Nice but definitively not a 5* A review of Riu Garopa
We've spent 10 days at Riu Garopa from dec 26th 2006, with my husband and my 5 years daughter.
First of all, if you have the choice, do not fly TAP to Sal and avoid stop over in Lisbon !
Uppon arrival, our luggage were lost. Next flight was planned the night after and luggage were finally delivered at the hotel 2 days later. The reception didn't inform us that luggage had arrived. We call the airport who informed they were already delivered !
With the new regulation (no liquid in the aircraft), even the beauty case was cheecked-in, so we had nothing at all for 2 days and nights (shop in the hotel is very expensive, but TAP allows 80 Euros per person, reimbursable at airport upon departure). Return flight was not better, operated by a charter company (was not planned) and this time all lockers were broken and luggage checked without our authorisation. Apparently, it happens very often !!!
Be careful if you buy "liquids" at the tax free shop of the airport. They do not seal the bags (new rules in almost all countries) and you'll have problems if you have a connecting flight in Europe (you will not be allowed to take it in the aircraft)
Here are some comments
1° The room
We booked a standard room which was big enough for us 3 (plenty of cupboards and drawers). Nice furniture and deco but do not expect anything exceptional.
Bathroom is nice and spacious. Bring a hairdryer along, cause the one provided is very weak, especially if you have long hair.
The room was situated in block 6 which is ideally situated (close to the pool, sea view).
Cleaning was approximate and never done before 3PM. January is very windy and there was sand all over, even in the room.
Rooms aren't soundproof at all, hope your neighbours are not too noisy !
Almost every day, we hat cuts of water (especially round 7PM). Have some bottles of water close to the shower just in case !
Buffet are large, with choice, but repetitive. Most food was fried or cooked with a huge quantity of butter ! Impossible to find something just grilled. Even vegetables were swimming in grease. Fortunately, there was a large salad buffet.
There are 3 "à la carte" restaurants, but unfortunately, but we could no try them (they are almost always fully booked).
Due to heavy wind, there was lot of sand in the pool. Pool area is nice, with lot of sunchairs. There is no food or drink service at the pool, so most of people bring things from bars and restaurants and then leave their plates, glasses and cups. By the end of the day, the floor is sprinkled with dirty dishes and with ants and bees !
Beach is amazing ! Dunes of sands sink up to the sea. It's beautiful ! Clear water and gold sand. You can walk along for hours !
There are some african selling souvenirs (shells, handcrafts, ...), and women braiding hair, but hotel security keeps them away from the area of the the hotel. Most of them are very nice people trying to earn some money. They appreciate little gifts (bottle of shampoo, soap, ...) and food. They are not agressive at all. You can feel secure (we left our bag on the beach while bathing).
Beaches are public so there can be poeple from outside the hotel.
There are a few min to walk from the hotel to the beach, but max 5. Then from the entrance of the beach to the sea, you have to walk on the sand for a few meters. It's not ideal with a non-walking baby, unless you have a 4x4 stroller ! But once on the beach, it's great.
There is just one shower at the entrance of the beach where you can rinse your feet.
Employees are nice but lazy. Do not expect too much from them. Most of them speak only Portuguese, but they do their best to understand ! Entertainment team is very active. Their are lot of activities to do but if you wish to relax, they do not bother you
In general, it's a nice place. But I cannot believe it's only a few months old. It looks like a 3-4 years hotel. It's probably due to the heavy sandy wind.
There are a few shops in the lobby but they are very expensive. You can find the same things in Santa Maria (5min by taxi, 3 Euros) cheaper.
Changing money at the reception of the hotel seems to be very difficult for them. Or the cashier was closer, either they were not allowed : in ten day we have not been able to change money (some days were off due to the new year... but...). Euros are accepted everywhere so you do not really need local change.
7° The Island
To tell you truth, we didn't visit the island, except the village of Santa Maria, which is very typical. People are very nice and you feel secure walking around. There are some great spots by the sea.
In general, we had a good and relaxing holiday. Cape Verde is a good compromise : not to far from Europe, nice weather...
I found the hotel overpriced, but it was due to the fact that we spent new year there. I would recommend this hotel for people who are not too demanding. It's a nice all inclusive resort, but definitively not a 5* as mentionned.
Fell free to ak me further questions !