The standard of general cleanliness was the usual high Riu standard, as for the food. Excellent, with a massive choice.
There are 2 large buffet restaurants 1 in each hotel, plus each hotel has 2 themed restaurant cape verden cuisine and grill on funana side, and asian and fish on garopa side. We visited the asian and the grill on a number of occassions both were very good.
The drinks available free flowing throughout the day and night was also very good, their lager (strela) was good and potent, the wine very drinkable and the spirits that we drank was Gordon's and johnny walker.. mmmm.
The location was on the beach and you could take a short walk via the road or beach to santa maria, where there were some nice shops, bars etc, and you also get close to the natives.
The animation team as in every other riu resort we have visited was very well put together and professional and these guys n girls work very hard for very long hours.
We were very impressed with cape verde, and went on the jeep safari trip which gave you a good insight to the island it's culture and history.
Floating in the water at the redundant salt mines was an experience.
The only down side of our holiday (through my own fault ) was that 6 days in to the holiday i fell down a flight of steps and this kept me at the poolside for the remaining days of our 2 weeks sitting in a chair unable to lie on a longer, and having to cancel our catamaran trip which i was looking forward to.
We will seriously consider visiting again in order to finish off exploring the island more.
Travel operator: Thomson
Nothing to add to previous comments apart from the pilot livening things up with a swervy landing then telling everybody the wrong time details.
HOTEL & STAFF
First impression was good was pleasantly surprised as to the amount of greenery around the grounds. Fro the brochure pictures I had expected it to be more sparsely vegetated. Was a bit disappointed with the room layouts the accommodation blocks seem to have been designed so as to maximise the worst views for the most guests. The Funana is the best bet if you want a sea view room. Pool view rooms don
Travel operator: Thomson TUI
The hotel was of a good standard, in fact our room was an identical copy of the room we had at the Riu Karamboa in Boa Vista last year. Spacious, with two single beds butted together and an excellent wash area with very good shower. The rooms were kept spotlessly clean by the maid service.
Unfortunately we cannot say the same for the view from our balcony. Having first been given a ground floor room (we had requested first floor in our booking) and discovered that our view was across a shady courtyard to see the next accommodation block, we asked to be moved. Reception were not very helpful, kept prevaricating and asking us to come back in 2 hours for new keys only to be fobbed off with excuses. We did not unpack the first night, having been promised another room the following morning. This again turned out to be stalling tactics and we were again told to come back 2 hourly instead of just getting on with our holiday. Finally at 4pm on the second day we were given the keys to a first floor room which had a view of an abandoned building site (room 0115).
The design of the accommodation blocks in overlapping U shapes ensures that very few people at the Garopa get a chance of an open view and the topography seems to prevent anyone not in blocks 6 or 8 getting a possible sea view. The layout and geography of the Funana is better if you want a sea view.
The all inclusive fare was OK, there was always something decent to eat after a bit of foraging, but I felt they were a bit heavy on the salt in many cases. The Mandarin was well worth trying for a pleasant change, We also tried the African which seemed similar fare to the buffet. Drinks were great, the Strella Lager was good and any spirits were served in good measure.
Daytime entertainment on the beach was excellent, with dancing and limbo to tunes that you will not be able to get out of your head long after you get home. I have to say the beach itself- whilst good isn't nearly as good as the pure golden sand at Boa Vista. The sea was really rough whilst we were there and you needed to be fit and strong to just remain standing up against the huge waves the pounded the beach.
The pools on both Garopa and Funana sides were very good and you could easily find sunbeds, the problem was finding shade if you were a latecomer.
Evening entertainment was Ok, Apart from the usual Animation team dancing on the stage, The Barracuda had professional acts on and Thompson Rep led Karaoke on Friday.
The Caramaran excursion was excellent, not just a cruise but a party - with the crew dancing to entertain us.The round island tour is something to do for a fun ride to get you out of the hotel, but the 'blue eye' (at the wrong time of day) a mirage and the salt flats, being all there was - I wasn't all that impressed.
In all its a great chill out holiday if you want guaranteed sunshine, a beach and a pool with lashings of food and drink on demand.
Travel operator: Thompson
Travel operator: thomson
Travel operator: thompson
The outgoing (and incoming) flights were acceptable - we don't have delusions of grandeur and only expect to be ferried from A to B and back again.
There are two things to take note of though for your outgoing trip. First, make sure you fill in the online Visa spplication, which is available on the Thomson website. Second, once you get past immigration (we were the first ones off the bus that takes you from the airport - strategic . . .) and have made your way to the transfer buses, you will be greeted by some smiling locals, who perform the huge task of lifting your cases from the trolley to the underside of the coach. Whilst this initially appears to be a Thomson service (because one of their guys just stands there watching) actually turns out to be a money-making initiative by the locals. 2 Euros to lift a case 3 feet? I think not.
Anyway, we were greeted at reception with a refreshing fruit punch, given a thorough overview of the hotel and told to go to the bar to relax whilst our cases were delivered to the rooms - we spent 30mins in there unwinding. Perfect!
Overall the hotel and public areas are spotless. The cleaning staff work all hours (literally) keeping things tidy, so no complaints there.
The food was nice (much better than other Riu hotels we have stayed in previously) and only got 'samey' on literally the last night. I had a spot of tummy trouble, but I'm prone to it anyway and everyone else was fine.
The best of the speciality restaurants (which you have to book 3 days in advance) is the Mandalay, providing excellent Chinese food. The Santa Maria grill provides pretty much the same steak/chicken as the main restaurants but suffers as it is open-air, resulting in the food being cold when you eat it.
The hotel is not situated directly on the beach as the Thomson webiste would have you believe. From the Garopa main reception, you are looking at a 10-15min stroll before you get to the waters edge. Probably a little less from the neighbouring Funana, as the exit to the beach is on the Funana side of the complex.
The bar and entertainment staff are friendly and give 100%, although the quality of the entertainment was dubious. Thankfully, we generally entertain ourselves with cards, dice games, etc. so the samey nature of their entertainment did not bother us too much.
Bring a cardigan/light jacket for the evenings. Once the sun goes down, the wind takes on a chill and, unless you get an 'indoor' table, you are likley to get a tad cold. I say 'indoor' as the whole complex (with the exception of the main restaurants) has no windows or doors - this just lets the wind whip around everywhere - very odd.
The shops in the hotel are incredibly expensive. Nearly 5 euros for a daily paper (yeah, right) and suncream was anything from 15 euros upwards. TIP: Take EVERYTHING you need! Another tip is that the reps have a stash of suncream that been left behind - this could save you a pretty penny if you are left short.
Travel operator: Portland
Travel operator: Thomson
Travel operator: Thomson
Food was bountiful good and fresh although a bit samey. 4 themed restaurants which were ok. Would have liked a waiter service resaurant even if only for one night and even if we had to pay extra. Wine was not so good and again no way to pay for a better quality wine. No sugar free drinks available so as a diabetic had to drink water most of the time.
All hotel staff polite and very helpful and prompt with service. Beach towels plentiful and could change several times a day if necessary.
When the location says adjacent to beach it means that between hotel and sea is a protected area of sand dunes for turtle breeding - to get to beach you have to go through sister hotel. Our room next to building site but no intrusive noise.
Travel operator: Thomson
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