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Madeira: what it takes to be a winner

Posted by Jonathan Broom on 6 December 2018
Related property: Encosta Cabo Girao
Madeira: what it takes to be a winner

How do you improve on perfection? Well, perhaps you can’t; but you can certainly spread the word. Which we’re delighted to do, shouting it from the top of the Cabo Girão cliffs:

For the fourth year running, Madeira has been voted the World Travel Awards top island destination in the world.

The World Travel Awards were established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. The Awards were created to shine a spotlight on various aspects of the industry: from airlines, to hotels, to city-break destinations, and more. Today, the Awards are recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence.

On 1st December 2018, the industry’s major players gathered at a star-studded gala ceremony in Lisbon’s historic Pátio da Galé for the World Travel Awards Grand Final, to discover who amongst them had been crowned the finest in the world.

Competition for the best-island category was stiff, as always; but Madeira beat the likes of the Seychelles, the Maldives, Bali and St Lucia to the top prize. Again – having taken the top spot in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

And now, of course, in 2018. So just what is it that makes the ‘Green Pearl of the Atlantic’ such a consistent world-beater?

Perhaps the clue’s in the name. Or rather, the nickname. The ‘Green Pearl’ epithet (Madeira is also known, less poetically, as the 'Floating Flower Pot’) alludes to the astonishing variety of vibrant flora that grows almost year-round on the island thanks to a near-permanent spring-like climate, and which is celebrated every year at the Flower Festival (below) in capital Funchal, just after Easter.

Or maybe it’s the stunning topology: vertiginous cliffs such as Cabo Girão (at top), the second-highest sea cliff in Europe; the mountainous hinterland, all tall peaks and plunging valleys, where you can walk above the clouds at Pico Ruivo (below), Madeira’s highest point, and breathe the clearest of clear air;

or the jaw-dropping coastline (below), with the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean stretching out before you, as far as the eye can see:

Perhaps it’s the levadas – the network of manmade irrigation channels that crisscross the island, taking water from the west and north-west to the drier south-east. The oldest levadas date from the 16th Century, the newest from the 1940s; but the walks alongside these channels are some of the finest to be found anywhere: long, short, easy or challenging, but all the while surrounded by magnificent scenery (below).

Or maybe it’s the island’s picturesque villages, towns and cities. The pretty fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, just round the corner from Cabo Girão. Porto Moniz, at Madeira’s furthest north-western tip. Or Funchal (below) – which you can see shimmering below Cabo Girão, just eight kms to the east – surely one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbours, and a city filled with history, architectural elegance and sophistication, as well as friendliness and fun.

A mixture of these, and more – much more – besides? That’s what we reckon. There’s no great mystery, in the end, as to why Madeira consistently takes the laurels: the island’s myriad attractions – its location, its history, its climate, colours and astounding natural beauty – make Madeira as close to an island paradise as you’ll find.

Simple, really.

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Jonathan Broom

Jonathan Broom

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