That was quick. Just four hours by plane from Zurich and you arrive at this little gem, the perfect place to relax and take some time out. With a wonderfully pleasant climate, a range of different possibilities and, most of all, breathtakingly beautiful countryside. Steep cliffs, mighty mountain ranges, picturesque towns and abundant floral greenery everywhere. I’m actually a little surprised that Madeira isn’t already one of the generally acknowledged tourist hot spots. But it just makes the relaxed flair of this island, located in the middle of the Atlantic, even nicer. And if you then stay in an exclusive 5-star hotel, you are bound to have an unforgettable time.
Did you know that 'Madeira' translates as 'wood' in English? This choice of name can be traced back to the valuable laurel wood, which the Portuguese explorers discovered and used for shipbuilding. The Laurisilva, the laurel wood, is now a protected species. The island’s subtropical climate, which encourages vegetation growth, is mainly used to grow wine and flowers. The heart of Madeira is its capital city of Funchal, situated on the south coast: With its approx. 112,000 inhabitants, it stretches out like a picture postcard along a gently curved bay, with the mighty mountain ranges behind and the vast deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean in front. Right in the middle of the city centre, a recently opened city hotel is setting new standards in the hotel industry: The Savoy Palace is impressive with its luxurious furnishings, outstanding cuisine and artistic Belle Époque architecture. One of six hotels on Madeira in the sophisticated Savoy Signature Group, it’s undoubtedly the most luxurious and rightly one of the 'Leading Hotels of the World'. Perhaps it is the grand gesture of the curved building that immediately draws me in; it might well also be the Zeitgeist expressed in all the detail. Wherever you are – in the prestigious foyer, in one of the five restaurants, in the spa, in the outside garden, terrace and pool areas or in the rooms and suites – there is a luxury that is far from the usual classic elegance but can instead be experienced as a refreshing lifestyle and sophisticated coolness. Interior designer Nini Andrade Silva has succeeded in wonderfully combining modern style with the island’s indigenous themes and materials. Her concept structures the large hotel in a well thought-out way, creating manageable areas with lots of private space so you immediately feel you have 'arrived'.
One step closer to heaven? Yes please! As a guest in a pool suite on the 13th floor of the Savoy Palace, not only am I able to enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the deep-blue Atlantic through the floor-to-ceiling windows but I also have exclusive access to the 'Jacarandá Lounge & Club' rooftop area. One floor up, it’s an inviting space with a host of premium offers. A drink at the bar, breakfast in the restaurant, time relaxing in a cabana on the sun deck, chilling out in the jacuzzi or a short swim in the infinity pool: Everything is possible, and always with a unique view over the rooftops of the city and out towards the ocean. At the same time, the suites themselves are so incredibly beautiful that you just want to stay and enjoy them to the full – because they too reveal the skills of the designer Nini Andrade Silva, who lives on the island: Bright, clear colours, ornamental patterns, wickerwork, fabric, wood and stone harmoniously combine, playing artistically both with the present and the past. Time to go and eat: If you love it casual, then the ground-floor restaurant Alameda is for you. Take your seat right by the expansive pool under covered pergolas and perhaps try the customary Espada, the black scabbardfish. The Galáxia Skyfood Restaurant is perfect if you want – like me – to dine out in style. What head chef Francisco Silva creates here meets all the requirements for haute cuisine – creative, surprising courses, each one of which is a taste sensation and a visual dream. Bones filled with beef tartar and smoked with sprigs of herbs, accompanied by a red wine from the region is definitely one of my personal culinary highlights. My conclusion: Here at the Galáxia Skyfood Restaurant, the ambience, service and cuisine are a perfect match. Well done!
Even though it is tempting to stay in the hotel, due to its many amenities, Funchal has much to offer. The Savoy Palace is conveniently located so centrally that many attractive destinations are only a few minutes walk away. The description 'flower island' proves once more to be true as we set out on our walk: Abundant banana plants, blossoming orchids, sweeping bird of paradise flowers and palm trees line the streets and squares of the capital city. Magnificent promenades proudly present their artistic inlays made of stone, some straight, some curved flowing patterns. We enjoy walking through this well-maintained, beautiful city, in which magnificently restored buildings from the past, stylish restaurants, boutiques and bars bear witness to the modern age. There’s so much to see: the lively Mercado dos Lavradores with its colourful fruit and vegstalls, for example, the Parque de Santa Catarina in the centre of the city with the government palace Quinta Vigia; or the Monte Palace tropical gardens, which you can get to from Funchal by cable car. You can go for walks along the Levadas, the old irrigation channels, or into the mountainous hinterland, observe whales and dolphins on boat tours, get to know island traditions at the flower or wine festival or marvel at the cruise ships in the harbour. Everything in one place.
After the discovery tour through the city, you’ll go back to the hotel filled with all those amazing impressions. Here, your own suite not only offers you a welcome retreat, the schedule also includes time in the luxurious Laurea Spa creating those perfect moments of wellbeing. Across a total of 3,100 square metres, all harmoniously designed, it’s easy to find balance for your body and soul – whether it’s in the large indoor pool with a relief stone floor or in the jacuzzi, in the sauna or in the Turkish baths, under the ice fountain or under the experience shower, in the room for halotherapy or in the relaxation room, where an illuminated tree forms its bright green centre. You’ll find everything you could possibly want with a great range of treatments, all carried out with high-quality, fragrant products. I am only too willing to put myself in the very experienced hands of the masseuse, enjoy the palpable feeling of relaxation and look forward to another evening on the island of Madeira. Yes, I would travel back to the flower island anytime. The quick and easy journey there, the pleasant climate, the range of possibilities and the friendly people all make a stay here a wonderful time out – in the outstanding Savoy Palace, of course.
Edelweiss Air AG, which was founded in 1995, has established itself as a leading Swiss holiday airline. With a fleet of 16 aircraft, it takes its passengers on short and long-haul routes to the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world. As a subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and a member of the Lufthansa Group, the company knows how to meet high standards. The fact that Edelweiss is also continually extending its portfolio of destinations, even in times of great challenge for aviation, is also contributing to the success of the airline, which takes into account the growing trend for direct flights. There are weekly flights to Madeira from Zurich. On the four-hour direct flight, you’ll be spoilt by the friendly cabin crew who provide a heartfelt service looking after the guests’ wellbeing. High-class travel without busy transfers? Edelweiss!