Have you ever been to Algarve, in Portugal? This has always been a destination on my list but somehow always postponed for whatever reason. The “status quo” was about to change quite fast the day I read in a magazine that ANANTARA VILAMOURA had opened its doors. As a huge fan of Anantara hotels, I quickly booked a room and packed my bags. Enjoy the ride!
The Algarve is the southernmost region of continental Portugal and a very popular destination due to its good weather, great infra-structure and beautiful beaches. The region’s administrative centre is the city of Faro and tourism + related activities are the bulk of summer economy.
Lately the region has also been a very famous resort for Europeans who want to retire in a paradisiac and warm location and I have to admit that after this first visit, I am also considering such a move.
Hahahaha! Anybody else planning to retire before 40?!
If you follow me you know that I have sort of rediscovered Portugal lately after a long absence. And Algarve has become one of my favourite destinations in Portugal. What a beautiful, peaceful, enchanting place. People are really kind and within minutes I was already feeling at home.
As we normally do in sunny beautiful places, me and my husband rented a convertible and I definitely recommend it (only) if you want to explore the area. I can still remember the pretty beaches, the sun and the wind in my face…
Anantara Vilamoura celebrates the pleasures of the Algarve in grand Portuguese style. The experience starts special at arrival, when each guest (including kiddos, who can enjoy their own check-in) play a typical local instrument…
The Anantara European debut is a pure delight: 5 swimming pools, 4 restaurants, Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar, world renowned Kids Club, Golf course, Golf club, gym, tennis court, Spa, exclusive Beach Club, stunning views, the best and most sympathetic service and attention to detail as I have seen only a few times in life.
A short example: I forgot my iPhone earphones in the Spa and when I went to the reception to ask for it (maybe 2 hours later) I had to say NOTHING – the concierge gave me a smile and the phones were in an envelope with my name on it. Until now I am wondering how
the hell this happened because nobody saw me in the Spa, I did not mention it to anybody… Surreal! Ah! Expect to be called by your name all around the property. It is also common that staff at the pool and restaurants will remember your previous orders so you don’t even have to bother to remember the great sparkling wine you tried two days ago.
The style of the building and its interior totally fit my taste, particularly at this time of my life, when I have been in love with green and golden tones. The interior and the facades are super elegant and contemporary, there is plenty of light and every room is spacious, comfy, the majority offering breathtaking views of the golf course and the massive swimming pools.
Anantara Vilamoura fits both, couples or family guests. There are plenty of activities to keep kids entertained and adults can also enjoy isolation and silence at the adults-only pool or in the fine dining restaurant, EMO.
In Vilamoura. Nothing else to add. Hahaha!
Ok, serious, it is one of the super posh locations in the Algarve and the property is totally surrounded by golf courses and beautiful lakes.
There is no direct access to the sea BUT guests enjoy complimentary access to the newest and trendiest beach club in town – PuroBeach – which is located around 15 minutes away from the hotel and… Surprise! Surprise! Anantara Vilamoura offers a complimentary electric TukTuk for the ride. Give it a go! Our TukTuk driver was the sweetest and explained us where the good golf clubs were, where the celebrities had their houses and so on. The way to the beach club is fun and pretty.
The TukTuk is also available to take guests to the Vilamoura Marina which we saw from far away and seems to be very beautiful and a nice place for lunch, dinner or a coffee/wine. We unfortunately did not have the time but I am saving it for my next visit.
Finally, the hotel itself looks onto the tranquil, landscaped green of the Arnold Palmer-designed Victoria golf course, which annually hosts the Portugal Masters.
ROOMS AND SUITES
The resort offers 280 spacious rooms and suites embracing guests in contemporary style and Anantara’s signature touches.
The colour palette is soft and goes from cream to white + grey tones, every room has a private balcony with a view onto the golf course, the gardens or the pool, the bathroom is spacious with a rain shower, tub and Elemis amenities. Last but not least, every room has complimentary Wifi and a Handy Smartphone (for free calls, Google maps to get around, etc).
We stayed in a Deluxe Golf View room, which was absolutely ideal for us and consisted of around 40 sqm, comfy king bed, writing desk, balcony with a stunning view and spacious bathroom as described above.
I deeply recommend to book a room with a view (I’d go for the golf we had) as it is very special to wake up to such a lovely panorama. If you can book a suite, even better, of course! Hehe! Still, I admit I would pretty much enjoy staying in the exact same room we had – it was very well pointed in a calm area and close to the main swimming pool (Palms Pool), most restaurants and the Lobby.
EAT & DRINK
Options are not an issue at Anantara Vilamoura. I could say that there is everything for every taste: from the relaxed pool side snacks to one of the best fine dining restaurants in the Algarve, every guest will have its needs fulfilled.
Executive Chef Bruno Viegas’ passion for seasonal local produce and culinary flair ensures authentic creativity and mediterranean cuisine at its best.
Anantara tries to be as sustainable as it can and not only buys from local producers but also grows its own herbs and some vegetables in the property, in the Herbs Garden.
The name comes from EMOtions and once we understand that this is the heart of the resort, the picture is clear: the intention at EMO is to touch and move its guests by the palate serving the best of the Portuguese cuisine and wines with a creative twist.
A team lead by Bruno Viegas and David Luísa, in outstanding harmony, creates THE experience in one of the best restaurants in Vilamoura.
We initially planned to dine at EMO only one night as we wanted to have time to explore other places but our first night was so great that we decided to have dinner in this wine centric restaurant a second time.
Unforgetable!!! First night we tried the Chef’s menu paired with Portuguese wine and the tastes will stay in our memories forever. I mean it and once you are in this restaurant, try it!!! The second night we had the à la carte menu and it was also yummy. Nevertheless, the chef’s menu was more special, for sure. Diogo took care of us both nights and kept the service standards extremely high the entire evening.
Top Sommelier Bruno Cunha not only had the most impressive selection of wines (traditional, biological and biodynamic) but even more special, he had the patience and sympathy to take the time to explain us where those wines were coming from, the grapes, the producers, the terroir and why and how that wine was the perfect choice for our dishes. So so cool!
I am not a port wine person but Bruno explained why it would go well with my dessert so graciously that I decided to give it a go and guess what?! I guess I love Port wine now!
Easy like this. Hahahaha!
Reservation needed and the restaurant is only open for dinner. If the weather allows, ask for a table on the terrace with a view of the Palms Pool and the Victoria Golf Course. Never mind if you arrive a bit earlier because the lounge offers the perfect setting for enjoying some bubbles before dinner. Modern and classy interior.
Each night’s themed buffet offers a rich array of signature chef creations in a casual and relaxed atmosphere joined by à la carte options. We did not try it because I am not exactly a dinner buffet person but I have to admit that the Asian night was very appealing with all sort of options.
A buffet breakfast (Yeah!) was also served here and it was… let me see, OUT OF THIS WORLD! Part of my family comes from Portugal and I was only imagining what they would say if they saw fresh rabanadaaaaaaaas! Hahaha! Was so yummy, so typical and so special. For sure not something that one can easily find nowadays.
There is a huge range of fresh and detox juices (you know I love it), all types of breads, never ending fruits (some quite exotic), a great selection of cheeses, an egg station where the chef cooks live with the ingredients we choose and many options which are Gluten or Lactose free.
We can choose to sit inside, with a beautiful interior or, even better, al fresco, in between the swimming pools and the organic garden (imagine the smell).
Only thing to worry about were the “criminal” birds
hahaha who tried to steal our food again and again. The hotel actually advises guests not to feed them as they can die or get seriously sick. But watching them attacking was quite cute to be honest. 🙂
We. Love. This. Restaurant. Amazing! Our favourite for lunch and the best cod fish, prawns and octopus on earth!!! I am talking about fresh seafood sometimes prepared in front of our eyes.
Tenacious manager Rui Carlos took great care of us and helped with our choices. Everything he explained sounded so yummy that we always ordered more than we needed. Ops!
The white and blue interior is pure style and a huge aquarium with Lobsters is located right in the middle.
Anantara Lounge & Bar
The golden Bar here is wonderful! Really pretty! The Lobby is where much of the action takes place in the hotel and it offers a delicious atmosphere for having drinks and bites accompanied with authentic fado on some days.
Attention to the imposing tree sculpture of pine and acacia, which was created to maintain the tree, by Gabriela Algerveria.
I tried a tasty steak and Andy was very happy with his burger. The fresh juices are Yum Yum!
Let’s get started with my favourite among the options in the resort – The Palms Pool, which is heated from October to May. This is where we enjoyed most of our days in the resort. Not only the pool is huge and surrounded by comfy cabanas and pool beds, the view is of the Victoria Gold Course and its lakes, which pretty much means unbeatable. Haha!
The music was mainly consisting of cool relaxing bossa nova and the drinks and bar menu were definitely delicious. We tried the polenta, the cod cake… and everything was approved.
The Palms Pool is actually divided in two, side by side: one is deeper and another is more shallow, for older kids.
The adults-only pool is huge as well and features a very appealing Cascades Champagne bar by Veuve Clicquot. Beautiful, calm, peaceful and a perfect environment to enjoy some bubbles.
It might be the best option for couples in the super high season but to be honest, during our stay the kids did not bother us at all at the Palms Pool.
Of course I did not dive in it but I guess that the Kids Pool is the best located because it is the closest to the golf courses. Hahaha! I passed by quite fast only to observe a bit and the kids were truly enjoying it.
Stay tuned as I will mention this cool one a little bit further in this article.
BEACH CLUB PUROBEACH
Who said that Anantara Vilamoura doesn’t have a beach?! Take a TukTuk and find a super cool spot right in front of the beach within 15 minutes drive along a beautiful road.
First of all I want to make it clear that for me, the fact that the hotel is not directly at the beach did not change anything. First because it is pretty close to the beach in Vilamoura and second because I found the view of the Golf Course not only stunning but also very unique.
Still, the beach is so close and Purobeach is one of the newest and trendiest beach clubs in the Algarve and as I already wrote, guests enjoy complimentary transportation and beach lounge chairs.
We went on a Sunday and it was just perfect. Calmer in the morning and busier and busier within the hours. We tried the complete brunch in the all white saloon with big windows and a full sea view. And afterwards we relaxed in the lounges while a DJ was playing!
We decided to stay at the beach but there is also a nice swimming pool and another bar inside the Tivoli hotel which belongs to the beach club. So much fun!
What to expect of the first Anantara Spa in Europe? Unique spa journeys and tailor made experiences which include Mediterranean therapies, exclusive rituals and energising Asian techniques. A true oasis for relaxations and rejuvenation.
The Vitality Pool offers all sorts of bubbles one can imagine (no champaign this time) and it is for adults only with a mesmerising view.
I tried the Thai massage and for some seconds I thought that I was back in Thailand. A wish: to go for it again! Hahaha!
Facilities are: 6 treatment rooms and 1 beauty room, manicure and pedicure services, indoor Vitality pool, sauna, steam room, vichy shower.
Complete! And, believe it or not, there is a full time personal trainer on duty. You know me and you know I wouldn’t exchange some pretty sunny days for the gym but I found it really great! Complimentary classes are also available and vary from Yoga and Pilates to Tai Chi and Capoeira.
KIDS AND TEENS CLUB
Well known for its great services, Worldwide Kids provides children and teens up to 18 years old plenty of fitness and arts oriented activities with fully qualified instructors.
Babysitting service is available 24/07.
The Anantara Vilamoura has a privileged location overlooking the lush expanse of Victoria Golf Course, where the Portugal Masters is held every year.
I don’t golf and therefore I did not try it but guests can take advantage of exclusive benefits, including private transfer to all Vilamoura golf courses and a golf club with lockers where all the equipment can be stored, close to the course.
Lovely concept at Anantara Vilamoura, the Anantara Gurus are famous for their in-depth knowledge and passion for their destination.
Bruno Cunha is the name behind the complete and competent wine list at Anantara Vilamoura. His work is to imagine experiences and to provide his guests with a sense of place, offering the best of Portugal in a very individual way. (*international wines are also available).
With a large experience in service, Bruno has worked in a vast number of hotels and restaurants in Portugal, Venezuela and New Zealand – a long journey which has led him to a beautiful work at Anantara Vilamoura and the Emo restaurant to win the Wine Spector’s Restaurant Awards.
Indulge with him in the Wine Nights when he presents quality wines from Algarve together with the producers or in private wine tastings and cellar visits.
PS: Bruno kindly took us to the hotel cellar and explained some of his favorite wines. Ask for it if you have the opportunity. 🙂
Tomás Carlota is a a serious golf pro who boasts years of professional knowledge. He is ready to tailor any guest’s experiences.
Tomás can either recommend the best courses, share some golf secrets or even play with guests.
André Pereira will help us idealize any simple or crazy idea we might come up with. As the name suggests, he is the king of experiences!
Spice Spoons Anantara
Much more than a cooking class, Spice Spoons stirs the senses and delves deep into Portugal’s classic gastronomy scene. The culinary adventure begins by exploring the famous Loulé foodmarket with a master chef instructor. Afterwards, guests learn the traditional techniques of Portuguese cuisine and cook in an open kitchen. The Wine Guru will guide the pairing.
Dining by Design
The ultimate experience in privacy and taste. A private dinner enriched by a personal Butler, Chef and Wine Guru.
WHEN TO GO
All year long but Spring and Summer in Europe are the best times to enjoy a good weather.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Faro, Portugal and rent a car, get a taxi or a transfer to the hotel – it will take you 15 minutes.
If you don’t plan to explore by yourself I wouldn’t recommend to rent a car as the hotel has the TukTuks that pretty much can take you all around and also take you on a tour.
Bikes are also available for guests.
This is NOT all, Folks! I could keep on writing for hours about some other features of Anantara Vilamoura but I will leave some news for my next visit. Hahaha!
It was epic and I fell in love with Algarve, with its people and with the new European Anantara! An experience per se.
Hope you are traveling with me via @marineira on Instagram.