One muses on holidays in Europe next year: perhaps France,
as the south does have amazing weather and there is
always the food. Perhaps a winter break to enjoy some bearable
temperatures and maybe even some patches of blue sky. Spain has the
ever-popular tapas as well as those vibrant cities of Barcelona and
Madrid. Italy has had a loyal following since the dawn of The Grand
Tour in Victorian times. But Portugal is often overlooked.
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Portugal is diverse. There are, of course, all those elements that
appeal to tourists who have become habitués of other southern
European destinations. But it remains unique, with a wealth of unspoilt
natural grandeur, more historic statues than one would want to shake a
monument at, culture rich enough to satisfy a dedicated anthropologist,
and food that is at last being taken seriously.
The Algarve is Portugal’s most southerly region. Its stunning
Atlantic coast boasts hidden beaches of golden sand, rugged cliffs, and
ocean caves and grottos. Even the name ‘Algarve’ has a story to tell,
harking back to the Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula in 711.
The Arab words ‘al-gharb’, meaning the land on the West has been
corrupted to the now-familiar name. Any place-name starting in Al is
likely derived from a North African original.
This is Portugal’s playground, but there is much more to recommend it
than its magnificent beaches and world-class golf courses. Vila Vita
Parc is a 5-star resort with its own beach attached, but it offers
leisure opportunities far beyond a stretch of sand (although that
particular stretch of sand is secluded and well appointed).
Vila Vita Parc mesmerises the world-weary guest with its tranquil
gardens verdant with palms, Bougainvillea, and exotic
succulents. Its manicured lawns are punctuated by swimming pools
fringed by enough sun loungers to baffle any northern
European with a towel, and one of those blue azure beauties is heated,
helping to make Vila Vita Parc something of an all-year-round
The thoughtful design of the 54-acre estate allows plenty
of space for guests whatever their chosen pursuit. Even at full
occupancy there is the illusion that the rest of the guests must be
away on an excursion. It has the air of a Moroccan-inspired village.
There are no high-rise buildings here and the well-established palm
trees tower over many of the structures. There are meandering paths
just wide enough to accommodate golf buggies, which are the only
vehicles guests will see for the duration of their tranquil stay. Leave
your car at home and fly to Faro airport which is only 40 minutes away,
or Lisbon a couple of hours away. The hotel will meet and greet you in
the arrival lounge.
Vila Vita Parc offers 180 luxury guest rooms, suites and villas: the
main hotel houses 65 deluxe rooms and 8 suites, while a separate
building called The Residence, on the edge of a cliff, offers 29 suites
that include 26 with garden or sea view, two Townhouse Suites, and one
Residence Grand Suite.
Oasis Parc is a veritable ‘neighbourhood’ of the aforementioned
village, comprising a cluster of white two-storey townhouses. The
ground-floor suite has a private garden while the top tempts with its
own private roof terrace, complete with cushioned loungers and open-air
shower. This is a place that invites guests not only to bask in privacy
but to return to for pre-dinner drinks or after-dinner coffee.
All suites offer WiFi access, satellite TV, radio-CD player
and alarm clock. All have a mini-bar and wall safe. The bathroom
toiletries are Portugal’s contribution to bathing luxury – they are by
the celebrated soap artisan Claus Porto, and that company can boast
such discerning ladies as Michelle Obama among their followers.
With such attention to private bathroom detail, it’s no surprise that
Vila Vita Parc takes its spa and health facility seriously. Options
include steam and algae baths, saunas, whirlpools and a tepidarium. To
contrast the tepid element there is an Ice Grotto that
is actually full of snow and ice. There is also a particularly amusing
foot spa. Both classic massage treatments and
Far-Eastern techniques are available, as well as physiotherapeutic
treatments to smooth knotted muscles.
The indoor pool allows guests to take part in resistance water
training, and the EnerGym is fully furnished with exercise equipment to
gladden the fast-beating heart of sporty sorts. For the rest of us who
seek more gentle activity there are classes in Yoga, Pilates, TaiChi,
aquarobics and stretching. Personal trainers are also available for
The new HYPOXI®-Studio is the first and only one of its kind in
this corner of Europe.
It offers a unique chance to sample the most sophisticated training
method to achieve a perfect body. The programme is based on a moderate
workout routine and a balanced nutrition plan.
Many adults without children might be concerned about choosing a resort
which evidently welcomes younger visitors. Vila Vita Parc has plenty of
space that is designed with kids in mind, so they’ll be out of the way
of those seeking relaxing calm. There are bespoke kids’ pools as well
as Annabella’s Kids Parc catering for 4- to 12-year-olds, and Natalie’s
Crèche for babies and toddlers aged 6 months to 3 years. There
are also play schemes designed to meet the sophisticated needs of
youngsters aged 13 and over. The babysitting service will be welcomed
by parents who also need some time away from those smaller folks.
On site there are facilities for the whole family: tennis and
volleyball courts, mini-golf, a driving range, a putting green
and a pitch-and-putt green. Golfers can also take advantage of more
than 30 scenic championship courses in the area. Nearby are stables for
horseback riding, and windsurfing, hiking and biking opportunities
might also tempt.
Vila Vita Parc has a wealth of activities on land, on the beach and
even at sea. This resort boasts its own 72-foot yacht which will allow
guests a view of the iconic cliffs from the vantage point of the deck,
and plenty of time to explore normally-inaccessible beaches and for
swimming. The pampering continues with delicious food and wine to
complement your bespoke excursion. One can expect something far more
delicious than a ship’s biscuit and a flask of cold tea. This is an
annex of Vila Vita Parc, after all!
Talking of food, Vila Vita Parc presents its guests with better
restaurants than do some small towns. There are dining options to
appeal to youngsters (and the not so young) who might consider
themselves pizza aficionados, a restaurant specialising in traditional
Portuguese dishes, a 2-Michelin-star restaurant that should not be
missed, a beach restaurant dining experience, and even an authentic
German beer-garden. Every taste is provided for, from the excellent
breakfast buffet through to a local after-dinner digestif.
Things to do in the Algarve:
• Aljezur and Odeceixe on the Costa Vicentina,
Europe’s surf retreat
• Monchique, a mountain retreat
• Silves, one of the Algarve’s earliest towns
• Alte and Querença, two
quintessentially Algarvian villages
• The Guadiana River, part of the natural border with
• Tavira, a historically fascinating city with great
• The Ria Formosa Natural Reserve
• The city of Faro, the Algarve’s capital
• Sagres, Europe’s south-western tip
Vila Vita Parc
Rua Anneliese Pohl
Phone: + 351 282 310 100
Fax: + 351 282 320 333
Visit Vila Vita Parc here