Summer may have been and gone, but sunny skies, sandy beaches and superyachts are just a short plane journey away.
And given that she’s the queen of daytime TV, why not take inspiration fromThis Morning’s very ownHolly Willoughby when it comes to deciding where to go next? Over the years, Holly hasbeen seen spending her summer holidays in Quinta do Lago – a luxury estate in the Algarve.
With its golden cliffs, excellent hospitality and 300-plus days of sunshine, the region of Portugal makes for the perfect escape, whether it’s something you save for summer or head to a little sooner.
So, here’s OK!’s top six reasons why you should give the Algarve a go …
You can experience a taste of luxury
VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa, in Porches, is a member of Leading Hotels of the World and for good reason. The luxurious, five-star resort is set in 54 acres of sub-tropical gardens with a secluded beach exclusive to guests.
There’s 170 rooms, suites and villas, which are suitable for families and couples. But even when fully booked it feels like you’ve stepped into your very own oasis. All the rooms are light, breezy and spacious and offer epic views. We stayed in The Residence on the second floor, which I’d recommend nabbing, as it’s only a short walk to both breakfast and the infinity pool.
You’re guaranteed to come back relaxed
Check out Portugal’s only Sisley Spa at the hotel to enjoy the sauna, steam room and ice grotto, or choose from a selection of blissful treatments. I opted for the Golden Quartz Signature Treatment, an award-winning, 90-minute ritual taking place on a heated bed of “sand” (tiny crystals) designed to emulate the feeling of relaxing on the beach.
My therapist began by pushing the sand around my body, before “gonging” singing bowls up and down my spine. Air jets beneath the sand created gentle pulsations while I was treated to a full-body, hot oil massage.
Another form of Zen can be found at the spa’s fitness studio. From meditation to power and aerial yoga, classes are available for both private and group bookings.
Every holidaymaker is catered for
So much more than world-class golf courses and busy resort towns, Portugal’s southernmost region boasts unspoilt beaches, spectacular rock formations and traditional fishing villages. The Algarve’s dry, hot summers and mild winters mean visitors are drawn to the outdoor life.
And while nature provides plenty of Instagram-worthy shots, history buffs will admire the old towns of Lagos and Silves, with their mediaeval monuments, Moorish architecture and centuries-old castles.
The region is less than three hours by plane from the UK, but the clear turquoise waters, palm tree-lined streets and the endless stretches of golden sands create a breathtaking landscape that is reminiscent of a tropical island.
You can try out a one-of-a-kind dining experience…
With 10 restaurants to choose from there’s no going hungry at VILA VITA Parc. But for those looking for a one-of-a-kind dining experience, book a table at the resort’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Ocean.
Chef Hans Neuner shows off his talent with a superb tasting menu, Route To India, inspired by his travels. Each dish is an elaborate work of art, with one course served up in a fishing tackle box, and each dish paired perfectly with wine from the hotel’s “secret” cellar.
…And you can get a history lesson too
Eight metres under the resort you’ll find Cave de Vinhos. The vaulted cellar is home to Portugal’s largest private wine collection and is available for wine-tasting sessions and private dinners.
We enjoyed our final meal here – a delicious tapas menu teamed with a range of vintage wines. Our sommelier spoke passionately about the history of each wine before demonstrating the 18th-century method of opening a bottle using a heated metal tong.
The views are breathtaking
To take advantage of the hotel’s coastal location, hop aboard one of its boats and yachts offering private trips, from dining at sea to exploring impressive caves. During our excursion, we checked out the famous Algar de Benagil, a sea cave with a huge hole in the ceiling known as “the eye”. It’s a must-see.
For those who prefer to take in the sights from land, the hotel offers a hiking trail experience along the beautiful clifftop and coastline. There are also nearby facilities for horse riding, windsurfing and biking, plus lots of activities onsite, such as watersports, minigolf and tennis. Well, there’s only so long you can recline on a sun lounger!
How to book
Doubles at VILA VITA Parc from £285 per night, including breakfast. See vilavitaparc.com
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