If you wish to stay near Funchal but away from the madding crowd, then Jardins do Lago, literally a botanical garden oasis, is a perfect choice. Located twenty minutes from the airport and about a mile out of town up on a hill, Quinta’s great attraction is the garden – woodland, long avenues of banana and mango trees, flower borders, ponds, vegetable plot, greenhouse, and wide lawns. Hidden behind the trees, you’ll find a beautifully designed outdoor swimming pool and spa facilities and there’s also a tennis court. A traditional country house in the city.
This 18th-century house was formerly the residence of General Beresford, Commander of the British Forces during the Napoleonic wars. Latterly it was the home of the famous Blandy family.
This is truly a magnificent mansion, carefully preserved with fine, original antiques, furnishings and paintings; as you walk in the front door, you feel this is a place of distinction and class. Formal, classical style yes, but at the same it is all exceptionally relaxing. This is no ordinary hotel – more like visiting friends in their country estate – as you wander through the drawing room, downstairs to the library and outside to stroll through the pretty garden.
You may very well come across an old resident, Colombus, a huge tortoise with Galapagos island origins who spent 10 years in the Bahamas before being brought to Madeira in 1968 by an Englishman. He has his own little “nest” but is often seen crawling across the grass. Around the corner is a small lake where a couple of pure white swans are paddling up and down and if stroll further along the path there’s an aviary with yellow canaries and other colourful birds. Then find an old wicker chair on the patio to sit and read while sipping tea or a cool drink. The delightful, peaceful setting has the ambience of the 1930s and is utterly relaxing.
A touch of class is also given to the bedrooms which are elegantly decorated in soft subtle colours of cream, ochre, soft green and terracotta with polished wood floors (very highly polished!), fine rugs and period style dark wood furniture.
There are 31 spacious bedrooms, 4 Junior Suites and 5 Suites. All rooms have a sitting area as well as lovely private verandas, with a view over the gardens and the sea. Marble bathrooms have bathtub/shower with separate toilet cubicle and supplied with bathrobes. All home comforts, mini bar, Cable TV and internet connection. The rooms are cool and airy, due to the wonderful balcony with French Windows so that you can step “outside” to sit for a while and look out over the garden.
In the evening, the house really shows off its grand sense of history and occasion. Change into something suitable for a fine dinner and come down to the drawing room with lovely sofas and armchairs, where a pianist will be playing beside the cocktail bar.
A glass of Madeira wine or champagne perhaps as you study the menu featuring classic Madeiran cuisine with a contemporary, cosmopolitan twist with speciality local fish dishes. The dining room is named after its famous owner, General Beresford and the attractive long L shaped room still preserves his long mahogany sideboard, along with French Impressionist paintings. Breakfast – The next morning breakfast is served next door in a sunny pink room with an outdoor terrace for al fresco meals on fine days.
Here you’ll see a delightful painted ceramic wall panel dating to the 16th century. A buffet is laid out with fresh fruit – including bananas from the garden – cereals, pastries, cheese and cold meat. If you wish a hot dish, then simply ask for eggs and bacon or whatever you wish.
And so to the food. Start perhaps with Baked fillets of Sardines with a green herb salad, or Skewer of Prawns with baby vegetables. The extensive menu offers a variety of soups, pasta, risotto, fish and meat. A typical local dish is given the upmarket Beresford treatment – Salt codfish, poached in olive oil with asparagus and potato crepe.
Alternatively, Roast lamb with foie gras on crushed sweet potato with rosemary and honey sauce. Cuisine is classic Madeiran with a contemporary, cosmopolitan twist. Then finish with fresh fruit, grand marnier crème brulee or cheese.
What more do you need but the garden with its turtle, aviary, mango trees and chairs on the patio. And of course the lovely curved swimming pool and spa, with sauna, Jacuzzi, Turkish bath and gym. And for the energetic there’s the all weather tennis court. On arrival at the hotel in early afternoon, having checked in, I went straight down to the poolside to enjoy the warm sunshine.
The café bar here serves drinks, coffee, snacks and a good light lunch of salads and sandwiches. An idyllic spot offering perfect peace overlooking the pool, Jardins do Lago is the ideal hotel to completely switch off and relax. Time for reading and there’s a huge library with an excellent range of novels and biography in all languages. The library has a PC for guests to check emails and surf the net – if you really need to work. After dinner perhaps have a game of billiards.
Receptions / Events
This magnificent country house can offer its lush tropical gardens for a private party, dinner, or wedding with full catering services.