hotel, one still had to leave the hotel in order to get to the beach. This has changed; one door leads straight from the pool complex down to the beach; What a pleasure! One goes swimming for a short time in order to have afterwards a shower and relax on the deck chair.
Specially at the week-ends, the public pool area is full of local people that relax from the work by having a bath. I find it very pleasant not only to meet tourists at the beach but also local people.
At the hotel pool, there are enough deck-chairs and parasols. Big blue bathing towels are available in the room. But what to do if the sun does not shine or if it even rains? The hotel has a little interior pool and a yacuzzi. One can warm up in the sauna or in a beautiful steam bath with eucalyptus scent; And those who likes sports can let off steam at the fitness devices.
The rooms of the hotel
The Calheta Beach Hotel nearly offers exclusively rooms situaded at the side to the sea. I also would not recommend anybody to take one of the few room at the back side; for this few euros that one safes by choosing them, one has to take the traffic noise and a boring view to the parking place at the front. Thus, there is nothing better than to wake up in the morning and first have a nice look to the pool complex and to the sea.
As the hotel is virtually brand new, the rooms are also nearly intact. The rooms specially impress by their size; if one steps into the room for the first time, the recently polished parquet floor shines at one's gaze. A feeling of luxury arises. The rooms are all equipped with a shower or a bath and have a balcony with a table and some chairs.
I definetely have to praise the very pleasant beds; I never felt so well in an hotel room like I did in Calheta Beach. The bed was big (approx. 180 x 200), the matress was not divided and very comfortable. Where else do you find something like that?
Of course, the big TV with satellite was also very pleasant; through numerous german channels, one was informed about the current happenings in the home country and in the rest of the world; Each room has also a mini bar that was always repleted, but unfortunately the offers were, like in all other hotels, overpriced. Anyhow, one could "abuse" the mini bar for chilling own drinks and food.
All rooms in the hotel are air conditioned. But in order to make the air conditioner work, the room key had to be put into a little box. Thus, air condition only when one was in the room? No, as during the check in, one always gets two room keys. Thus, one can cool down the rom while having dinner in order to sleep at night without this blowing noise. This worked fine.
During my second stay in the Hotel Calheta Beach we granted ourselves a suite. What does one get additionally for a little surcharge? The room is approximately double as big as a normal one; beside the double bed, there is a complete lounge suite in the room. And one is welcomed with a fruit basket and a bottle of wine.
Is there really nothing to claim in the hotel room? Yes: indeed, we had 10 german tv channels but no ZDF. And the little shampoo bottles in the bathroom were not refilled during our holiday. But those who have not taken any shampoo to the holiday can help themselves at the supermarket in front of the hotel!
In total there is to say that the room of the hotel leave nothing to desire in any concern. This is exactly one imagines a room of a 4 star hotel. And another thing: our rooms were already made in the forenoon; I have been in other hotels, were the rooms were partly not made until the evening. I find it pleasant to have already at midday a room that is already done.
The hotel staff
I have never seen such a friendy and helpful staff like I did in Calheta Beach Hotel. With this, I not only mean the reception personnel but also the waiters, the charladies ect. Here, it is noticeable that Calheta Beach is not a mass production but only a middle sized hotel with approximately 100 rooms. The barkeeper, who gets one euro tip, reminds you in the next evening. The lady at the reception who gave you an advice asks you next time if it has worked.
I have to specially thank the personnel of the reception. They really did a propper job and fulfilled each of my wishes. While in other hotels, I sometimes have a really bad feeling when I interrupt the reception staff by doing their work, in Calheta Beach I have the feeling as the employees are just waiting to fulfill a wish of the guest or to give an information.
We were also absolutely enthusiastic about the chambermaids. Everything was tiptop after the daily cleaning. As we daily left some sents as a tip we also got some extra services as for example a little bunch of flowers. And it was nearly embarassing to get every day the pijama, the shirts and the t-shirts folded - simply unbelievable!
In the hotel Calheta Beach one really has the feeling to be a welcomed guest and that the staff does anything to make your holiday as nice as possible. Many hotels could take this as an example. Happily, this hasn't changed during my second stay in the hotel!
Food and beverages
In the Hotel Calheta Beach I really learned of what a big significance the chef is in a restaurant and/or in an hotel. While during my first visit to the hotel shortly after the opening in the year 1999 I could only moan about the food, today I tempt to describe the Hotel Calheta-Beach as a real fancy gourmet temple.
Breakfast in the hotel
If one books a room with breakfast included in the Hotel Calheta Beach, one can help himself at a huge breakfast buffet, provided one gets up before ten o' clock; once I nearly missed the breakfast. At the buffet there is everything starting from cheese and cold cuts up to warm sausages and eggs. What I specially liked is that one also could order an omelette. An a good coffee in addition, and the breakfast is perfect.
Really perfect? Not really, as by the huge choice of different rolls, müsli, fruits, marmelade, eggs and sausages I missed a little thing that I love so much: a little sweet cake or something like this at the end. But maybe it was better so, as I also gained weight without sweets.
Dinner at the buffet
When I made holidays in the Calheta-Beach for the first time, I only had breakfast included. Once I had dinner in the buffet and then never again; it was a disaster. During my second visit in the hotel I could have had two times dinner per evening at the buffet. A new cook, a new way to prepare the food, a new taste - fantastic!
The half pension buffet is so nice and lovingly prepared that it already tasted well before having started to eat, as the eyes are sooner pleased than the mouth. Those who come to dinner with the firm intention not to have a starter today will fail in having the main course straight away; No matter if salmon, salad or fish, the food is a pleasure.
And then the main courses - what a kind of experience every evening: one can choose between meat or fish with different side dishes, or simply pasta. Of course, I prefer to have some fish in an island, as I get enough meat at home. But if the food is the finest, without any fat, filmly cut and roasted, then I also heve to help myself.
And as if that was not enough, after the starter, fish and meat a whole table with desserts allures. The best would be only some fruits, anyway more is not possible any more. But how tastes the cake and the caramel cream? And the whole other things? What if tomorrow somebody asks me at the pool if I aslo tried the delicate and soft whipping cream with fruits? Yes, this is the problem, in reality, one is already stuffed and then one is seduced by the delicious desserts and one is better than the other. The coffee or the schnapps afterwards will handle it...
Oh, and how is one served at the evening buffet? While the breakfast service is attended by untrained staff that doesn't know for example what is to do if a guest leaves the cutlery on the plate, during the dinner, trained waitresses pour the guests the beverages and take care of the guests. Thus, one eats like in a good restaurant, excellent food and good service.
Restaurant Onda Azul
Thus, dinner at the buffet is excellent and one is served like in a good restaurant. Is there a reason to go out for dining? Yes there is, as also the restaurant Onda Azul belongs to the hotel and it is something very special. It is already noticeable by the fact that in the week-ends, numerous local people of the island come here to eat. What kind of restaurant is the Onda Azul? It is a restaurant of fish specialities, in which one also can get tasty pizzas and pasta.
In Onda Azul one has the choice to take a seat outside right at the sea or inside, in a protected corner. Inside, one can also dine in a very posh way with padded chairs and table cloth. That's saying something under portuguese conditions!
Each guest of Calheta Beach should at least once try the fish at Onda Azul, as it is an unforgettable experience. At nights, the fisher boats on the sea are visible in front of the hotel room, in the very early morning one can see the fishing boats coming back and at the evenings one has the fish that was recently caught on the plate. Something fresher is not possible. If then one orders the fish of the day (Peixe do Dia), one can be sure to get a recently caught fish on the plate.
The parrotfish is a speciality of the island (Bodiao in portuguese). If then one gets this fish roasted so that it gets a light crispy crust, one gets a fish that is hard to imagine a better one: fresh, tasty, juicy and crispy at the same time, and everything served like in a gourmet temple. And for those who prefer a piece of meat, I recomend another speciality: the fillet of beef with prawns roasted on a hot stone. The preparation is done right at the table; Thus it is amazing how the waiter takes the meat from the stone at exactly the right time when it is pefectly medium roasted.
Thus, in the Restaurant Onda Azul one can eat very well in a cozy atmosphere and with a perfect service. But does one go out to eat if booked half pension? Yes, because in this concern, the hotel is willed to accomodate the guests insofar that if one abstains from the buffet one gets a voucher of 16,50 € per person that can be redeemed at the Onda Azul and there one does not only get a main course for this but also a starter and a dessert in addition.
The pool bar Por Do Sol
It is in fact only a little bar at the pool complex of the hotel, a bar where one gets a beer or a coke by staying a certain time at the pool. And perhaps someone discovers the tasty milk shakes that are very refreshing. But it is also a snack bar where one gets a some little things to eat for the case the hunger pangs.
It is possible to order some french fries, a sausage or a sandwhich to say that is was good. But how about something of the country, as for example a sandwhich made of potato bread (Bolo do Caco) and a salad? Then one gets a snack that makes one want two of them. Therefore, I really praise the little pool bar, as in most of the hotels the pool bar does not have any quality food.
The guests in the hotel
Although the hotel is best conditioned with its pool complex for families with children, there are virtually no kids there. For the guests who want to have a calmly holiday it is of course very pleasant not to have little kids screaming around. But on the other hand, those who arrive with kids, won't probably find like-minded people as playfellows for the children. There are also not any kind of organized activities and entertainment for kids.
Although the majority of the guests of this hotel are definetely Germans, also many Portuguese people from the mainland, but also from other parts of the island have also their holiday at Calheta Beach. The share of the portuguese is approximately of one third. To me personally it is alright if I don't meet Germans or dutch people but also local people.
Most of the hotel guests are young couples or families with older children. Also, only few of the guests spend the whole day in the hotel or in the hotel complex. Most of the guests disappear by noon time to a hiking tour and come back in the early evening in order to lie a little at the pool before going to the buffet.
Just because of the lack of little children and babys, in Calheta Beach Hotel it is possible to spend a lot of time in a quiet way. Those who like to disconnect for some hours and read a book can lie comfortably on a deck chair at the pool and be sure that he will not be disturbed by anything. By lying on a deck chair right at the pool reeling, one does not hear enything but the waves - what a pleasant atmosphere!
After my first visit in Calheta Beach my opinion of the hotel was divided as the food was miserable. But this weakness was not only amended; now the food became a highlight.
After my second visit to the Calheta Beach I am so enthusiastic that I can already say that there will be a third visit. I can recommend the Calheta Beach Hotel to everybody boundlessly. Here, one can make a 4 stars holiday in exactly the way one wishes.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz