The Casa Velha do Palheiro is a celebrated five star country house hotel of exceptional character and year-round appeal. It was formally a hunting lodge built by the 1st Count of Carvalhal in 1801 as a summer residence.
Marcus Binney wrote in his book The Blandys of Madeira published in 2011: "Casa Velha was Madeira's first country-house hotel, situated 500 metres above sea level and looking on to one of the loveliest gardens on the island. The drive runs through woodland to emerge in a clearing shaded by the magnificent trees which are the hall marks of the Palheiro gardens. The grass circle in front of the gates contains a huge multi trunked Metrosideros or Christmas Day tree from New Zealand. As soon as you step out of the car an atmosphere of friendly informality pervades the scene. A pebbled path is bordered by flowering shrubs and flanked to the left by a bedroom block with rooms opening on to a long verandah like a plantation house in the West Indies. From the front door there is a view straight through in the garden. The staircase sets a grander note, with matching flights on either side rising to first-floor bedrooms. Doors open on to an enfilade running across the house and linking the library with the drawing room and dining room. Steps lead down to a terrace with tables and chairs. The large lawn in spring is a carpet of tiny purple oxalis flowers. To the right is another verandahed wing with bedrooms. Beyond, the garden steps down to two further terraces, one inset with a large pool stocked with goldfish and koi carp. The formality of terraces and lawns is softened by spreading trees which shade the paths. At the bottom is another immense Metrosideros and a new tea pavilion offering snacks to golfers and garden visitors. Casa Velha with Christina in charge is decorated in fresh pretty colours. The dining room has a plantation feel thanks to polished wood floors and mahogany furniture. It has been cleverly extended by a conservatory retaining the original outside windows which now provide indoor views from one room to the next".
The hotel is a member of the Relais & Châteaux establishment and provides 32 rooms and five suites, each one singular in style and personality. The sitting room and bar are comfortable, beautifully furnished and decorated with gilt framed oils, Madeira prints and lithographs. Fresh flowers picked from the garden lend colour and vitality. The hotel's award-winning restaurant is highly regarded, and a deserved gourmet reference point. Guests enjoy the evening atmosphere by candlelight in the elegant dining room. Breakfast is served in the sun filled conservatory.
The Palheiro Spa, a short walk from the reception, features a veritable array of treatments and beauty therapies. The facilities include heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Turkish bath and sauna plus a smart gymnasium which further enhances the wellbeing experience. There's an all-weather tennis court next door and the less energetic can play croquet on the lawn below the property.
The hotel borders the famous Palheiro Gardens and the Palheiro Golf course – a superb 18-hole, par 72 Championship layout – and offers privileged access to guests staying at Casa Velha. The hotel's Sports Fishing yacht " Balancal" lying in the Funchal marina is available for deep sea fishing and coastal excursions.