A fabulous luxury staycation resort, right here on our doorstep
Travel has become more complicated this year, but fear not, Vila Vita Parc has everything you need, spread through their lush 22 hectares of sub-tropical landscaped resort. Entering the main gates, you instantly get a sense of what lays within, the Algarvean architecture with touches of Moorish design leaves you in no doubt where you are. After a smooth check-in, the porters swoop your luggage away and present you with a very Vila Vita touch: a branded hygiene gift bag complete with some masks, hand sanitiser and a mask carrying case.
It was clear from the offset that they take guests’ safety and comfort very seriously indeed. The resort has 203 rooms, suites, apartments and villas, all with fresh, contemporary furnishes and splashes of Portuguese art, pottery and toiletries throughout. The accommodation is spread between the Main Building, Oasis Parc, adjoining the Vila Vita Spa by Sisley and the adults-only manor-house style The Residence. Two of the villas, Praia and Trevo, are located on the cliffs with fabulous sea views, whilst Vila Al-Mar is near the golf area and Atlântico I and II are just in front of the resort.
I stayed in the main building, which was beautifully furnished and had a great view out over the gardens, the fountain and to the sea. Families are very welcome here too, of course. There’s a Kids Club, Mini-Golf and a play area for the little ones. The gardens are gorgeous, and taking a brief stroll through them instantly relaxes you and gets you into the Vila Vita mindset.
One of the areas that Vila Vita Parc is best known for is their restaurants. With 11 restaurants and six bars, each with a very distinctive atmosphere, décor and culinary offering, guests are spoilt for choice. The jewel in the crown is Ocean, with two Michelin stars, run by Austrian-born chef Hans Neuner, whose dishes take you on a gastronomic journey through the very best that Portugal has to offer. The décor and views are spectacular and should be seen in person to appreciate them. The wine room holds over 900 vintages, carefully selected by sommelier Ricardo Rodriges.
Definitely not falling into the shadows of Ocean, the other restaurants are excellent in their own right and would easily work as stand-alone outlets in any major city. I ate at the newly refurbished Bela Vita Bar & Brasserie, which is located in the Main Building. This was a great new addition to their top-class eateries. The mixture of Parisian flair and Art Deco touches instantly transported me. It was almost as if the trip from my room to the restaurant had been via a time machine. The contrast was phenomenal.
Moody lighting, well-spaced seating, big booths, mixed textures and fabric and a casual, luxurious ambience set the mood. The menu was exciting, with cheese and truffle soufflé, fresh fish, gorgeous and generous cuts of prime beef like a Fiorentina or the huge Beef Wellington that came on a trolley and was served tableside. So these would be items that you might expect on a Brasserie menu, but then there were some surprises like the Asian Bites entree, a 26-piece sushi and sashimi platter.
Sitting, deliberating over the menu, I was surprised by the presence of a drinks trolley by my side. The resident mixologist presented his daily choice of cocktails that he prepared right in front of the table, making a fun start to the experience. The food and service were excellent, as is true of all of the restaurants here.
The other restaurants are Mizu Teppanyaki, a Tokyo-inspired contemporary, fine-dining Japanese restaurant; Aladin Grill, with a Moorish-inspired dining room covered in oriental blues and gold and an open kitchen that serves delicious grilled meat and fish. Adega is the resorts traditional Portuguese restaurant that overlooks the swan lake, whilst Cave de Vinhos is a wine lover’s paradise. Once inside the entrance, the stairs take you down into the cellar where you’ll find more than 11,000 bottles of fine vintages. Guests can dine here and usually have a fixed menu that showcases Portuguese, wine-friendly dishes. Whale is the casual, poolside restaurant serving international cuisine including wood-fired pizzas. The Arte Náutica, Praia Dourada and Só Verão restaurants form the Armação Beach Club, which is located on the beach of Armação de Pêra. Finally, the Vila Vita Biergarten in the nearby village of Porches serves superb Bavarian specialities and of course, great beers.
With so many top-class dining options, it’s fortunate that there are gardens and walkways are available to enjoy a leisurely stroll. At the bottom of the property, there’s something extraordinary — private access to the secluded beach. Heading back from the beach, guests can enjoy one of the seven swimming pools with options for families, children and adults only. The indoor pool is heated and has a sauna onsite along with a full gym.
The resort has a 22-metre yacht available for half or full-day excursions, complete with catering and a rib allowing guests to access the caves. The fleet of Chauffeur driven cars, people carriers and buses are available, enabling guests to enjoy excursions in the utmost comfort and style.
Onsite, the V-Life Shops are a boutique shopping plaza featuring exclusive, sophisticated brands such as Tamara Comolli fine jewellery, Heidi Klein beachwear, Façonnable menswear and By Rory, elegant resort wear and accessories. The V-Life Store has all the gourmet Vila Vita products and the entire wine range from their Portuguese estates in Alentejo and Douro. Here, you can also find local artisan products such as Porches Craft Beer, home design, regional pottery and handicraft items.
Vila Vita can also accommodate guests who wish to stay long-term and have excellent onsite business facilities for those who work remotely.