Vila Vita Parc – Part 1

Vila Vita Parc – Part 1
I first visited Portugal in the 1993 and my Grandad, the multi-linguist,  gave me his mini Portuguese dictionary to take with me. It was also from him that I got my love of travelling to different countries. My grandparents took every opportunity to jet off. Grandad enjoyed the cultural side of things, immersing himself in the language and people. Gran also loved the cultural side of things and let Grandad explore the sights while she appreciated the warmth of the sun and the local boutiques. 


Sometimes we travelled with them and my first multi-generational holiday was when I was about 3 years old. It was the first of many and it was from these trips that many amazing family memories were born. Now it was time for the next generation to make some new memories. Recently, I spent a few days at the multi- award winning VILA VITA Parc in the Algarve. I was lucky enough to be joined by my children, my mum, my stepdad, my big brother and my two nieces.


 

As soon as you drive up to VILA VITA Parc you very quickly get an idea of why this seriously stunning hotel is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World group. I found myself trying to take a crazy amount of pictures capturing its beauty. When a property is situated in 22 hectares of lush subtropical parkland and meets the Atlantic via a cliff top location, you are in for a treat when it comes to views. Strikingly beautiful. Central to the resort is the most amazing fountain and swan lake. In fact, everywhere you look in this resort is a sensory delight the eyes. 


We were there on the run up to my 40th Birthday and to be honest I don’t think there could have been a nicer place to spend the last few days of my 30s. Pretty much from the point that our car arrived at the front entrance of VILA VITA Parc there was a palpable sense the excitement in the car. This luxury hotel doesn’t just look spectacular. There is also a wonderful atmosphere that is apparent in every corner of this hideaway. There are luxury hotels all over the world. Sadly not all luxury hotels have the excellent customer service to match that luxury. VILA VITA Parc oozes both. This is a hotel that has very high standards that seem to be executed with ease ….. well to the guest anyway. Every single member of staff greeted us with a genuine friendliness and a big smile. While I checked us all in, my family went to the terrace and stared in awe at the gorgeous view. It was difficult to feel anything apart from at home here. Well, how could you not feel wonderful in such a luxurious, elegant, friendly, stylish and spectacular resort.



We were transported to our rooms by golf buggy and were given a mini tour along the way. VILA VITA Parc has 4 different accommodation areas allowing families and couples to have space and privacy.  My brother and I were staying in Oasis Parc which is a short distance from the Main Building and consists of  two storey townhouses. Our Parents were close by and had a gorgeous Deluxe Room in the Main Building. I love that we were given a personal tour of the room by the same person that checked us in. I also loved the expression on my brother’s face when it dawned on him that his room was exactly as amazing as mine.  


I was buzzing with excitement as I was shown around my room. When I say room I mean Oasis Family Suite with an extra twin room for the kids, 2 TVs, 3 balconies, coffee machine, bath, shower, his and hers sinks, massive wardrobes and last but not least …. sitting area, desk area, fire ….. oh and a roof terrace with loungers, outdoor shower, table and chairs ….. and then there was the superb view over to swan lake and the main hotel building. I wanted this to be my permanent abode. 



The attention to detail in all of our rooms was out of this world. Especially the little things, for example the large straw shopper bag hanging on the door for you to place everything you might need for the pool or beach. Then there was the UK plug socket in the bathroom. Or the flower on my bed and fresh flowers in the room. My parents also loved that their room number was woven into the carpet outside their room. The kids were delighted to see special bags on their beds from the Annabella’s Kids Club which included baseball hat, colouring pencils and kids menu to name few things. The baseball hats were put on immediately and one of my nieces wore her hat for most of the day with pride …. even in the pool. There was further excitement when they spotted the two kids sized dressing gowns and matching slippers waiting to be tried on …… super cute.  



Oasis Family Suites are perfect in so many ways. For parents who have children that go to bed early, the adults have lots of space to sit and relax in the suite without having to creep around quietly in the same room. For those of you who want some more space there are also 5 luxury villas with ocean views and butler service! 



The architecture around VILA VITA Parc is definitely Moorish inspired and mixed with traditional Portuguese design. During our stay there was construction going on in the Clubhouse area and we were surprised by how little disruption ….. please read none ….. and noise there was. I am excited to see the end results (due for completion very soon). 



On our first day we enjoyed some lunch at the Palm Bar which overlooks the 400 sq m pool at Oasis Parc. There are 8 different swimming pools to choose from at VILA VITA Parc – including outdoor, heated, indoor and kids pools. If you are feeling brave there is also the sea. Basically there is a swimming location for every wish.  We enjoyed our time at the pool beside the Palm Bar for a number of reasons. Firstly, the pool there was heated  and had a swim up bar. Secondly this pool was also beside a great kids pool with grotto cave. Our kids loved it and we also found this area to be relatively peaceful …. even when the kids were testing out the echo in the grotto!


There is so much to do at VILA VITA Parc! For the kids there was the complimentary Annabella’s Kids Club which is a great facility that is housed beside the outdoor kids park. My kids had a lot of fun at the kids club and the cousins let off some steam together at the large play park. For younger children there is also Natalie’s Creche.
 
If you want a more active holiday there is a 9 hole pitch and putt, 18 hole putting green, driving range, beach walk, tennis, mini golf, volleyball, football, Pilates, yoga, aqua gymnastics, health club and gym.  If you want to relax then a trip to the VILA VITA Vital Spa is a must. The Spa offers a holistic approach and has great range of treatments and therapies. I tried a Thai Massage for the first time.  

VILA VITA Parc spoils you when it comes to restaurants and bars ….  I am not talking about soul-less and mediocre ones. The amount of excellent eating establishments really surprised me and the variety of international and local cuisine choices would suit even the fussiest or discerning of palates. You will likely struggle to choose between the 8 restaurants and 6 bars. There is literally everything from a two Michelin Star fine dining restaurant,  a beach restaurant,  an authentic Portuguese restaurant, German Beer Garden, cafe or the vaulted wine cellar where the chef will match your food to your wine tasting.  


I didn’t have a favourite meal during our stay, I had 4…. actually make that 5. Breakfast is definitely something to look forward to. We tried both Adega and Bella Vita for breakfast with great success. The food was excellent in both. Perhaps the main difference is the surroundings and that Adega has more local foods. The array of freshly baked goods was amazing. Everything from croissants to toast to rye bread to pastries and everything in between.  Breakfast felt very relaxed in both places. At Bella Vita you could choose to sit inside or on the outside terrace. Again, the attention to detail was outstanding not only with the exceptional quality and variety of food but also with the surroundings. My daughter loved the fleece blankets that were placed on the outdoor seats in case anyone was feeling it cool. I am not sure that she was cold, but she loved wrapping up in it.



VILA VITA Parc also caters very well for guests with special food requests. My son is on a gluten free diet and at dinner we were always offered gluten free bread. I was also really delighted to see a special Gluten free area at the Bella Vita breakfast buffet. My son tested out most of this table and he can confirm that it was “awesome” and then “mum can I take some of the cookies home”. I am sure that he said this in front of one of our waiters as we were quickly given a mini take away of their homemade gluten free cookies, much to my son’s delight. I loved trying the Portuguese products at breakfast and I am now a massive fan of Bolo De Arroz and my son is sightly obsessed with the Buttered Sheep Cheese.



Later in the day, we loved eating outside at Cafe Bica which specialises in coffee, light snacks and cakes. The coffee menu was intriguing and inspiring. I had never seen so many ways to have coffee!  I was keen to try one of the caffeinated cocktails or the Maccacinno which is a blend of maca, raw cacao, coconut sugar and lactose free drink. It is described as being a gift to your immune system. I opted for the Mint Punch which was iced mint tea, orange juice, lemon and fresh mint. It was wonderfully refreshing on a warm day.  The pastries and Pastel De Nata were also divine!


My 6 year old fell in love with calamari again during our stay. If he could have eaten it for every meal, he would have. Adega re-ignited his obsession. We ate at Adega on our first night and it will go down as one of my favourite meals ever. This authentic Portuguese restaurant captivated us all that evening. The menu is a blend of Portuguese cuisine, tapas and regional specialities and everything we tried was sublime. We managed to savour each course and our sommelier introduced us to some stunning wines that matched our food choices excellently.  Mum and I both started with Cod fish beignets and we also made sure we tried the kid’s delicious homemade chicken soup. For main course my brother had the octopus, sweet potato, shrimp and clam cataplana. Mum had Olhao monkfish, black pudding with garden peas puree and my Tournedo veal melted in my mouth. My stepdad enjoyed all of his meal and when it came to dessert, his domain, he selflessly helped us clear our plates. The rustic ambiance, the transcendent flavours and the superlative staff made this an impeccable meal.


On our last night, I had just returned from a Thai Massage at the wonderful Spa and we opted for In- Room Dining. This meal was has set the bar very high for any future room service experience. Nothing is too much effort for the VILA VITA Parc team and when we asked for off menu Calamari for my son, we were advised that there was none at Bella Vita that night but that they would order it specially from Adega and have it brought to us.



The staff at VILA VITA Parc make this fabulous place an extraordinarily wonderful retreat. In the short time we were there they all made a great impression on us.  Friendly, warm, courteous, genuine, interesting to talk to and generally fantastic. Here is a place to be pampered and treated like royalty in an unstuffy manner. We were treated as individuals and not just as a guest. The whole family were made welcome. Nothing was too much trouble. I had been so distracted on our first day by my general excitement to be at VILA VITA Parc, that I totally forgot to check if my bedding was feather or not. I discovered it was feather just before 11pm and made a very apologetic call to Housekeeping. Within 10 minutes a team of wonderful ladies had come to our abode and changed the bedding. Very impressed by their service….. and very embarrassed that I called so late. 


VILA VITA Parc has made such a lasting impression on me. I have stayed in some wonderful hotels around the world and there is something so strikingly special about VILA VITA Parc. It has successfully got the balance between attention to detail, great Portuguese hospitality and a personalised first class service that is both elegant and informal. The facilities are second to none. This hotel suits families, including multi-generational ones like my one, but it is also an extremely romantic place and would be heavenly to visit as a couple. The bedrooms are spacious, luxurious, exceedingly comfortable and maintained to an extremely high standard. The food is out of this world, regardless of where you choose to eat. Our evening meal at Adega has to go down as one of my favourite meals ever! The staff epitomised genuine Portuguese hospitality.  Each and every one of them helped make our visit as remarkable as it was.  We built a lot of very happy memories staying at VILA VITA Parc. I often found myself thinking how much my grandparents would have loved this multi-generational trip too.


How Green and Eco Friendly is VILA VITA Parc, suffice to say there is a separate blog to cover this as it excels in this area. This hotel has won countless awards for being green and prides itself on its sustainable policy. In December they won the World’s Leading Green Resort Award at the World Travel Awards. Part 2 will look into this in more detail. 



When it comes to reviewing hotels and travel there will always be at least one thing that is not so good. It could be how clean the bathroom is, service or maintenance of the room. VILA VITA Parc was faultless! Fantastically faultless. VILA VITA Parc is a 5* Fifi Friendly award winner. Perhaps I need to make a new 6* category and make this an inaugural winner.



Key Facts: Approx 35 -40 minutes from Faro Airport, 22 hectares of subtropical parkland, 180 rooms, suites and villas, 8 restaurants, 6 bars, cafe, vaulted wine cellar, complimentary kids club, free wifi,  8 swimming pools, Hypoxi studio, wellness and beauty centre, fitness centre, secluded sandy beach, VILA VITA yacht, 9 hole pitch and putt, 18 hole putting green, mini golf, driving range, golf academy, 5 tennis courts, table tennis, water sports, badminton, volleyball, pilates, yoga, kids park, boutique, hairdresser, 6 conference rooms, own private vineyard and organic farm.

 
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