Pine Cliffs brings luxury to the Algarve
- Credit: Archant
IMOGEN BLAKE rediscovers Portugal’s Algarve at Pine Cliffs, a Luxury Collection Resort
The Algarve is famous for two things: beach resorts and golf.
Add in the fact that flights are cheap and there’s plenty of affordable accommodation, and you can see why the region attracts droves of tourists looking for a bargain basement holiday every summer.
I was one of them, back in 2010. A penniless student, it was the only destination where I could afford to holiday for a whole week.
I stayed in a rundown campsite that still had arcade games from the early 1990s and drank sangria for a Euro.
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But a clifftop five-star resort is heralding a new era for the Algarve, one that is increasingly attracting the discerning, luxury traveller.
Pine Cliffs, a Luxury Collection Resort, was established in 1992 but has just fully re-opened after a major £43million, 18-month overhaul.
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The traditional hotel, influenced by Portugal’s Arab heritage, has been renovated, and there’s brand new accommodation at the Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites – a mix of 148 one- and two-bedroom self-catering apartments and hotel suites.
It’s a sprawling 178-acre resort that boasts 11 restaurants and bars, six swimming pools, and a nine-hole golf course with panoramic views of the sea.
In short, it’s enormous; but it still took us aback when we were told that we were among 2,000 guests on site for the grand re-opening.
Nothing feels cramped and its size only serves to make you feel as if you have the run of the place. There’s certainly no waking up at 6am to put your towel on a sun lounger here.
The tranquil atmosphere continues into the accommodation, from the more rustic rooms at the Pine Cliffs Hotel, to the sleek elegance of the Ocean Suites.
We were some of the first to stay in the suites, and the spacious rooms are truly breathtaking.
A huge kingsize bed gave me my best night’s sleep in months, while the balcony afforded a great view of the golf course, one of the pools, and the cloudless, azure Portuguese sky.
They’re among three properties on site that have a guaranteed rental return of five per cent within the first five years if you buy one as a holiday home.
For sun worshippers, the resort has got around the problem of being located at the top of the dramatic, red cliffs by creating a unique glass-fronted lift.
As you look out onto the calm Atlantic waters, the elevator takes you down to beach level, until, at the end of a quick stroll through a desert-like valley, there it is: a white, sandy beach that seems to stretch on for miles.
It’s hard to think how it could get much better than lying in the blistering Mediterranean heat with an icy pina colada in one hand from the resort’s Beach Club restaurant and bar and a book in the other.
But there’s more to this resort than just sun, beaches and swimming pools.
As part of the new renovation, there’s a spa: Serenity, The Art of Well Being.
This is no hotel add-on. This is a fully-fledged spa, with a host of luxurious treatments and its own dedicated facilities: a hydrotherapy pool, Jacuzzi, two saunas, a steam room and “experience showers”.
It’s part of the resort’s new strategy to target off-season travellers, and it is now offering spa break packages to encourage more tourists year round.
The 50-minute relaxing massage (EUR95) lives up to its name – I nearly nodded off a couple times as my therapist gently worked the knots from my shoulders.
There’s an enormous gym and health club, which offers personal training and fitness classes.
Water sports are also on offer, and there’s a tennis academy where you can train on one of the five full-size ATP floodlit courts.
And then there’s the nine-hole golf course, featuring a par-3 hole called Devil’s Parlour where you have to swing the ball over a gap between two cliff edges.
It’s easy to keep the ankle biters busy too while you’re enjoying the facilities.
The resort is home to the region’s largest kids club, with babysitting services also available.
There’s little reason, then, to leave the estate at all, whether you’re there for a few days, a week or more.
But while staff are proud of what the complex has to offer, they are just as proud of their region, too, and more than happy to show it off.
We take a trip to Novacortiça, a cork factory half an hour away.
I knew next to nothing about this material before our tour – but we were proudly informed that Portugal produces about half of the world’s cork, and that the best quality products come from the Algarve.
It’s a fascinating insight into this industry, and is rounded off by a sampling of little-known Algarve-produced wines – from bottles using local cork, of course.
The region may still be a honeypot for holidaymakers looking for a bargain.
But with the re-opening of Pine Cliffs, a Luxury Collection Resort, the Algarve could soon become the go-to destination for elegant extravagance instead.
Prices for Pine Cliffs Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort, start from €150 per room per night, based on two sharing a Premium Deluxe Room including breakfast. Prices for the new Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites, a Luxury Collection Resort, start from €230 per room per night, based on two sharing a one-bedroom Ocean Suite. All prices quoted are valid for stays from 16 September 2016 to 30 June 2017. For further information and reservations please visit luxurycollection.com/pinecliffshotel or luxurycollection.com/pinecliffsoceansuites.
Monarch operates flights to Faro from Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £59 one way (£119 return). For more information, visit monarch.co.uk.