“Madeira is always first, there’s no argument !!”
Jill and Hugh Gage have been coming to PortoBay Hotels since 1994. With over 50 stays at PortoBay hotels in Madeira, a holiday on the Island is a no argument, for many different reasons.
On their last stay at Vila Porto Mare, in October, we had the pleasure of interviewing them for our blog. And, we are thrilled to share it with you.
It was mainly because of work. We’ve always thought of Madeira as a holiday destination, but we used to go to Italy and other places. However, Madeira was on our list.
We wanted to find a reason to come to Madeira, and when The Cliff Bay was being built, I went into our company’s export manager office, and there were all these drawings of this lovely hotel that turned out to be The Cliff Bay.
Our company provided all the window treatments for this hotel so I told Jill:
- We have to go there for a
So shortly after the opening we came
for two weeks and had been back every year. Then with the opening of the
Residence apartments, our family (including grandchildren) started coming two
weeks in August, because of the school holidays. We then usually add two weeks
in October and one week in April.
We usually stay one week at The Residence and then, we add one week at The Cliff Bay or PortoBay Serra Golf to
turn it into a two-week stay.
2. Do you have a favourite PortoBay Hotel?
They're all very special for different reasons, but The Cliff Bay is one of the favourites because it was the first stay.
We think Vila Porto Mare is great for
families. Two years ago, our son and our grandson came for the Youth Week, and
it was fantastic !! Our grandson cooked with Chef Benoît and he still has the
hat with the Chef’s signature!!
We think it’s fantastic what you do at
Youth Week, and it’s all part of the education really, it broadens their
horizons. That was what we always tried to explain to the school when we wanted
to bring our grandchildren during school time.
”Children don’t just go and sit by the
pool"; they’re doing all sorts of things, paintings on the rocks,
scarecrows, joining the Kids Club activities. All four of our grandchildren
have learnt to swim in Madeira. All those great memories make them want to come
back, even now that they’re 18!
In PortoBay Serra Golf we usually stay two or three nights at the start of the holiday. We love it because it’s so different, relaxing, and in a quiet location. We like to breathe in the fresh air, to walk in the local Park, to visit the Sunday Market...
3. How do you find Madeira
these days, compared to 24 years ago when you first came?
It’s easier to get around because of the new roads. On the first trips, it took us all day to do a tour or visit anywhere on the Island. Nowadays we can fit a lot more on a day and quickly get to know more places.
4. What’s your
favourite spot in Madeira?
We always visit the Monte. The first time we came we went there by bus, (there was no cable car yet), and we found a nice café with a lovely owner who kept offering us Madeira Wine, so we always go back there now. Tropical Garden is fantastic. We also love to walk on the promenade from Vila Porto Mare to Câmara de Lobos; it’s a tradition. We also like the new harbour area, near Funchal marina. It’s perfect for the events like flower festival.
Also, before it was all banana trees around here at the hotel, and in the last ten years, there’s more choice, more diversity of restaurants and experiences.
5. Why do you keep coming back to Madeira?
One of the reasons we like Madeira is that we’re always looked after by locals. Hospitality, in general, is very, very good. The service, the quality and the price is very good. Nothing ever seems too much trouble.
Sometimes when you visit some countries, you feel that the staff doesn’t really want to look after you. They want to know you at the beginning of the holiday, and at the end of the holiday they don’t really want to be there - we never find that here.
We also think it's very safe; we never have to worry, so we relax. The climate helps. We’re very comfortable here, since we know it can be raining one afternoon, but then it will be beautiful again. We also love our garden here, at the Residence.
We always enjoy the fish, delicious fish, but we also like the Meat Lovers Night at the Med. We love the Alfama in the evenings with the tables outside. What we don’t do much is the buffet, it’s very good, but we get too tempted to overeat because everything looks so good...:)
7. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive here?
We always go to the Varanda Bar; it’s sort of our tradition.
8. Do you have a favourite event?
We do enjoy the Pink Party in Vila Porto Mare; it’s perfect for families of all ages, we can all be silly and dance! We also love New Year, we’ve been here this last year, spectacular!
9. What would you say is the best time to come to Madeira for the first time?
It depends on what people are coming for, but October is usually very good. Because you have sunshine but, if you want to walk around or go on a tour it is not too hot, so it’s perfect. April or May is also the same.
10. Is there a particular feature of the PortoBay Group that you find different from other hotels?
I think it’s the service; it’s the continuity of staff which is so nice, it’s the shareholders like Mr Trindade who we’ve met over the years... It feels more like a family of people who care rather than just a business.
11. What do you miss the most when you’re gone?
The people, the climate, this "coming back home” feeling, it’s seeing people we know as friends. Some of the friends that I bring here say:
- "You know more people here than we do back in England!” :)
12. Have you ever been to any PortoBayHotel in Brazil Lisbon or Algarve? :)
We have been to Lisbon, to PortoBay Liberdade and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We recommend it to all our friends. We’re also planning to do the new hotel in Porto next year. Probably we’ll also go to Brazil (because South America has also been in our list) but then...we end up booking back here…haha.
Madeira is always first, there’s no argument. It is home.