We have recently returned from a holiday from the beautiful resort of Vale Do Lobo in the Algarve, Portugal.
Vale Do Lobo is a large luxury beach and golf resort situated between Faro and Vilamoura, and in fact is just a short twenty minute drive from Faro International Airport making it an ideal location if you crave a short transfer time, like us.
When we booked this holiday we were looking for complete relaxation. Time away from work issues, cold, damp weather and nights huddled round the TV. And we found it. The minute we stepped off the plane into the warm air and looked at the blue skies I immediately felt my ‘stress blanket’ been ripped off. Even the car hire pick up from the airport which we booked through Budget was a dream and within an hour of disembarking from the Monarch flight ( 2 hours 50 mins from Leeds) we were on our way to our accommodation.
The resort itself is huge and covers approximately 450 hectares with over 1500 properties. The facilities are amazing with various restaurants, bars, pools, golf, tennis academy, supermarket, medical centre, spa, shops, bank, children’s entertainment and a security department offering peace of mind for you and your family.
As the resort is so vast I would recommend car hire although there is a resort bus that seemed to run regularly throughout the resort, but if you are planning to use this bus I would check with the resort itself to check that this will be available during your stay.
We booked a duplex apartment through http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk who are part of Trip Advisor. To be honest there is a lot of choice online in various letting agencies so whether you are wanting a one bed apartment or a six bed villa there will always be something available that will suit your family size and needs.
Our apartment was stunning and was designed to a high specification and was exceptionally clean and tidy. With a huge private terrace and swimming pool it was wonderful for relaxing which was perfect for us. The only one negative about it was the swimming pool which was unheated. Although the temperatures averaged 32 degrees it was still very uncomfortable trying to swim in the pool which was FREEZING. The pool was in the shade for most of the day so I guess it wasn’t heated by the sun during the course of the day. In retrospect I would never book accommodation again without a heated pool even in a warm climate. It would certainly have been too cold for young children to use. We were lucky that the Tennis Academy next door to our apartment had its own pool and sunbathing area, so we used that on most days. Do I sound a coward for not using the apartment pool ? It WAS freezing. Honestly.
The hub of the Vale Do Lobo resort is in the Praca area on the beach which is a typical Algarvean beach of soft white sand and blue sea. There were sunbathing loungers under the cooling shade of palm trees situated on the beach although there was a charge for these during the peak times of the day. The sea was turning over quite a few waves while we were there and as the beach shelf was a little steep into the sea itself, I think that young children would have to be closely watched for safety reasons. We spent most nights at The Praca as most of the resorts restaurants were sited there also. Our typical evening consisted of a relaxing dinner followed by a romantic walk on the beach while watching some of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen.
Part of any holiday is tasting and experiencing new foods and the Portuguese range of food is fabulous. Obviously fresh fish feature high on most menus in Portugal but most restaurants will offer a varied choice ranging from traditional dishes to steak and chips. As a family orientated country, most restaurants and cafes will include an extensive children’s menu and have excellent facilities for children such as high chairs and bottle warming stations. In Vale Do Lobo most of the restaurants are on the beach which means not only do you get to sample amazing food but it comes with a view that cannot be beaten.
As keen tennis players we visited the Tennis Academy on site every day for coaching and leisurely matches at the end of the day. The coaching takes place in the morning between 9am – 11am at a time when the temperature was bearable and is for both adults and children of all abilities. Playing tennis was a non starter between the hours of 12-5pm due to the heat. In fact the tennis courts are deserted at this time. Even though we are both accomplished players we still love to receive coaching as we find it really improves our game and anyway its always nicer to play abroad in the sunshine. The coaching sessions were excellent and we both benefited from it, even though it was difficult playing in the hot sun. The Tennis Academy also had social evenings and we attended the weekly BBQ which was a great way to meet up with other fellow tennis players.
If your’re a keen golfer then Vale Do Lobo has two excellent golf courses which weave their way round the pretty white washed villas. Both golf courses offer spectacular views towards the sea and after the game you can find refreshment at the stunning club house. My husband and I both play golf but because of the intense heat during the week, we decided against it this time, although we did make use of the wonderful food at the clubhouse. Golf Clubs have a great reputation for providing good food with fabulous surroundings and Vale Do Lobo golf club is no exception.
I will be honest, we spent most of our holiday in the resort itself. There was so much to do and coupled with the heat, it seemed pointless leaving the resort to travel round the rest of the Algarve. Of course some would say that the whole point of going abroad is to experience the country rather than staying put in one place. But honestly, we were very happy with our holiday. We were looking for total relaxation after a stressful few months and Vale Do Lobo offered everything, and more, for just that. The resort really has everything you need so you don’t need to travel anywhere. They even have a well stocked supermarket on site offering everything you need such as fresh fruit, vegetables, newspapers, meat, fish, and a fabulous bakery which produce the best chocolate doughnuts ever.
Although we went as a couple, the resort is an excellent base for families of all ages and seems to have a lot of repeat visitors. We had a truly relaxing holiday and we cannot wait to return in the near future. I just hope they have my sun lounger ready for me when I return, as I will be on that beach within an hour of leaving the airport !
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog today.