Dramatic cliffs, sea caves, and pristine beaches mixed with beautiful, Portuguese architecture. The Algarve is paradise! On the southern coast you’ll find luxury resorts, water sports and a vibrant nightlife. This is where I chose to book my escape, for a taste of the luxury lifestyle at Vila Vita.
There are direct flights to Faro from many European hubs… London, Paris and Amsterdam to name a few. The area tends to be crowded in July and August, but golden in June and September. I visited in early June – the weather was perfect, and I felt like an Algarvian Queen on my private estate. Regardless of when you book, be sure to make all arrangements well ahead of time. Even if you dodge the big summer rush, accommodations still book up months in advance. It’s also good to make restaurant reservations a few weeks before arrival. I decided to play one night by ear, and ended up eating pizza by the pool with restaurants fully booked. This was still a lovely evening… because sometimes all you need is some quality comfort food in a peaceful setting. You just can’t go wrong in the Algarve.
When you plan your trip to the enchanting, southern coast of Portugal, book your escape at Vila Vita Parc Resort. Located 45 minutes from Faro, it’s well worth a short drive to experience the magic of this area properly. I evaluated numerous options, and nothing compares to the prime location, lush grounds, sweeping views, and superb service found at Vila Vita. Most of the guests I met during my stay return year after year. They tried other spots, but all came to the same conclusion – Vila Vita is the best of the Algarve.
The luxurious design and attention to detail throughout the resort is awe-inspiring. The owners (a German couple) spent their lives traveling the world and bringing back the many influences from around the globe. They manage a group that includes five hotels and a 780 hectare private vineyard, Herded dos Grous. More than just exquisite wine, this organic farm breeds horses as well as cattle, and produces olive oil. Seventy percent of the food at Vila Vita is sourced from the farm, with the rest being sourced locally.
At Vila Vita you can book standard rooms, a grand suite, or even a luxury villa.
I find villas to be a fabulous option for couples and families who want more privacy without sacrificing five-star service, and other amenities provided through the resort itself. All accommodations options are exquisite, featuring beautiful terraces, balconies and panoramic views.
With a private, fisherman’s boat at your disposal (and the Vila Vita yacht if you want to spend more time at sea!), you can easily explore the coast right from the resort’s beach. I spent a half-day on the water with captain Paulo, journeying through caves and by cliffside beaches only reachable by boat.
The most famous cave in the area is Benagil Cave, but alas… the fame of this spot has made it too popular. Don’t expect to get a solo shot in the cave unless you’re crafty with your camera angles. It will be flooded with visitors, photographers and selfie sticks.
My personal favorite is Captain’s Cave – mostly because it was so secluded, but in my opinion just as magnificent. It’s considered a local treasure.
Here’s a little taste of what you’ll experience exploring the famous, Algarve coast on the Vila Vita fisherman’s boat…
There are countless features that make this resort one-of-a-kind. The beach is easy to access and basically private. None of the beaches in the Algarve are fully private, but because it’s quite difficult to access Vila Vita beach unless you are staying at the resort, you will experience a huge difference. I never had any trouble getting a sun-bed all to myself. From the beach you can kayak, paddleboard, or just relax in the cradle of the dramatic cliffs. I spent one evening enjoying a beach swing, staring at the stars above. The moon lit up the surrounding rocks, and I was the only one there. Is this real life?
The most impressive feature of Vila Vita is all thanks to the resort’s 40+ gardeners… that’s right – there are over 40 gardeners keeping the illustrious grounds in tip-top shape. I’ve never seen such a lush setting. There are golf carts available to scoot around the resort, but I opted for barefoot walks through the soft grass. Each morning on my way to breakfast, I passed ducks, swans, waterfalls, koi ponds, and a colorful display of flora and fauna.
The resort has seven pools and various lounge areas that accommodate a wide range of needs. I spent my time near the ‘adults only’ area, in a cabana overlooking the sea. I visited the other areas, and I love the idea of returning with the rest of my family for a different type of trip. The resort has an extensive kids program, with care for babies, toddlers, older kids or even adventure options for teenagers. For this particular little escape, I didn’t want to see a snotty nose or hear a crying voice. I didn’t.. and it was glorious.
Regardless of where you are on the resort, you are surrounded by incredible sea views, beautiful gardens, and perfectly manicured lawns. The resort is also home to a glorious golf course, showing off the best of the Algarve’s world-famous fairways.
With twelve restaurants, a cafe and a wine cellar, there is a wide range of dining options. I had the pleasure of enjoying the resort’s traditional, Portuguese restaurant, Adega. The rustic building is perfectly placed on swan lake. The staff made thoughtful suggestions, pairing food perfectly with local wine and spirits. I fell in love with Algarvian gazpacho, which is similar to the Spanish version, but made with only blended, fresh vegetables and no tomato juice.
I also had a very unique meal at one of the resort’s offsite restaurants, Arte Nautica. The luxury shuttle took me to Armação de Pêra beach, where the setting is perfect for sunset dining, right on the water. Here I tried their signature dish, the delicious curry prawns. The staff was incredibly accommodating – being solo, I asked to dine at the patio bar (despite the fact that it was not technically open for dining). Without an ounce of hesitation, my wish was granted, and I had a lovely meal in a private, beachside area.
Ocean, the resort’s signature, fine-dining restaurant, has two Michelin stars and unbelievable views. The freshness of the locally sourced ingredients makes the dining experience reliable at any of the resort’s restaurants.
Each night, as part of turndown service, guests are provided with a schedule for the following day. There is always something set for the evenings – with live music offered at various locations. The most interesting environment is on the Manzar Terrace.
This Moorish-style lounge is open in the summertime (be sure to ask the resort for exact opening/closing dates), everyday at 6:30PM for music, drinks, shisha and sweeping views. This area is also available for private events.
There are two options for breakfast, with my preferred option being the Whale (adults only).
At this location you are provided with more than a simple buffet, but an a la carte menu with daily specials and signature dishes. I started each morning with the daily detox juice and a ‘golden latte’, made with turmeric, ginger and other spices. I was always offered a unique fruit dish along with other morning treats.
The resort also offers morning exercise options – outdoor yoga or even aerial yoga! I had good intentions of indulging in these wellness activities, but always found myself at the spa instead….
If you have to choose one treatment at the famous, Vila Vita Spa by Sisley Paris, you must try their signature Golden Quartz Treatment. I’ve had the opportunity to experience some amazing spa treatments and this is by far my favorite. The treatment teleports you to the beach for a blissful massage. It started with a table covered in warm quartz crystals. This may sound odd – laying directly on crystals isn’t what you would typically imagine to be comforting; however, the therapist carefully contoured the quartz around my body, creating a warm cocoon. She then placed singing bowls near my back, allowing the vibrations to course through. Finally, the massage (90 minutes) used various techniques, including warm crystal pindas (pouches filled with quartz), which was the best part – the texture provided a surreal sensation.
I also indulged in a Phyto-Aromatic Radiance Facial (60 minutes) on the day of my departure, which had immediate results. I left looking like a rested, young woman, instead of the overtired mom who entered.
The beauty spa is simple and elegant with a focus on expert treatments. If you’re looking for more, you can head to the Health Club…
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
The incredible health club and gym has an indoor/outdoor pool, relaxing area with sauna, whirlpool, Turkish bath, ice grotto and plunge pool. There are also numerous class options (yoga, Pilates, aqua-aerobics, stretching, core stability and jogging) as well as personal training.
Within the health club you will find Delfim Bar, with a wide selection of options, from light bites and juices to healthy treats, like homemade ice creams and raw energy bars.
The entire resort caters to your specific wellness needs, designing personalized menus to incorporate any special dietary requirements.
For a behind the scenes look at my time at Vila Vita, you can check out our instagram story here. It’s hard to give proper justice to the level of service I experienced, so I recommend viewing the story for all the extra details that made this trip so special.
Thank you Vila Vita, for spoiling me beyond measure. Until next time… I’ll be dreaming of paradise on the Algarve.