Choupana Hills Resort and Spa – Madeira, Portugal:Choupana Hills Resort and Spa is a lovely hideaway situated atop a mountain surrounded with lush eucalyptus trees and subtropical gardens. A panoramic view of the town of Funchal and the Atlantic Ocean can be admired from almost anywhere in the property—from the rooms to the restaurants to the pool. A member of the famous Design Hotels group, this five-star luxury resort is an expert in pampering and providing a small piece of utopia for its hard-to-please guests. When one is staying inside this paradise the humdrum reality outside fades away albeit just for a while.
First Impression/Lobby: From the airport, the drive up the mountain to Choupana Hills took about thirty minutes. As we careened up the curvy roads further and further, my excitement and anticipation grew and grew. I’ve heard and read so much about this five-star luxury retreat that I simply expected to be blown away. When at last we pulled in, it was a huge anti-climax.
From the outside, the property was not as impressive as the website pictures would suggest. Its Contemporary Asian-Zen minimalist motif has been played out a hundred times by many hotels/houses/villas/establishments, this property was no stand-out.
Walking into the lobby, I was still a bit under-impressed and thinking to myself that this resort was probably just a big empty hype. After a tour of the property, however, that opinion completely changed.
Reception: The check-in process was quick and efficient however I didn’t feel as welcomed, compared to the warm and friendly correspondence I had when I called the hotel to make my reservations.
The Villa: Our villa, Goa, was one of the four highest category suites at Choupana Hills. Its location gave us the best view of the city compared to the other rooms where densely distributed trees blocked most of the view. The drawback, however, was that our deck overlooked a main pathway that interrupted our privacy each time someone passed by. In reality, this didn’t happen very often but when it did, it was like a mosquito buzzing in the ear—bothersome.
Our suite was large and spacious decorated with a contemporary and exotic theme, combining Asian, African, and local sensibilities. Brazilian hardwood floors, bright beautiful fabrics, cobalt stone walls, 15th century sculptures and paintings gave the room a relaxing and luxurious, rainforest-like ambiance. Sliding doors separated the living room and bedroom and glass sliding doors that stretched across the front of the villa opened the room up to the amazing view.
The bathroom was long and narrow with twin sinks, toilet, ample closet space, large stand alone shower and shower/tub combo. There was also an outdoor bathtub on the deck, but with its location tucked away in the corner, it did not offer much of a view. Stargazing would not have been possible, had the sky actually cleared, as the tub was under the deck roof.
There was no internet access in the room other than the super slow dial-up service that other hotels discontinued offering years ago. They do offer WiFi in the public areas though.
Room Service: Breakfast on our deck, lunch in our room, and a romantic dinner under the cloudy night sky were all prepared beautifully by the room service staff. Just as important, they delivered, set up and presented our food in true five star fashion. With service this good, it was difficult to convince ourselves to leave our sanctuary and venture to the restaurant to eat (but we eventually did).
Housekeeping: Other than the staff wanting to do turndown service too early in the evening, their housekeeping service was immaculate.
After the second day of asking them to wait until we left for dinner to service our room, their anxiousness to clean our room became intrusive and annoying.
Concierge: Their concierge services were handled by the front desk, and unlike what I normally find with this kind of arrangement, they did a wonderful job of recommending restaurants and arranging car transfers.
It costs 5 Euro to go up or down the mountain to the city via taxi but the hotel offers a scheduled shuttle bus for free.
Restaurant: The resort’s restaurant, Xopana, reviewed here, is situated in a separate building together with the bar and the kitchen. They serve French-inspired island-fusion cuisine that combines ingredients and recipes from various cultures.
The trendy Basalt Bar has a balcony for sipping wine or cocktails and enjoying the view.
Pool/Spa/Activities: The large outdoor lagoon-like heated infinity swimming pool is one of the best parts of the hotel. Their terrific pool bar service gave me a chance to relax completely under the spectacular afternoon clouds. There was also an indoor, glassed-in swimming pool located in the spa area. Because this is a resort spa, all the latest treatments and equipment were available. Other amenities include a library and living room for having an afternoon tea.
Overall ImpressionAside from the cool and cloudy weather and a few minor annoyances, Choupana Hills Resort and Spa in Madeira, Portugal has everything a five-star luxury hotel needs to make it Bombastic: service, accommodations, pool, views, peace and quiet.