Customer reviews: Independent walking in Portugal
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop and, where necessary, improve our services and ensure our walking holidays continue to be the best they can be.
Eveyone who travels with Headwater will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assesment of all aspects of their walking holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their walking holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
By Mr Bateman on 24/04/2017
It was beautifully quiet in every way. Many flowers and birds. Excellent food. Friendly people.
By Mr Kimber on 11/04/2017
Superb views when walking as well as lots of spring flowers and wildlife to enjoy. Excellent hotels and informative reps to help with local knowledge.
By Mr Bumfrey on 10/04/2017
An ideal time to visit this area and enjoy the spring flowers and butterflies which are abundant on all the walks. The weather was perfect for this type of holiday and the hotels very good. The GPX tracks supplied were very useful.
By Mrs Griffiths on 28/03/2017
We could relax because everything ran like clockwork. We were very lucky with our walking companions, we enjoyed thier company and navigated and ate together every day.
By Mr Norris on 20/03/2017
Good but if we followed the walks exactly , they were not long enough for us given that the terrain was not at all demanding. However we did manage to add on extras each day which made the walking better.
By Mrs Lancaster on 17/03/2017
Lovely walks with lots of variety. We particularly enjoyed the coastline. Our rep, Ludmilla, was very welcoming, personable and helpful.
By Mr Richards on 07/03/2017
Portugal in February - quiet but not deserted, good walking and perfect temperature and conditions.
By Mr Kent on 29/11/2016
The coastline in South West Portugal is stunning and the national park unspoiled .Most days we only saw other walkers and surfers The walks were well planned and came with easy to follow instructions.The way-mark signs were also good. Ludmilla and Tony, the Headwater representatives were excellent.and we felt as though they were there just for us ,even though we knew that they had other guests to look after. .The food and accommodation was ,on the whole ,of a high standard. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this holiday to other walkers. They wont be disappointed. It far exceeded our expectations!
By Dr Johnson on 29/11/2016
The local guides were extremely helpful and well informed. Their walking routes and descriptions were excellent and full of interest. The whole area was very scenic and with a good variety of wildlife.
By Mrs Barnes on 29/11/2016
This is a most enjoyable walking holiday. You see some spectacular scenery and stay in some lovely places. In September the weather was hotter than we had expected which made the walks quite demanding, but the excellent notes provided by the guides meant that we never got lost. Most of the hotels were excellent, but while the breakfasts at Costa d'Oiro were good, the dinners were not. There was little choice and the main courses were of poor quality.
By Mrs Lancaster on 14/11/2016
This was our first holiday to Madeira and fortunately enjoyed perfect walking weather.
We enjoyed the Levada experience very much but the Sao Lourenco Peninsula walk was definitely a highlight. Our last walk into Funchal was disappointing but appreciate it had been changed because of the summer fires.
The hotels were delightfully varied. At the Quinta do Furao we enjoyed live music and an outdoor hotel buffet/ barbecue on our last night. At the Serra Golf we found our selves upgraded to a lovel suite! Staying at The Bela Vista is like stepping back in time to ' Colonial days '. Silver service is a fun experience. The waiters were a little surprised when my husband asked for beer rather than wine! But they soon got used to him. We cannot fault the food and service at this hotel. Although the hotel is out of Funchal we did find the local bus service and hotel minibus service worked well.
Overall a wonderful holiday.
By Mrs Mulder on 11/11/2016
Fantastic experience walking Madeira. Even on a cloudy day it is an amazing place. Headwater arranged everything effortless. Amazing how the drivers were always there on the dot! Very reliable at all times. The levada walks were easy walks - except if you haven't got a head for heights...Good variety in walks and great that Headwater could provide more walks if you wanted to walk more. For example on your free days.
Will book with Headwater again - a no brainer!
By Mr Toms on 09/11/2016
Easy walking over gentle countryside with spectacular coast
By Mis Buttrick on 08/11/2016
A wonderful walking holiday in Maderia. A great insight of the island. Headwater took all the work out of the travel and holiday arrangements and left us to enjoy ourselves!
By Dr Adams on 31/10/2016
This was a lovely part of Portugal which luckily for us is not spoilt by too many tourists. Well thought out and planned. Very remote locations so do not expect to pop into town for anything.
By Ms Van bentum on 31/10/2016
Lovely views, lovely walks (accurate maps and grading), lovely hotels and a lovely rep (Ludmilla). It was a great holiday with the two nights in Pedralva and the walk to the lighthouse on the last day as the absolute highlights.
By Mrs Cerny on 31/10/2016
We had our first holiday with Headwater this October in Portugal. We had never been on an organised walking holiday before, but any concerns we might have had , e.g. getting lost,were soon abated. The route maps were excellent and easy to follow. The timing of each walk was accurate, so we were able to pace ourselves accordingly. We often walked the whole day without meeting a soul except at the beach, where we could watch surfers in crashing waves. The range of accommodation was excellent. We enjoyed our stay in Pedralva and were lucky to have a a cottage with a large patio.The hotels were in great locations and all very comfortable. Ludmilla and Tony were very helpful and knowledgeable about the area. We had not been to Portugal on holiday before. We will be back!
By Mr Bird on 31/10/2016
A good, enjoyable and trouble-free holiday. The walks themselves were easy, but unremarkable and at times dull.
By Mr Kelly on 13/10/2016
Once again, we had a thoroughly enjoyable holiday! Great walking, wonderful locations for our accommodation, excellent food and drink, and as a bonus the company of other like-minded walkers at various points during the week. Excellent route notes and planning - it is definitely what we have come to expect from our Headwater holidays (this was our 10th)
By Mr Shelton on 04/10/2016
Quinta do Furao was lovely, very welcoming staff, a stunning location. The walk along the coast from the hotel was amazing. The local representative, Eduardo from MB Travel, met us to discuss the week's walks and was very helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
Serra Golf was a beautiful building, but the staff took two days to sort out our lack of hot water (we had a room in the old house) and had forgotten to provide a packed lunch on our morning of departure.
The levada walks were splendid - breathtaking views around every corner. The guide notes were good, but we could have done with a few more arrows or signs on the path. On the last walking day we had an alternative walk due to the forest fires of previous weeks. This was not nearly as good as the previous walks - I am sure there are other walks available.
Quinta da Bella Vista was a a lovely hotel set in beautiful grounds - a long way from the centre of Funchal and the hotel shuttle bus does not run on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. There are local buses into town. Five course dinners served every evening, but after a day's walking you just want a big bowl of something on the table.
Many thanks to Headwater staff for their efforts to arrange our holiday around our preferred dates.
By Mis Rodgers on 19/07/2016
Maderia was a beautiful location. Weather in June was pleasant. Hotels and food good.
Walks varied and interesting. Overall a good experience.
By Mrs Hewitt on 02/07/2016
This holiday was good and the temperature for walking was very comfortable, but it would have been lovely to see the sun more, and the spectacular views, which were sometimes covered by mist and low cloud. I was not very fit at the beginning and felt exhausted and sore after two days, so chose to miss the walk on day 3 and go with the bags to the next hotel and have a day resting, and reading by the pool. (The Porto Bay Serra Golf has a spa with treatments, and it is possible to book a leg and foot massage!). The walks were dominated by levada routes, so less varied than our previous walking holidays with Headwater, so it was really worth going on the San Lourentco peninsula walk which was wonderful
By Mrs Loch on 07/06/2016
Madeira is an excellent year-round easy walking destination. The custard tarts are to die for
By Mrs MacLeod on 06/06/2016
Very well organised trip. Varied walking; enjoyed walking along the levadas but views often restricted by trees. Misty on some days so some high level walks would have been good.
By Mrs Hansen on 06/06/2016
Fantastic walking, great variety. Very enjoyable holiday. One of our best headwater holidays
By Dr Smith on 03/06/2016
Very poor because of the Herdade do Touril experience.
By Mr Grant on 18/05/2016
The holiday was excellent and the walks sufficiently challenging without being too onerous although some of the climbs are pretty severe and you need a head for heights on some short stretches of the levada walls. If you want superb views this holiday is great but if you suffer any degree of vertigo this is not the holiday for you.
By Mr Cottam on 16/05/2016
A great way to see different areas of a country and meet new people.
By Mr Stevens on 03/05/2016
Very enjoyable, well organised and good general standard of accomodation.
By Mr Story on 03/05/2016
The standard of the holiday was as good as expected - what really made this holiday so enjoyable was Tony and Ludmilla - their warm welcome, personal touch, and their knowledge of the area was second to none.
By Mrs Webster on 03/05/2016
We felt we were in very good hands with Tony and Ludmilla who could not have done more to make our overall experience so good. They really are so good at the job and it makes such a difference to have friendly and approachable people to enhance the experience. They helped us with train and bus times when we left Sagres at the end of the Headwater holiday - they have been the best agents we have come across!
By Mr Curwen on 26/04/2016
A superb holiday. The walks are out of this world - such a beautiful place, quite magical. The hotels had excellent facilities which is just what you need after a day's walking. Well done Headwater!
By Ms Elliott on 25/04/2016
The walks were excellent and very accurately described and graded. Excellent options presented for the rest days. Ludmilla, our rep, was really helpful and had very good personal knowledge of the area and all the walks. Views were spectacular, especially on the coastal sections of the walks, and the wildflowers and bird-life were both wonderful. The slow-food restaurant at Vila do Bispo (A Eira do Mel) provided the outstanding meal of our trip. Hotel meals were generally pretty good, though the breakfast at Vila do Bispo was rather limited both in variety and quality. The weather was pleasantly cool for walking but, if you want to swim in the sea, you should probably go late April or May!
By Mr Taylor on 18/04/2016
Madeira is a beautiful, friendly and welcoming island, ideal for gentle exercise and relaxation.
By Ms King-smith on 18/04/2016
A delightful few days' walking in lovely, remote, unspoilt countryside. I enjoyed the birdlife and spring flowers particularly. The Portuguese we encountered were personable and friendly and spoke excellent English. My friend and I loved the food and wine - our reward after a day of walking! We got a lot out of what was, objectively, quite a short holiday.
By Mr Faulkner on 18/04/2016
Hiring a car gave more flexibility and allowed us both to walk following some of the route, especially the Fisherman's Trail and so to see the coastline, as well as having more time to explore other parts of the region. Ludmilla was outstanding in giving helpful, discrete and unintrusive advice
By Pro Beevers on 06/04/2016
Great.......good walking , excellent notes and maps , good weather and good support. Requests for extra historical information promptly supplied by Ludmilla. Wonderful flowers, butterflies and birds, ! Food was excellent both in hotels and in the towns and Ludmilla advised us about local perceves speciality...and how to eat them. A good variety of places to eat.
Only suggestion is handrail or handrope in Pedralva cottage ( long flight of thirteen stone steps down to loo.....)
Wonder if L and T might keep a reference book of Flowers and Birds of Portugal in the van they could lend out... or we could consult?
By Mr Beal on 06/04/2016
Our third holiday with Headwater came up to usual high standards. Our representative Ludmilla was excellent and efficient. Although we had no problems we were confident that, had there been, she would have dealt with them promptly. We particularly enjoyed the delightful village at Pedralva - something out of the ordinary.
By Mr Ball on 04/04/2016
Enjoyable notwithstanding some poor weather.
By Ms Hood on 30/03/2016
Friendly, well-organised and exactly as described.
By Mr Kershaw on 29/03/2016
Excellent first holiday with Headwater. Nothing was too much trouble. They even arranged for me to see England win the Grand Slam on TV in Pedralva!
Walks were beautiful and the guides were easy to follow.
By Dr Harris on 04/03/2016
A holiday in which you get away from the crowds and experience the country intimately, complemented by good food & accomodation
By Mr Wildsmith on 03/03/2016
Excellent varied walking on the coast and on the Levada system. Good variety of hotel.
By Mr Worsley on 25/02/2016
Met our expectations exactly- no hitches throughout.
By Mr Pomfrett on 25/02/2016
Probably the best walking holiday we have had in Europe. A decent walk each day but you could do other things if you wanted. 3 of the five walks were really beautiful and the other two were good. Accommodation was fine and the reps were helpful. The notes were clear and easy to follow.
By Mr Huddlestone on 17/02/2016
An enjoyable winter break in milder weather with an interesting variety of walking, without being too challenging! The hotels provided excellent facilities for rest and recuperation with good dining and comfortable surroundings and some stunning views in places.
By Ms Swiecicka on 17/02/2016
Can't really comment on standard of accommodation normally offered by Headwater as we upgraded wherever possible. At Costa D'Oiro (where we paid for superior room) we were put in room 3016 (I think) which, we later realised, has to have been the worst of all the superior rooms in that building (ground floor, in the back left-hand corner of the building) - the bathroom facilities were modern but the room itself was very dark and cramped (had a 3rd bed in it so nowhere inside to sit or even to put our cases). The patio was dark & dingy and only got the sun for about an hour or so around breakfast time (which wasn't much use to us as the room was not 'ready' for us to go into until after 1pm). The superior rooms on the other side of the building (i.e. facing the small road) were much brighter and bigger but we were not given the option of changing. We wouldn't have minded a room at the back of the building had it been on the 1st floor level as this would have been much lighter but we very much got the impression that we were put in that room to make it easier for cleaning - i.e. all the rooms to be cleaned were together on the ground floor. The restaurant was closed in the evening so comment re food relates to breakfast only, which was good. I would not stay in this hotel again.
Dear Ms Swiecicka, Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday feedback, we were pleased to see you had an enjoyable holiday overall, however were sorry to read of your dissatisfaction with your room at Hotel Costa d ‘Oiro. We have discussed your comments with the Hotelier; he was also disappointed to receive your feedback and is sorry this issue was not resolved during your stay. This hotel is not one we normally use for our walking holiday, however we do use it on our cycling holiday and the overall feedback received is good. However, we do appreciate we cannot afford to let our standards slip, so will continue to monitor all feedback received and will work closely with our hotelier to ensure they are delivering the standard of accommodation our customers have come to expect. In closing, we would like to thank you for your constructive feedback and look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future. Yours sincerely, Headwater customer service team
By Mis Heath on 03/12/2015
Memmo Baleeira was lovely to stay at and it would have been good to have stayed there longer. Mira Sagres was alright and Pedralva was very basic (food in evening was adequate but you had to be careful what you chose). Walking along coast and in wooded valleys was lovely but could be tedious inland (flat and featureless scrubland at times). Ludmilla was great and very helpful - we like her a lot!
By Ms Lang on 27/11/2015
It was a good holiday. Just too much rain.
By Mrs Chaplin on 18/11/2015
Thoroughly enjoyed our holiday, Tony and Ludmilla were very helpful, the route notes accurate and the walks were lovely especially the walk from Vila do Bispo to Sagres-the coastal views were fantastic! All the hotels were very welcoming, but we especially liked Pedralva it is a real gem and the food was great too! There was plenty of choice of restaurants on the days when we had bed and breakfast at the hotels and we found all to be very good value for money.
By Mr Green on 09/11/2015
Good combination of interesting but not too taxing walks, four or five hours a day, and pleasant pampering by staying at good hotels with pools and saunas,(very important to soothe any aching muscles !) Local people that we encountered seemed uniformly friendly and helpful and the landscape, whether we were being driven or walking through it, was never less than fascinating and often simply amazing, a combination of peruvian highlands and alpine villages !
By Dr Hodgson on 31/10/2015
A holiday in two parts ...the rural hills with lake, birds, flowers and superb hosts followed by clifftop walks, beaches,birds, Going in October we did have a bit of rain but this only stopped one day's walking and we were still able to fully enjoy this unspoilt part of Portugal.
By Mr Stather on 08/10/2015
1. We felt that the Quinta do Furao hotel was ahead of the others because the staff were genuinely helpful / friendly, the restaurant served excellent locally grown food and typically Madeiran cuisine.
2. One flaw in the route notes was on Day 6 - the 2nd line on the 2nd Paragraph on page 22 - starts with 'At the T-junction of paths, turn right.....' We think it should say 'turn left!' Another (more minor) point is on Page 16 (last but one paragraph) mentioning the Tofa Mini Mercato - which we didn't find but suspect that the name has changed (they were in the process of re-vamping the shop with another name and coloured purple.
3. I would especially like to express my thanks to Donna Webber for her close attention to detail and patience when exploring the flight / accommodation options that made our holiday enjoyable during the period we had available. And also for Emma Glasgow for making exceptional steps in a very tight timescale to ensure that we received the route notes / maps etc through the post that were essential to our holiday. Thank you both
By Mrs Heard on 06/10/2015
Wonderful,all walks easy instructions to follow with small useful details personally put in buy Lucy the Rep who was full of good and helpful advice. Locations all good. All hotel staff spoke good English which really helped as we do not speak a word of Portuguese. Food good. All transfers spot on nice friendly drivers who gave local history as we traveled. Although a walking holiday found it very relaxing as we walked at our own pase and all the walks different so plenty of scenery to stop and take in. This was our 1st walking holiday and regard it as a total success exstreamly happy with Headwater and would book with them again.
By Mr Hurst on 06/10/2015
The walking exactly as described in the itinerary. For the intrepid, on the CaldeirÃ£o Verde Levada walk it is worth exploring beyond CaldeirÃ£o Verde towards CaldeirÃ£o do Inferno. The first 1.3k is easy, then their is an ambiguous option of continuing along levada or climbing steeply on well maintained steps signposted 'CaldeirÃ£o do Inferno 0.8km'. We chose the latter. The step take you up to a much higher level levada and a maze of tunnels and bits of old railway track. There is a yellow and red way marker here that seems to indicate this is the official route. Unfortunately we didn't have time to explore further.
On day 5 we would highly recommend the SÃ£o LourenÃ§o walk - but do go early before it gets busy.
On days where transfers are provided, it is worth verifying that the driver knows where he should be taking you. On the CaldeirÃ£o Verde Levada day we were half way to Funchal before we realised the driver had mistaken our destination.
Quinta da Bella Vista is not a 5 star hotel. It has an air of faded luxury, but they need to focus on the basics like cleanliness and service to earn their 5 stars. The bedroom wing needs a freshen-up - e.g. the faded / stained carpets replaced. The 5 course meal and service in the half-board restaurant was ok, but didn't really live up to expectations. The 'production line' catering was obvious and service perfunctory. Having said that, there are some interesting public areas - the pool / bar, old house and gardens. Having after-dinner drinks and coffee by the pool with views over Funchal was memorable.
The Quinta do Furao and Serra Golf were fine hotels in their different ways.
By Mr Hodgetts on 15/09/2015
Walking in the Alentejo (Costa Vicentina) provided the contrast between Fabulous Frank's creation of paradise in the interior - 4 miles off the nearest tarmac road - and the most stunning cliff top walking I have ever done. The latter is definitely not for the vertiginous but if you're OK with sheer drops on one side the views are fantastic. The walking on the coast, on the Rota Vicentina sometimes felt like a mini-Sahara as some parts are through deep soft sand but we came back fitter with thighs that can shell brazil nuts!
The walking in the inland section was delightful through cork oak and eucalyptus forests - hardly saw a soul all day - and the lake swimming at the Quinta was heaven at the end of a hot days plodding.
By Mr Hurrell on 17/07/2015
Overall we really enjoyed it. However we were not quite prepared for the steepness of some of the walks. This is not down to Headwater but rather our own lack of research. The views were spectacular. We also felt that the times given for the length of each walk was rather optimistic even for us who enjoy walking in all terrains.
By Mr Whitehurst on 22/06/2015
The key to my holiday was the flexibility in booking the travel arrangements via Birmingham. This allowed me access to an excellent holiday using a local airport
By Mr Davis on 17/06/2015
A walking holiday visiting several locations in one area. All the planning, hotels, transport etc is done for you so you can concentrate on the walks and enjoying yourself. Hotels and food very good.
The one problem we had was some glass on the floor in the bathroom at the Quinta de Belle Vist. Eventually this was cleared up thoroughly.
Minibus driver (lady) at Quinta de Furao was particularly helpful and friendly.
By Mr Robinson on 17/06/2015
We both found this trip very enjoyable. The walking is relatively easy but very rewarding, and remarkably varied. The accommodation was top rate with good quality meals and excellent service. The location of Quinta do Furao is really great. Taxi collections and drop offs were faultless. In fact the whole trip from leaving home to returning was just perfect. One of our favourite trips.
By Mr Morrison on 11/06/2015
From butterfly filled valleys to dramatic cliff tops with storks soaring overhead - this fabulous holiday certainly showed us the 'Contrasts of the Costa Vicentina.' Every step of the way was a delight. Would definitely recommend it. As for Frank's Barranco da Estrada ... what a magical discovery!
By Mr Allen on 21/05/2015
It was a great holiday, in a friendly and relaxed country, thank you. Having gone from the tranquil hills & lakes to the sparkling cliffs & sea we understand the full significance of 'Contrasts..' in the title. Particular thanks to Nelson the taxi driver who looked after our transfers in a very helpful and reliable manner.
By Ms Glass on 08/05/2015
Our walking holiday in Portugal was a delight. Everything worked so well and the area is outstandingly beautiful particularly in April with so many spring flowers in bloom. I would highly recommend this region/ holiday.
By Mrs Corrie on 17/04/2015
It was a great holiday as we were a group of 7,made up from friends for a 70th birthday celebration.The walking was the hardest I have ever done(I am 72 and fit) but it was great fun and a real sense of achievement at the end of each day.
By Mrs Peniket on 13/04/2015
We felt the walks were well planned and the hotels well chosen. We thought Eduardo Dias should have been more informative. On day 6 directions were inaccurate. Second para on Day 6 Camacha to Funchal at a ' T-junction of paths' we should have turned left, not right as indicated in the notes. Also other inaccuracies. At Serra Golf we booked a double room and were given a twin.
By Mr Stephens on 13/04/2015
Ideal for walking in more natural and unspoilt areas with good standard of accommodation. Warm and mainly dry weather made the walking very enjoyable although be prepared for windy spells. The importance of tourism to the area came across in the warm welcome we received from most of the Portuguese. Our introduction to the area by the Headwater rep. Tony Lewis was invaluable and his walking notes made navigation easy. Both Tony and Ludmilla made the holiday appear seamless in its organisation and they were very friendly and supportive.
By Mr Menzies on 10/04/2015
This is the third holiday we have had with Headwater and was the best yet. Tony could not have been more helpful and is clearly a man who loves his work. The walks were all superb with a huge variety of scenery. The notes were very clear and made it is easy to find our way. The accommodation was all to a high standard. Pedralva is a real gem and we were sorry to leave such an away from it all location. Choice of food for dinner at Memmo Baleeira was a bit limited unless you like pizza but they made up for this with the most superb breakfast choice. We also had the restaurant virtually to ourselves on the first night but on our return on Good Friday it was packed out with families. Quite a contrast.
By Mis Pearson on 30/03/2015
We felt that the reps Tony and Ludmilla were excellent and helpful at all times. They are great ambassadors for Headwater.
We were disappointed with the evening meal offered at the Hotel Memmo Baleeira. The service was slow, the food cold and over seasoned for our tastes. We found an excellent alternative restaurant in the town and went there on our last night. We would have preferred to have had an 'eat out' option in Sagres rather than having the evening meal included.
By Mr Sledge on 13/03/2015
Good news !
By Dr Foley on 03/03/2015
Walking the Algarve's Wild West is a lovely break in the dull winter months of Northern Europe. Wild flowers, blue skies, dramatic coastal walks, great food and wine make this an ideal, well-planned short holiday.
By Mr Jones on 03/02/2015
Although weather in Portugal is unpredictable in January, it is warmer than UK and has more daylight hours. However the wild atlantic was wonderful to see in strong winds. The trails were wonderfully peaceful, and the coastal scenery stunning, fishermans trail was probably the most spectacular coastal walk we have ever seen. The 6 day walk was very well put together, with a variety of countryside terraines, ridge walks, cliffs and beaches. Pedralva was a fascinating place to stay, and as there were so few people there we were entertained and educated in local cuisine by their very amusing 'French' waiter. As an add on we had a 2/3 day stay in Lisbon, lovely city, and it is a must to sample the patische do nata, available in most cafes.
By Mr Deacon on 07/11/2014
Overall we enjoyed the holiday, and especially liked the first hotel. But we did not think that Quinta da Bella Vista was five star. Some features are excellent but the room we were shown first was poor: no balcony, faded fittings and an unpleasant musty smell. In the event we had to pay an additional 30 Euros a night to get the sort of room we expected. This was negotiated for us by the MB Travel office, who were very helpful.
Looking on Trip Advisor, the hotel seems to offer two standards depending on the building one is in, one excellent and the other adequate at best.
Dear Mr Deacon, Thank you for taking the time to complete your post-holiday questionnaire. We were delighted to see that you had an enjoyable holiday overall. Although, were sorry to hear of your disappointment with the Quinta da Bela Vista. Ordinarily, this hotel receives positive feedback from our customers. However, Please be assured that we realise we cannot afford to let our standards of accommodation slip, therefore. With this in mind, we have passed on your feedback to the hotelier and we will closely monitor the new feedback we receive for this hotel over the coming season.
Thank you for your constructive comments; we look forward to welcoming you on another of our holidays in the future.
By Mrs Bowen on 27/10/2014
I have put fair for value this time, our 9th Headwater holiday, as the standard of the notes was poor and this is what we are going on the holiday for. I have written a separate email to explain. Also the Cerca do Sol was situated too far away from the coastal route and the 4km walk back on the 2 days was long and boring. The room was disappointing after the other 2 places as small and no terrace to sit out or put boots etc. Lovely helpful people though and ate there on the second night which was excellent. One other point at the Herdade the first night we were expected to eat octopus for our main course so I declined and was offered a dry and tasteless pasta dish cooked for the children which was inedible so I went hungry. The second night however the meal was delicious and enjoyed by all.
By Mrs Thompson on 11/10/2014
We enjoyed this holiday andwere pleased with our choice as we had excellent weather (contrasting with rain every day in the Austrian Lakes last year!) - but we do have a major reservation about the coastal walking (the days 2 & 3 'inland' walks were fine). On day 4, the coastal walk takes you away from the coast over the last section (south of Cavaleiro). This is a wide flat, rather boring gravel/sand track with little of interest - partiularly at this time of year when crops have either been harvested or burned off by th sheat of the sun. You are too far from the cliff top to be able to see the beautiful coast. We were then invited to re-walk this route (with only minor variations and in the opp. direction) on Day 5 as part of the Touril Loop. We thought this was a bit silly and walked up the coast path to the lighthouse, and back the same way. We could of course have stuck to the coastal path on Day 5 and we would suggest you specify this in future, omitting the (unnecessary) 'Touril Loop'. You could then perhaps introduce a further day's walking south of Cerca do Sul or - if that proves impracticable, just make the holiday one day shorter.
We thought that Day 7 contained by far the best of the coastal walks because you were able to see so much more of the beautiful coast from the trail. On days 5 and 6, quite a bit of the walking seemed to be just that little bit away from the cliff top and the path a bit flat and tedious at times. (When you do get the view though it is certainly spectacular!).
The Cercada do Sul is a bit of a dull treck away from the coast path - again on a flat, rather boring path and, again, repeated on Day 7. We accept there's probably not much you can do about this if there's no other suitable accommodation.
And, finally, we would suggest you build meals at the Cercado do Sul into the holiday. There didn't seem to be much to offer in Brejao....and it's a bit of treck down a dull flat paved road to get to the village from the Cercado. (We did have a look but didn't fancy the walk back in the dark so ate both nights at the Cercado).
Wouldn't want you to think we didn't enjoy our hol. It was fine and the orgabisation / admin was faultless as ever. No problems at all with travel arrangements.
Just a bit disappointed with some of the walking (lots of it was good!).
By Mr Smith on 07/10/2014
We have used several walking holiday companies and you are thus being compared with your peers. The booking process was poor, uncertain and had to be regularly prompted by me. It took ages to get any proper confirmation. You continually tried to send out documents by email and not by post - good for you, rotten for me - I am not going to print them - you should do so. Your walking notes were a disappointment. We often felt that they had been written by someone whose first language was not English. They were lacking in detail, imprecise and sometimes confusing and wrong.They are flabby in size with small print. On walk number 5, where we had been deceived and delayed by your directions, this section had to be repeated the following day. Fellow walkers at the hotel had given us their notes for the same section from Inntravel, so on that second day we had both sets of notes with us. We would never have made the mistakes that occurred if we had been using the detailed, better formatted and more user-friendly notes of Inntravel. The last point that I want to make concerns your suggestion in the main brochure that after the walk on Day 5 we should 'have a paddle at Praia do Tonel.' The 'beach' there is about 75 feet vertically below you at the foot of steep cliffs. The only access is by a narrow, loosely surfaced and almost vertical gulley created by rain erosion. Ropes have been fitted at a couple of points meaning that one would have to abseil down and haul oneself up again. It would be dangerous on a mountaineering holiday but simply lethal for many people. I am an experienced walker but would only attempt this if suicidally inclined. There is a notice there warning to stay clear because of possible rockfall. There is only one explanation: the person who wrote the notes has never seen the beach!
By Mr Lipscombe on 01/10/2014
The hotels were stayed in were all quite different and we enjoyed the variety of style and locations. The walking, particularly along the coastal sections, was excellent.
By Mrs Donaldson on 17/06/2014
Our 3rd Headwater holiday, some wonderful places and characteful hotels. Everything good except:
Brochure implies more opportunities to get down to sea level for paddle or swim. In fact there wee only a couple of places an the notes did not make it clear that if you went on there wold be no other place to get to the sea.
Some of the terrain (cliff pathways that were rather a 'scramble') were a challenge fo a 2 boot walk.
One days route took us away from the coast and along a boring road for miles when we could have been following the spectacular coastal footpath. This was presumably so we could do that coastal section on a loop walk the next day. This was misguided though because we would much prefer the coast route in two directions than 5 miles along tarmac road inland with little of interest either side!
Lack of communication with last hotel over one of us being vegetarian (though fish eating). Hotel wasn't aware and with no local shops it was difficult to put new meal together.
By Mrs Williams on 12/06/2014
MB Travel were superb everything ran like clockwork, never late unless advised in advance and always friendly. We knew they were available on the end of the phone if we needed them for anything at all. Would certainly recommend this holiday. We are hoping to book an Italian walking trip next year. Thank you Headwater we wish we'd done it years ago.
By Ms Weber on 17/05/2014
Beautiful walks and great hotels - particularly liked Pedralva.
By Mrs Dewar on 06/05/2014
A really good holiday, much enjoyed.
By Mr O'Hara on 22/04/2014
Beautiful scenery, some challenging aspects to the walking, helpful staff and interesting locations.
By Mr Brady on 21/04/2014
We understand that Portuguese Railways will not accept corporate bookings so you need to make it absolutely clear at the outset that travellers need to arrange their own rail travel from Lisbon to Tunes and give them clear guidance on how to do that. Their web site is not too easy to follow. You should also make it clear that it is possible to fly to Faro and take the local train from there.
If your guests are arriving in Vila do Bispo on a Saturday, they need to know that the shops noted in your guide book are closed from 1300 and all day on Sunday. However, all is not lost because there is a Lidl supermarket that is 'open all hours' providing freshly baked bread and pastries and a range of other picnic items.
Finally, the lighthouse at Cape St Vincent is not open on Mondays.
By Dr Daniell on 15/04/2014
Good walks, excellent hotels but the food was disappointing and was a bit of a downer. Not sure you know about the substitute walk on day 4 but it was a hazardous in places and in the UK the footpath would have been closed to the public. There were sheer drops below narrow footpaths on the levadas with no hand rails. Our overall score would be 6 out of ten for this one.
By Ms Murton on 14/04/2014
Ludmilla and Tony were both efficient and enthusiastic. April is an ideal time to go to Portugal - longer days and not too hot for walking. It's worth pre-arranging a day to cater to your special interests - we chose birdwatching and wild orchid hunting. We also pre-booked our train from Lisbon to Tunes and got a good discount for seniors.
By Mrs Payne on 06/04/2014
A good holiday, fun accommodation in village houses and one very good hotel at each end, though sadly the weather was really poor for walking on this occasion. The tour reps were absolutely excellent, knowledgeable,helpful and thoughtful.
We would certainly want to go again, though perhaps a one boot+ was too much for me.
By Mr Valerio on 01/04/2014
Excellent holiday though somewhat marred by some wet weather. At 79 years I did find some of the very steep long gradients tough on the knees and without trekking poles would have found one 500m descent on wet clay almost impossible.
MB Travel were first class and promptly found us an alternative walk when the original route was washed out.
The staff at the Porto Bay Serra Golf Hotel were very quick to find a lost mobile phone and immediately delivered it by car to the next hotel that we had moved to - great service.
By Mrs King on 19/03/2014
I would thoroughly recommend the holiday but perhaps making own travel arrangements.The connection times between Lisbon airport and rain station were over generous. I can only think tis is a failsafe because the trains are not very frequent.One couple had made own arrangements of flight to Faro The train journey to Tunes was much shorter., and connections much more satisfactory
By mr Shadwell on 13/03/2014
We thoroughly enjoyed the holiday and thought it was very good value for the money. For us it was only marred by our experience on our second night at the Porto Bay Serra Golf Hotel. The hotel dining room was full on this night, but there were only two staff to serve about 40 people. Consequently the service was very slow. After our main course we requested a menu to choose a dessert, but after waiting for 20 minutes for the menu we gave up and went back to our room. Also, we should have been given a packed lunch the following day, but this did not happen. We should have reminded them the night before, but because they were so short staffed, we could not find anyone to mention it to. Otherwise this was a lovely hotel, perhaps we just caught them on an off day.
The packed lunch we received from the Quintar do Furao, was excellent.
The overall experience was very enjoyable and exceeded our expectations.
By Dr Griffiths on 23/01/2014
Excellent, especially as we experienced very stormy weather on one day but Tony and Ludmilla kept in touch with us and advised us not to walk; instead they collected us in the van and took us to one of the major sites we would otherwise not have seen. They were outstanding reps, and ambassadors for Headwater.
By Mr Riddaway on 23/01/2014
Tony and Ludmilla were the best reps we have ever had in our extensive experience of Headwater holidays. They went to a great deal of trouble to make the walks more interesting and had produced laminated maps with the walks highlighted. These were far more useful than those originally supplied. Their initial briefing (and the associated written material) and walking notes were really well researched with lots of useful information on the likelihood of shops etc being open. Very useful in mid- January!
The hotels were really excellent .Very good breakfasts in all except one. The free hotel in Lisbon [Plaza Lisboa] at the end of the holiday even supplied us with a complimentary bottle of Portugese fizzy wine on Bob's birthday.
By Mr Setchim on 07/01/2014
Particularly good waymarking made this an undemanding experience.
Luggage transport was by the same team each time which was helpful
By Mrs Kelly on 29/11/2013
This was our 8th Holiday with you and as ever we really enjoyed our break. We especially enjoyed our stay in Pedralva (took our 2 free nights there). Beautiful area, great walking. All staff at hotels were friendly and helpful. Your reps - Tony and Ludmilla were welcoming and really helpful. Tony's route notes were the best we have come across. Lovely food, quality wines. Good mix of accommodation. Only downside were the number of barking dogs - thankfully mostly on leashes but a bit scary at times (farm dogs and dogs on the properties kind of out of the way) Probably not a lot more that you can do about that though!
By Dr Mather on 14/10/2013
We enjoyed this holiday as we went with friends but the area itself is of only moderate interest although the vegetation is of great interest. The walking was quite easy and did not fill the whole day and is of limited interest as the views are limited. Some more demanding and high level walking would have been good and the last day's walk was very dull and urban and a different day should be subsituted Also the first day would have been boring if we had just returned the same way that we came. Instead we just went one way and took a taxi to port Moniz to swim. Overall I don't think the walks were very well planned to provide variety and interest
On the plus side the directions were impeccable and when we had views they were wonderful and some of the walks were very peaceful
By Mr Collier on 06/10/2013
The holiday was up to the good standard that we have come to expect from headwater holidays and would recommend it. A comment for improvement would relate to the third hotel Quinta Da Bella Vista where although the food, facilities and service were up to a 5star rating we thought the room of the hotel in which we stayed was a bit tired and needed upgrading to warrant 5stars.
By Mr More on 30/09/2013
We were slightly nervous that a very successful and enjoyable independent holiday - Catalan Coastal Walk last year could be matched by this one in Madeira. We thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very different in topography, but also pretty demanding for our ages (65 and 72), which we like. We think 2-boot is good for us. There is a big contrast between the levada walks and the demanding up and downs, but the mix is good. The hotels were all good, but we prefer hotels 'in places' so you can walk with interest around where you are. Like all of the four except one on the Catalan walk. None of the Madeira hotels were in this category. Not a major complaint. Just personal choice.
By Mr Morrison on 24/09/2013
Something different every day. From coast to mountains - enjoyable, and occasionally challenging, walks that gave us a glimpse of all the fabulous views Madeira has to offer. And at the end of the day - hotels with a warm welcome and touch of luxury.
By Mrs Bird on 23/09/2013
A really good holiday. Some of the walks were slightly more dangerous than we imagined and the Porto Bay Serra Golf would benefit from a lift as we had to carry our cases up a narrow winding staircase with no help. As we had upgraded the room you should perhaps warn clients this may happen.
By Mrs Gualtieri on 12/07/2013
The Headwater attention to detail was brilliant but would want them to change the second hotel. We did meet a family who had previously enjoyed a headwater canoeing holiday so we all sang your praises together and may look at that another year. Thank you for giving us a holiday that made us feel special.
By Mrs Poole on 08/07/2013
A beautiful, breathtaking experience.
By Ms Kennedy on 14/05/2013
A few minor details aside, everything worked like clockwork and we had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday in a beautiful location which offers an unusual walking experience through the unique levada system. We were pleasantly surprised by the second hotel (Serra Golf), which was much better than previous comments had led us to expect. It has joined a hotel group and had a refurb last year, so it has a smart boutique feel. All the facilities were clean and fresh, including a new swimming pool and lawned sunbathing area. The dining room was lovely, the breakfasts excellent, and the dinners very tasty. The picnic was substandard though, someone needs to follow up on that! Also, the reception desk is not manned the whole time and the welcome you get can be a bit brusque, depending who comes when you ring the bell.
By Mr Townsend on 24/04/2013
We had a superb week away with Headwater. There was a great balance of challenging walking with luxury at the end of the day. We will certainly be booking through you again.
By Dr Mason on 13/04/2013
Madiera is an interesting and picturesque island. The walking is pleasant, but you need a head for heights. The walks are mainly along 'levadas' (narrow water channels) which often cling to the sides of steep gorges. On our holiday there was a mixture of sunshine and downpours of rain. Waterproofs are a must, and also walking poles, since the paths can often become slippy when wet. The food is excellent with an abundance of fruit and vegetables. the hotels we stayed in were very comfortable and luxurious. Funchal is a large town, with interesting architecture, but currently the whole of the seafront is being re-built, a major construction operation which is likely to take a long time. We had a very enjoyable holiday in a place we had never previously visited.
By Mrs Barbour on 13/04/2013
We've travelled with ATG on similar holidays and and the materials, guides etc yIu receive are far more robust - hard back bound ring folders - and far more detailed with good maps and topography profiles. The maps from head water were pretty poor, small scale and not very useable. The instructions come on stapled A4pieces of paper printed double side. By the end of a wet walk, they were in tatters even though we had them in aplastic map carrier. The whole package in fact was cheap compared with competitors packages.
In terms of the accommodation, that was better than our recent ATG experience, higher quality however without a car you were somewhat isolated in the villages/towns two out of the three were located in and there was little to do the half board was very variable the first was a set menu poor quality and the traditional element never changed for any of the three nights, also you couldn't eat off the a la carte., the second was excellent and you could eat of the a la carte but it was complicated at billing to understand the adjustments and the third you only got a 5 course a la carte which was excellent and if you ate a la carte had to tell the hotel by 3 pm and them only got a 30% discount, meaning for the same value you would have had to send c €120. It didn't make sense. The hotels weren't all geared for walkers either. Quinta Bela Vista in Funchal knew we were walkers and presented our picnic in a wicker basket. Just don't think Headwater briefed the hotels well. Finally the walks were ok, but the better walks weren't in the schedule, the classic High Peak walk was spectacular, not a hRd walk although at c 1800m but not even mentioned until we asked the local guide. Two to the four walks actually returned by the same route. Haing looked at the website,a guest had mentioned a number of years ago that the Levada Nova was a poor walk, mostly on a road and just walked back the same way as you go. Clearly nobody had listened and it was a waste of a day when there were far better walks in the area.
Thank you for your comments. We're sorry our maps and walking instructions did not meet your expectations. We do everything we can to keep our literature as upto-date, informative and user-friendly as possible. We do now print all route notes double-sided - responsible tourism is a strong part of our Headwater ethos and where we can save paper, we do. We choose not to provide ring-binders and such, again, in line with our environmental policies (they can also be a bit bulky to carry in luggage/rucksacks). We do however monitor all feedback, and if we feel changes are necessary, we will certainly take action. The last thing we want is for people to struggle with maps and notes during their holiday.
We are also sorry there appears to have been some confusion at the hotels with regard to your menu choices. We have been working with these hotels for a number of years and upgrading your menu should be no trouble at all. We will take this up with our local agent and ensure that the meal arrangements are clarified at each hotel.
Thank you again for contacting us.
By Mrs Lay on 13/04/2013
Quinta do Furao was a great hotel and the staff were particularly helpful when my husband's tooth broke on the first night (just before they supplied him with a surprise birthday cake). They went out of their way to find a local English-speaking dentist so we didn't have to pay for a taxi to Funchal. The dentist was efficient and cheap, so we were extremely happy with the service.
Do take poles for the walks and good clothing, especially if it is a rainy month like March. Also remember that in 2 of the hotels you may have to go outside to access the restaurant.
Our main disappointment was that the levada walks seemed to be mainly among trees, so you didn't often get a view despite being hundreds of feet up.
By Mr Lascelles on 13/04/2013
Although not thrown together with the other walker,s one of the pleasures of the holiday was meeting other people. Some of those walks were rather long and to be able to chat to somebody new helped to pass the time.
We enjoyed getting to know Madeira, was impressed and certainly would like to visit again whent he weather was more settled. out of our 4 walking days 2 were a wash out because of torrential weather, which we have to admit we were not totally prepared for.
By Dr Rayner on 23/03/2013
We needed to find somewhere to go in early March, which was a challenge! The weather was fine, apart from the last day, when it rained heavily.
The flowers were out in some areas, but not yet at their best. We enjoyed particularly the walk from Queimadas to the waterfall, and the parts in laurel forests. Some of the other walks in eucalyptus forests were rather dry and boring. We saw a few birds, but not many. Could not find a suitable bird book.
We took a taxi from Funchal up to the peaks on the Wednesday, which cost about 60 euros and stayed 2 hours while we walked along the summit footpath. This is definitely worth recommending if the weather is fine.
By Mr Givens on 10/10/2012
Well organised and excellent accomodation. Weather on our third day was torrential rain and the walk to Caldeirao Verde had to be cut short. We returned to Queimadas as everyone recommended this for safety, our taxi driver had given us his number to call for being picked up so were not stranded. We were soaked through and drying facilities at the hotel for wet clothes was sorely missed. All in all we did however enjoy our weeks walking.
By Dr Cooper on 07/08/2012
Madeira was a great destination for a walking holiday, the levadas are just amazing. The Madeirans are also incredibly friendly and helpful.
By Mr Meads on 28/07/2012
Walking Levadas excellent - just don't look down!!! July tooo hot - would recommend Apr/May - Jul=Forest/village fires - some diversions needed but makes it more interesting avoiding smoke! -Hotels Excellent especially in Santana with walks along the coast.
Would definately go back in Springtime (next time :-))
By Mr Newell on 23/07/2012
Very enjoyable, probably the best Headwater Holiday to date.
By Mr Lay on 23/06/2012
Hotel itinery was altered from the standard which led to some initial delays with transfers and welcome meeting with MB travel. After first day everthing went smoothly and holiday went as planned. Quality of hotels was good with the Quinta Bella Vista making a excellent and luxurious end to the holiday.
By Mrs Hill on 16/06/2012
Very enjoyable. We had a beautiful and relaxing break.
By Mr Smith on 11/06/2012
Very good although local rep was not great.
By Mrs Waterfall on 25/05/2012
Very enjoyable, but it was let down by food at serra golf, but at least it was only 2 nights,
By Mrs Harvey on 25/05/2012
A very rewarding all round excellent holiday.
By Mrs McDyre on 25/05/2012
A well organised holiday with excellent hotels.
By Mrs Howells on 09/05/2012
Great experience - we liked the variety of locations and activities, from remote villages to Funchal. Hotels were good - but we must remember that five star in other countries isn't the same as five star in the UK! Had a superb afternoon tea at Reid's (glad we pre-booked). We were lucky with the weather - not too hot, too cold or too wet.
By Mis Ashworth on 09/05/2012
GOOD.A QUIET ISLAND BUT LITTLE CULTURAL OR RURAL CHARM.THOUGHT THE FLORA WOULD BE MORE COLOURFUL AND VARIED.STILL HAD A GOOD TIME.
By Mr Dorey on 28/04/2012
Visiting Madeira at this time of year is too early to experience the floral spectacle that is expected. I am not sure that we saw the best the island has to offer.
By Mr Woolstone on 17/04/2012
Excellent in every way. We haven't used Headwater before, but would certainly consider doing so in the future.
By Mrs Douglas on 26/03/2012
Quite a testing experience as some of the ascents and descents were a bit precarious but we managed ok and had plenty of time to complete the walks.
By Mrs Payne on 17/03/2012
Best headwatere holiday we have had, hotel golf not included.
By Mr Ballinger on 17/03/2012
A great introduction to the island - our first visit. Walks were varied and most enjoyable. Lovely hotels
By Mrs Rose on 00/00/0000
Had a great weeks walking in Madeira, the walks were very clear and the transport well organised. The first walk of the week was the hardest a lot of up and steeply down but fantastic scenery and glad we did it. The lavada walks were lovely and really enjoyed the tunnels. The hotel in Funchel not a five star, the allocated rooms have no balcony which you need to access Wifi or like us you have to stand by window, not ideal after a long walk. The first two hotels were great very friendly with great service. Overall an enjoyable holiday