Riu Funanna/Garopa, Sal, Cape Verde A review of Riu Garopa
We had booked in July for the Riu hotel complex for two weeks in December, after reading some of the reviews on site I really thought I had made a big mistake! However the reality was very different - the island of Sal is totally barren (I expected this because I had read up on Sal beforehand) the trip in the jeeps is worth doing, because you do see the only interesting bits of Sal all in one go. A hire car or jeep would not have been a good idea because there are few signposts (except on major roads only two of these, the rest are dirt tracks, so I imagine a do it yourself could be a nightmare!)
The beach is lovely yellow sand and sand dunes, big breakers, so take care, there is a flag system in operation, Red does mean don't go into the sea (although there seemed to be many who ignored the flag and the whistles of the beach patrol) yellow means with caution and frankly unless you are a good swimmer this can be tricky, on green days the water was wonderful, wam and clean.
The hotel was excellent, not five star as advertised but my travel company had stated this before we booked so no surprises there, the room was big and very clean with excellent maid service,
The food was all buffet but a brillent selection, the speciality resturants were OK but it would have been nice to have had one which was waiter served. I like another reviwer was not keen on the Asian (with the exception of the sushi), but the Capo Verde was good, the grill could vary depending upon the night of the visit.
The entertainment team worked very hard, some bits were execellent, some not so good, but a great deal of effort was put in by all the team.
Yes, we did not have wall to wall sunshine, 4 days of being overcast and dull, and a big sand storm (the maids really worked hard to clean up all the sand) however it was constantly warm and when the sun was out it was lovely. The pool areas where excellent with heated and non heated pools, I found the non heated fine for swimming in and less crowded, the children perferred the heated pool!!
Many people and our on site rep. did mention about tummy upsets, when you run a big complex and have a quick change over of guests this can pose a problem, however if like us you made sure handwashing was a rule, and ate garlic, it seemed possible to avoid (also don't overdo the free brooze ). We were fine the whole time.
The ultimate test. Would we return, yes if we wanted guanteed warm weather, good hotel and a reasonably short flight. But if we are looking for interesting places to visit and good sea swimming not the place to go. However Yes I would love to return and hopefully the island won't become wall to wall all inclusive hotels, because I think that might spoil it. The cape Verdians are lovely shy gentle peoplle.
If the many people we met on the holiday read this Hi to you all it was lovely to meet you, and thanks for the company on holiday, and thank you to all the staff at the Riu and those who dealt with our belated flight home because of the fog, we had an extra day in the sun!