When we had decided on the Algarve in the south of Portugal for our summer hols last year the woman in the travel agency recommended the hotel Casabela in Ferragudo, a village about 65 km west of Faro where the international airport is. It is situated two kilometres outside the village on the slope of the elevated coastline, from the street only two storeys can be seen, from the sea side there are four. Behind the entrance to the right is the reception and straight on the bar with a narrow balcony overlooking the terraced garden, the sea and the coastline up to Sagres.
On the floor above the reception is the TV and reading room stretching over two floors (strangely there is no telly inside and the light is so weak that one can‘t decipher the letters in a book), on the two floors below there are two restaurants connected by a flight of stairs, the upper one is used only for groups. The 64 rooms and two suites are on either side of these facilities. The rooms are big, at least I’ve never stayed in a more spacious hotel room, 5 x 3,5 m, with a built-in wardrobe, twin beds, bedside tables, one low table for a suitcase, a table in one corner for the telly and a small writing desk with a stool and a mirror above it. The balcony in front of the room is about 3 X 1,5 m, when the door between the room and the balcony is open one can slide a mesh over the opening against potential mossies (when we were there, there weren‘t too many).
There is no fridge in the room, the hotel owners don’t want their guest to buy stuff in a supermarket and have a picnic in their rooms, this is understandable, what is not is that there isn’t a mini bar, either. Mini bars have been invented so that the guest can have a cold drink whenever they feel like it but more to make the owners stinking rich, why the owners of Casabela haven’t seized the opportunity is beyond me. (This costs the hotel half a star)
The (also spacious) bathroom has no hairdryer, who has ever seen anything like that in a four star hotel? A hairdryer can be got at the reception - the text about the hotel in the catalogue contains this info, but who reads all the small print? - no spontaneous washing and drying of hair then. It wasn’t such a great problem what with the heat outside, my hair got dry in no time, yet not good at all (another half star subtracted). A good thing is that the towels aren’t changed daily but only if the cleaning ladies find them lying on the floor.
We had half board, a buffet style breakfast and an a la carte dinner in the evening (drinks are extra), the menu starts with soup, two starters for choice and a fish or meat main course for choice. I don’t eat meat, I had fish every day for two weeks, every day a different kind prepared in a different way and always delicious! Sometimes I also took a fish starter, for example: fried dumplings made of cod mousse covered with a sauce of honey, if I hadn’t eaten this dish, I wouldn’t believe that it was edible at all, but it is and it’s yummy. The dessert is offered buffet style, among many other delicious sweets we found nearly always figs, either straight or cut into slices covered with custard or made into a mousse - in the morning one of the different kinds of jam was fig jam. The waitresses and waiters are observant, friendly and intelligent, they and the excellent cuisine made up for what we missed in our room.
The figs and also almonds and oranges come from the trees in the garden which is on the lowest level of the terraced site where it opens onto the beach, fig trees also grow beside the swimming-pool which is on the terrace about five metres below the ground floor of the hotel, in the area around the pool grow also rubber trees and several kinds of palm trees, according to the homepage of the hotel there are ten different species of trees on the site which covers 15 acres all in all, the area directly round the hotel is full of flowers and bushes, then come the fruit trees and at the edge the wild ones like Mediterranean stone pine, umbrella pine and eucalyptus, a beautiful place, well kept by two gardeners who we saw at work every morning.
The water in the swimming-pool is 30° warm heated directly by the sun or with the help of solar energy (depending on the season), the showers beside it have hot and cold water. In a small pavilion beside the pool the guests can get refreshments and snacks during the day, underneath they find loos and showers with doors. Sun beds and umbrellas are scattered around the pool area and on the lawns surrounding it, we even saw some on far-away patches of grass hidden somewhere in the garden, never did we notice people fighting over them, although the majority of the guests were (and always are) Germans. We also saw Italian, French, Belgian and British ones during our stay but never more than one family at a time. I had to think of a dooyoo member who prides herself on being a critical customer, once she wrote in a comment that she preferred hotels with Germans as they tend to be better. Her words, not mine!
The hotel is for people who want to stay in a beautiful house (this is what Casabela means in English) with beautiful surroundings enjoying good food and a friendly atmosphere, who don’t need entertainment (there isn’t even internet access for the guests), who’re content with the swimming-pool and a tennis-court (no gym in the house) and who can do without reps organising their free time.