The south of Portugal, also known as the Algarve, is rich in Portugese culture and sunshine, and with only a two hour flight time from the UK, it is unsurprisingly one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations. The Mediterranean coastline is full of tiny fishing towns, ancient history and exquisite food, making it a haven for keen travellers and relaxed holidaymakers alike.
Where To Stay
The Anantara Vilamoura is a beautifully luxurious five-star hotel that takes the Asian-based Anantara group's prestigious hospitability but shapes it firmly within Portugese culture. From the vast reception area, decorated by local art deliberately chosen to resemble the Algarvian rooftops. The terrace, complete with its impressively towering ceilings, gives visitors a sweeping view of the golf course down onto the ocean.
The hotel is perfectly set up for families: there is an excellent child care service from babysitters to kids clubs for children aged 4-19, including football sessions for 7-11 year olds. The hotel has three swimming pools: the main one is lined with towering palm trees and overlooks the golf course, it is so stunning I was surprised children are allowed in! The Palm has its own bar and eating area so families don't have to venture far for lunch. There is also a second smaller paddling pool for little ones.
The Ria Restaurant overlooks the pool, serving fresh caught fish and seafood
This being said, the hotel successfully accommodates couples and families with minimal cross over, if that's what you are after. The adults-only pool has its own secluded area, bar and outdoor massage space so even at the height of summer holidays it was blissfully quiet. For 120 euros you can rent your own cabana for the day and sip Veuve Cliquot champagne privately which is, unsurprisingly, a big hit with couples and newlyweds!
One of the main attractions at the hotel is its restaurant Ria, situated by the main Palm pool. The restaurant offers seating inside and outside which gives adults the chance to enjoy fantastic fresh seafood without being too far from the children, if they so wish! Every Sunday guests are given the chance to choose their freshly caught fish and seafood, to have it cooked for them round the pool for brunch, which is just one of the services the hotel offers to really make guests feel looked after.
What To Do
Unlike a lot of resorts, Anantara Vilamoura does not feel isolated from its surroundings. The hotel's three gurus (wine, experience and golf) offer help and advice to really get the most out of the Southern Portugese location. From the tuk tuk tour, EMO wine and fine dining restaurant and Fado traditions celebrating the end of the day and beginning of the evening, the hotel feels embedded in local culture with the convenience and luxury of a five-star hotel.
The 18 hole Victoria Golf Course hosts the Portugal Masters
The Victoria Golf Course, designed by Arnold Palmer, offers guests individual and group lessons on the Portugal Masters course. The club will also arrange a shuttle to take you to the surrounding golf courses which include some of the best in Europe. Open 8am until 7pm, the golf club also offers lessons and assistance from the resident Golf Guru. It is recommended to book courses at least a day in advance to avoid disappointment as it can get very busy.
Then there is also the incredible spa located at the top of the hotel offering panoramic views of the golf course through to Vilamoura marina and the ocean itself. Here you get a strong sense of the hotel's Asian heritage with a breath-taking pool surrounded by heated beds, the spa and sauna. Massages start from 90 euros for a 60 minute Anantara Signature Massage and guests are treated to an invigorating coffee foot scrub beforehand.
Blanco Beach Bar in Portimao offers a taste of the Ibizan party scene in the Algarve
For those in search of Portugal's night life, the Anantara hotel has its own beach bar, or there is the latest development on neighbouring Portimao beach offering partygoers a real treat if you fancy a big night. The newly opened Blanco Beach Bar has already brought in big names such as Tinie Tempah, AME and French Montana. The large circular beds and glistening pool with fountains show inspiration clearly drawn from the white isle of Ibiza. You are able to rent a bed for the day and receive waiter service with an extensive drinks and snack menu, alternatively you can look at a cabana with private jacuzzi (also waiter service).
Monarch flies to Faro aiport daily with flights starting from £47 one way (£98 return). Prices at the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort start from 255 euros per night for a Deluxe Room which includes decadent buffet breakfast, tuk tuk tours to explore the local area, Adventurer's Kid's Club for children aged 4 - 18, transfers to Vilamoura Marina and access to Purobeach Club.
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