< PORTUGAL | FUNCHAL: Belmond Reid's Palace
Set on cliff tops in subtropical gardens overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this legendary luxury hotel and spa resort in Madeira has, for over a century, been a
standard-bearer for excellence.
William Reid, who first came to Madeira in 1836 at the age of 14, made his fortune in the Madeiran wine trade before setting out to build a hotel bearing his name on a site west of Funchal. Before building began, Reid ordered that the ground be strewn with several tons of rich soil, creating the foundation for the lush sub-tropical gardens of bougainvillaea, geraniums, orchid and palms that envelop the property today. Architect George Somers Clarke, whose reputation had already been established by the Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo, began work on the hotel in 1887. It was opened in 1891, shortly after William’s death, by his two sons William and Alfred.
A bevy of politicians, royalty, and celebrities have stayed at Reid’s throughout its long history. Empress Elizabeth I of Austria was one of the first guests to visit the newly opened
hotel, as was writer George Bernard Shaw, and several members of the British Royal Family. Winston Churchill visited the hotel in 1949, to recover from a minor stroke, work on his memoirs
and paint. The Winston Churchill Suite, located on the first floor of the hotel, is still in existence today.
The Reid family sold their interest in the hotel in 1925 to an English company, Reid's Palace Hotel Ltd which, in turn, was dissolved in 1937 when Island Hotels (Madeira) Ltd was formed.
Shortly after acquiring the hotel, Island Hotels increased its capacity by constructing the East wing. Later, in 1966-67, the Garden Wing was built. The works were completed on December 24, 1967. The hotel was refurbished and modernised in 1972-73 and again in 1990, when several luxury suites were added. At the time, just prior to Reid's centenary, the dining room was redecorated in its original classic style, while the Cocktail Bar and terrace along with the Grill Room restaurant were completely rebuilt and refurbished. In July, 1996, Reid's was taken over by Orient-Express Hotels Inc. and reverted to its original name, Reid's Palace.
Orient-Express invested over €8.5 million in Reid’s Palace during a three renovation project carried out by interior designer Graham Viney in the first quarter of 2006. All of the hotel’s 35 suites and 128 rooms were completely refurbished, with two new suites created in the main house with panoramic views over the Bay of Funchal.
During the refurbishment, the two original swimming pools were given an infinity edge and higher water temperatures, with the smaller pool converted to fresh water in response to consumer demand.
Upon being greeted by Reid’s staff, guests are escorted through corridors lined with bouquets of orchids resting on antique tables. Guestrooms feature dark wood furnishings, thick Oriental rugs, and tiled baths. All of the hotel’s 163 rooms, including 35 suites, offer balconies or terraces with expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean or the sub-tropical gardens.
Reid’s Palace was designed with the relaxation of its guests as its primary objective. The resort boasts two heated seawater pools, one tidal seawater pool, two all-weather tennis courts, and an array of water sports available nearby. Golfers visiting Reid’s can visit Madeira’s two championship golf courses, Palheiro Golf and Santo da Serra, where hotel guests are guaranteed advance tee times and discounted greens fees.
The Dining Room is the hotel’s most elegant dinner venue, offering à la carte and table d’hôte menus in a glamorous Edwardian setting. Guests are encouraged to dress to impress in The Dining Room and a jacket and tie are required for gentlemen. Les Faunes, open during the winter months, is renowned for its fine French cuisine, its collection of Picasso lithographs and panoramic views over Funchal Bay. Ristorante Villa Cipriani serves regional Italian dishes in an outdoor setting complimented by sea views. During the summer months, guests can dine al fresco under the stars in the Brisa do Mar restaurant. Afternoon tea is served in the Lounge or on the Tea Terrace. Refreshments served from the Cocktail Bar. There is a Poolside Restaurant for lunch.
The state-of-the-art spa offers a unique array of indigenous treatments from world renowned brands such as Ytsara, Aromatherapy Associates, LaStone Therapy and La Prairie, where guests can experience the luxury of being pampered and the sensation of timelessness. The main spa menu is Ytsara, which draws on an Asian blend of healing and therapeutic remedies and ties in well with the sub-tropical climate of Madeira. Ingredients used include local indigenous plants such as, cucumber, rosemary and mint, which are combined to offer many healing and relaxing treatments. The hotel has also introduced a new spa menu, designed for the whole family to enjoy.
The year round Fun@Reid’s children’s club was expanded in 2009 with the opening of the Fun@Reid’s teenagers room, featuring Apple Mac’s with internet access, Nintendo Wii consoles and Guitar Hero games.
The hotel’s grand tradition of service is extended in both meeting and social functions. Reid’s offers five meeting rooms for groups up to 80 people. In addition to a complete selection of in-house audio-visual equipment, the hotel offers technical support services at no additional charge.
Orient-Express Hotels Ltd was renamed Belmond in 2014.
Reid's name has always been linked with many international figures in politics, science, exploration, sports and finance, besides being mentioned in a great number of fashionable novels. Some of the names who have signed the hotel's Guest Book since the 1920's are: Princess Helena Victoria, poet Rainer Maria Rilke, Prince Edward, Prince Axel of Denmark, Princess Alexandra, Prince Mohammed Ali, Sir Ernst Shakleton, Gago Goutinho, George Bernard Shaw, Lloyd George, Duke of Westminster, Bernard Moisevitch, Dona Carmen Polo de France, Count of Barcelona and Family, King Umberto of Italy Empress Zita and many more...
Additional literature: n/a