Madeira’s Savoy Palace Launches New Luxury Concept: The Reserve

Columbia Hillen

I must admit, the idea of having my own dedicated assistant catering to my every need at the 5-star The Reserve at the Savoy Palace in Madeira recently was initially somewhat disconcerting.

Friendly and efficient Joao Henriques and Jizela Batista. Photo by Columbia Hillen

I mean, being from a solid working-class background in Belfast, such exclusive service to my mind has always been reserved for Royalty, the likes of King Charles and Queen Camilla of England or the newly-crowned King Frederick and Queen Mary of Denmark.

Columbia Hillen

But I suppose we all deserve – and require – a little pampering sometimes. 

As it turned out, after quickly getting to know my dedicated assistant, Joao Henriques, on a more personal basis, I thoroughly enjoyed his company and the time we spent together. My apprehension that Joao would be monitoring my and my wife’s every move and meddle in our daily affairs, offering advice at every step, turned out to be entirely misplaced. 

Sweeping panoramic views guaranteed from The Reserve. Photo by Columbia Hillen

Gracious. Kind. Informative. Friendly. Patient. Understanding. Helpful. Discreet. These were some of the adjectives I’d use to describe his interaction with us throughout our short stay.

Bespoke treats await guests – mine had a planes decor designating me as a travel writer. Photo by Columbia Hillen

It was reassuring that whenever we needed something we could rely on him and his colleagues to find out the how, what, why, where and when. This saved precious time, allowing us to concentrate on enjoying our first-ever taste of the exotic Portuguese island’s many delights, both cultural and culinary. 

My choice of outdoor relaxation – the Infinity Pool on the 16th floor. Photo by Columbia Hillen

The reason we had the pleasure of having Joao as our guide and advisor is that this luxury grand dame of an island hotel just a few days ago officially launched an innovative concept entitled ‘The Reserve’ and we were fortunate enough to have a ‘sneak peek.’

Spacious and Otherwordly Laurea Spa. Photo by Columbia Hillen

Described to me by Vanda Perestrelo, one of the hotel’s public relations representatives, as ‘a luxurious concept within the luxury concept of a hotel,’ this personalized service is offered to guests in 39 sea-view rooms, ranging from deluxe to pool suites, and its rooftop presidential suite. Pool suites feature a private terrace with plunge pools overlooking the ocean and Funchal Bay.

Indulge at the Jacarandá Lounge & Club. Photo by Columbia Hillen

The central tenet of the concept is, of course, the dedicated Guest Experience Personal Assistant (GEPA) available around the clock. Once guests book ‘The Reserve’ they are connected with a GEPA via email and WhatsApp who then tailors their hotel stay to specific requests. Upon arrival, room access is via a private elevator to the Jacarandá Lounge & Club on the 16th floor where they can indulge in an array of snacks and drinks throughout the day and an exclusive rooftop pool with panoramic views over Funchal. 

Not-to-be-missed bath experience complete with rose petals and aromatic oils. Photo by Columbia Hillen

Among the many extras for such guests are early check-ins from 9am and late check-outs until 10pm, a culinary greeting upon arrival, complimentary welcome drinks, free newspapers, in-room breakfast upon request, parking and a delightful luxurious in-room bathing experience complete with rose petals, candles and aromatic oils. Of course, guests at The Reserve can indulge in the hotel’s other facilities, including its seductive Laurea Spa.

Hotel staff members, Diana, Alexandre and Patricia, stand ready to help. Photo by Columbia Hillen

Joao is not the only staff member deserving of praise. We were also very impressed with the friendliness of his colleagues including Irene Gonçalves, Ana Carreiro, Zita Alves, Petra Caetano and Milagros Freitas who greeted us everyday with sincere smiles and engaging conversation and a willingness to help whenever we needed it. 

Sean Hillen

During an international media career spanning several decades in Europe and the US, Sean Hillen has worked for many leading publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Times London, The Daily Telegraph, Time magazine and The Irish Times Dublin, as well as at the United Nations Media Center in New York. Sean's travel writing for and has taken him across A...(Read More)

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