The Algarve has been on the minds of most UK travellers for so long that it has a reputation, for me at least, of having lost its identity somewhat to large golf resorts with no authenticity.
On our recent visit what stood out for me was the desire to bring the culture of the region and food back to the forefront of visitors minds. Whether that is enjoying a delicious old school Cataplana or a new and exciting locally produced gin!
We saw the Lake Resort, Conrad Algarve, Anantara, Martingal Sagres, Pine Cliffs and Vila Vita Park. What was clear from these visits is there is something to suit everyone here and the number of well-priced two bedroom apartments or larger villas makes it a perfect option for families.
The place I need to talk about first is Vila Vita. Why had I not discovered this before? It has the old school quality feel that make places like Sandy Lane and Saint Geran so popular yet it is 2 hours away and great for a foodie long weekend in the sun. They have a 2 Michelin Starred restaurant and so many more amazing choices including a Japanese and Tepenyake Bar, making it all you need for a relaxing holiday. I have already suggested this to several clients and really do think it stands out in the region.
Pine Cliffs is huge. I was worried I’d find it overwhelming and keep getting lost or be reliant on buggies. How wrong I was! This is a large resort, yes but it is easily walkable to almost everywhere in 5 minutes or so and very easy to find your way around. Breakfasts were amazing here and the recent refurbishments have seriously lifted the standards again. The beach is lovely but there are quite a few steps still even with the elevator down the cliff front. I’d discuss this with clients with very young children to get it right.
The Martinhal has somewhat of an iconic status amongst families in the UK. Designed by a lady who could never find what she needed for her children on holiday, this resort has everything you could ever need and more. The staff greet the kids before the parents and tables are all set up with high chairs to be removed if not needed (not having to wait for them to bring one while you child screams having seen the chocolate croissants!)
The main square has a huge bouncy castle and play area for the kids. At 5pm the pizza restaurant is at its busiest and it gives parents the ability to combine supervision and pre bedroom wind down or race around with a drink from the bar and a chance to chat to other parents.
It is all about the kids to the level that they don’t have any adult only areas at all which for me was my only tiny concern. If my kids are happily engrossed in the kids club I’d like some space from other people’s children but the beach is large enough and Club 89 at the back of the resort is quiet so would work except in peak season.
I could discuss all the rooms we saw but it is easier to say there is something to suit everyone. Knowing our clients as well as we do it makes choosing from such a large choice of properties much easier. Even at the top end with Vila Vita and the Ocean Suites at Pine Cliffs they are so different they cannot be compared.
One word to sum up the Algarve…. Easy! It is a short flight, civilised and a perfect sunshine getaway with great food and amazing properties.