Last month I had the pleasure of visiting a unique beachside resort in the Algarve, Portugal. The award winning Vila Vita Parc is nestled amongst twenty two acres of lush green manicured grounds and feels more like it’s own gated luxurious suburb then a resort. The clifftop hotel hugs the peninsular of dramatic coastline which offers so many gorgeous viewpoints over the Atlantic ocean below.
After starting Wood and Luxe over four years ago, I am so grateful I get to have these experiences and share them with you here on the blog. Hopefully to inspire your next holiday or long weekend break. Our stay included three nights and four days and although it was quite short, my list of highlights is quite extensive.
As you all know I’m a lover all things wellness, and seek out as much wellness on my holidays as possible. Vila Vita Parc have really integrated and considered wellness in every aspect of their business. From Almond milk matcha lattes to outdoor yoga sessions, here are my highlights from my stay:
As you arrive at the large iron gates of Vila Vita Parc, you immediately feel relaxed. As you drive into the paradise inside, soaking up the surrounding landscapes, I involuntary let out a big exhale. You can choose to walk from your suite to the beach and to the surrounding facilities, or if you’re in a rush (like we were most days), we simply called reception for our own chauffeured golf buggy. Nothing is too much of an ask at Vila Vita Parc, and service always arrived with a smile.
The hotel was at full capacity during our stay but the hotel’s ambience did not give off that vibe at all. The enormity of the grounds had guests dispersed so much that you felt alone meandering along the pebble stone pathways.
Even though the resort is home to 170+ rooms, suites and oceanfront villas, it felt more like a boutique hotel than a giant resort. There were small personalised notes left in my room and the waiters remembered my coffee order each morning which was a delightful surprise. The recent refurbishment has also given Vila Vita Parc an elegant upmarket facelift although the the hotel has kept traditional elements, such as gorgeous regional pottery that draws on Portugal’s cultural heritage.
FITNESS FOR THE ACTIVE BUNCH
You have your pick of wellness and fitness activities throughout your stay. Choose from outdoor yoga and pilates, link up with one of the running guides, workout in the gym with a personal trainer or hire the bicycles and tour the grounds by bike.
If sports are more your thing, you can have a round of golf, play a game of tennis (or two) or take to the water for some paddle boarding. You could also walk around for days if walking is your choice of fitness. The options are literally endless. Even if you aren’t usually the active type on your holidays, the grounds and spacious-ness just made me want to get outside and run around like a child.
FOCUS ON WELLNESS
Along with the 101 things to do to keep active, the elements of wellness have been carefully curated for their guests to enjoy. I’m not easily impressed when it comes to wellness menus, but I was so pleasantly impressed with the menus at Vila Vita Parc.
From chia puddings to beetroot pancakes, coconut milk turmeric lattes and pear kombucha, it was a dream come true. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wine and bread and butter too, but I was really impressed with the healthy choice of food. Like really impressed. Not to mention the gorgeous wellness spa, hamam, sauna and indoor pool at the fitness centre. Spoilt is an understatement.
2 MICHELIN STARS
When visiting Vila Vita Parc and it comes to meal time, you are deliciously spoilt with over 10 restaurants to choose from. From freshly cooked Cataplana along the beachside at Praia Dourada to tantalising teppanyaki at their Japanese restaurant Mizu, there is no reason to leave the resort boundaries.
But an experience you must not pass up is the tasting menu at their Michelin star restaurant, Ocean. A culinary delight from Chef Hans Neuner, the dishes are a work of art to say the least. Paired with Portuguese wines, be prepared for your tastebuds to go on a wild ride. We all oohed and ahhhh’d as each meal was presented before us. Happy to note that being a vegetarian or pescatarian was not a fuss at all.
UNDERGROUND WINE CELLAR
Now I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t declare my love for really really good tasting wine. Built underground with bricks from 100 year old castles, the underground wine cellar is one of the resort’s valued gems. The cellar houses some of the best and rarest wines from all over the world. The journey begins 9 meters below the surface in a gothic style cellar dressed with elaborate chandeliers and candles. It was like stepping back in time, almost like a scene out of Games of Thrones. Our sommelier Paolo guided us through some of the local wines as we enjoyed tasting some of the local cheese, meats and roasted almonds. Definitely a must when visiting Vila Vita Parc.
Not only does Vila Vita Parc have an impressive wellness and dining offering, they also support the local traditional arts and crafts. They work closely with organisation such as Project Tasa to ensure the Portuguese heritage and traditions live on. We were lucky enough to visit a local wood shop where retired women from the village continue to make wooden toys, handicrafts and souvenirs. Every item is made from raw materials from their surroundings like bark, plants and wood. It was humbling to spend some time at the workshop and watch the ladies hard at work.
After our visit to the workshop our journey continued to the Water Mill where we were treated to an afternoon of local delicacies for lunch which included eating Pomegranate straight from the tree. The generous and colourful lunch included mixed salads, crumbed fish and vegetables and some of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever eaten.
After lunch we all participated in a weaving lesson (like the woven basket I’m holding). I’m a big fan of bringing something special back with me on my travels and I was completely shocked to see how long some of these woven bags took to make. The intricacies and labour intense baskets could take up to 30 hours but would only retail at 20 euros. Definitely not a lucrative industry but with the support of Vila Vita Parc, these traditions will hopefully be handed down from generation to generation.
A lot of these handicrafts are bought by Vila Vita Parc to decorate their numerous restaurants, rooms and suites.
ADVENTURE CLOSE BY
There’s also no need to travel far for a different perspective of the gorgeous burnt orange coastline. After lunch at Praia Dourada, about a 10 minute drive from the resort, we all piled into a speedboat for an afternoon cave tour. Weaving in and out of the tight caves, our very experienced driver shared with us his extensive knowledge of the region.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
Last but not least, I can not emphasis enough how happy the staff were at the resort. No matter where you were, or what you were requesting, the service was impeccable. I stopped an employee on her way to the tennis courts to ask for the quickest way to Atlantico restaurant. Her reply to me? “Jump in.” She continued to tell me she had worked at Vila Vita Parc for over 12 years and it has to be the best place in the world to work. How refreshing!
I could keep listing out my favourite things about this resort, but I know you don’t have all day. For some more information, please visit the Vila Vita Parc website.
Rooms start from £177 per night for twin share and the most accessible airport is Faro.
I was a guest of Vila Vita Parc but my thoughts, opinions and experiences purely my own.