More about Clubhotel Riu Karamboa
Like most other people who have been to the newly opened Karamboa, I found it to live up to expectations.
As you come into land you can see this spectacular hotel from the plane. Once you have landed, it's a 2-3 minute bus transfer to the hotel itself. It rises from behind the sand dunes like a hidden citadel and you can't help but be amazed by the architecture. (Although we were diverted to Sal, as there was a massive sandstorm on BoaVista the day we were due to arrive and didn't actually arrive until the Saturday!!)
The reception desk, was busy at check-in (200+ guests) but the people working here coped well. You can always get your companion to check in while you disappear to the bar!! English did not appear to be a problem for them, as some have said.
Rooms are well presented and reasonably spacious, with a nice shower. Watch out when the water pressure drops as you will get a scolding blast, probably where someone else in another room has turned on a tap or something!! Maid services are everyday if you want them.
There are several bars where you can get a drink, but also "help yourself" stations where you can get soft drinks and beer on tap, anytime. The food is adequate without being spectacular. It's served on a buffet basis in all places. There is a wide variety, we found the meats to be overcooked and tough, everything else was OK though. The themed restaurants get booked up quickly, so do it when you get there. The Cacapucha (spelling??) in the Cape Verdean is excellent; best thing I ate all week!!
I can't comment on all the entertainment avaliable, but I heard bits and pieces and I wasn't great!! We spent most of the time in the evenings in the bar under the reception, the Mogambo I think it was called, most Brits converged here. As mentioned you can listen to an English guy called Paul, who sings and plays guitar. He normally does about half an hour or so, then lets others have a go on the Karaoke. This went down well, but only went on for an hour or so as the bar closes at midnight. Most people then went to the Club Pascha afterwards until 2am.
We went on the Jeep Safari and the Sal Princess, which I felt were very informative and a good way to see the remote parts of the Island. It's difficult to get around these places on your own and I wouldn't recommend it (Going alone that is!!). Some people found this to be expensive.............
The beaches are fantastic and I enjoyed visiting the shipwreck and Sal Rei "village" centre. I would like to go back and stay in and discover more about Sal Rei, but if you prefer you home comforts the Karamboa is the place to be.
Perfect Karamboa - Boa Vista, Cape Verde
My girlfriend and I have just returned from a 7 night stay at Hotel Riu Karamboa and what a fantastic time we had. We cannot fault the staff at Thomsons (Teresa, Paul (can a man smile so much) and Jenk), and also the staff at the hotel, they were all very approachable, helpful and always with a smile on their faces. The food is excellent and very fresh (make a reservation with reception for the themed restaurants the moment you arrive), the drinks are always flowing. The morning beach and poolside activities are supervised by the ever energetic activities team, the sea is very clear, make sure you go for a walk along the very long beach. The evening entertainment is also of a high quality, the staff (bar staff, cleaners, activites team, etc) all take part and is well worth a look. If you have time, make sure you explore the island, especially the small 'bar' at the Sal Rei harbour, the locals are very friendly. If you go in December, it does get windy and sometimes a little chilly in the evening.
Overall, even though this is a new hotel, the quality is top notch and they are forever improving on their top service.
We are sure to go again.
Karamboa, Supreme Sandcastle in the Dunes
Very nice hotel. Most of the teething issues seem to be sorted now, one or two remain. Air conditioning now working OK. Very windy at the moment.
More Pictures here:
Loved the Riu
All i can say to the bad reviews is you should of done your research before you went, my partner (41) and i (32) stayed at the Riu 12th Dec for 2 wks and loved it.
It's a Riu club hotel, buffet, self service, fun hotel!
Its not a Riu Palace!, if you want fine dining and a more reserved atmosphere don't go! or if you are a more independent traveller stay in the 3* hotels that are dotted around the island for a more cultural experience, don't stay in the Riu Karamboa, you wont like it. The only real faults i can give was that the Thompson 4x4 trip cost us £138 should of been more like £60, it was good to see the island (very beautiful), and the local villages, the people are very lovely and the locals we did meet that could speak english seem to think the Riu was a positive thing, the older generation were more wary (it still must be quite a shock for them). The Visa confusion was a pain but these two faults were to do with Thomson and not the Riu. All in all a very relaxing break.
Too caribean not really cape verde and too many low IQ tourists
I have stayed at the Riu Karamboa from 06 to 12 December. I was looking forward for the cape verdean beaches and culture. The Riu gives you only the first. Besides, the type of tourist going there is mainly old people from UK, Germany and Nordics who stay most of the time in the pool getting red. With the potential the Boavista island offers, you would expect an interesting place to stay where you could have a relaxed cape verdean style holiday. What you get is a crowded hotel where people run to get food and it looks like you are in south spain or the Algarve. If you like that style of tourism its great....
The good thing is that you can explore the Boavista Island with tours offered by most travel agents or you can ask for a taxi (4x4) and the driver will take you to explore the island to some of the most beautifull beaches in Cape Verde. The island is pretty safe (certainly saffer the London, NY or any big city) natives are relaxed (sometimes too relaxed). I wouldn't recomend renting a 4x4 and explore the island alone unless you have experience because you might get stuck in some dune or the salt lakes and in some parts there is no cell phone coverage. Visit the beaches of santa monica, ervatao and espingueira and the Deserto de Viana. For food avoid the hotel if you can and explore the villages. There are two nice restaurants in Fundo das Figueiras and some other in Sal Rei with lobster and fresh fish. From what I have heard from the locals the hotel does not supply locally and buys everything from abroad which shocked me because the quality of the fish is very good (tuna and peixe serra).
I hope to return to Boa Vista but I will avoid staying at the Riu. If I want to go to the dominican republic I would not go to cape verde!
Another thing! The events organized by the hotel are soooo boring and they do not explore the local culture with the morna, funana, coladeira,.... The organizer is an italian who tries to speak 5 different languages but is not very successfull. I think the entertainment is good if you are above 50 and not very smart which I think is the type of tourist they target!
Good if you know what to expect
Reading the reviews I felt that I had to say something about this hotel. I was there in the first week of December with my wife and my 2 year old daughter. This kind of Hotel and hollyday is definitely not what we use to do, but we were extremely tired from work and needed a break just to be with our daughter, read and relax.
Normally, we don´t like huge all inclusive hotels, but off course, we knew this was an huge all inclusive hotel. So, the minus for us can be pluses for people who like huge all inclusive hotels. Yes, the buffet can be boring after a while, yes, 1000 people eating in the same buffet is everything but romantic, yes, the hotel is full of people of other nationalities, that behave differently from your own. But, be reasonable, every one of these problems is very predictible in a hotel with 750 rooms.
So, if you want a week at a wonderful beach, in European winter, in a island with not much to see, without spending much money, with a short plane trip, this hotel is for you.
If you look for a tropical caribbeanlike island, or a hollyday full of culture or nightlife, or a romantic cosy hotel at a secluded beach, forget this hotel.
We were happy with Riu Karamboa, because we knew exactly what we were paying for. A confortable hotel at a nice beach, where we could relax with and play with our daughter. The all inclusive part didn´t sound very good for us, but it revealed to be quite convenient with a toddler, that misbehaves in restaurants and is a fussy eater.
The hotel is very child friendly, with a show specially for kids around 20:00. I´ve never seen the night shows for adults, after the kid disco was over we always headed to our room... They are probably bad, but aren´t that kind of shows allways bad anyway?
So, to sum up, do you homework before you book. After all, if you pay more for things that you don´t like, like crappy shows and all inclusive food, why go to RIU instead of going to a cheaper hotel that doesn´t have those things that you hate so much??? It makes you wonder who has the low IQ, doesn´ t it?
To finish, the food is not bad, just a bit repetive, the staff is very friendly, the island is very beautiful, in its own barren way, and you should try to make a tour out the hotel and eat out at least once (we did both, even with a baby, very safe).
RIU gives you what you pay for. If you don´t want it, just pick another smaller, simpler hotel in the island...
Great for the body if not the soul
The Karamboa hits you square between the eyes as a sprawling jumble of domes and turrets, columns and arches – a sort of Disney meets Legoland where the exterior of the main pool bar and restaurant presents as a mock Taj Mahal.
Perhaps it will blend in as time passes and the planting grows but, for the moment, the blinding white sandstone effect and 500 metre or so frontage looks as if it’s been dropped onto this glorious beach by some demented giant, alien child with the taste and refinement of a drunken warthog.
OK, I’ll admit it, I don’t like the building. And I don’t like the general assumption that this is the shape of the future. “It’ll all be like this in a few years time,” twittered the boot faced Thomson rep when I dared to voice my views, “it’s called trangression”. And she’s spot on there – if she ever takes the time to check what the word means.
And OK again, there are lots of good things about Boa, the people, the beaches, the sea, the sun (and even this hotel) but bear with me for a moment first.
There are supposed to be about 4,000 people living on Boa Vista. Fully guested and staffed there must be at least half that number in the Karamboa – and apparently 30,000 hotel rooms are planned over the next five years. One 2,000 room monster down south will apparently have a golf course – this on an island with no natural sources of water. The place already survives by desalinating seawater, a hugely energy intensive process and heaven alone know how many megatons of CO2 will be produced simply laundering these millions of towels and sheets.
So Boa is being exploited until its eyes water. Yes, the locals (from Boa and other Cape Verde islands) are getting jobs – but as the waiters, cleaners, porters etc. By the looks of it the management is virtually exclusively European, presumably Spanish, given the RIU ownership.
The staff could not have been happier, cheerier, more helpful. It just worries me how long will that last. We were on – as Thomson kept telling us – only their fifth flight in to Boa and expected some rough edges. But how long before the natural enthusiasm, willingness and good nature of the locals wears off as they realise just how hard they have to work and just how plain rude so many all-in holidaymakers can be? Is it planning ahead that the perimeter wall (guarded both by private security and real police) incorporates massive internal space – perhaps half a dozen football pitches? Are they preparing for the time when the holidaymakers shelter inside their plastic paradise while the locals prowl hungrily outside? I hope not.
Oh, I suppose you want the review now?
Big though the place is, check-in for some 200 of us arriving at the same time was brisk and efficient and it was a nice touch to have trays of ice-cold orange drinks on hand the moment we entered the spacious, airy lobby. You could have your bags taken to your room but we were warned that could take up to an hour because of the sheer numbers, so, like most people took them ourselves. The hotel design means a healthy hike and that you will inevitably have to lug your bags up and down a few staircases – it’s only two floors and there are no lifts – which was a problem for some people.
Rooms and bathroom are decent size with good storage and all (I think) have balconies. Sadly ours was north facing so never got sun and towels and costumes would never dry out. The air conditioning certainly kept the room as hot or cold as you wanted but also did seem (we checked with some others) to bring in a smell of tobacco smoke - smoking is allowed virtually everywhere except the enclosed restaurants.
Public facilities were airy, well laid-out and elegant – plenty of space and seats in the bars (someone said there are 20 different bars in the complex – I quite believe him) with a partially covered auditorium which must easily seat 500 people with many more able to see from the surrounding bar areas.
Personally I found the wine and beer (available at the bars and at “pour it yourself” points around the complex) virtually undrinkable; the beer (local Cape Verde lager) had a brackish after taste - my guess was they used desalinated water in the brew. Service at the bars was generally quick and friendly and – providing you specified it – included premier brands. Yes, a white label bottle would be used if you just asked for a rum or a whisky – but ask for and you got Johnny Walker, Bacardi, Jamiesons etc, and of course in copious amounts.
Food was decent quality and well prepared. As well as the main restaurant you can choose (you need to book but there is no charge) to eat in Cape Verde, Asian or African themed dining rooms which we found appetising and interesting. In the main restaurant choice was a little more limited than we were used to in similar places and it was a bit repetitive – but so what, you don’t go to places like this for haute cuisine. And they do so try to match our European tastes – though I’m not quite sure who suggested we like Brussels sprouts (they alternate them with green beans) for breakfast.
Of course it’s the sun and the sea and the sand that makes this place. And they are all splendid. The Karamboa is smack in the middle of miles and miles of soft, rich empty sand – an hour’s walk one way gets you to the capital of Sal Rei, or half an hour the other direction takes you to a big Italian run hotel which blends in to the scenery rather better than our great white whale. The sea is warm and can have crunching waves with quite an undertow – great fun for sober adults to play in, a potential worry for children and drunks.
The big pool which incorporated a swim-up bar seemed fairly lightly used – perhaps because it is so close to the sea, perhaps because it seemed on the cold side or perhaps, as the entire beach, pool, bar and outside restaurant area is served by just one small set each of ladies’ and gents’ lavatories, because it has an excessively high pee content. The under-looing of this area was highlighted as I was queuing – yes, a man having to queue, what is the world coming to? – to get into the gents’, when a woman barged past me gasping “I’m desperate” and elbowed her way into one of the only two functioning stalls.
Given its secluded position you are really in the hands of the on-site animation team for your entertainment and quite a few guests seemed to take the easy option of simply drinking heavily (albeit quietly – I’m not suggesting the slightest hint of trouble) in the lobby bar.
I was initially pretty sniffy – who’d have thought that from this review so far? – at the standards of the evening entertainment, generally miming and dancing. But the sheer energy and bounce of these living Duracell bunnies who also improved visibly night-by-night, won over even this curmudgeon. The young team were also constantly in action during the day, leading games on the beach and poolside and all day dancing on the bandstand.
Not once did a single person appear to chisel for a tip. I did make a point of spraying round small notes – two and five hundred Cape Verde escudos, equal to two or five Euros – and always they seemed genuinely grateful, surprised and sometimes even embarrassed.
We did take our walk into Sal Rei, an interesting if rather run down place, where a smattering of new developments sit awkwardly with some probably once quite fine but now dilapidated buildings round a central square and some out-and-out ruins where dirt-poor locals seem to scratch an existence. A quad bike tour (fixed through the very helpful and excellent English-speaking team at the water sports centre on the beach) gave an interesting taste of the northwest quarter of the island.
Boa is, quite simply, a desert island. Yes, there are patches of green and a hill or two but there is not much to see beyond sand – inland you call it desert, when it meets the sea it becomes a beach – so really there will never be the great sightseeing potential of, say, The Canaries.
The Karamboa is an easy choice if you want a good value blend of sun, sea, sand, booze, decent food and comfortable accommodation virtually all the year round. You can feed and cosset the body here easily enough if not the soul. But watch out: give it a year or two and it all could all be so different – and, no I don’t mean that in a good way.
Go sooner rather than later
Very relaxing get-away. Great location, great beach, great staff and suggest you go there before it inevitably ends up with beach traders etc. 5th plane to land, eventually! Due to poor landing visibility our flight was diverted to the sister island Sal and stayed there for the night. Upon arrival at the Karamboa, this was long forgotten!
Had no expectations as there were no reviews to go by.
Check-in : Greeted with cold drinks and just a few minutes to queue. Take your own cases to your room as it could be an hour or two for the them to be delivered.
Reception/Staff : Where you get bottled water. Pleasant and helpful.
Room : Brand spanking new ! Free safe. Some better views than others, but spent little time in it anyway.
Food/Drink : Hot food was hot and cold food was cold. You'd have to be pretty fussy not to find something you like. Very little queuing, no sign's of "running for food" and all kept well stocked. Drinks freely available with the odd help-yourself beer tap and soft drinks dispenser dotted around. Bars at night can be a little busy.
Entertainment : Daytime, beach volley-ball, football, pool aerobics, beach aerobics, dancing... (probably missed others)
Night : pretty poor, trying to cater for multi nationalities. Best make some friends and drink the night away in the lobby area. Alternatively, the karaoke bar, or the night-club (11pm-2am)
Beach : very soft white sand, but already seeing signs of cigarette butts around the loungers. Disgraceful ! The sea is warmer than the pool, but I wouldn’t recommend it for small children as there is an undercurrent. Red flag flown three times out of seven during my stay. Great walk (about an hour) into town. However, boat crew of the Sal Princess did warn of a couple of known muggings on that route (camera, phones etc). Seemed pretty to safe to me though.
Pool : Cold ! (possibly why it was so empty) great pool bar and loungers set into the pool ! There are also two Jacuzzis within the pool. Never a problem getting loungers and little sign of early towel reservations. The pool restaurant is good, beer taps and soft drinks dispensers. Always had lunch here, as choice and quality was great. Cold water often bought round to sunlounger area.
Fitness/Spa : Never tried the spar/massage but the fitness centre has good quality rowing machine, 2 running, 1 x stepper, 2 bikes and a not yet operational multi gym. It’s warm in there so take water and a towel (closes too early at 8pm)
Weather : constand 30ish deg and a nice breeze. A little overacast one day. I was ok in short sleaves at night but women may need a cardigan as it can get a little chilly. It's not muggy in the day or evening.
Check-out : Staggered coaches to the airport so little queuing when you get there.
Airport : New and tiny ! Nothing really to buy, but can get drinks and snacks once through check-in.
Hint’s/Tips : Mosquitoes seemed to be an issue for some, so be warned. Currency is the CV escudo, but everything is marked in euros (If you can find anything to spend it on)
Had a great time here and looking to take the rest of the family back early next year before if becomes too spoiled.
Hotel far too big, more like a posh butlins
As we flew in over Boa Vista I was absolutely horrified to see from the air just how big this hotel was – I’m almost sure you can see it from space! At the time of booking we only had the artist’s impression in the brochure to go by.
After many years of wanting to go to Cape Verde we decided to take our Christmas holidays here this year, what a disappointment. Maybe some people like going to places like this but sadly my husband & I do not, we prefer a smaller more intimate hotel.
Upon arrival the hotel looks – if you use your imagination - a bit like a castle (my choice would have been a posh Butlins). There was no getting away from the place once you were in it as there was nowhere else to go.
Check in was efficient and being greeted with a glass of fresh juice was very welcome, bottled water was freely available at reception free of charge. There were also drinks stations dotted around the hotel so if you wanted a cold beer, soft drink or coffee you could help yourself without having to go to the bar.
The grounds of the hotel were fairly well spaced out but very sparse, I would imagine that it will be better when the plants etc are more grown & mature.
It was very windy where we were as well, although we were told that you could not reserve sun beds there seemed to be an awful lot with towels on and no-one using them, they were also being used as wind breaks as well, so if you did not get in early you had a limited choice of where you could sunbathe. Lying on a towel on the beach was not an option as you were sandblasted. You needed to be a fairly strong swimmer as the current in the sea was strong and there were quite fierce breaking waves. There was a flag that advised of the sea conditions but we did not take the chance. The swimming pool was freezing, so no swimming for us.
There were approx 200 English people on the plane out, the rest of the ‘guests’ were German predominantly, and boy, are they rude!
Food was fresh and plenty of it, my main concern was the fact that I’m allergic to fish and they were cooking fish & meat on the same hotplate and turning both over with the same spatula. Hence I broke out into quite a nasty rash (no it was not prickly heat as suggested).
Meal times were traumatic, especially at peak times, other ‘guests’ were unable to wait in a queue and take their turn, we were barged, huffed at, gestured at and at one time so crowded that my husband turned round and knocked a plate full of food out of somebody’s hands as they were so on top of him. Not a pleasant experience.
There were three other restaurants on site, we tried all of them and by far the best was the African style food. Please note, you need to book the other restaurants and they get booked up very quickly.
There is a karaoke bar and there is a show on every evening, not to out taste again, but other guests enjoyed it. So most nights we went to bed around 10.30, only to be woken in the early hours when other guests were going to bed as the hotel echoes and has very little sound proofing.
On the plus side – yes we did manage to find something – we went quad biking (arranged at the beach hut on the beach) quite pricey at £80, but worth it, 4 hours of fun and being able to see the fantastic unspoilt beaches further round the island (sadly RUI are building another massive hotel in the area) and the sand dunes.
We also arranged a massage in the spa located within the hotel (again £80), which was really superb although quite expensive.
Staff are friendly and always have a smile, but there were some language & communication problems. Although please & thank you are understood.
All in all, Thompson’s rated this as a 5 star hotel, I would rate it more like a good 3 star. We felt like we had paid at least £1000 too much for a week away. If you want the weather, fantastic friendly staff, brilliant beaches & warm sea water you can swim in for the same money I would suggest Aruba.
Spoilt by smokers
This could have been a wonderful holiday except for the fact that there is no provision for non-smokers.
Every bar, lounge, theatre, disco one of the restaurants as well as the entrance to the main restaurant are polluted. It was impossible to find refuge as even the rooms are not segregated. It is more frustrating as the holiday reps are unwilling to negotiate segregation with the management.
The resort is great for a lazy week. The hotel provides watersports and pool activities and ample sun loungers/parasols on both beach & pool area. If you choose the pool your ears will be subject to music, aqua aerobics & bingo but the beach (well lifeguarded) is a short stroll.
The beach is magnificent and you can walk for more than 30 minutes, on sand, in either direction before reaching another hotel/town. The sea is rough but magnificently coloured.
Rooms are adequate to good, standard room could be larger and well cleaned.
The staff are great and always smiling. Their English is limited, with bar, serving & cleaning staff this adds to the enjoyment as you order a drink or use a wagging hand to describe a fish; its more of a problem at reception where they pretend to understand.
Take Euros, not the local currency, although you will find it difficult to spend any.