Great Hotel - Shame about the weather!! A review of Riu Garopa
Stayed at the Riu Garopa for a week in early December 2006 and were very happy with the standard of rooms, choice of food and facilities.
Cape Verde boasts 'almost 365 days of sunshine a year' I can confirm that in 2006 there were less than 360 days of sunshine as the sun didn't appear for 5 days of our stay! This is apparently common for that time of year so please be aware that sunshine isn't guaranteed. That said, those who stayed there the week before were lovely and tanned so I guess we were unlucky. And the 2 days of sunshine we had were glorious.
The beach is lovely, the loungers and parasols are plentiful and there's a bar on the beach which is an added bonus. I've read some reviews of the Funana that complain that the beach is too far away. Unfortunately, when you stay in a 1000 room resort something is going to be relatively further away than something else - be it the restaurants, swimming pool or the beach. For us, in the Garopa (further away from the beach than the Funana), the beach was a few minutes walk away and it wasn't a chore by any stretch of the imagination. We were on holiday and weren't rushing off anywhere else.
The swimming pools are excellent and there is a good choice of cafes and restaurants within the Garopa and Funana next-door.
There are a couple of restaurants you need to book in advance for and these generally fill up early. As a guide we booked on the day of arrival and couldn't get a table for 4 days in any of them. The Cabo Verde fish grill was pretty good but the food in the Mandalay Asian restaurant was pretty awful. Very salty and dry.
We took our 2 year old toddler with us but there's little on-site for kids to do. There's a small toddler pool however there's no shelter around it so I would imagine that if we had seen some sun, he wouldn't have spent long in the pool before burning up. There's also a supposed kids club housed in two turtle-shaped buildings although the staff haven't quite got the hang of what to do. They certainly don't engage with the children beyond a hello and the only activity is sitting around drawing which can get a bit boring.
Because of the weather we were tempted into Santa Maria on one day. Unfortunately the town didn't seem to have anything of charm or interest although the beach promenade back to the hotel was a nice, but blustery, walk.