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Nomad's Notebook

Experience A Luxury Getaway At Savoy Palace In Portugal

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Photo courtesy of Joao Paulo; Bay of Funchal.

To witness the most breathtaking view of Madeira's skyline, you must first zip up 16 stories on an elevator to reach Galáxia Skybar in Funchal. The panoramic rooftop terrace is replete with a celestial cocktail selection and front row seats to watch Mother Nature's daily ritual of casting a golden glow on the coastal town's rugged landscape during sunset. Once the sun sinks behind the mountains, there's nothing left but twinkling stars above.

The dynamic dining venue is also on its way to becoming one of the hottest spots to celebrate New Year's Eve as Funchal, Madeira's capital, puts on one of the most spectacular fireworks shows in the world, as noted in Guinness World Records. A spectacle of colorful stars explode from hidden pockets around Madeira, so magnificent you won't want to miss it. If you haven't made plans for the New Year, you can witness the beautiful display thanks to the restaurant's permanent home: Savoy Palace.

Awe-inspiring views of the city—and the fireworks—won't be hard to come by while staying at the behemoth of a resort, which opened in late summer. Madeira, an archipelago in Portugal, is easily accessible from Miami International Airport with a transfer from Lisbon.

Formerly named Hotel Classic Savoy, the resort was demolished in 2009 and redesigned by Madeiran-born Nini Andrade Silva, whose global work includes properties from Colombia to the Azores to Brazil and even Miami Beach.

The result is a modern, 17-story ocean-facing luxury resort with a dramatic glass wave shape, the terraces and balconies draped in lush greenery.

Andrade Silva's interior design weaves in Madeiran aesthetics such as embroidery. The enchanting gold, winding staircase is outfitted in a deep red-hued carpet reminiscent of the island's famous fortified wine. One of her most treasured details: an impressive 33-foot chandelier in the main lobby wrought from nearly 4 miles of metal chain.

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Bedrooms feature design elements like Madeiran embroidery.

If you haven't made plans for the New Year, you can witness the beautiful display thanks to the restaurant's permanent home: Savoy Palace.

Inside the property are 352 rooms, 14 pool suites and two presidential suites. In addition, there are four restaurants to try local cuisine like black scabbard fish paired with a refreshing glass of Poncha, the island's traditional alcoholic drink. It's made with aquardente de cana honey, sugar, lemon and fruit juices, all stirred together with a mexelote, or wooden spoon.

Discerning travelers who venture to the Portuguese outpost should opt for the three-night “Fly Me to Paradise” presidential suite stay. The package includes private elevator access to the 17th floor; a private butler; rooftop infinity pools; a round trip ticket on a private jet courtesy of Madjet; and private transfers in Lisbon and Funchal. A dedicated travel planner is also on hand to help create memorable experiences such as a sightseeing tour up to Monte while cruising in a Rolls Royce Limited Edition before taking part in one of Madeira's famed activities: a toboggan ride in a wicker basket. Funchal is the only place in the world that offers the thrilling attraction, which once was a common form of “downhill” public transportation.

Known as “The Garden Island of the Atlantic,” Madeira is an undiscovered gem waiting to be found for many Americans. It's earned the top spot on “Europe's Leading Island Destination” for five consecutive years.

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The grand 33-foot chain chandelier is a focal point in the lobby.

Aside from a rich history, the beauty of Savoy Palace is its central location near Old Town Funchal. It's close enough to explore surrounding areas to go hiking or canyoning and is walking distance to markets and shops while strolling along the avenue.

Back on property, guests can unwind in the 3,300-square-foot Laurea Spa inspired by the Laurissilva Forest—Madeira's UNESCO World Heritage site. Under green jewel tones, enjoy sensorial showers, a cold water course with black pebbles inspired by the levadas that carry water to the townspeople, a waterfall pool, sauna, steam room and salt room.

As for those stunning views, there's not a bad seat at Savoy Palace. Take your pick for dinner, perhaps this time at Jacarandá where after sunset, the party rises on top of the palace. Toast the evening while drinking some of that good ol' Poncha. The resort's bartender, Kevin Nóbrega, whips up quite possibly the best flavor combinations in town, but we'll let you be the judge.

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Guests can dine al fresco at Alameda during lunch
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the pool oasis features cabanas and ample seating.

Savoy Palace, Av. do Infante 25, 9004-542 Funchal, Portugal; 351.291.213.000; savoysignature.com