Some comments to supplement the review entitled: “Perfect Stay in The Azores.” We visited almost a year later. It is hard to imagine a better place to spend a vacation on São Miguel than Luis & Margareet’s Vivenda Xavier.
1) First, the house is beautifully situated overlooking one of the most popular beaches on the island in the town of Porto Formoso. It is a five minute walk to the beach in the summer. It was also perfectly located for our daily excursions by car, given its central location on the northern coast of the island. No destination took more than an hour to reach. We were even glad we decided to drive back to Ponto Delgada later during our stay by car instead of spending a couple of days in a hotel there to start. We found free parking at the waterfront when we visited and were happy we didn't have to drive in and out of the city for each of our excursions. Before heading for any site on the island, check out the webcam for it at "www.spotazores.com" to be sure it is not shrouded in clouds or fog.
2) The terrace "vaut le voyage" as the Michelin guide used to say for its top attractions. It combines the sounds of nature from three sources: the roar of the surf below, the flow of water from the stream and small waterfall just below the house, and the symphony of birds inhabiting the woods precipitously overlooking the house on the cliff to the rear. The terrace includes a small wood-burning grill and an enclosed outdoor kitchenette with gas burners, a sink, and running water. The terrace is also equipped with a retractable awning, clearly visible in the photos, for protecting guests alternately from the sun and rain. Renters need to be mindful, however, of keeping it closed when not on the terrace themselves lest it be damaged by the wind, which can be quite substantial.
3) The house is perfect for a couple or a family with several children. It’s a little less ideal for two couples hoping to share the house, though it will do if they are truly good friends and practiced at spending time in relatively close quarters. There are two smallish bedrooms on the entry level, one with its own private bathroom and terrace. The second adjacent bedroom has twin beds. The second small bath – with toilet, washbasin, and shower – is accessible through the hall. The large, roomy bedroom on the third floor is accessed by narrow, spiral metal steps. It is therefore perfect for older children or a second younger couple sharing the house. Because of this difficult access, though, it is not ideal for younger children or older folks who would have to descend the steps to access the bathroom at night.
4) The living room is attractive, spacious, and opens via sliding doors onto the magnificent terrace. It contains an attractive, usable fireplace, a table with seating for 6, a satellite TV with programming in Portuguese, American and British English, a couple of Spanish language stations, and Deutsche Welle, which has news and programming in both German and English. Unfortunately, the French station seemed to broadcast only in English. (There is a second TV in the master bedroom, though we never used it.) Further, the living room contains a desktop computer using Win7 with good wireless internet access, which is available throughout the house on one’s own equipment. Just use the Guest account, which is not password protected. Finally, Luis & Margareet have a small library in the last corner of the room in Dutch, Portuguese, and English, including up-to-date guide books to the Azores in English and German.
5) The kitchen is well appointed with all the utensils, dishes, pots and pans, and appliances one needs for cooking at home. Our practice for many years has been to eat a substantial breakfast at home, find a restaurant for a substantial meal at lunch, and finish the day with a light meal -- Abendbrot, salads, or omelets, in the evening with a bottle of wine. The terrace with its steady allure made this strategy perfect throughout our stay.
6) Finally, Luis is a friendly, gregarious fellow, so he and I stayed in regular contact by email and phone. We couldn’t have wished for a nicer host or house. My only reservation is that in touting its virtues, we may never be able to book it again. Finally, let me add that my wife thanked me profusely every day for having found Vivenda Xavier and reserving it so quickly. Happy wife; happy life…