Les Suites At The Cliff Bay On Madeira Lives Up To Its Name

Les Suites At The Cliff Bay On Madeira Lives Up To Its Name

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Columbia Hillen

It’s not often one is ushered to one’s hotel room on a private elevator but my companion and I enjoyed the experience at Les Suites At The Cliff Bay on the exotic island of Madeira. 

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High on a natural promontory next to Pirates Bay with panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean, this luxury hotel certainly lives up to its name.

Renovated three years ago and the jewel of PortoBay Hotels & Resorts, it’s a popular 5-star accommodation choice on the exotic Portuguese island, with an assortment of 200 rooms to choose from, some with inland vistas or partial and full sea views and others with large balconies overlooking Funchal harbour and the ocean. Being located on Estrada Monumental, an easy 15-minute walk from the center of the capital, Funchal, makes it an even more attractive option.  

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We were delighted to enter the living room of our two-floor duplex, number 63, and see art deco furnishings in natural materials of polished wood and even wool, including a grey upholstered couch with elongated soft cushions, perfect for afternoon siestas, a side bureau with leather-handled pull-out pull drawers, armchairs and a rectangular glass-topped table with an orchid in a white, dimpled ceramic pot. There was also a giant screen wall television with over 120 channels, a Marshall vintage radio and a shelf of books in various languages including English, German, Portuguese and French with titles such as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, Icon by Frederick Forsyth and Barry Hearn’s ‘My Life.

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Our duplex also featured not one but two balconies, reached through sliding glass doors, with armchairs, seats and couch and a wood-slated table for food and drinks. Our multi-views were delightful, over a line of tall palm trees, a well-tended lawn with a variety of leafy plants and out to sea on one side and to Funchal on the other, its buildings climbing up the smooth slopes of the nearby mountain. Our marbled-tiled bathroom comprised a glass-enclosed shower and bathtub with Bulgari cosmetics and our bed was so large four people could have slept in it quite comfortably.

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We dined at Avista restaurant, one of several restaurants at The Cliff Bay, roughly translated as ‘The View’ due to the spectacular beauty of Funchal bay from the restaurant’s cliff-top vantage point. Sitting on the ground-floor terrace, the sparkling city lights resemble the bubbles in my glass as I enjoy an Ocean Mist, a blend of tequila, agave, coconut water and fleur de sel, one of thirteen cocktails on the drinks list.

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Our server, Danusia Inty, with perfect English following a brief spell on Jersey and study in Birmingham, exudes a sparkle of intelligence and warmth. Together with friendly restaurant manager and sommelier, Kyrylo Vasylyev, and chef Bruno Vieira, we feel we’re in expert hands.

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For dinner, my companion and I decided to start deep in the ocean and make our way slowly landwards. As we peruse the menu, we’re seduced by a dish of smoked olives and ‘bolo do caco’ – circular Madeiran sweet potato flatbread. Our starters of deep-sea croquettes – bonbons with a tofu-like filling tasting of savory prawn bisque, with a hat of small shrimp glued with yuzu gelée – arrive on a tray of cockle shells and salty ribbons of seaweed. 

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A coconut gazpacho follows, poured table-side to accompany pickled cucumber pearls and sun-dried tomato, a cooling interlude before our violet prawns on watermelon lounges, surrounded by sprinkles of octopus ink coral. 

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For mains we share a Tomahawk of matured veal with béarnaise sauce, mushrooms, grilled vegetables and the house bbq sauce. Moist and the right shade of pink, just the way we like it, the oyster mushrooms and caramelised pineapple enhance the umami taste. Madeira’s Ilha wine, from tinta negra grape, is the perfect accompaniment.

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The other restaurants at The Cliff Bay are Avista Asia, the Blue Lagoon, The Rose Garden and the hotel’s culinary crown, the two Michelin-star Il Gallo d’Oro. The hotel also hosts traditional afternoon tea.

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Sports and leisure activities are abundant at the hotel with multiple swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor, including seawater, as well as a tennis court, snooker room, table tennis, pilates and yoga classes and two fully-equipped gyms. The hotel’s spa houses eight treatment suites, sauna, Turkish bath and jacuzzi, as well as a hair salon. 

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I and my companion chose a pampering package for couples entitled ‘Unwind Together’ that began with an aromatic bath during which we were served chilled champagne, followed by a full-body massage and ending with fresh fruits, herbal teas and stunning views over the cliffs and city. 

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The hotel even has three separate jacuzzis to choose from, one by the indoor/outdoor pool, one by the sea and one next to the Infinity Pool.

My favorite place to relax was beside the Infinity Pool Bar where drinks and assorted snacks are served every day. Here I enjoyed magnificent views across the glistening Atlantic Ocean and towards Funchal, layer upon layer of buildings gleaming in the bright sunshine, resembling icing on a cake, rising up the mountain to the forested summit.

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Conveniently, my favorite place of entertainment was a mere five-minute walk away, the Museum of Modern Art of Madeira (MAMMA), a dynamic cultural space founded by artist and entrepreneur, Rui Sá, that houses eclectic, thought-provoking art and hosts regular musical performances from jazz to blues, rock to opera.

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