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The Mediterranean: Madeira

Reid's Palace Relaxes
Much of Madeira seems like one vast nature preserve: mountains, lush greenery, sheer coastal cliffs, and waterfalls that seem to tumble from heaven. And in the middle of it all sits the utterly civilized Reid's Palace Hotel. Opened in 1891, it primarily hosts an English clientele, who come to stay in the stately guestrooms, meander through the gardens of palms and succulents, lounge on open-air terraces, and revel in the grandiose dining room. Black-tie attire for dinner is no longer required, but a suit and tie is still de rigueur. Perhaps the only downside to Reid's and to Madeira in general is the lack of great beaches. Ask the hotel to arrange a day trip to Porto Santo, a semi-deserted island two hours by ferry and 15 minutes by plane ($120 round trip). It has a five-mile-long beach of ultrafine golden sand with a handful of good seafood restaurants nearby. Rooms, $445-$2,925. At 139 Estrada Monumental; 351-291-71-7171;

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