PINE CLIFFS: A LUXURY RETREAT IN PORTUGAL
Ah winter sun, is there anything better than a dose of vitamin D during the greyest of months here in the UK? If ever there was a prescription to the winter blues, that definitely is it.
At the start of February, myself and a few other lovely people said goodbye to a bleak, cold London and headed to Portugal for three days of the good stuff. Waving Gatwick behind, off we popped to The Algarve (our flights kindly organised by Oliver's Travels) for a mini retreat to Pine Cliffs Resort, A Luxury Collection Resort in the most beautiful of natural settings.
Whilst gloriously sunny there was still very much a chill in the air (February is an off-season time for Portugal anyway but we just so happened to be visiting on their coldest week of the year) but it made such a difference to wake up to blue skies and sunshine pouring through the windows. What Portugal lacked in warmth was made up for with plenty of peace & quiet - providing a much needed break for some R&R.
T H E R E S O R T
Pine Cliffs is an award-winning luxury resort that is quite frankly, huge. There's deluxe villas, ocean suites, townhouses, a residence and luxury real estate - all integrated but separate within the expansive grounds. And with something for pretty much everyone, it's a good option for anyone looking for a break in the sun, not too far from London. From an extensive golf course to tennis pools aplenty as well as a fantastic spa and a diverse range of culinary outlets, you won't be bored during your stay. It has the option for you to be as busy and as active as you like on your holiday or be as lazy and care-free as you like.
I'll also take this moment to let you all know how much I appreciated the tiles around the resort - the place is full of them in all corners and turns. You can even ask the concierge for a 'tile tour', should you wish to learn about their history. Oo-er.
T H E R O O M S
We were each given a Pine Cliffs Ocean Suite - basically own one bedroom apartment - complete with a fully equipped kitchen space, dining area and freestanding bathtub in the open plan bedroom-bathroom. There's also the huge private balcony attached to the suites that would be an ideal place to host in summer.
The apartment was light, airy and unbelievably spacious for one person, with two TV's, fluffy bathrobes and - one of my favourite little touches - Byredo toiletries filling up the shower. The final test of a good room came in the comfiness of the bed, which I can report back was absolute bliss.
S E R E N I T Y S P A - T H E A R T O F W E L L B E I N G
One of my favourite places within the resort was the spa, aptly named 'Serenity - The Art of Well Being'. On a number of my recent travels, I've been very spoilt with some amazing spa treatments and I have to say, my facial really was up there as one of the best. I was treated to an 80-minute Ila Crystal Healing Face Therapy treatment - using the healing vibrations of crystals to release tension and revitalise the skin. I can't say I understand too much about that, but what I do know is that whatever was done, really worked. Not only did I gently drift off to a snooze at the end of the 80 minutes but left with wonderfully glowing skin - it felt happy and radiated health. If I could just hop back over there now for a treatment, that'd be swell.
It's not all just about the treatments however. You can book in for a day and just make the most of their amazing facilities and wellness offering. Everything from an outdoor jacuzzi, private & group yoga sessions, salt sauna, steam room and an indoor thermal pool are all at your service. You can even choose the thunderstorm setting on your shower and it will feel & sound exactly like you're right there in a thunderstorm. I absolutely love everything about white noise so this was a real Claire-pleaser.
Something which I didn't get round to sampling on this occasion, but something which certainly appeals to me, was the wellness programs. There's the likes of the digital detox experience (handing over your phone and re-connecting whilst being disconnected), the fitness journey (with the help of a PT to get you fighting fit) and the yoga & harmonisation of the Chakras (rebalancing through stimulating the seven main chakras) which will have you feeling like a new (wo)man by the end.
T H E G R O U N D S
Usually on breaks away, I like to explore the surrounding area, getting to know what you can do and see nearby etc. However, I came to The Algarve on this occasion to review Pine Cliffs specifically and in all honestly, it felt nice knowing that for three days I didn't need to leave the property or run around a local town looking for cafes or restaurant recommendations. Pine Cliffs was a chance to relax and get some down time (which, in all honesty, I really needed at the time - and feel myself needing again soon!). Plus, I realised something: you can come to Pine Cliffs and not ever need to leave the property except for when you leave to go home. Firstly, because you come to Pine Cliffs because you want a relaxing stay and secondly, because the resort really has everything you need. Aside from all of its facilities, what really sets Pine Cliffs apart is its beautiful, jaw-dropping setting.
The red sandstone cliffs were what beckoned us the moment we arrived, with their impressive, staggering, natural beauty. Being slightly chilly, we had the beaches almost to ourselves for the camera moments and it was only at sunset on our last evening that we really came into contact with anyone else crazy enough to be sitting on a beach in February temperatures. In the summer months, I can imagine it's a totally different scene and I bet there's not many other idyllic ways to spend your days in the Algarve as a wander down the winding decked path to the beach. Bliss.
F O O D & D R I N K
The resort has eleven restaurants and bars on site meaning you'll never go hungry or thirsty for the duration of your stay.
A new addition to the Pine Cliffs family is Zest - a healthy restaurant concept that the hotel is rather proud of. Rightly so too as we were treated to an al fresco lunch by Zest on the penthouse rooftop which was truly delicious. Simple to create, using only healthy, fresh ingredients - I could have quite easily ate every meal there had I had to.
Given we went off-season, not all outlets were open for us to sample, but the ones we did try were all delish. O Pescador - the resort's fancier-but-still-informal seasonal restaurant - serves up divine traditional Portguese dishes, mostly seafood orientated, in a classic setting. Breakfast is a feast served in Jardim Colonial, whilst for something a little special (in summer months), there's the Mirador Champagne Bar which views overlooking the sea and cliffs.
A huge thank you to Pine Cliffs for a wonderful and very hospitable stay. And a big thanks to the guys at Oliver's Travels for arranging our flights. Psst, if you're ever looking for some kind of amazing place to stay, these guys probably know about it.