Vila Gale Tavira
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A splendid hotel by any standards
Wow! Not what one expects in a small town like Tavira, the Vile Gale Tavira hotel sits close to the town centre on the west bank of the river and, although very modern, fits nicely ionto the old buildings around. Built on just 3 levels in a large square around a fabulous pool area, this hotel has large airy public spaces decorated and furnished to a very high standard. The bedrooms are also large, clean and nicely furnished - the bathrooms everything you would expect in such a hotel. Breakfast included in price was as good as it gets anywhere - the full monty! If there is something odd about the place it is that it caters for everyone from family holiday, to SAGA parties and business conferences - hard for any one group to feel at home in such an atmosphere.
The hotel has a sister hotel (Vile Gale Albacora) which is out of town on the nature reserve. This may be the better bet for the holiday maker. A free bus shuttles between the two hotels bringing access to the town from the Albocora, and to the Albocora from town to catch their private boat to transfer to the Isla Tavira beach which has excellent facilities.
Hotel was really super, rooms large, spacious and very clean. Showers where excellent, really powerful. Breakfast choice was better than most hotels we've stayed in. Worth paying the extra couple of euros for a pool view room as all others look at uninspiring sights such as a petrol station or car park!!! Beach isn't within walking distance (no matter how into walking you are!!!) but a shuttle bus will take you to a sister hotel & then a short boat trip for 1 euro per person. Lots of fish restaurants in the area, one restaurant in particular worth noting is the 'Bistrot oPorto', on Rua Ze Pires Padinha, 2 mins from the hotel, really excellent food, especially the octopus tempura - heaven!!!! Friendly service & the owner is a real character - we went back and enjoyed it even more the second time. All in all a very relaxing way to spend a week - definitely not for those of you who enjoy nightlife or English food - but then to be fair we wouldn't want you to go if you did!!!
We stayed at the Vila Gala Hotel in Tavira, Portugal for Easter this year. Coming from Spain we were really suprised to find this 4* hotel at such a reasonable price. After scouting round the internet for a 3-night break for Easter and coming up with several higher priced quotes for the same break at this hotel (up to 120 euros a night per person!), we finally found it through a destination company called Portimar based in Portamao in Portugal. Their price? Only 36.50 euros a night!! That was room price not per person and included a HUGE buffet breakfast! There is everything at this hotel you could possible want or need for a perfect holiday, two swimming pools - really clean and plenty of sunbeds, the staff were great and put us to shame by speaking perfect English! Nothing was too much trouble for them, which made us feel welcome and really made the break wonderful. The only thing I would say is request a room away from the central part of the hotel - the reception, which can be noisy, but then it is a big hotel and it was Easter. The entertainment each evening was 'interesting' the best probably being the impromtu karioke act from the bar manager!! Go and enjoy!
Just got home from 4 nights at the Vila Gale Tavira. Excellent value and great location.Three minute wallk to the 'centre' of this small but delightful town. Although the hotel has the feel and appearance of a coporate, conference venue, the facilites and rooms are excellent as are the staff. Would definitely stay there again. Only complaint might be the 'Saga louts' who were there in numbers.
The staff were excellent
This was a very nice hotel. The staff were great very helpful and there was a "at your service mentality" THe location is great for seeing the city but it was not quite on the beach as we hoped. But you can take a hotel bus to a shuttle boat with minor time involved. The Staff spoke english well. We came in the off season and there were a large number of seniors there which was fine but at first not quite what we expected. The meal were very good in the hotel and the surrounding city had a lot to offer.
Good quality hotel
We stayed at the Vila Gale Tavira in August 2004. We had booked the hotel direct through expedia and secured a reasonable rate, I was therefore pleasantly surprised on arrival. The accommodation was clean and spacious and had everything we needed. My son was in the neighbouring room with adjoining door and we found the staff to be friendly, particularly when he lost his room key! I didnt find "hidden charges" on our bill as another review suggests - you expect to pay for things like room service and a safety deposit box. They had plenty of choice on the menu, breakfast had everything you could wish for, from pastries to bacon etc
The beach was FANTASTIC!!! With an endless stretch of sand, you can walk and find yourself a quiet spot away from others, which is truly amazing for peak holiday time in August. A word of advice would be to go prepared, take plenty of suncream and water, as it truly is a suntrap with limited facilities. Plus there isnt a lot of shade, unless you hire a parasol, so either take your own or wear a hat. We only managed to find a small hut, which sells beer, cold drinks and a few sandwiches - although I believe there are more facilities - no idea where these are as as far as the eye could see we didnt spot them! We found the boat ride added to the experience.
The village itself is quiet and after you've seen the sights, not much to do, except relax and enjoy the Tavernas or hop on the boat to the beach. We hired a car for the week, so visited different spots in the Algarve, such as a waterpark. If you have a car, Sardine Dock next to the old bridge in Portimao is definitely worth a visit - we had a fabulous lunch here under the arches! The only down side to our holiday I guess was the location, as we always had to head west to visit any attractions. However it wasn't the end of the world, to go to the furthest point west was no more than 2 hours and after looking at some of the more "popular" resorts and crowded beaches of the Algarve, we were pleased to have found our hotel at Tavira.
I wouldn't recommend eating at the restaurants nearest to the hotel - the food wasn't great and a little overpriced. The hotel will recommend a few restaurants, we usually ended up across the other side of the Roman bridge - there are plenty here! We enjoyed one on the waterfront, as you walk over the bridge its down to your left and is the second restaurant.
We did face out to the petrol station and we heard some noise 2 nights, but it was only passers by and didn't linger. The petrol station was useful for water and a lot cheaper than buying it in the hotel!
Overall we had a good week here, although I'm not sure I'd wanted to spend 2 weeks here as we'd "done it all" in our week. If its a relaxing holiday you want in a good quality, air-conditioned hotel, with Tavernas and a lovely beach, try the Vila Gale - if we went back to Tavira, I would definitely stay here.
Wonderful, relaxed holiday
I stayed there with my boyfriend in August/ September 2004 for 9 nights in the middle of a fortnight's holiday to Portugal and we had a great time. The hotel was excellent value - very luxurious and we certainly couldn't complain about some of the things that some previous reviewers have mentioned. We had a room on the corner of the hotel near the roundabout, which meant that our view was partly of the town flyover, which wasn't particularly entrancing, but at least the other half of the view was the salt farms and the rio formosa national park. We didn't have any problems with noise, either from neighbouring rooms or the street. The hotel room was lovely, as was the rest of the hotel. My only quibble would be the EUR 5 per day charge for the gym, which had no air conditioning and was therefore pretty stifling. Solution: use the gorgeous swimming pool!
The restaurant in the hotel was pretty decent, with exceptionally friendly service and wonderfully massive breakfasts. Location is great as well - far more central than its sister hotel.
As for Tavira itself, it's certainly not for partygoers, but if like us an ideal evening involves stuffing your face with great food and wine for pocket money (a two course meal for two with house wine at Bica came to 17 Euros), and meandering the attractively disshevelled streets, then you will have a great time. Even better, though, is the Ilha, which benefits from being so cut off. It's only 30 minutes away by a very relaxing boat journey, but it reminded me of all the best bits of Brazilian beaches (my boyfriend might point out that there was a distinct lack of fio dentale bikinis, but that's just him) - wonderfully relaxed restaurants and bars with chilled Portuguese and Brazilian music playing whilst you relax under a wooden parasol.
All in all a great place to go if you're after a relaxing break in gorgeous surroundings.
Some good aspects, some far from good
We stayed at the Vila Gale Tavira for 2 weeks in August 2004. The hotel looks and feels like a 4 star hotel. It only opened 2 years ago. Complimentary buffet breakfast was very good quality with a very wide choice. Our room was very comfortable. Quite a large pool with plenty of sun-beds and cushions. No problem getting one throughout the day.
Bad aspects were numerous and they took the gloss off the trip.
Surprise extra charges: This hotel (like the rest of Tavira) believes in charging guests for every tiny thing they offer. The Expedia website states that there is a complimentary boat to Ilha de Tavira. Not so. From 2004, you have to pay 1.50 euros per person to travel (round trip) on the Vila Gale boat to Terra Estraita (the hotel's private resort on Ilha de Tavira) which is 1.5km west from the part of Ilha de Tavira where the public boat takes you. The hotel charges for sunbeds, parasols etc at its own private beach at Terra Estraita! You even have to pay to rent a key and lock to use the safe box in your room. (2 euros per day plus 15 euro deposit returned on check out). Use of the indoor pool and jacuzzi is free but you have to pay to use the steam room. Of course, massages are extra. There is a wonderful sunbathing deck which no one uses and which we were told was not for use. We used it anyway and no one told us not to. Strange! You also have to pay to use the snooker cues and balls, the darts and darts board, the draughts board and pieces in the bar. Dance lessons in the hotel are of course extra. Room service has its own inflated prices plus a charge of 7.50 euros just for bringing some thing to your room. Laundry prices were high. Mini bar prices were simply extortionate. Hope you get an impression of how they charge for every tiny thing.
Noise: The hotel is situated in the heart of Tavira near the riverfront. However, there is a covered market (Mercado) nearby where bars and live stage music can go on to 3am which will keep you awake if you leave your window open at night. The petrol station (Repsol) to the side of the hotel mentioned by another reviewer didn't create any noise for us. In fact, it has a really useful 24/7 mini market with very reasonable prices. The hotel entertainment caters only for the majority of guests at the hotel who are Portuguese. It can get annoying when you're trying to rest by the pool when at 5pm the loud music and the water aerobics start. The bar sometimes has music which can go on till 11.30pm which is disturbing for those with pool view rooms. Entertainment is a mix of Karaoke and the occasional Samba show. It seems the Portuguese look to Brazil for glamour not possessing much flamboyance of their own. Music played by the bar is a mixture of Portuguese music and 1980s songs which got quite tedious. The walls in the hotel rooms are very thin. One can hear a lot of noise from neighbouring rooms especially TV noise. The fact that the floors are not carpeted but tiled also means that one can hear people walking on the floor in other rooms. The door locks operate by electronic key card but the doors slam shut very loudly and so neighbours will wake you up during the night.
Miscellaneous: The hotel room has a minibar but the fridge doesn't work particularly well. It takes a day for any bottled drinks to get cold. The air-conditioning system is not central a/c as one would expect in a 4 star hotel. Instead they have box split level a/c which chills you to the bone by the end of the night. Housekeeping was generally OK but we had to keep asking for fresh towels which they didn't automatically change every day. They only changed the bed sheets once in our 15 night stay. Not what we expected from a 4 star hotel. They didn't clean the bath tub with cleaning agents daily. As you can imagine, one needs to wash off sun creams etc on such a holiday and the last thing one needs is a greasy tub to wash in. Plumbing and hot water supply were good and plentiful.
Tavira itself is overrated. Yes, it's a quaint town with a fishing past. Today, it badly needs refurbishment. Houses and other buildings are really falling to pieces. The famous churches are always closed. The castle is mediocre. There is a Roman bridge which is illuminated at night. If you are looking for a quiet holiday in a small resort then this is for you. We enjoyed the many fish restaurants there. The grilled sea bass and seafood cataplanas you can get everywhere are excellent. Watch out for O Canecao where the waiters will overcharge you if you aren't careful. They tried to charge us 44 euros for a meal when the real charge was 18 euros! Beware restaurants in Tavira (as in the rest of Portugal) will charge you even for the scraps of bread with butter which they serve you. The unnamed restaurant next to it is well priced and wonderful. The waiters there are very polite and honest. Bica on the other side of the river Gilao has great food but poor, slow and abrupt service. Watch out for the mosquitoes in the alley where the outside tables are. Patrick's bar serves excellent food and drinks at very good prices. Our favourite restaurant was Aquasul which serves a mix of French and Italian dishes using local fish and other organic ingredients. Simply a magical place. The Arco Bar is quite nice too. The Bubi bar (11pm till 4am) is a great bar with a good choice of English and Portuguese music (min 5 euros spend on drinks). Ubi (3am till 9am) is the disco (minimum 2.50 euros for women, 10 euros for men) - we didn't like the music there at all. A mix of trance and garage music. Note there is free internet access in town at the Praca da Republica. You just need your passport to register. There are some lovely bars and cafes in/near the arcade near the stalls and bandstand in town. In August 2004 there were some tent stalls serving delicious home made cakes. Shop opening hours are very limited. Usually 10-1 and 3-7. Prices can be high (photo developing 13 euros per roll!). Beach wear is good value when the sales are on (30-40% discount is the norm). Phone cards for phoning home are available from any newsagent. Public phone boxes are everywhere and reliable. As for the beach itself, the Ilha de Tavira is very busy for 200m either side of where the boat arrives. After that, it gets much quieter and is clothing optional. For those who like to sunbathe au naturel, it's very peaceful with few perverts. The Ilha de Tavira has various sectors (Praia de Tavira, Terra Estraita, Ilha de Barril, Cabanas). These make up the Ria Formosa which is a protected area for wildlife. This keeps development to a minimum. The sand is golden and clean with medium size grains. There is a busy campsite near the main beach attracting the usual mix of students and backpackers. The main problem anywhere on the beach and in Tavira itself is the wind. It blows sand everywhere! Even at our hotel, parasols and sunloungers were blown all round the pool. The weather is quite predictable. It was 30-35C throughout our stay with only 2 days of rain. It can be cloudy with the sun coming and going. Some evenings can be warm but generally the temperature drops quite sharply after sunset. We heard that the week before we arrived was especially hot - around 45C.
If you're flying to Faro Airport, you can easily get a local bus to Faro Train Station (ferroviaria) for 1.40 euros per person. The train from Faro to Tavira station costs 1.90 euros per person. Taxis are very expensive and will also charge you extra for every item of baggage they carry.
The Hotel Vila Gale is a good hotel with some negative points. But what disappointed us most was the staff. Apart from the waiters/waitresses, bar staff and cleaning staff who were all very kind and appeared so hard-working, the other staff left much to be desired. The reception staff were the most disappointing. Hardly any were genuinely friendly and helpful. Most were more concerned about applying rules to the letter and appearing to do their job for fear of senior management disapproval rather than focussing on the welfare and satisfaction of guests. They appear to overlook the fact that there would be no future for their hotel if it weren't for the guests who pay to stay with them. Not one member of the reception staff ever went out of their way for us and only did strictly the minimum they were supposed to do. The reception staff are in the main very reserved and in a few cases were downright rude. The hotel has a mix of visitors mainly from Portugal but also from the UK, Belgium. Germany etc yet it is focussed on delivering to the expectations of its staple Portuguese guests only. Do not be fooled by the fact that Britain and Portugal have strong links from the past. As far as most Portuguese are concerned, British people are largely treated as if they were the unwanted stereotypical British one hears about in Albufeira during Euro 2004 football in Portugal.
Overall, we had a good holiday but the negative points above certainly took the gloss off the whole experience. Maybe I can sum it up by saying that in 2 weeks, we never once saw or heard a Portuguese person in the hotel or in the town laugh. The Portuguese are generally polite but very reserved and seldom show any emotion. Coming from a British reviewer, who are known for being reserved, this is quite a thing to say! We had a nice time but I don't think we'll be going there again. Our advice: try elsewhere.
Very well run and great value
Portuguese-run hotel where great attention is made to detail. Only sampled the buffet-style breakfast which was very good, well-stocked and presented. Others who sampled the dinner and lunch menus seemed equally impressed. Would choose to stay here again as well located for the local restaurants for Tavira. AVoid the Hotel Vila Gale Albacora unless you want a remote get-away. Made a visit there and appears an equally well-kept hotel but a long-way from Tavira and unless you want an hour walk across Salt-flats or have a car the only option is the free river boat to Tavira beach - which in turn is a boat-ride and 25 min walk to the main town.
Pretty good, but sister hotel better
The Vila Gale Tavira is a nice hotel. The rooms are good, the food fairly good, and the staff was very nice. I assume from the number of golfers I saw that the golf is good in that area. I really only had one problem with the hotel and that was the side of the building my room was on. The hotel faces a gas station that is also a liquor store. We had drunk people outside our room until 4 a.m. two nights. A really great hotel would rectify that problem. But if you get a room on the other side, you should be fine. We visited the Vila Gale Albacore (sister hotel) nearby and had lunch. The food was great and the overall beauty of the place was remarkable. It is separated by a channel of water. So walking might be a little more difficult. They may have some sort of transportation in high season. Both hotels are nice, but I'd probably choose the Albacore next time.
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Travel Blogs from Tavira
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