I've not visited Algarve for such a long time! Almost can't believe that this is true, but while living abroad for years, each visit to Portugal had to be carefully time managed. With time being such a scarce resource, the beloved place of my childhood vacations and where we spend about a month a year when my son was a little boy, rested on our memories and within permanently delayed plans.
One of my travel goals for 2017 is to return to Algarve and discover its treasures once again. Don't think that I will wait until Summer as the region is great all year around. The good weather allows you to go to the beach as soon as April, the nature reserves have something different to see every season, castles and historical sites, picturesque villages, artistic events and an amazing gastronomic scene give you a pretext to visit Algarve whenever you choose.
All of this will be addressed in future posts, I promise, but today's article is specially dedicated to those of you who are planning to visit Algarve with your kids. Bring you some suggestions of hotels, in different parts of Algarve, that used to be my home away from home when my son was a little boy. That was a few years ago, so I asked for some updated photos for you to see how they look now. Hope this information on this child tested locations, will help you to decide on Algarve for your upcoming Summer vacations.
VILA MONTE FARM HOUSE
The Algarve is not only sun and beach. It's also sun and mountain, and on the hills of Moncarapacho you can find the Vila Monte Farm House. Simple but elegant and comfortable, Vila Monte presents unique rooms scattered trough a large property. The beautiful gardens, several pools and diverse food options can provide the most demanding guest with a pleasant stay. The kids will quickly find new friends and will have lots of adventures to talk about when they return home.
The rooms are lovely, with a boho-chic inspired design that pervades all trough the hotel. You and your children will have plenty to do at Vila Monte (there is an outdoor Cinema, tennis, yoga, hiking, horseback riding, fitness or biking, among other activities) but not far you can find amazing beaches like the ones at Fuzeta island (the hotel can also provide a boat transportation to a more private part of the island) and great places to visit like Olhão, with its characteristic architecture, or the salt ponds of Castro Marim.
We have been there in 2007, had a great time and brought home many happy memories. Hope your future visit to Algarve will include an equally pleasant experience.
Vila Monte Farm House
Sitio dos Caliços, Moncarapacho
Phone: +351 289 790 790
HOTEL QUINTA DO LAGO
Ria Formosa and the famous Algarve's Golden Triangle (the area between Quinta do Lago, Vale de Lobo and Almancil) are some of my favorite locations in Algarve. The natural features of the region, the great hotels and restaurants, the outstanding service and infrastructures had no mach for many years and set the standards for what tourism became in Algarve.
Hotel Quinta do Lago has the most spectacular location, facing the Ria and the ocean. The hotel grounds, impeccable and yet looking perfectly natural, are the perfect scenery for interacting with nature. More than enjoying the playground available, my son used to explore the garden and lakes, looking for small animals and different plants. At walking distance there is a walkway over the ria's water that leads you to the beach and that is the perfect viewpoint to watch out for fishes and marine birds.
Although there are many wonderful restaurants around Quinta do Lago, the hotel houses two amazing restaurants - Ca'd'Oro and Brisa do Mar. Children are welcome to both and the staff is most attentive and nice with the kids. My son loves Italian food so Ca'd'Oro was totally approved but as fish is his favorite dish, nothing could beat a fresh fish lunch on Brisa do Mar terrace.
The hotel has a really nice interior pool where my son used to stay for hours and a Kids Club with lots of activities, giving mommy a break and some time to enjoy the SPA. The beach is amazing and you may find there the remains of the hundreds of sand castles I've helped to built (joking!). This is to say that in a place like that you and your kids just need imagination and a pair of hands to have a great time.
You can stay for days between the resort and the beach needing nothing else, but you can also visit the nearby cities of Faro, Loulé and Olhão, that have very interesting historical centres and cultural programs all year around. We have been at Quinta do Lago Hotel twice, in 2004 and 2005, and only have the most pleasant memories.
Hotel Quinta do Lago
Quinta do Lago
Phone: +351 289 350 350
RIA PARK HOTEL & SPA
Located between Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, also in Ria Formosa Natural Park, you can find the Ria Park Hotel & SPA in a prime location, surrounded by luxurious pinewoods and at a close proximity to the most gorgeous sandy beaches.
The tranquility and fine service of the hotel, make its guests come again and again. We've been there for four years in a row, from 2005 to 2008 and always find familiar faces. Once you arrive, you don't have to worry about anything. The rooms are large and comfortable, with nice balconies and spectacular views. The restaurant is great and the pool bar can provide light meals if you prefer. You just have to choose between the pool or the beach (the hotel shuttle will take you to their private beach, just a few minutes away).
Children can also join the Kids Club or you may want to request a Baby Sitter service and have a treatment at the SPA or a romantic dinner, while the kids are being well taken care of by an experienced person. There will be other kids around and soon yours will be making new friends from all over the world.
While you are at Ria Park you can take some time off and visit some of the cities close by. The Concierge will recommend you an organized tour or a nice itinerary to do on your own. Either relaxing by the sea or traveling around Algarve, you will surely have a good time with your children that will be remembered forever.
Ria Park Hotel & SPA
Urbanização Vale do Garrão, Vale do Lobo,
Phone: +351 289 359 800
We have stayed at Tivoli Carvoeiro several times through the years of 2004, 2005 and 2006, and every year we enjoyed with the same pleasure the amazing view over the ocean and the cliffs, the friendly and professional service of everybody in the hotel staff and the facilities and activities that the hotel provided us and all its guests.
If nothing else was true, just the location would justify a visit. But to the view you can enjoy from your own room terrace (always stayed in sea view rooms) you'll have to add the tranquility of having a kids pool just under your radar while you stretch under the sun. Maybe you rather opt for a secluded private beach for the guests, where your kids can look for small fishes in the pools of water on the rocks. A huge lawn and a play ground will also be on their choice list.
Nevertheless, you probably will be having long periods of time for yourself as the Kids Club has so many interesting and varied activities all through the day and such great professionals, that most of the children never want to lose a single one. The hotel has also lots of available activities for adult guests (I find out that I'm a great shot) and events at night.
Although there are lots of nice restaurants at walking distance, the hotel's restaurant has great food and I must confess that I miss having dinner on the terrace as the sun set on the sea. They have always been very accommodating with my sons meals and the freshness and quality of everything in the menu makes it very easy to be there with small children.
Apartado 1299 - Vale do Covo
Praia do Carvoeiro
Phone: +351 282 351 100
Writing this article and recalling so many sweet memories, make me want to revisit Algarve, return to known places and discover all the new spots that this incredible region has to offer. If you have been to Algarve recently, please share your tips on the comments bellow and if you are planning to go there this year please give me a shout.