The Riu Funana, along with the Riu Garopa, constitutes the largest hotel complex on the island of Sal. A massive establishment noted for its numerous services, it is, without a doubt, well-suited for families, who will find everything they need within reach. Its only downside is perhaps the fact that it is so oversized that it becomes quite crowded, and so we were disappointed to not be able to find a little peace and quiet.
The Riu Funana is located on Sal island, one mile away from Santa Maria and 10 mi from Almicar Cabral international airport.A 5-minute taxi ride will get you to the town centre.
The Riu Funana is an ideal place for a family holiday. Indeed, the all-inclusive formula means that you don't have to worry about the meals, drinks and activities that you might get a craving for during the day. The opening times of the restaurants have been arranged so that you can always get a bite to eat at any moment of the day or evening.
The Riu Funana is part of the 'Club Riu Resort' complex, the largest hotel complex on the island of Sal, which includes a second hotel, the Riu Garopa. You can move about freely between the 2 hotels, thanks to a bracelet given to you when you arrive which must be worn for the duration of your stay at the complex; this is your passport to the free services and amenities (sports, restaurants...).
The downside remains the size of the hotel. Of mammoth proportions, its accommodation capacity is equally impressive. The large clientele mostly hails from Europe (England, Holland, Germany...).
This lively hotel puts on entertainment during the day and throughout the evening.
Accommodation advice: some of the guest rooms are adjoining and others are especially intended for families. The latter are similar to the standard rooms but come with a supplementary sofa bed.
Built in 2005 and a member of the Spanish hotel chain Riu, the Funana is part of an imposing resort complex: the 'Club Riu Resort'. It therefore shares its glory with the Riu Garopa, the second hotel in the complex that was modelled on the Funana, to which guests have free access thanks to the all-inclusive formula, signalled by the bracelet on your wrist...
Before setting out to wander around the complex and explore the numerous services on offer though (a programme of activities that includes a number of sports), everything starts at reception (where you will receive your 'open sesame', the famous bracelet). Particularly bright and spacious, it is characterised by high ceilings worthy of the largest palaces, big woven banana leaf chairs, towering potted palm trees, and oriental lights placed here and there. By this point, you will have understood that everything is immensely huge! The size of the complex is particularly noticeable from the lobby bar terrace, which overlooks the entire complex. This view, equally pleasant whether you are looking out over the swimming pool or the ocean, reminds us that we are dealing with an excessively large complex and that we will not be alone here, even if we feel as though we are in a different world.
Getting back to the interior, we are literally sucked in by the boutiques making eyes at us. All different kinds of craft work are sold here (jewellery, paintings, etc.). We would love to buy a souvenir or two but the prices don't seem to be negotiable. Behind all these boutiques you can catch a glimpse of the 'theatrical' stage, where entertainment is put on every night starting at 9:30pm. At the bottom of the staircase, you finally arrive at the "best" areas in the complex: the restaurants! There is a Japanese restaurant to the left where you can eat à la carte if you wish, otherwise the main restaurant where you will spend most of your meal times thanks to the all-inclusive formula, is to your right. Despite the noise and lack of the privacy that you would normally wish for while on holiday, it has to be said that the quality and variety offered by the buffet are more than satisfactory. You will find substantial amounts of everything: fish, meat, starches, cheese, pastries... The goal is that you try a bit of everything!
Once you have finished your meal, a pleasant option is to make your way to the spacious and well maintained pool area, where a sufficient amount of deckchairs allow you to find a spot to sit back and relax, preferably in the sun. The pool bar has direct access to the beach, which is particularly nice and where you will finally find some sought-after privacy... Finally, one more thing about relaxation: don't turn down a detour to the Spa. Granted, the treatments are a little pricey, but these remain an essential if you really want to unwind, especially since the sauna and the jacuzzi are really quite pleasant (we recommend you start with the first one and finish off with the second one, true bliss). Then, it's already time to go back to your room and take a shower before going to dinner, and why not enjoy the show afterwards? You'll see... After all, the guest rooms really are (too) comfortable and a little peace and quiet is always welcome...
There are 500 guest rooms available at this establishment. This may seem like a gigantic number but don't worry, they have all been cleverly arranged and spread out around the entire complex. The result is that you end up doing a lot of walking but, after all, holidays are also supposed to be an opportunity to get you involved in a few sports, walking being one of them... Another advantage, and one not to be overlooked, is that the rooms have been grouped together in dedicated 'blocks', set apart from the communal areas that can prove to be quite noisy. However, some of the rooms can be a little too far away from the common areas and so guests have to walk quite a long way to reach them.
Regarding the different categories, once again it'll be up to you! If they're anything to go by, the standard rooms are entirely satisfactory. Spacious, impeccably clean, and very comfortable, they also benefit from particularly refined decor. Two beds that have been placed side by side ensure a perfect night's sleep, there is satellite TV broadcasting a number of channels, and the view over the ocean is simply magnificent (ask for a room with a sea view if you can). The bathrooms are also equipped with everything you could need: towels, hospitality products, and a safe in the large wardrobe, which is where you'll also find extra pillows and blankets for the cooler nights (in February for example). The family and standard rooms are nearly identical, the latter just have an extra sofa bed in a room separate from the parents' double room. Whichever room you choose, you'll be sure it benefits from a pleasant setting conducive to relaxation.
Here you have several possibilities. The Club Riu Resort is made up of 2 hotels, so you will have access to twice as many restaurants! This is rather nice, as you will be able to try many different specialities: Asian, African, and of course, Cape Verdean! The meals are served as a buffet in the various restaurants dedicated to each cuisine, where you will have to book a table if you are interested... As for the main restaurant, the Ponta Petra, it offers international dishes also served as a buffet, where you will find a large choice of appetisers, hot dishes prepared show-cooking style (several types of meat and fish, steamed vegetables, grilled peppers, starches, etc.), cheeses, fruit, pastries, and ice cream. Breakfast is served from 7:30am till 10:30am, lunch from noon till 3:30pm, and dinner from 6:30pm till 10:00pm.
Those who would like to enjoy their meal in a more airy and less crowded environment can opt for the poolside restaurant, the Santa Maria, where lunch is served from noon till 3:30pm. This service is 'extended' by a 'snack' formula (the same buffet as at lunchtime but in smaller quantities) from 3:30pm till 5:30pm. The theme restaurants are open for dinner only (just remember to book a table in advance). At the Cape Verdean restaurant, for example, there are lots of specialties to be discovered: the chicken accompanied with a chilli sauce, "Magnaletas", or a fish cassolette (2 specialties from Saõ Vicente), but also the tuna filet with garlic and onions (a specialty from Sal) or the essential cachupa (a traditional Cape Verdean dish). All of the dishes are served with a choice of sides: rice with beans, chips, or steamed potatoes. As for desserts, pastries, fruit, cheese, and ice cream are all on offer.
Finally, as far as the bars are concerned, all of the drinks (local, with or without alcohol), like the meals, are included in the all-inclusive formula. The one located on the lobby level (open 10:30am - midnight) is quite practical, as it has a self service area (for those who would like a soft or hot drink). A second one is located by the pool (10:30am - 6:00pm), a third one is on the beach level (10:30am - 6:00pm), without forgetting Bar Teatro (7:00pm - midnight), where the shows are put on, and the one in the nightclub (11:00pm - 2:00am), to rehydrate those who plan on tearing up the dance floor...
The Riu Funana stands on the seafront, on a simply glorious beach - golden sand as far as the eye can see, head-spinning turquoise water, in short, the perfect setting for a lazy sunbathing session... Deckchairs and parasols are also available.
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