‘Oh look, there’s a second bedroom!’ Such is the happy cry when we check into our room at Sol Dunas, giving you a fair idea of the size of it. The whole place is enormous: sharing its facilities with several other high-end hotels, the resort has over 1000 rooms, six restaurants and 14 stylish bars, as well as seven pools and access to a pretty beach.
You can thumb a lift with a golf car or saunter slowly around the place, deciding which pool to favour today. This all-inclusive place is all about relaxation: an easy drive from Sal airport, it’s favoured by Europeans who don’t even have to worry about jet lag (there is only an hour’s time difference from the UK in this African archipelago). The weather is also beautiful when we visit in November: bring on the winter sun.
Our suite is very comfortable, with two bathrooms, two televisions, a living room and a balcony. The fridge is kept stocked with bottled water that’s refreshed daily, which is always handy in a don’t-drink-the-water destination. The cleaning staff do a terrific job: we come back to find our room spotless each evening.
Breakfast is served in a choice of restaurants, depending on your package: over the course of the week we tend to favour Spices, which has a large selection of hot and cold buffet food, as well as outdoor seating. This is also a good spot to find fresh local fish for lunch – delicious. There’s a more scenic but limited lunch option at Sol Grille, and our best dinner is at the Italian restaurant Il Terrazzo.
All serve local wines and beers along with soft drinks, as do the bars, which we find have varying characters: our favourite is Maio, which seems to be favoured by French customers, has some lovely little cabanas that can be bagged by early risers, and frankly there are fewer kids around.
You could easily spend a week chilling in the resort, visiting its beauty salon/spa and exploring some of its particularly upmarket restaurants, such as Aqua and Atlantis. But we fancy a little wander down the beach for a new experience, and we don’t have to look far: the celeb-favoured Bikini Beach is a glamorous new restaurant a short walk down the beach, at the end of a short pier overlooking the ocean.
You can hire a cabana during the day, but we opt for an early evening supper to watch the sun go down – and to watch the revellers who have clearly made quite an afternoon of it. While the Sol Dunas is generally a place of calm and low voices, this place is full of animated revellers dancing like it was their last day on earth: it’s quite an entertaining contrast. Inside in the restaurant, it’s pleasantly quiet however, and the food is exceptional: a mix of fresh seafood and classy, well-flavoured meat dishes (my burger is excellent, and I’m fussy about my burgers).
I’d definitely come back here to try out the Sunday Brunch, which comes with a bottomless option if you want to join the party crowd, or just laze on a sunbed with fizz in hand.
When we venture further afield, we’re pleased we did: there is a delightful homespun botanic gardens and animal sanctuary a short walk away – http://viveirocaboverde.wixsite.com/viveiro – as well as the charming fishing town of Santa Maria a cab ride away. There are plenty of cabs waiting patiently outside the hotel, and most accept Euros.
So: tempting as it may be to chill by the pool, may I suggest some mild exploration to go alongside your beautiful beach holiday in sunny Sal.
Tell Me More About Sol Dunas Cape Verde
Sol Dunas Hotel, ZDTI Algodoeiro
Santa Maria, Sal. Cape Verde.
Tel+238 242 23 40
A week’s all-inclusive stay including flights starts from around £650pp (off peak – May). You can also fly direct to Sal, Cape Verde from Birmingham, Glasgow, Bristol and Manchester.