More about Riu Funana
IT MAKES ME SICK
ClubHotel Riu Garopa & ClubHotel Riu Funana are the same hotel. Despite having 2 entrances, receptions and names, it’s still the same 1400 room resort. I bought this holiday and was told it was 4 stars. They put 5 stars on their front door and don’t live up to it. What’s wrong? I and everyone I spoke to had upset tummies the whole time. They just leave food out much too long. It’s mostly open air dinning and it is hard to keep the flies out. The problem is that they keep warm food out forever. I saw them putting out food (covered) for lunch at 9am one morning at breakfast. The food is also mostly fried rubbish and their theme restaurants need to be booked up to a week in advance! Hard to do on a 1 week holiday! The worst is that there were always empty tables in the themed restaurants but they never let you use them. They do nothing to control people who routinely book and don’t show up.
What else is wrong? The beds are twin beds put together and they are not that comfortable.
What is good? All you can eat and drink (alcohol), massive beach, great pool bars, rooms are well equipped, lots of beach activities and the weather is great.
I’m glad I visited Cape Verde, but I wouldn’t stay here again. Next time I would stay in a cheaper hotel in town and save the money.
So why ‘2 hotels’? The local government told the RUI Company they could not build a hotel with more than 700 rooms. So they built 2 side by side. Now they are building a new one and destroying the north of the island of Sal.
• All inclusive
• Great pools (towel policy sometimes enforced)
• Theme restaurants (if you can get in)
• Excellent beach and facilities/activities
• Nice grounds
• Lots of cats (if you like cats)
• Library/book sharing
Just returned from a week at the Riu Funana – a first class hotel on a windy desert island.
The hotel is very impressive & is actually 2 Riu hotels (Funana & Garopa) on one site with facilities of either hotel open to everyone. The hotel is immaculately clean (in spite of all the sand being blown around); the food is the best we have eaten at an all-inclusive hotel (with a selection of restaurants) & the staff very friendly & no problem communicating with them & they all go out of their way to say hello. The site is huge; fenced with only 2 exits (both guarded) one onto the beach & one onto the main road.
On the downside the wind, that is ever present, is very tiring; the flies around the pool are incessant; the entertainment is dire & the weather could be better (it got cloudy from mid afternoon).
Santa Maria is one big building site but none of the building work is noticeable from the hotel. If you want to walk into town go out of the beach exit & turn left & walk along the path into town, it’s quicker & you can avoid the dust & dirt from all the building work along the main road though there are plenty of taxis outside the main gate if you want need/want one.
Would we go again? – no but only because of the weather & it’s a long cramped 6 hour flight for a weeks’ holiday but if you are thinking of going go before Santa Maria gets spoilt by the development.
Ignore the previous review about drinks being confiscated at the airport – Sal airport operate the same hand luggage policy as the UK so no liquids over 100ml allowed.
The Next Caribbean?.... We don't think so!!
We arrived home early hours 18 June, after a not so relaxing holiday as hoped! We booked (as with all our holidays) after reading all the reviews on Tripadvisor to the RIU Funana from a shortlist of three! We now wish we had gone as always back to the Caribbean. It's important for others contenplating a holiday to the Funana or Garopa and used to the Caribbean plus RIU or Iberostar quality, whether this is the place for them!
We have stayed in numerous RIU/Iberostar hotels in the Caribbean and can safely say that this is not up to standard! but that doesn't mean they are not trying!
Firstly we can endorse other comments to say the flies drive you mad literally! whether on the beach (which were worse) or round the pool, even the restaurants suffer the same and you find yourself making sure someone is always at the table whilst the other get his or her food. Then there's the wind! so mix that with the flies and your on a hiding to nothing! The pool was really cold and although on a few really hot days over the week I only braved it once! Watch peoples faces when they get in......!! The food wasn't to bad! but the Themed restaurants were a waste of time honestly! we booked the Cape Verde (Grill) first and walked out after getting our meal as my wifes chicken was not cooked, we wandered back to the main restaurant and had our dinner there! We booked The Fish restaurant next which although better was no big shake!. We ate in the main restaurant after that all week! overall the food was ok but repetative! Would we go back! definately not! it's to big and the layout and buildings compare to something from the Foreign Legion. is it the next Caribbean! definately not! both in quality and location! and don't think it will be in our lifetime either it's to baron, dead looking and bland.
Our honest opinion is if you are used to Caribbean hospitality and have the option to change your holiday...do so! this is not 5* more like 3* tops!
Happy to answer any other questions if required.
Beware of the locals
Whilst staying in Sal recently I stayed at the Riu Funana Hotel. I found that this was everything I expected the food was of a high standard (but not really particularly mouth watering), the rooms were very clean, the pools spacious with plenty of sun beds and shade when needed. Although the hotel is 5* I would agree to Thomson’s 4T rating. I must agree with another review that the gym was appalling there was 2 pins for 5 weight machines and every other cardio machine was out!
What disappointed me on this holiday was both the poor service from Thomson and their misrepresentation of Santa Maria.
I’ll try to keep this short, Thomson’s “friendly vibe” comment was not true to my account, neither was the fact that you had to be “friendly but firm” with the local shopkeepers. I have just read a few other reviews on here and I’m glad to say I’m home in one piece! We tried a few times to get into the town but was hassled so much that it was simply not possible, I am used to friendly hassling on holiday but this felt somewhat more threatening. This was a shame as we were hoping that we could spend the evenings in the town but were simply too concerned to go out of the hotel which was a shame as we were subjected to the typical hotel entertainment all week (we actually ended up watching FOX in the room most nights).
Thomson’s service for this holiday truly disappointed me. After loosing my tickets from failing to put a stamp on them I finally made it on my holiday to find a welcome meeting of around 600 people to get through, because of this we chose not to book any excursions as we didn’t want to spend a day waiting in the heat to book it (they were still there 2 hours later!!)
On the day of return ensure you take plenty of food from wherever you can! The airport in Sal only sold crisps and the plane ran out of sandwiches in ten minutes, The MS Food in Gatwick was rammed when we landed for some reason!!
I have travelled in majority with thomson for the last 15 years and I can honestly say I don’t think I would again.
Fantastic Family Holiday
Returned from the Riu Funana 2 weeks ago and can honestly say this is the best holiday I have had since becoming a parent. I have holidayed quite a bit over the years but have found since having the children finding the right venue that fits the bill on every level is becoming increasingly more difficult.
First impressions admittedly were off putting, as you approach from the airport it looks like a huge moorish commune emerging from the sands, which initially worried us wondering what on earth we had come to, however give it a chance. As you start exploring it becomes clear that the entire complex is enclosed but has huge open spaces within the walls, with fountains, gardens etc. So much so on an evening, (it gets dark very early), the walk from your apartment block to the restaurants and entertainment area almost feels as if you are enterring the "street" for your evening. We loved it!
Ok so the entertainment on the night wasn't fantastic, but when you have children in tow, the days of galavanting around clubs etc are over, so any entertainment is appreciated, and we thought it was pretty good!
I cannot believe anyone had a complaint about the food, it was very good, huge selection to choose from and again great for children. Both my children ate like the horses the entire holiday, there was always something available that they could eat, and it was generally laid out low enough so the youngest could go and help himself.
All the staff were extremely helpful and friendly, but don't expect them to all to be able to speak english! so a few french words, and gestures will be needed!
Although the Brits are starting to discover the island
he hotel if mostly full of Italians, Spanish and portugese and as such brings quite a continental feel to the place.
We have a six year old and a 2 year old so travelling around the island we knew would not be an option, although we did try ! But be careful - we took a taxi from outside the hotel into Santa Maria but felt so threatened by some local young men on the jetty who swampt the pushchair that we jumped straight in a taxi and returned - ok so not very adventorous but best to be safe than sorry!
If its the 2 of you, there is loads to do, most of the activities during the day, and water sports are all inclusive, so if you are up for having a go you could be busy all day.
There is a kids club, and although a lot of the other families did use it, my eldest only went one afternoon in preparation for the "show". My son throughly ebjoyed it, however what with the latest events I didn't want to let them out of my sight for too long so we didn't really use it.
All in all though - a really good family holiday, that we would go back tommorrow if we could
just come back from the windy city
i have just returned from a 14 night holiday in the FUNANA and can not fault this hotel or its facilities,the food was fine and we had plenty of choice.weather was so so as the wind blows pretty strong and makes the nights cool, need a cardigan at night ladies.round the pool we were constantly annoyed with flies you could not relax for to long with out swating the flies but i think this may be a cape verde problem and not just the hotel.the only thing i may add is the evening shows are pretty average but the team work so hard to put these shows together
Depends what you want
We have just returned from one week at the Funana.
Having read all the earlier reports we were unsure what to expect.
If you are looking for beautiful scenery and lots of bars and clubs then this is not the place for you.
The Riu hotels, Funana and Garopa which are joined are a massive complex. The site covered is very large but it never felt too overcrowded. The rooms have everything you need and the staff are friendly and heplful. The whole site is kept extremely clean.
There are 2 large restaurants and 4 smaller ones. We ate in the smaller ones 4 times and found the Asian too be the best. All food is buffet served and there is a varied and large choice, though it can become a little repetitive and also some of it it was not very hot. On the whole though considering the numbers they are catering for it was very good.
The entertainment was very poor and there was nothing much to do in the evenings. We did venture into the town a couple of times . Dont let the appearance or people put you off it is quite safe and there are a few bars. Tam Tams is quite popular with the British.
The beach is very good with plenty of sunbeds and good walks. You can Hire a quad bike or learn to Scuba dive. There are lots of activities on offer. The sea is very rough.
The landscape of the islandlooks like the surface of the moon and there is a lot of new development taking place, 5 years time you wont recognise the place.
I personally would not go back, but we did have a good relaxing holiday. Drinks were named brands. Always plenty of sunbeds available at the 2 large pools.
Main downside was the flies around the pool and outdoor seating areas. This wasn't a problem on the beach ' too windy for them.
Just remember this is a developing resort and if you are looking for stunning scenery, shops and restaurants then this is not the place for you. We only went for one week and this was enough.
The hotel was spotless and the food excellent although after a week it does get a bit samey. We went to some places to eat in santa Maria which were excellent to. Santa Maria is well worth a visit, we experianced a little bit of hassle from the locals but a polite no was enough. In the square on santa maria is a small bar where you can sit and watch the local. On the beach you can also watch the fishermen bring in their haul. You can walk along the beach from the hotel from Santa Maria which takes about 30 mins.
We stayed at th hotel for a week, and on four mornings there were champagne breakfasts and champagne served througout the day. You can go to the speciality restarants but these have to be booked in advance. The fish on was excellent but the Santa Maria grill was very poor and we could not cut the meat served to us. The pool is quite cold and took a bit of getting used to, but it should start to be warming up now. Word of warning only go in the sea if you are a strong swimmer I got hit by a wave and lost my bikini. At night it does get a bitty chilly so make sure you have a jacket. We went on trip which were excellent but again dont go on the sailing trip unless you have strong nerves. This really was sailing and the boat goes right up on its side.
We had a fantastic holiday and would like to go back in a few years to see how things have change. There is a lot of development going on in Santa Maria, but this is not near the hotel so wont affect you.
Great holiday, don't believe the doubters!
I have just returned from a fantastic 2 week holiday at the Funana with my husband. I am so glad to have returned and seen that there are now a few more positive reviews on here because we were starting to get seriously apprehensive before going, and even considered changing our holiday. We are so glad we didn't!
The hotel was fantastic. We have been to the Carribean for the last few years and the Riu was definitely the best hotel we have stayed in, and we have been to Sandals resorts. For those people that have said it is only a 3 star max resort, I wonder what they are comparing it to? The complex is huge but still feels friendly and personal, the staff are lovely and helpful. A lot of them cannot speak English very well but try their best, but why should they? We had no problems with communicating, the management team were excellent, and made a really good contribution to the welcome meeting (we went with Thomson) and really made you believe that nothing would be too much trouble.
The food was really good. There was huge variety, even if you had only eaten in the main restaurants I actually think you could have had something different every night. The fresh salads were amazing, as was all the fruit and veg. We never had anything that was cold (unless it was meant to be!) as has been mentioned in previous posts. There were differents pizzas and pastas every night, bolognese was gorgeous. There was always a great selection of meats, fish and vegetable dishes. Everything was really tasty, not bland and greasy like you sometimes find in buffet restaurants. The chefs were always there cooking in front of you so you could see and taste how fresh everything was. The desserts were beautiful, it was hard choosing between all the cakes, ice creams and fresh fruit on offer. So you have to have all of it!
The speciality restaurants were very easy to book,. I haven't got a clue how people could struggle to get in to them, we never had a problem and sometimes booked on the day, including our second day there. A waiter service would perhaps have been nice but it all just adds to the relaxed atmosphere, and my husband would argue that he much preferred the fact that he could go up and get as much as he liked! We loved the Mandalay asian restaurant and ate here 3 times. The grill restaurant was also excellent, lots of different fresh meat and fish. I am not really a meat eater but still loved it, they did a beatiful cauliflower cheese and broccoli gratin. Also jacket potatoes at the grill restaurant.
The wine was really drinkable, we are not conoisseurs but found it extremely enjoyable! Definitely the best we have had in any previous holiday resorts. Even had rose which was very nice!
Before we went one concern was that we had read there were no diet drinks, this was worrying only because my husband is diabetic and enjoys a rum and diet coke on holiday! True, there was no diet coke (didn't appear to be anywhere in Cape Verde although they had coca cola pumps!?) However there were sugar free punches and juice, and obviously plenty of water to drink. We did actually buy cans of diet pepsi in the little souvenir shop that we could keep in the fridge in the room. Incidentally, the hotel had a lot of sugar free options including jams and sweetener.
My only real little moan was that the pool was too cold for me personally to spend a long time in, although again other people were fine. However this wasn't really a problem as I only ever really go in to cool down, and didn't need to very much because of the wind/breeze.
The first week's weather was a bit chilly at times, it got pretty cloudy and the wind could make you feel chilly even when the sun was out. However for the most parts the wind was a welcome factor because there is no was I would have been able to sit in that sun without it. The second week's weather was beautiful and we enjoyed it down at the beach which we loved. We liked being near the bar, watching the entertainment and watersports activities. However there were loads of secluded spots also. I found the sea lovely, nice and warm and although quite choppy, I was able to swim in it and I am not a great swimmer. Perhaps too rough for children,. they would certainly need supervising at all times.
The entertainment team were great and seemed to be working 24/7. However they were all so happy and friendly. True, the shows at night could be a bit cheesy but they are catering to so many nationalities. We actually still found them enjoyable on the whole, the comedy sketches were good and they are fab dancers. Their enthusiasm alone makes you enjoy the shows, especially considering how hard they work. And anyway, its only light hearted holiday entertainment!
We went on a few excursions............Neptunus in Santa Maria to see the shipwrecks and tropical fish. Really enjoyable, great crew and gorgeous captain!!!
We did the tour of Sal and loved it, mainly due to Alex the guide who was brilliant, again so enthusiastic, knowledgable and proud to show you his country. True there is not much there but surely you know this before you book and in fact, this was one of the reasons we wanted to go, it is a privilege to see such a different culture and way of life before it is ruined by tourism. It is not 'beautiful' in scenery but interesting and diverse.
We also did the day trip to the volcanic island of Fogo which, again, was really intersting to see another island, the people farm the fertile land in the huge crater and we enjoyed a lovely fresh breakfast and lunch there and spent some time with the locals.
I would really reccomend trying to do some excursions because it seems a shame to go there and not see more than the hotel, especially when there is so much to see. People have moaned about there being 'nothing' there, but what they must mean is that there is nothing there as we know it, no bars, shops and clubs like a european hoilday resort. But again, surely that is the attraction of Cape Verde. We loved seeing the way of life and speaking to the locals. We went in to Santa Maria and there are several bars and restaurants you can go in to. It felt perfectly safe, we did get 'hassled' a couplf of timesbut you can just politely tell them no and they are fine. It was a treat to at least be able to freely wander around the town, yes the Caribbean may be more asthetically beautiful but you can't appreciate it fully or the way of life because it is too unsafe to go in to the towns on your own for the most part.
Lastly, the flights and check in were a breeze, the most waiting we had to do was at Gatwick.
I know this is a huge review but I felt quite strongly that I needed to stick up for Cape Verde! If you have an open mind and enjoy meeting people from different cultures and seeing different ways of life, then you are sure to appreciate what Cape Verde has to offer. Even if all you want to do is lay on a beach sipping cocktails, again it has all you could need. There were people moaning that they had been expecting the Canaries, well if thats the case, go to Tenerife next year! This is a developing resort on an African island after all! We loved it and will look forward to returning, and hope it has not been ruined too much.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions (if you have managed to keep reading this far!)
Decadent excess in a sea of poverty
Enter the hotel on arrival and you are met with an efficiency on a par with a military operation. The staff are freindly, helpful and extremely efficient. Special mention to Sanchez at reception,,he was a diamond! The presentation meeting from reps and management was the the most professional I have ever attended..and I have been to plenty...All the reception staff appeared to be multi-lingual and although the hotel enjoys sprawling grounds and accommodation, your bags are whisked to your rooms while you enjoy a free glass of champagne. The champagne incidentally may not be Don Perignon but it is freely available, noon, night and day and even at breakfast and whilst on the subject of alcohol, this too is on tap throughout the hotel in the form of help your self pumps of lager and wine, However if you are too bone idle to pull your own then you can go to one of the 10 bars including the one on the beach where you can drink yourself into oblivion from dawn till dusk,,well 2 am is when the disco shuts. I am talking all inclusive here and its not local spirits either. Also there are numerous coffe/tea/capuccino/latte hot choclate drinks machines and fizzy drink machines ( but nothing diet! ).
The copious excess of alcohol is matched by the number of restaurants...6 if memory serves and you can eat until your stomach ruptures. The food incidentally was pretty good indeed. I recommend the pizzas and the spaghetti bolognese and the lamb. My only gripe was that the toaster was faulty and the milk had a funny taste, a problem solved by buying cartons from the garage mini market up the road just before the village. You do not need any money unless you leave the hotel or want to use the hotel shops and I use the word shops in inverted commas. The shops sell snacks!! cant think why..no english papers..some medicines..penicillin!! some cheap trinkets, african carvings and trendy euro trashy beach wear. Speaking of euro trash, thats what the nightly shows were..absolutely the most dire I have ever experienced. Sack the entertainments gaffer cos he is earning money under false pretences. Euro trash also makes its mark in the disco. The DJ in inverted commas plays the same 6 euro trashy pop dross cds every night..if your are french you will recognise the tunes. I can recommend the barracuda bar on the Garopa side of the complex ( its 2 hotels inside one guarded compound ). it has live bands /singers that are marginally better than the animacion crew. The hotel is clean and the maid came every day. There is a Tv in the room with several english channels. A free safe and free fridge. There was an adequate shower but no bath. Air con and a fan and a hair drier. Water is supplied at reception and you can change beach towels at the pool. ( note : on your last day take the towels to reception)
There are 2 pools, Internet room,table tennis/pool room/video games room, 2 tennis/multi sports courts..they even have a basketball at reception desk, a jacuzzi, kiddies pool, sauna, massage place and what they have the neck to call a gym. If you are a serious trainer, forget it. Go up the road to the hotel djasal,,yellow building side entrance,,steves gym...body building for 30 euros for 2 weeks.
Car hire..we hired a aircon 4 wheel drive for 2 days .and belive me you will need 4 wheel for the b roads..I am talking dirt tracks with potholes. One day would have been sufficient as there is nothing really of note to see unless you want to float in the salt lake at salinas . What a car ride out of the hotel will reveal is some of the poverty that exists on this island, It was for me a shocking eye opener that made me feel a little guilty when I chowed down that night especially when one of the hotel staff revealed how little they earnt. Hire a car for the day and see Espargosand you will know what I am talking about when I say Third world...and this is where many of the hotel staff live. Be nice to them and give the odd tip as they dont have much.
The acid test is always, Would I go there again. Well for me the answer is a resounding NO. The beaches are picture postcard iposo defacto ,,, The hotel a shrine to indulgence, the staff freindly and helpful.. BUT..the wind is unrelenting and I am talking several notches up from anything you experience in Fuerteventura. We took a beach tent and a wind break but by day 5 the frame work of the tent had been destroyed by the force of the wind and our six year old wind break was being torn apart. In the evenings the wind is not warm and if anything its a little chilly...and this was mid june! Also several days it was extremely overcast...and windy. Outside the hotel there is nothing, no shops, no bars no restaurants..well you could go to the village up the road but make sure theres at least a dozen of you and one has a weapon! The day we walked round it was reminiscent of the film Black Hawk Down!! Now I know people go on about it being safe but we found a deserted beach about 30 minutes walk west from the hotel.. A car pulls up and 2 well dressed guys in jackets and ties come over and speak good english. They strongly advised us that it was extremely unsafe to be on this isolated beach as gangs, high on drugs roam the area looking for tourists...needless to say we returned to the hotel. Mind you , the day before when we still had the car we went to sierra negra beach...completely deserted,,nobody for miles..probably too remote for the bandits even! ignorance was bliss. p.s. Take a can of fly spray. Orange pay as you go cant get a signal. The reps sort out the visas on day 2. The hotel phones are EXPENSIVE to use.
Feel free to email me : firstname.lastname@example.org
hello!... i am about to book a holiday for Sal and would love some advice if possible.
Is the hotel Riu Funana the best hotel to stay? are the building works still a problem?
Can anyone recommend another hotel
Who is the best company to book through from UK.
Any other general advice or tips would be greatly appreciated.
RE: Need Advice
Hi... I too am in the process of booking a trip to Cape Verde. I've been in contact with Cape Verde Travel. They're an agency based out of Hornsea England. I found them through the Bradt Travel Guide book (2006 edition, Cape Verde). So far, so good. They've answered my many questions and have been professional. The Rui looks great in pictures, although not so central a locale.
Best of Luck with your planning!
RE: Need Advice
The Riu is 2 miles out of Santa Maria and 1/2mile from the beach. The place is a building site as another 500 beds are added. Try morabeza or odjo thru capeverdejetaway
RE: Need Advice
There is a lot of developemtn on cape verde right now, espaecially around Boa Vista.
Not sure if you can see in this pic, but there are a lot of cranes over the buildings!
RE: Need Advice
Sorry try again!
Please can you tell me if these are readily available. I'm staying at the Rui Funana from the 27th of this month and think I read somewhere that there was one outside the hotel. Please can someone confirm if this is true. If not where would the mearest one be located.
Re: ATM Machines
Many thanks. I just want to use my debit card to get Euros out of the machine. It's a much better exchange rate than getting Euro's here then taking them with me.