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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Vila Vita Parc Resort, Algarve, Portugal

Vila Vita Parc - Wining and Dining in The Algarve

Vila Vita Parc and Herdade dos Grous


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- Vila Vita Parc

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Vila Vita Parc Resort, Algarve, Portugal

Vila Vita Parc - Wining and Dining in The Algarve

Vila Vita Parc and Herdade dos Grous


Vila Vita Parc Resort, Algarve, Portugal

Vila Vita Parc 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.

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.

Vila Vita parc 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 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 destination.

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.

Vila Vita parc 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 advice.

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.

Vila Vita parc 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:

Vila Vita parc

• 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 Spain

• Tavira, a historically fascinating city with great art treasures

• The Ria Formosa Natural Reserve

• The city of Faro, the Algarve’s capital

• Sagres, Europe’s south-western tip



Address:
Vila Vita Parc
Rua Anneliese Pohl
Alporchinhos
8400-450 Porches
Algarve, Portugal

Phone: + 351 282 310 100
Fax: + 351 282 320 333
Email: reservas@vilavitaparc.com

Visit Vila Vita Parc here


International hotel reviews

Vila Vita Parc - Wining and Dining in The Algarve

restaurant review We, cold souls, languish in northern Europe, longing for holidays offering bright sun and vibrant food. Look at any Mediterranean travel brochure and along with gold-fringed beaches there will be images of food.

But there is an alternative to the now-crowded Med: the Atlantic. Yes, dear geographically challenged reader, that might conjure visions of grey sea and a sinking Titanic, but consider the country on the same latitude as the Mediterranean but with unspoilt stretches of sand, refreshing summer breezes and food that can compete with anything from France, Spain or Italy.

Portugal in general will tick boxes for any food-loving tourist. It’s a large country that offers different landscapes and therefore varied agriculture down its considerable length; and then there is the sea, which borders on two sides. The Algarve, in particular, presents a wealth of dining opportunities from land, vine and ocean.

Vila Vita Parc is described as a resort and it boasts 5 well-deserved stars. Its food mirrors the quality of its accommodations and facilities. The guest is presented with outstanding grazing from breakfast to dinner. Wine-lovers will not feel the need to wander, as this 2-venue establishment is proud of its cellars and indeed its vineyard (more of that to follow).

One might like to start the day at The Bela Vita which is on the ground floor of the Main Building. This restaurant allows guests to enjoy breakfast sitting on a sunny terrace with views of the exotically planted grounds displaying enough tall palm trees to make any homesick Polynesian feel quite content.

restaurant review The morning spread reflects the national makeup of those staying at Vila Vita Parc. There are hot dishes that will likely be the chosen fare of the British and Americans, and those include freshly made omelettes and fried eggs along with crispy bacon and perhaps a side of waffles. One does, after all, need sustenance for an arduous day of basking in the sun, dipping in the pool (although that could be dippings in plural pools as this resort is blessed with many), an energetic spa treatment or an exhausting round of golf. Perhaps add a fruit smoothie to that cooked spread.

Scandinavians and Germans will enjoy the extensive selection of pressed meats, cheese and smoked fish, perhaps topping some pumpernickel bread. Do try those local cheeses and cured ham; Vila Vita takes pride in supporting the local economy with everything from its linen and bath products to fresh local foods. Breakfast here can be a sampling adventure that one might normally find only in a high-end deli. You will discover a display of Portuguese cakes that change by the day and these should not be missed. There is chilled fruit for those who want to feel noble.

French visitors are not forgotten: there are croissants and pots of coffee.

restaurant review The Whale is a family-friendly restaurant and ideal for lunch, and its large summer terrace will ensure that you don’t miss any sun. There are breathtaking vistas of the sea, making this a spot that invites convivial lingering.

Gamberetti Fritti - fried shrimps in basil-garlic oil, lemon, African oil and 13 year-old balsamic vinegar served on ciabatta – should surely be a signature starter here. It’s spicy, and that bread soaks up the delicious dressing. You will likely be tempted to order this every lunchtime but then one would miss Risotto alla Milanese - saffron risotto with shrimps and herbs – and that would be a shame.

Pizza aficionados will be forced to admit that pizza from the wood-fired oven is superior to that which might arrive in a box on the back of a moped. Al Peperoncini - tomatoes, mozzarella, hot peppers, garlic, onion – will delight anyone with pizza cravings.

Those sea views will be a charming garnish to a main course of fish, as it is, unsurprisingly, a big feature of The Whale. The squid is particularly good here just simply grilled: it has not only its unique and delicate seafood flavour, but the attractive charring adds both texture and a rich taste. There is a cabinet with a display of the ‘catch of the day’ and the head waiter will offer amusing conversation and suggestions.

restaurant review Talking of the sea, Vila Vita Parc has a beach restaurant, Arte Náutica, that will allow guests to get close up and personal with sand, waves, weathered decking and more fresh seafood. This is off-site, but a complementary and frequent bus will drop and collect diners at Armação de Pêra.

This is a casual restaurant during sunbathing hours, but as the sun sets the ambiance changes to smart-casual, with bathing suits and sarongs being exchanged for cotton dresses and light linens. Yes, the focus is on the bounty of the ocean but there are carnivore-pleasing alternatives. The portions are generous but there is no hurry, so sit back and enjoy melon and ham, shrimps, grilled fish, and some summer cocktails. Dry white port with tonic water is highly recommended and marvellously complements the setting sun.

Ocean is Vila Vita Parc’s fine-dining signature restaurant and it proudly sports a brace of Michelin stars. It’s located in the Residence building and has commanding views of the sea and coast. It is an elegant salon with décor that is enhanced by the strikingly dressed guests, making an evening here deliciously memorable.

Executive Chef Hans Neuner heads Ocean and his attention to detail is evident from the first glimpse of his imaginative dishes. He values the array of local ingredients at his disposal and he transforms them into visually impressive and delicious creations that are almost too good to eat.

restaurant review Hans is a confident chef and introduces elements of whimsy into his cooking. One might find a seascape of lacy coral bejewelled with tiny shrimp. Perhaps one could be served with a lawn and an edible tree. There will be fish and meat expertly prepared and artistically garnished but all having perfectly balanced flavours.

Chef Hans Neuner was named Portugal’s Chef of the Year 2009 and 2012, and his team has been awarded two Michelin Stars. Ocean is celebrated for its polished and discreetly attentive service. The menu changes seasonally, offering new temptations even to its regular guests.  The wines complement the dishes and enhance what is, after all, an occasion.

Vila Vita Parc has a host of restaurants and bars to suit every taste. They offer a variety of menus and ambiance, the quality is universally high, and the staff are just as friendly at supper as they were at breakfast. A visit is a pampering experience, and a return is assured.


International hotel reviews

Vila Vita Parc and Herdade dos Grous

Vila vita herdade Vila Vita Parc enchants the guest with its exotic gardens; it invigorates the visitor with its pools and spa; it tempts with its food and wine. Those last two delicious elements will likely be at the very heart of your stay and they are key to the success of the company here in Portugal.

This five-star resort boasts a 2-Michelin star restaurant so one knows the food and presentation will be superb, and it’s no surprise that equal attention is paid to the wines. Portugal has much to offer in that regard but it’s still overlooked. There is more to the viticulture here than Mateus Rose, although I confess to having enjoyed a thoroughly chilled glass or two of that on hot evenings.

Most fine restaurants will claim to have a ‘cellar’ although this is, in truth, often a temperature-controlled closet off the kitchen. Vila Vita Parc has a real wine cellar (or Cave de Vinhos). It is almost a caricature of an ancient wine cellar: one thinks of low lights, cool brick walls, flickering candles and long-undisturbed bottles, and that’s exactly the reality here. It’s even more impressive when one appreciates that these walls, although genuinely old, have been transported here from Egypt, Austria and Greece. The-150year-old bricks have been re-built in gothic style to present a cosy and intimate space not only for learning about wine but also enjoying exceptional food with those vintages.

Vila vita herdade The Cave de Vinhos holds a stock of more than 11,000 bottles of wine in perfect conditions. This is a wine cellar and not a museum, so all these are available for purchase. The bottles portray the best wine-making skills from across the globe and include a fine selection of Ports. This fortified wine is enjoying a resurgence of popularity and has shaken off the dusty image of a too-sticky drink reserved for elderly relatives and usually at a funeral. People are taking a second look and finding it speaks very favourably to a younger, contemporary palate.

Vila Vita Parc owns its own farm and vineyard so has access to some noteworthy local wines. The striking estate of Herdade dos Grous, or Estate of the Cranes, is found some miles away in Alentejo. The origin of its name, “Além-Tejo”, literally translates to “Across the Tagus”. The region is separated from the rest of Portugal by the river Tagus and the area is known as the bread basket of Portugal.

One will notice a change in the landscape as one travels from the Algarve to Alentejo. There are gently undulating hills punctuated by well-spaced trees – these are often cork, which still represents the stopper of choice for the wine industry, but it is being increasingly used in the manufacture of goods that one would normally find made from leather.

Herdade dos Grous covers an impressive 1700 acres or so of this fertile land. It has a sizable lake, vineyards and olive groves that add to the sense of natural calm but this isn’t a vista designed for the visitors, this is a working farm and vineyard that produces some very creditable and prize-winning wines.

Vila vita herdade Alentejo is home to old grape varieties such as Trincadeira: it has been chosen as one of the main varieties here as it suits the hot summers, but it has also had a long history in Douro where it is known as Tinta Amarela.

The establishment of the estate and the cultivation of the vines began in 1987, with the extensive wine cellar being added in 2005. Oenologist Luis Duarte has a remarkable talent and has presented wines of great character. Wines like Moon Harvest (a pure varietal Alicante Bouschet) and 23 Barricas (from Syrah and Touriga Nacional) are exceptional. Luis Duarte has been awarded the title Winemaker of the Year twice so far – the only winemaker in Portugal to have achieved this.

There are plenty of horses on the farm and they are there for the riding enjoyment of visitors rather than for culinary purposes, but there are lots of grazing animals that are destined for plates here and at Vila Vita Parc. The cattle on this estate produce Carne Alentejana, a well-known and appreciated quality of beef. The European Union recognises the meat as a Portuguese Protected Designation of Origin brand. It’s a bit like authentic champagne only coming from a particular area. There are also local sheep called Merino Regional, pigs and some emus, but they seem to be more for decorative purposes.

Meat from Herdade dos Grous also fills the cool-room at the traditional German restaurant located a couple of miles from the main Vila Vita Parc (transport provided). Biergarten is a little bit of Germany transplanted, that one might be surprised to find in the Algarve, but the owners of the group are German and the food here showcases the produce of Herdade dos Grous admirably.

On the menu are handmade sausages, schnitzel and knuckle of pork and if you are a local you can take advantage of the butcher and gourmet shop, which offers prime cuts of meat in addition to those sausages. This is a spot for more souvenir hunting as they stock wine and food gifts from the estate. The gourmet shop is open from Tuesdays to Fridays from 15:00 to 18:00.

Vila Vita Parc Vila Vita Parc and Herdade dos Grous offer two faces of hospitality and culinary excellence. Each venue has its own style and will appeal to those who appreciate attention to detail. Herdade dos Grous would make a delightful winter, spring or autumn break for those who want to take leisurely walks through vines, go riding, or relax with a good book – and always with the prospect of an excellent meal. Vila Vita Parc has a host of facilities for all the family and indeed all year round. Its selection of restaurants offers a gastronomic extravaganza for any traveller with a refined palate. Both offer the stuff of which memories are made, and those memories will undoubtedly feature some rather good wines.

Herdade Restaurant
Opening hours:
Lunch - Monday to Sunday 12:30 to 14:30
Dinner - Friday to Sunday 19:30 to 21:30

Herdade dos Grous
Albernôa
P-7800-601 Beja
Portugal

Phone: + 351 284 96 00 00
Email: info@herdade-dos-grous.com
Visit Herdade dos Grous here

Vila Vita Parc
Rua Anneliese Pohl,
Alporchinhos
8400-450 Porches
Algarve
Portugal
restaurant review
Phone: (+351) 282 310 100
Telefax: (+351) 282 320 333
Email: reservas@vilavitaparc.com

Visit Vila Vita Parc here


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