by Rachel – Very Good Points Guest Blogger
Portugal’s Algarve coast is on the rise as a hot spot for European travel and I chose it for a relaxing fall vacation at the Conrad Algarve, Portugal. The Conrad Algarve opened in October 2012 and received numerous accolades at the World Travel Awards including “2013 Europe’s Leading Luxury Resort”, “2012 World’s Leading New Resort”, “2012 Europe’s Leading New Resort” and ” “2012 Portugal’s Leading New Luxury Resort”.
Located in the golfer’s paradise Quinta do Lago, the hotel sits amongst 2,000 acres of the Ria Formosa Natural Park. The area offers cliff lined beaches, new upscale shopping malls and high end restaurants. My guest and I took the free hotel shuttle to the beach which was a quick 10 minute ride. Using the beach chairs and free waters was a 20 euro per day charge.
The Conrad Algarve begins with a majestic long entryway that leads up to the glistening white main building. The hotel has two main outdoor pools, lush landscaping and views of the Portugese mountains. One area has a deeper infinity pool and the other a shallow pool with private cabanas and comfortable chairs. There is a third smaller pool which is part of the spa. My guest and I agreed the spa’s amenities were well worth the 25 euro per day charge to enjoy the luxurious sauna and steam room, tiled heated chairs for relaxation and jacuzzi.
The hotel rooms were sleek and modern including long hallways with white tile, many mirrors and a grey and blue muted palette. The service was nothing short of impeccable. Every staff member was friendly, helpful and cheerful. A housekeeper typed up a full itinerary of places we should visit when we asked for advice on nearby towns, and on multiple occasions the pool staff remembered our favorite drinks and preferences.
My favorite hotel dining experience was the fresh and decadent breakfast. Traditional American staples such as eggs and bacon were paired with a wide variety of pastries, gourmet cheeses and exotic fruits. My guest and I dined twice at the Conrad Algarve’s restaurant “Louro” and enjoyed seafood risotto, salmon, and fresh seasonal vegetables sitting by flickering torches poolside. We had our fancier meals outside of the hotel so did not stop by the famed “Gusto” led by Michelin-starred Chef Heinz Beck. We did spend one night at Gusto for a cocktail and the modern, high end open display kitchen was the perfect backdrop for our espresso martinis.
My favorite day trip was a 15 minute taxi ride from the Conrad Algarve to the nearby town of Faro. Faro is divided between beautiful Old Town and New Town which are both right next door to a marina. Old Town is a walled town with winding small cobblestoned streets and a breathtaking Cathedral.
New Town is where we saw the famous intricate tile lined streets and visited shops for gifts and outdoor cafes. I had hoped to visit other close by towns of Albufeira, known for its nightlife, and Lagos, known for its beaches, but unfortunately we were given advice that the local train system was inefficient. If visiting the Quinto de Lago area, you may want to research a rental car to do some local exploring.
About the author: Rachel is a frequent business traveler originally from the New England area. Photography credit: the author is the owner of all photography featured here.
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