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Norah Casey revisits her ideal destination for some glorious sun-drenched downtimeand outlines the many reasons why the Algarve should be on your must-visit list.

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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2018-11-26 06:26:19

Algarve Style

Norah Casey revisits her ideal destination for some glorious sun-drenched downtimeand outlines the many reasons why the Algarve should be on your must-visit list.

Keywords: Portugal,Algarve,Martinhal,Quinta do Lago,Ria Formosa,summer holidays,sunshine,beaches,Portuguese Food

“When what I crave is endless sunny days, a
pool to flop at, some great books to plough
through and the comfort of familiarity I

head to the Algarve”



Norah Casey revisits her ideal destination for some glorious sun-drenched downtime
and outlines the many reasons why the Algarve should be on your must-visit list.

What makes the perfect holiday? all-important ingredients for lazy about living in a room (and above all
We all have our bucket lists and summer days when the biggest decision else not having meals in that room).
dreams of ideal destinations but the is whether to go to the beach or walk I lean more towards my own front
perfect holiday is what’s right for you a few feet to the pool. And then there door, living room, dining room and,
at that moment in time. I love great are the restaurants. There is a lot to be yes, maybe a kitchen (I love making
adventures, exploring countries and said for risk-free dining in some old my own cup of tea), garden and pool.
cultures, but sometimes I just want to favourites and trying out the latest new And it’s much better if the owner is
stop the world spinning. eateries and bars to add a bit of culinary not living next door or upstairs or
pizzazz to the holiday. Guaranteed calling in unexpectedly to check on
My choice for the perfect pause in great food and stunning views are in you. Martinhal has all this and more. It
my whirlwind life is always Portugal. plentiful supply on this coastline. takes me some time to switch off, (or
When what I crave is endless sunny at least to the point that I limit emails
days, a pool to flop at, some great books Going back to Martinhal Quinta is to a couple of early morning hours) so
to plough through and the comfort like visiting an old friend but one that WiFi in my immediate surroundings is
of familiarity I head to the Algarve. effortlessly eases you into that longed- all important. I am always a heartbeat
During the summer months, there for state of holiday serenity. away from relaxing when in familiar
are often more Irish than Portuguese surroundings and I can see the pool
filling the beaches and restaurants PERFECT PLACE TO from the dining table (my holiday
in the Algarve’s ‘golden triangle’ of STAY office). My perfect holiday home
Villamoura, Quinta Do Lago and Vale do So, what makes it perfect? While also has a little supermarket (the
Lobo but I like that too. The Algarve is hotels are great (and some Mercado right across from our house)
Ireland in the sun with a few other spectacular) my perfect holiday is less


with all the essentials. If I don’t want as a host of smaller needs like potties, The Pool Hangout at Martinhal Quinta
to make breakfast (and who does sterilisers and warmers (blissful,
on holiday) then a short stroll to the hassle-free packing). Beach rooms at Martinhal Sagres
poolside restaurant, O Terraço, ensures
someone else does the cooking and We stayed in a two-bed villa as there of the Western Algarve for an amazing
the clearing up. was just the pair of us but I have stayed day trip which began with a great lunch
in a four-bed before (you can book all at As Dunas gazing out at the wind
I also like the whole Quinta do Lago variations up to luxurious five-bed). surfers gliding across the Atlantic.
vibe. This 2,000-acre Irish owned They are all finished with the same After a feast of mussels and clams
resort is impeccably manicured and Martinhal flair for natural textiles and followed by freshly caught sole and
beautifully designed. When I am muted shades with pops of colour. All sea bass we repaired to our own little
having the healthiest of lunches in villas come with a garden and pool with pod on the beach for an afternoon of
the pristine white calmness at Pure daily cleaning and garden maintenance swimming and reading, broken only by
(great place for breakfast also) after making for a very relaxed holiday a deep tissue massage to the sounds of
a morning cycle, I feel like I could without any of the hassle of clearing up! the ocean. Some fizz for sundowners
live that life at some point, be that while we showered and changed in
person. The cycling clean-living me THE PERFECT DAY TRIP our day room (part of the cool cuboid
only appears on holiday (briefly) but it And one of the great things about beach front row next to the main hotel)
feels good all the same. Great weather staying at Martinhal Quinta is a day and we were all set for the bright lights
(3,000 hours of sunshine annually), trip to its sister resort near the historic of Quinta again.
great beaches, great restaurants fishing village of Sagres, the most Martinhal Quinta Accommodation
surrounded by the Ria Fermosa nature child-friendly resort in the world! I first can be booked in two- to five-
reserve makes Quinta a magnet for visited the original Martinhal Beach bedroom villas, see
celebrities and sporting royalty, many Resort & Hotel on the western Algarve
of whom lounge around the five-star coast when Dara was well past his
Conrad Hilton or their own exclusive toddler years but we would have spent
luxury villas on the ocean. every family holiday here had it been
around back then. This is five-star,
THE MARTINHAL STYLE where both parents and little ones
Martinhal Quinta is great for adults but, get to enjoy all manner of treats and
like all Martinhal resorts, it is also great luxuries. This clever, upmarket, family
for families. resort was the brainchild of Chitra
Stern and her husband Roman. The
As well as breakfast and evening Martinhal brand has now expanded to
dining at O Terraço, which was four properties. As well as Martinhal
perfect for lazy nights, a stroll away Quinta and Martinhal Sagres, there is
from the villa, the M-Bar serves all- also Martinhal Cascais on the Lisbon
day snacks and great ice-cream. Coast and Martinhal Chiado, the
The Pool Hangout features all world’s first fully child-friendly city
manner of water features and slides hotel in the old town of Lisbon.
(and a trampoline), the famous and
distinctively Martinhal VW Camper Also within a protected natural
van is parked poolside and kids of all park, Martinhal Beach Resort blends
ages are kept busy for hours in the Blue beautifully on the edge of the sea
Room which has table tennis, table with natural woods, shades of green
football, PlayStation and the requisite and paler hues of textiles creating
connectivity for teenage surfing. As a contemporary backdrop to this
well as the Raposinhos Kids Club and stunning vista. With four restaurants
babysitting facilities, there is even a Martinhal Sagres takes its food offerings
baby concierge service where you can seriously and all of the seafood and fish
pre-book cots and baby baths as well come from the nearby fishing harbour
and fruits and vegetables come from
a local farm. Martinhal Beach also has
a pretty impressive and much larger
village convenience store, Mercado
Deli & Bake, a distinctive part of the
Martinhal brand.

We headed west to the quieter wilds

“The coastline, particularly and sandbars watching the
near Lagos, is a maze of
secret caves and honey- coastal birds (hundreds
coloured sandstone cliffs”
in this protected area

from egrets to flamingos), Flamingos
visiting the oyster beds and

watching local fishermen

pulling the lobster pots and collecting clams. The azure

waters, where dolphins abound, and deserted (or sparsely

RTHEAESMOANNSYWHY... populated) islands are more reminiscent of the Caribbean

than the Atlantic.


Celebrity watching (not for me obvs) adds a certain frisson

when the locals (by that I mean fellow Irish) rub shoulders

with the stars. While we were there all the talk was of

1 . T H E W E A T H E R 3,000 hours of sunshine annually. local home owners Steven Gerrard, his wife Alex and their

2 . T H E B E A C H E S 150 of them, miles of protected daughters (the Beckhams visit them on occasion they

beaches from the tranquil south coast to the surfer’s say). Another villa owner, former England footballer Teddy

paradise of the western Algarve. Sheringham is regularly spotted along with Wayne Rooney,

Stunning beaches 3 . T H E D I N I N G Both relaxed Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, José Mourinho, Cristiano
and formal, contemporary and traditional
Ronaldo, Robbie Fowler and Gareth Southgate. Name

– you’ll be spoiled for choice. dropping the latest spotting is a bit of a pastime with extra

4 . T H E G O L F I don’t play but this marks going to non-footballer sightings like regulars Rory

is one of the leading golf destinations in McIlroy, Niall Horan, Holly Willoughby, Ronan Keating, Carol

the world, with courses designed by some Smillie, Charlie Dimmock

famous names from the golfing world. and Bonnie Tyler. Even

5 . T H E C A M P U S Phase one of a new professional Prince William has been

training and coaching initiative aimed at world class athletes known to hang out in the

but also catering for us amateurs with tennis courts, padel Algarve. The late Formula

courts and cycling. One driver Ayrton Senna

Traditional boat on the Ria Fermosa 6.THE RIA even has a road named
after him.

boat trip through this 8.CLIFFS AND

beautiful natural park, C A V E S The coastline, Beautiful golf courses
particularly near Lagos, is
one of the ‘7 Natural

Wonders of Portugal’ a maze of secret caves and

visiting the remote honey-coloured sandstone cliffs. The spectacular Benagil

islands of Armona, Cave is definitely worth a visit (but go by boat) and head off

Culatra, Farol and Deserta is one of the highlights of every for some bracing cliff walks on quiet days and wonder at the

visit for me. I love cruising through the salt pans, lagoons natural beauty of the Algarve.

What’s New Parrilla Beach Club

The Cheeky Pup is a great new addition to the Quinta scene, Sister restaurant to firm favourite Parrilla Natural, the
the first Algarve opening by the same team (Loyola) that owns beachside offering recently opened next to the architectural
The Bath, The Old Spot, The Lep Inn, The Jar and a few other icon, Restaurant 2 Passos on Praia do Anção. Our first night was
buzzy bars and restaurants in Dublin. Tucked away in the corner
of Quinta Shopping, The Cheeky Pup is more of a restaurant superb with stunning views of the ocean at sunset and
wonderful fresh sole and traditional clams with garlic, white
than a pub. Manager Conor Mulligan is a seasoned hand at wine and coriander (amêijoas bulhão pato). We loved it so much
superb front of house service, creating a fine dining ambience we rebooked for the following Sunday night when a friend was
arriving. The second night was a bit of a disaster with a very long
in this upmarket Irish gastro pub. The outside terrace was wait for food that tasted and looked nothing like the mid-week
perfect for night time dining and late afternoon wine stops, and meal. Our complaints were dealt with speedily and I would
the food was superb. Live music (and a lot of Irish trad) brings in definitely return to see if the kitchen has settled in a bit more.
For location alone Parrilla Beach Club is definitely worth the
the crowds. Owners Stephen Cooney, former Leinster rugby
player Eoin O’Malley and his brother Brian also bring in the visit.

A-listers from the sporting world.

TIP: Always book in advance during peak season!


1 My favourite gastro

haunts on the Algarve, in
no particular order.





7 8 9

6 1. 2 Passos Restaurant 6. Caso Do Lago
10 7. Gigi’s
2. Parilla Beach Club 8. Julia’s Restaurant
3. Bovino 9. Restaurante Alambique
4. The Cheeky Pup 10. Restaurante Akvavit
5. Maria’s Restaurant

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