Pine Cliffs, Algarve hotel review
First impression: High-end holiday camp
Staff: Kind, unflappable
Food and drink: Plentiful and universally child-friendly
Bed and bath: Something for everyone
The crowd: Families and fitness buffs
In a nutshell: All things to all people, an Algarve safe bet
Set the scene
It’s quite something in numbers: 178 acres, eight swimming pools, up to 3,000 guests if every bed in every hotel room, apartment and villa is being slept in. It is probably bigger than any hotel you’ll have been to before. But get your head round that and the space, the gazillion things to do and endless places to eat are suddenly quite helpful. It’s the kind of place where you can hole up for a week without having to get back in the hot hire car.
What’s the story?
The Kuwaiti family who bought this plot of land high on the rusty red cliffs above Praia da Falésia in 1992 had big vision. In fact the plans for the entire resort were mapped out there and then and construction, nearly 30 years on, is only just nearing completion. The hotel and golf course came first and then each year has seen gentle but committed expansion. Most recently, the Ocean Suites opened in 2016, followed by the Gardens in 2018. The final piece of the puzzle is an Italian restaurant that is on the cards and due to open imminently.
What can we expect from our room?
That depends what you have booked. The hotel is the central hub of the place. The design there is strongly informed by local Portuguese tiles, which makes for a very pretty blue, white and yellow colour scheme. Headboards for every bed are decorated in these tiles, as are bathrooms, internal courtyards, fountains. It gives a very strong sense of place. The Ocean Suites, connected to the hotel, are more contemporary (the spa is here too so it all feels quite zen and grown up). Anyone travelling with a gang needing two bedrooms or more can check into the Residences, set apart on the other side of the golf course. The rooms here have a kind of old-school continental elegance to them, vast beds with canopies, big sitting rooms and little kitchens well stocked enough that you could rustle up lunch quite easily (plus a laundry room). The Garden suites (one-, two- and three-bedroom) are the newest and most modern, and a good bet if you want to be popping back to your room during the day as they are fairly close to all the action.
How about the food and drink?
Firstly, the most important thing to know is that you need to book at least a couple of days in advance if you want to score a table at one of the smarter restaurants. Maré, down on the beach, is gorgeous for sunset suppers (and if you can’t get in at night it’s good to know lunch here is first come first served). Yakuza, the Japanese restaurant, has sensational sashimi and a cool urban vibe (plus spaghetti bolognese for children who can’t be tempted by a chicken gyoza or some crispy squid). There’s a steakhouse for those needing a protein hit; a café in the main square that’s good for wraps and salads, hamburgers and pizza and is open most of the day; and the fish restaurant, O Pescador, with its tables under pergolas of bougainvillaea, is rather lovely. Look out for various other pit-stops for coffees and bites to eat. A doughnut cart wheels around, with sugary warm buns, and there’s an ice-cream bicycle on the lawn.
Anything to say about the service?
It’s probably too big for anyone to remember your coffee order from one day to the next, or how strong you like your Piña Colada but the team is calm and collected in the face of stressed parents and mischievous offspring, and will help those seeking out a peaceful corner.
What sort of person comes here?
It’s not just a gathering place for those with children. Outside of the school holidays, the resort fills with golfers (for the nine-hole here and the championship courses nearby), but also wellness seekers (for the Serenity Spa, pitching itself as a serious wellbeing offering), tennis players (for the Annabel Croft Centre), fresh-air fans and basically anyone seeking sunshine.
What’s the neighbourhood scene like?
The resort is just above Falésia beach, the longest stretch of sand in the Algarve, running almost four miles along the edge of the Atlantic. There are lots of charming local restaurants along the water, most charming of all being Pássaro Azul in Olhos de Agua, for grilled catch of the day and deliciously sweet tomato and onion salad.
Anything you didn’t love?
The size can take some getting used to, as can the sight of towels shotgunning sunbeds by the pools before breakfast, but once you’ve settled in, worked out the lay of the land, and found a corner that suits, all that fades away. Also paying for sunbeds on the beach feels a bit painful.
A final note: is it worth it?
It is an easy holiday, everything at your fingertips, so for those needing a solid, reliable week, this fits the bill.
Address: Pine Cliffs, Beach Falésia Açoteias, 8200-912 Albufeira, Portugal
Telephone: +351 289 500 100
Price: Doubles from: about £145
Book your stay
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, CN Traveller reports