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"I have to admit, I've never been the sort of…"
I have to admit, I've never been the sort of person who would consider going on an all inclusive holiday - I much prefer city breaks or holidays where I move from place to place. When I was invited on a press trip to the Pestana hotel in Porto Santo, I was excited at the thought that I had nothing to plan, but interested to see if this was a holiday I'd choose to take myself in the future.
Porto Santo is an island just off the Portugese island of Madeira - it's an island largely ignored for six months of the year, and the locals rely entirely on tourism from the summer months. Lucky for them that there are now direct flights from Manchester and Gatwick operating once a week by Thomson, and rumour is that Cristiano Ronaldo is opening a hotel there in he next couple of years.
Porto Santo is tiny and quite arid, but has the most beautiful coastline with soft sand I've seen in Europe myself. Being on the island makes you really feel like you could be a million miles from anywhere. The size of the island also makes it feel incredibly safe - to quote someone from the island ''there's no crime on this island, because there's nowhere to go.'' Perfect to let children to their own devices as the Pestana is gated with its own private beach, which is only accessible with a room key.
Do venture out of the hotel, because the local people are what makes Porto Santo so unique - they honestly cannot do enough for you. The hotel staff made us feel as though no request was too much, and the local people were happy to answer any questions we had.
I ended up being incredibly ill during my stay (nothing to do with anything I ate or drank, I have to stress) and ended up projectile vomiting everywhere I moved for a period of 24 hours. I mention this mainly because it demonstrated to me just how wonderful the local people and hotel staff were. I became sick at the start of a three hour boat trip and one of the men on the boat sat with me for the journey, wrapped me in a towel and gave me tips to make myself feel better - you should look at the horizon, by the way. My sicky journey felt long, but on every leg there was a nice person going above and beyond.
It won't surprise you to learn that I don't remember much of the boat trip, but there's a lot to do on the island. We went on a jeep safari which I highly recommend, this is ?;32 for adults and half price for children and you get to see the whole of the island and we stopped of at a botanical garden. Bike hire from the hotel is really cheap, we went on a bike ride across the coast which was great fun and really safe for types like me who have no coordination, as there's a cycling lane running almost the full length of the island. There's a few restaurants you should try outside of the hotel in Vila Baleira, we went to Panorama which is up in the hills with a lovely view of the island and operates a free shuttle bus to and from the hotel. Be warned they do love healthy portions, and value that over presentation! I asked for chicken and the waiter said 'I don't think you should have it, it's small', I replied that I was fine, to which I was told I just couldn't have it. I opted for the steak, and my plate was completely filled with steak - it was like eating a full animal. But it's fish that's really the speciality, and everyone I was with said how fantastic is was. Sadly I'm like a child with fussy eating habits, and have an irrational fear of eating fish, so was concerned that eating out was going to be stressful and it really wasn't. There's always enough choice.
There's a couple of different restaurants in the hotel too, if you don't want to venture out every night. Some do require an extra fee above the usual all inclusive cost, but the main restaurant seemed to cater for my needs and had a good amount of choice (and free flowing wine, which is what matters most!!)
This is much more of a flop on the sunbed type of holiday while the kids are entertained at the kids club, but there's enough to do not to get bored.Read moreLess
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