More about Riu Garopa
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
A Great Disapointment
We have just returned from a 14 night stay at the RIU Garopa, or Hotel" Desert Storm" as some guests described it. We booked this holiday as a 30th Anniversary celebration because it sounded a bit different to the holidays we normally take,it certainly was! As you are coming into land you get your first glimpse of the barren wilderness, not a scrap of vegetation in sight, the coach trip from the airport confirms that nothing grows here with the exception of rocks and sand. You approach the twin hotels of the Garopa and Funana along a newly cobbled road lined with sandblasted streetlights, they appear to be surrounded in mist until you realise that it is in fact sand swirling in the air
The reception and all public areas are fairly tastefully appointed and front desk staff are friendly, it`s a pity all the staff don`t follow their example, some are surly and seem to wish they were somewhere else, I know how they feel! Our room was on the ground floor with a view of the opposite wing of the accomodation block, we had requested a high floor with a sea view by email but this was obviously ignored.
Food in the Espargos buffet restaurant does not live up to rather grand dining room, the salad section is the normal selection of grated carrot, cold meats etc but the "hot" food is a big disapointment, all vegetables are either tinned or frozen and the meats with a couple of exceptions are incredibly tough, oh and everything is only lukewarm.
We tried the four speciality restaurants and the only one worth revisiting is the Asian, the Grill and the Brazillian are particularly bad.
The beach, reached from the Funana side, described in the Thomson brochure as "porcelain -white sands" is a coarse mixture of golden and black grit which when the wind blows,( all the time), threatens to remove the skin from your body.
The sea is clear and looks fun with large waves crashing onto the beach but is bone chillingly cold and has such a strong undertow that it is very dangerous for weak swimmers or small children. You can always use the two pools but these are even colder.
We walked to Santa Maria, about twenty minutes past the extensive construction sites, lorries and JCB`s passing inches away from you, the whole area has a run down uncared for appearance. The town itself is a mismatch of modern surf shops and shabby houses. Senegalise immigrants are on every corner intimidating you into buying their poor quality tourist tat, the few locals we spoke to are friendly enough and resent these people for giving the impression that they are Cape Verdians.
To summarise The RIU Garopa and Funana are now doubt the best hotels in the resort but that is only because the other hotels we saw are so bad.
If you are a hard core windsurfer then Sal has its attractions but you would be better off taking a shorter flight to the Canaries, at least the food will be better.
OUR C.V. experience at the Garopa (2 weeks)
We arrived with very little/no hassle, apart from having to do embarkation cards at the airport which caused a bit of a bottle neck – I’ve suggested that they dish them out on the plane to save time in future.
Our room was great (block 8), spotlessly clean, with a balcony overlooking the sand-dunes and sea, where we spent a few hours each evening (prior to going out and, once we got back) watching people walking to/from town, fishing boats going to/fro, a kite surfing exhibition and the surf – along with a drink (of course).
The only thing we found was the bath towels are not huge, so we used to change the pool towels in the evening and use them, dry them overnight, use them at the pool the next day and not use the bath towels (I expect the maid thought we were right mucky peoplem, as the bath towels never needed changing)!
You can change your pool towels as often as you want but we were trying to do a bit for the environment.
The hotel is HUGE, almost like a town in itself when viewed from a distance outside, and almost a complete mirror image of the Funana, which makes finding your way around both of them very easy. It does mean (as previous reviews have said) that some people are further away from things than others – we had a longish walk to the main building and restaurants, but no more than 5 minutes.
To get to the beach Garopa guests do have to walk through the Funana, to get to the gate, but it’s hardly a hardship, a relaxing 5 minutes stroll, obviously depending on where you are located, but I can’t imagine anywhere being much more than this. It’s probably another couple of minutes to where the sun-lounger’s are located once you get on the beach.
We did walk into town along the beach, a couple of times and didn’t get hassled at all. It is a pleasant walk, part of it has been hardened off to make it easier and the part that hasn’t is very good exercise on the legs (soft sand). Although if you take a buggy I would imagine it will get stuck in the soft sand!
There is a lot of building work going on and although they say it’s restricted, I have a feeling its going to be another ‘Canary Island’, when they finally get the infrastructure done.
We didn’t do any excursions this time, we just needed to chill out and re-charge the batteries.
We didn’t think the wind was as bad as we were expecting, still a strong breeze and that seemed to decrease as the holiday progressed, do make sure you have a high factor sun cream – I used Factor 30 and my shoulders still got rather red.
I was going to say a light jumper/cardigan/wrap will be fine for evenings but our last 2 nights the weather had clouded over and the wind got a bit stronger, I found it very chilly, so be prepared for changeable weather.
I didn’t come across one single mosquito (and believe me, if there was one on the island it would have found me), but the flies were seriously ANNOYING, other than that we only saw 4 cockroaches – all of them outside, the biggest, approx. 4 inches in the gents loo by the beach!!
You can get Drinking water from reception whenever you want it, and no restriction on how much. If you find it boring take a bottle of jif lemon juice and squirt a bit in for a change. Be careful how you carry the bottle though, they have dark blue labels, and the colour came off on one of my T. Shirts and I can’t get it out.
We thought that considering the size of the hotel and the relevant catering scale the food was not at all bad, there was always plenty of it, it was always fresh – we didn’t witness any ‘food scrums’ and there was variety.
I would say vegetarians should be careful what they choose as often they put meat in with the veggies.
If you want browned toast for breakfast be prepared to put it through the toaster 4 times!!
The booking of the speciality restaurants is done at reception, they do 3 days at a time and you can book as many times as you like. So if you go on Monday and you want to go back, go to reception on Tuesday morning you can be first in the queue for Thursday night.
There are 4 of them:-
Mandalay – Asian food (mix of Chinese and Sushi)
Cabo Verde – primarily fish
Rodizzio – Brazilian (all main courses were meat, served at the table from very long skewers) served with a dish of vegetables ALSO with meat in!
Santa Maria – Grill (which we didn’t try)
In case you can’t live without football results, e-mails etc. it was 3.5 euro’s for 15 minutes, 6 euro’s for 30 minutes and 9 euro’s for an hour
In previous hotels we’ve stayed in there has usually been some sort of book exchange (library), if there was one in the Garopa we couldn’t find it. So take plenty of books with you.
I used to leave our ‘read’ books on top of the stairwell and they usually disappeared within 10 minutes.
Not really our thing, but the bit of dancing we saw on some evenings was very good, especially as these are the same people who do aqua gym, shooting, water polo etc. all day long – If only I had a quarter of that energy……..
All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday, very restful, just what we needed to recharge the old batteries.
Will we go back? – see you next year!
Any questions, I’ll try and help.
My partner and I returned from a two week stay at the Riu Garopa on 11th May, and unlike some other reviews, we actually found that two weeks was not long enough! We loved the place, the hotel, resort, island, people, everything!
The one and only slight complaint about the holiday was the flight, with Astraeus - the crew had obviously not flown there before, and gave us disembarkation cards for the Gambia, which were of no use in Sal, so we were told to fill out new cards at passport control in the airport. We were also told that the time difference was only one hour, which we were surprised at, as we had read that it was 2 hours in the summer, but thought that the crew should probably know! We then spent our first evening and next morning an hour ahead of everybody else, and turned up for meals and the welcome meeting too early! It was funny rather than annoying though.
Also, on the return flight, although it was longer as we had to land in Faro to re-fuel and change the crew, there was still just the one meal, but not even any snacks this time, which we did have on the outgoing flight!
The hotel was excellent, and I have to agree with another review I've read, in that the only way the food was limited would be if you were limited yourself in what you ate. My boyfriend is vegetarian and
I don't eat a lot of meat, but we could have eaten a different meal every night for at least a week if we had wanted to. There were different kinds of soup, pizza, pasta, potatoes, meat and fish (both with and without sauce), vegetables, salad, cheese, bread and desserts every night.......I don't really think you could have asked for much more! We only tried the asian themed restaurant and were slightly disappointed in that this was also buffet style, but the food was still very nice.
Some of the staff on reception in the hotel spoke quite good english,
but again, how many of us speak portuguese? So personally, I don't think anybody can complain about that. There were certainly never any
problems with the language barrier anyway and all staff were very friendly and efficient.
The hotel was very big, but didn't seem it when you were in there, and apparently was full while we were there (which would mean well over 2000 people), and we never felt crowded, had to fight for seats or queue for anything.
The rooms were also very nice and kept very clean daily, and I don't think you'll hear anybody say anything negative about the shower!
We're not really 'hotel entertainment' kind of people either, so only watched a couple of the shows, one was comedy sketches and was terrible but the other was a cape verdean dance show, which was actually quite good! We also ventured to the nightclub 3 times, and all I can really say is, if you're into nightclubs in england, I would use this only as an option for a late drink and a giggle - the music was not really to our taste!
We walked into the town of Santa Maria most days, along the beach and found quite a few good cafe/bars we went to regularly! We did get approached by people who wanted to get you into their shops, but they were always very friendly and not at all threatening - it was no problem telling them no, we weren't buying and didn't want to look.
We also ate out a couple of nights, when we had very good food. I'm not usually a fish eater, but thoroughly enjoyed the fish I tried here. The bars were also fairly lively, one in particular, which had a live reggae band on a saturday, and was brilliant! We didn't feel at all threatened walking around the town on an evening, but did always get a taxi back to the hotel.
We also did the day trip to Fogo, a volcanic island, which was brilliant and highly recommended.
Overall, we absolutely loved the island of Sal and would like to go back to Cape Verde and visit some more islands next time. The people were so friendly, and yes, there's not a lot there, but surely before
you book, you know it is a developing resort, so what do you expect? The island was still very interesting and we discovered a lot about most of the islands while we were there, simply through talking to the locals.
If you want english pubs, english speaking staff everywhere and lively resorts, stick with the canaries, otherwise Cape Verde is a lovely place, and hopefully it won't end up like the canaries, although I'm sure eventually, that will happen!
Do Not Go To This Place - You have been warned!
Here's a copy of the complaint I've sent to Riu. It's quite moany and scathing but I thought it good to let you know. I am still very angry about this as the holiday (inc. flights) cost me for 2 people £2,400 for a Junior Suite (we were upgraded on arrival following a complaint to a full Suite).
By the way don't bother paying for Star Class if you're flying with Astraeus, it's not worth it, the planes are junk and the food is still rubbish, the audio headphones only half work at best and one of the films they showed was Casino Royale which they advertised as the 'new' Bond film (in May '07). You can buy some headphones from them in economy if you're really that desperate to watch the film.
OK so here's the complaint:
Following a recent stay at the Riu Garopa in Sal I want to complain of miss selling and misrepresentation of information on your website.
Situated on the beachfront. You give the impression that the Garopa is on the beach both by this comment and by your picture illustrating the hotel. The image you show is blatantly misleading and has been altered and is a false aspect of the hotel in relation to the beach, this view does not appear anywhere in the resort. The only reason for this is to give people the illusion that the hotel has instant access to the beach which it does not. You do not warn people that the beach is a long walk away from the room.
This also gives the impression you can have sea views from your room which you cannot. I had requested this through the agent and they said we could request one but it wasn't guaranteed, at no time was it mentioned that there aren't any sea views from the Garopa.
You have graded the hotel as 5 star. I am a seasoned traveller and have stayed at countless 5 star resorts around the world including a Riu in Dominican Republic. The Garopa is clearly not a 5 star hotel by the quality of the build work and the food is poor.
Food and beverages
From long life milk to machine produced coffee/tea with next to no service in the restaurants including those booked, the quality of the food is appalling.
Even when booking one of the restaurants the food options were no different from what we could choose in the main buffet area, the only difference being some cold prawns.
The wine is disgusting and there is no need to use long life milk as fresh is available to import. Why is a 5 star hotel using long life milk.
We could only book 1 restaurant during our stay because it was too busy, there are clearly not enough places in the restaurants for the capacity of the hotel. At the time we stayed the hotel was not full.
Service in restaurants
There isn't any service in any of the restaurants, all are self service. On most ocassions we weren't even served our drinks.
The quality of the rooms for the prices charged is extremely bad. We stayed in a Senior Suite. The room smelled of sewage for the first 3 days. The bathroom door didn't close properly. The wardrobe doesn't have a door.
There's no bath robes, the mini bar has nothing in it and isn't even replenished with bottled water. There's no room information at all, no information from the spa and no TV channels information.
There's no room service (something that is available in probably every other 5 star hotel in the world).
Other service compaints
Response to fixing problems.
I complained because I could not dial out an international call from my room phone, this was never fixed (although they tried to charge me the cost of 2 calls that I could never make).
Call charges from the hotel are completely unreasonable.
Beach towels are not available till 9am, long after the beach access gate and pool areas are available.
The beach bar is serverly limited in what it offers.
On one day punch was being served. It was ten to 12 midday. I went to take one and the server would not let me until ten more minutes had passed and it was 12 midday. This is ridiculous as they were melting anyway.
The beech parasols are thin and do not have continuous cover and allow sun to come through. This doesn't provide adequate protection from the sun.
The available sports equipment to hire is low rate compared to that available with payment.
Water bottles have to be asked for from reception, this is ridiculous.
There is no room service account available for almost any service, again this is something that almost all hotels worldwide provide.
I paid a lot of money for this holiday and I am angry that it has been miss sold to me. I expect compensation. I am very unliklely to ever travel to a Riu hotel in the future unless you can assure me that this misleading information can be removed from all hotels advertised on your site.
So there you have it, for additional info.
Sal Island is far too windy and it's quite cold if you're in the shade. There is nothing to see and the landscape is actually quite depressing. I can't speak for the other islands as we didn't visit any others.
Sorry this is so complaining but I thought it best for everyone to know.
Also the Riu looks like something out of the French Foreign Legion, it's absolutely awful in design. If you want more photos I'll send them to you.
The new African Carribean or the new canaries - we can't decide
We returned from a two week stay at Garopa on 14th May 2007. I went with my husband and two and a half year old. We had two wonderful weeks of rest and relaxation and have come back feeling well fed, fit healthy and very tanned.
Landing on Capo Verde is like landing on the moon. There is nothing to see but miles and miles of fairly flat rock sand and dust and my heart did sink. Arriving at the Garopa Funana was like seeing a huge sandcastle towering from the lunar landscape. The reception was elaborate RIU style, the staff were fabulous and check in was really smooth with bags taken to the room.
The wind....well...stong breeze that over the first week reduced to a light breeze and wek two it was just a pleasent breeze - really refreshing. Yes, when walking across the sand dunes it did get prickly on the legs - but we are not complaining because the beaches were really quiet and lovely with really great walks. We would have loved to have taken a sand buggy out accross the dunes but the toddler stopped this! Just wouldn't have been safe. It looked (and we heared from fellow travellers that is was) amazing!!!
Plenty of sun beds and the beach does not feel crowded.
Beer, soft drinks and teas and coffee are on tap. Despite some reviews, there are diet drinks. Not the fanta, coke and sprite, but there is sugar free juices and sparkling water on tap - so dieters need not go without - just change a drink.
The complex is HUGE - Garopa guests do have a walk to the beach because the hotel is not really on the beach - though Funana is - and the brochure does only say Garopa is beachfront - which technically it is. For good views I would say the Funana rooms get the sea views - Garopa guests certainly wont. The complex is (in my opinion) not that well laid out interms of accomodation - its a bit star treck with most rooms totally lacking a view from the balcony. Unusually we did not sit on the balcony once - which was the only real downer for us.
The complex is symetrical - however the Garopa is a nicer hotel in terms of its communal facilities. The pool, pool ba and receptions are more elaborate and have finishing touches - Funana feels a little cheaper - example - the parosols by the pool at garopa are thatch and fixed, opposed to funana with the put up youself oneson movable bases made of canvass that are havoc in a strong breeze. In Garopa there are coatpegs in the loos but Funana there are not - if you catch my drift here - not hugely noticable - just little things.
Oh - if you have a toddler DO TAKE THE BUGGY we didn't and my husband now has one arm longer, because the comlex is vast!
Evening entertainment - well we quite liked it and we don't normally bother. It was exceptionally cheesy and tounge in cheek and at times hilarious - do go to the juke box through the ages and Greese - oh, and the sketch shown - and look out for Nick the leader - especially the "Too Too" sketch - we cried laughing. My husband loved a sketch that envoled "enrico!!" - see it and you will know what I mean!
Food - main resturants were buffet and a vast choice of dishes - yes tis samey but then when the spread is that vast it will be in parts - always lots of cheese, meats, fruits, salades, always several pasta dishes, a roast and a veggie (or two) dish. Always chips and sprouts and always several fish dishes - one is normally grilled the other in batter - always lots of breads and at - I need not go on - those well travelled on AI will know what I mean. The snack bars always - for example - had pizza, soups and hamburgers and pasta and salad and a couple of speacilaities - sure it was the same everyday - but you don;t have to eat the same everyday!!! The specialities were a nice change and we loved the Madalay and Grill.
I am happy to answer any queries you have - just look out on the forums - but I rate this a a good 4 star resort.
Santa Marina is growing - there is a growing infrastructure and I can't decide if it is the African carribean or whether it will turn into the new teneriffe - time and building work will tell - my advice GO NOW take it for what it is and enjoy.
Quiet, relaxing and peaceful
We booked our holiday with Cape Verde Experience who were excellent, and paid attention to detail.
After reading many of the reviews of this Hotel, we were pleasantly surprised on arrival to be met at reception with a welcoming smile, and a cooling fruit cocktail. We had used a taxi transfer due to my wife's limited mobility, and the journey from the Airport was like an excursion to the Sahara but with good roads!
The Hotel consists of a number of two-storey blocks, and we had been allocated a ground-floor room. The room was spacious, very clean and comfortable. The walk-in shower in the large bathroom was great, as was the hair dryer at the side of the vanity unit. There is a mini fridge in the room, and 1.5 litre bottles of water are available from reception without charge.
The main restaurant, Espargos, was good with friendly, helpful staff, and on a number of occassions champagne was offered as you entered the room. The self-service buffet was well laid out with plenty of choice. You need not go hungry - if you do it's your own fault!! At lunchtime we ate at the Mambana restaurant which is adjacent to the swimming pools, again self-service, but having choice of soup, fruit, salads, hot courses and choice of sweets or ice cream. From 10.30am there was hot drinks, fruit juices and the Stella local beer both here and at the poolside bar.
The layout of the hotel is all on the level, except for the raised swim pool area. There are four or five flights of a dozen or so steps, but wheelchair access up a long ramp used by the motor carts servicing the restaurant made life easier for us. The beach and its water sport facilities was a good ten minute stroll, past the Security gate and onto the beach. (Beware of the strong currents if you are not a strong swimmer).
In all we enjoyed our two week holiday - we would go again. But if you want night life, excursions and the like there is not much to see. In a few years time maybe there will be a tourist industry. The animation team work hard to keep you occupied, but if you politely say you do not wish to take part, they accept with good grace, and there's a cheery word as they pass by.
Well,after reading the reviews on this site i thought people were just being picky. How wrong i was! ! Its massive. Ok we thought,not us but::Give it a go.We did and never ever will again! The staff are rude,arrogent,unhelpful,and pretend not to speak english,although were told there taught it at school,and to be honest most of them didnt look old enough to work anyway.The food in the main resturant was unedible and i wouldnt serve it to a dog,however the themed resturants were far better which we never had trouble booking for.YES,it was windy.Gale force on some days which made it almost impossible to sit on the beach which was a shame because it was the best feature,however,it could of done with a few strict guards on there to keep the local idiots with pet monkeys off it!Santa Maria is intimidating and even the tour reps told us to be on our guard. Pool very nice,but found it hard to sunbath because of the constant flies landing on you.Well to be honest the list is endless! Never spoke to anyone with a good word to say about the place,and if the cape vardians want it to then lots have to change,which i and others dont think it will.Its far to windy which is all year round,and to cloudy although you will still burn like a crisp so be carefull.Happy hols!!!!!!!!!!!
Perfect place to do nothing
We stayed at this hotel for one week in mid May 2007. The hotel still feels very new as you would expect for a hotel less than twelve months old. As observed by other reviews you can expect a constant stronge breeze and almost constant sunshine to match.Make sure you use a high factor suncream as we were both burnt on the one cloudy day during our stay.
We sampled three of the four themed restaurants which you need to book in advance. My personal preference was the Asian theme but would not discourage you from trying the Grill & Cape Verde local option.
Staff are very friendly and the place did not seem at all overcrowded. Access to the restaurant during meal times was trouble free and we learnt to eat the dishes being cooked in front of you by the chefs as these were guaranteed to be hot rather than taking food from the buffet trays.
All in all a very relaxing holiday. Make sure you take plenty of books to read as there is very little to see or do on Sal at the present time.
The Cape Verde island of Sal is a barren wind swept landscape, a little like the moon. The wonderful beaches make up for that, though the sea can be quite rough a lot of the time. It is ideal for wind or kite surfing.
I stayed at the Riu Garopa Hotel and had a great time. I would certainly stay there again.
"The Hotel Riu Garopa"
Great food, great accomodation.
information on sol
I am looking for a holiday in Sol for next January, can anyone help me with which hotels are best and which are best avoided.
Thanks for any help.
Re: information on sol
Hi, we went to Sal last January and loved it so much that we are going again next year. We stayed in the Riu Garopa and wouldn't stay anywhere else. It was amazing. So many restaurants to choose from, and just beautiful. It is also the best time of year to go too, the weather is perfect stayed in about the late 80's and very different if you were to go in October. My friend went in October and the fly invasin was unbearable due to their monsoon season. We had no flies. The sea is not ideal though, very rough, while we were there we saw 5 people with legs in cast due to the sea. But it is amazing to watch, the sea that is not the people getting injured! Love it,love it,love it
Re: information on sol
Hi, Thanks for that, sounds perfect in January, however, I have been thinking of putting it forward to November/December of this year, would that be a mistake.
Thanks for your help,
Hi, wonder if anyone can help, myself and my partner are planning to travel to cape verde, sal, in september, we are hoping to stay in the club hotel rui garopa and was wondering;
1) what's the weather like this time of the year ? ( heard it's very windy)
2) what's this resort like?
3) if anyone has stayed at this resort, hows the food?
Look forward to your replies
Many thanks Andy
Due to extreme climatic changes the World is experiencing at the moment, trying to predict the weather can be difficult because of local, on the day variations.
Most places now are seeing weather conditions well outside the norm.
The information below should be used as a guide only.
Here is the average weather for Cape Verde for this time of year.
Enjoy your holiday.
High 84f / 29c
Low 75f / 24c
Rain 3.00in / 77.0mm
Rain days 7
Hours of sun No data available
Daylight hours 12
UV level 11 = Extreme
Humidity = High
Sea temp 81f / 27c