The Algarve – An Insider’s Guide

Vistas, The Algarve

Bounded by rolling mountains and the deep blue Atlantic, Portugal’s southernmost region is a justifiably popular holiday destination. Disembarking at Faro Airport, the area’s golden beaches, luxurious resorts, golf courses and charming coastal towns are a short drive away. From riverside Vila Real de Santo António’s elegant, whitewashed facades and terracotta roofs, all the way west to the green slopes of the Serra de Monchique, the Algarve is a scenic setting for holidays to satisfy all the family.

Enjoy our guide to the Algarve’s hotels and restaurants, all of which offer an impressively diverse array of holiday experiences. With offices across Europe, we remove the tedious admin and allow our members to focus on the enjoyable parts of planning that much-awaited holiday.

Concerned it’s too early to book? Don’t worry: given the challenges of making international travel plans in the era of COVID-19, we’ve developed a range of flexible, refundable options with our hotel and airline partners. This approach allows our members to plan and book holidays for the coming seasons, in full confidence that we’ll have you covered if regulations or your personal situation changes.

The top 6 places to eat in the Algarve
Gusto by Heinz Beck
Gusto by Heinz Beck, Almancil

Cuisine: modern Mediterranean

German chef Heinz Beck, the respected threestar Michelin figurehead of Rome’s La Pergola and several other restaurants, offers à la carte and tasting menus of modern Mediterranean cuisine at Gusto. Its setting at the five-star Conrad Algarve is equally special, featuring a lively open kitchen, Roberto Cavalli decor, an al fresco terrace overlooking the infinity pool, and a Cuban cigar menu.

Ten tip: Complement your meal with a cocktail at Gusto Bar, winner of the Best Hotel Bar Award at the Lisbon Bar Show 2018.

Vila Joya
Vila Joya, Albufeira

Cuisine: creative, produce-inspired dishes

Austrian chef Dieter Koschina has been at the Vila Joya beach hotel since 1989, gaining two Michelin stars since 1999 – despite creating a new six-course menu every day. He describes his approach as “John Wayne-style”, because he shoots from the hip with daily dishes based on local produce, capturing the flavours, colours and aromas of the Algarve.

Ten tip: Vila Joya’s wine cellar is home to 12,000 of the finest Portuguese and world wines, and curated by sommelier Arnaud Vallet – a veteran of Europe’s premier Michelin-starred restaurants.

The Ocean, Alporchinhos

Cuisine: nouvelle Portuguese and seafood

The VILA VITA Parc Resort Parc Resort’s two-Michelin-star restaurant balances sea views with an ocean-inspired decor of backlit conches on blue shelves and shell-like chandeliers. It’s a beautiful setting for chef Hans Neuner’s Discovering Portugal menu, which features king crab, Wagyu steak, caviar, oysters and more across a dozen courses.

Ten tip: A wine pairing can be incorporated with the menu. Get in touch with our lifestyle managers before you leave home to guarantee a premium table with a view at your chosen time.

Bon Bon
Bon Bon, Carvoeiro

Cuisine: contemporary Algarvian

Set on a country road between Lagoa and the coast, chef Louis Anjos says he strives for an apertelência (courageous) culinary reaction to the global pandemic, supporting local producers and bringing back classic Algarvian dishes. With a view of the Monchique Mountains, enjoy Michelin-starred dishes such as xarém de bivalves (local pork and shellfish stew with fried bread croutons), plus crab, fennel and citrus.

Ten tip: Bon Bon offers three- to five-course lunch menus, and nine-, 11- and 14-course dinner menus. Dedicated vegetarian menus are available.

Vista, Portimão

Cuisine: modern seafood-focused menus

The vista in question is the open Atlantic at this blue-and-white restaurant that boasts a gorgeous beachfront terrace. Michelin-starred chef João Oliveira serves meticulously presented Mediterranean cuisine here, and local flavours and fresh seafood are the stars of his colourful dishes.

Ten tip: Stroll from nearby Praia da Rocha (named for its rock formations) to Marina de Portimão and soak up the views.

Vistas Rui Silvestre
Vistas Rui Silvestre, Vila Nova de Cacela

Cuisine: innovative gastronomy

With views across the Monte Rei Golf and Country Club’s Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, Vistas serves “fauna and flora” and “ocean promenade” degustation menus, featuring Iberian lamb and red mullet. Currently the youngest Portuguese chef to win a Michelin star, Algarve-raised Silvestre expresses his love for the local landscape through his food.

Ten tip: Monte Rei also offers three informal restaurants: The Grill, Veranda and The Academy Café.

Our members’ favourite hotels in the Algarve
Anantara Vilamoura
Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, Vilamoura

Best for: golf and activities

Set among championship fairways near sandy Praia de Falésia, the Anantara offers a range of rooms and suites, including a two-level penthouse, in a lavish environment of five beautiful pools and Champagne cabanas. Discover Vilamoura’s glamorous marina and nightlife or relax in the spa while children play at world-class kids’ clubs. Meanwhile, golfers can enjoy the neighbouring Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, which hosts the annual Portugal Masters, offers private transfers to Vilamoura’s other greens and features its very own resident Golf Guru.

Pine Cliffs
Pine Cliffs, A Luxury Collection Resort, Albufeira

Best for: traditional Portuguese Moorish design

This traditionally styled resort sits atop the red cliffs at Praia de Falésia, with Moorish-influenced arches, fountain-cooled courtyards, and hand-painted tiles and murals. The recently renovated rooms have spa-inspired bathrooms and private balconies overlooking the ocean or manicured gardens, while amenities include eight pools, a nine-hole golf course, a tennis club and several dining options.

Pine Cliffs
Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites & Spa, A Luxury Collection Resort, Albufeira

Best for: clifftop seclusion amid classic Portuguese style and modern glamour

A separate complex from the resort of the same name, the Ocean Suites include one- and two bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchens, dining areas with seating for six, and floor-to-ceiling windows leading to private balconies. There are also two opulent Presidential Suites, one of the Algarve’s largest spas and finest Japanese restaurants, plus a clifftop Champagne bar.

Conrad Algarve, Almancil

Best for: experiences, including yoga on the lake and clam-picking

Choose between the 300sq m Roof Garden Suite, a Conrad Suite with a living room and butler service, or the myriad rooms with pool views at this palatial resort in the Praia do Ancão hinterland. The list of activities is just as varied, including a serviced beach, three pools, tours focused on winemaking, olive-oil tasting and discovering local food markets, plus kids’ water sports on the lake.

VILA VITA Parc Resort and Spa, Alporchinhos

Best for: a comprehensive package of fitness, well-being, beauty, and sea views

This pleasure garden of terracotta-roofed villas, fountains, pools and palm trees has a yacht for cruising the coves, a beach club with three restaurants and a range of water sports, plus a vaulted wine cellar. It offers a holistic wellness package, sea-inspired rooms, suites with ocean-view terraces and spacious whitewashed villas with private pools. Bliss.

Grand House
Grand House Algarve, Vila Real de Santo António

Best for: a creative mix of historic atmosphere and contemporary luxury

Perched on the Guadiana River, which divides Portugal from Andalucía, this belle époque grand dame has chic rooms mixing art nouveau, baroque and colonial styles, with decor including Chinese porcelain vases, 1920s privacy screens and Louis Vuitton textiles. Members staying at this stylish and historic hotel, with its waterside restaurant, penthouse cocktail bar, private beach and pool, will soon agree with its motto: “Ain’t life grand?”

If you’re not ready to venture further afield, discover the dramatic coastlines, jagged mountain ranges and softly undulating valleys of Wales, or have a look at our top 6 staycations for a post-lockdown getaway.

Ten Members receive benefits when they book holidays and flights with us, including car hire benefits and vehicle upgrades. Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip, a short-haul business mission or a week-long holiday, we can recommend, organise and book the perfect getaway.

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