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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2018-02-26 10:31:39

Rome_travel(high)

Rome_travel(high)

travelfeature

Ponta da Piedade in Lagos, Gerrard and John Terry over cocktails and a mention of
Algarve region in Portugal Princess Caroline of Monaco and Alanis Morrissette. I
overheard someone talking about Madonna and Angelina
“It has the relaxed Jolie one evening in the ladies toilets (where all the gossip
informality of being in a is exchanged) but I missed a bit so can’t confirm if they
are regular holiday makers at Quinta and the surrounding
place that felt a bit like area. Then of course there is the king of Quinta do Lago
home but only better” himself, Dennis O’Brien. He’s mentioned all the time and I
began to wonder how everyone appeared to know if he was
PARADISE FOUND in residence, had just left or was just about to arrive. Maybe
they have a flag system like at Buckingham Palace!

It is possible to do Quinta and the Algarve on a budget
but there is no denying that the area has an aroma of
wealth – from the designer labels at the shopping centre to
the exclusive restaurants and high-end cars. But I found the
best bargain accommodation to be had in Quinta and it cost
nothing extra to do what I intended to do for a week - read
books, lie in the sun with the occasional walk and cycle to
stave off the guilt about doing as little as possible.

We returned to Portugal towards the end of last summer
and this time decided to stay in our own place while still
having all the benefits of good friends nearby. I obsess about
finding the perfect place to stay when we get away for a
break. There is nothing worse that expecting to stay in the
spacious room you see on the website and discovering you
can touch the sink the bed and the wardrobe in the closet
you’ve been allocated. So weeks and weeks of searching,
reading reviews, making lists of the pros and cons of various
areas resulted in the final choice.

We wanted two bedrooms but not in a non-descript
apartment block and not two hotel rooms corridors and
floors apart. Dara and I talk (a lot) and we like having
somewhere to sit and chat in the evenings. I also wanted

we would head out to explore some deserted pathways. It took Monte do Quinta resort
away some of the guilt at eating all that food and partaking of
There’s a reason thousands of Irish head to the Algarve - apart from some fine Portuguese wines.
the sunshine and star-spotting, as Norah Casey discovers it has
Walmost everything you could want from an effortless holiday.hen we returned to Ireland first we There are lots of reasons why the Algarve became the
were blessed with good friends and pleasure ground of the European elite, and especially the Irish
family who guided us through the though sunshine and golf are probably at the top. It has a well-
intricate maze of an Ireland we left earned reputation for being the Shangri-La of golf, especially
many years preciously. They filled the Quinta do Lago development, owned by Dennis O’Brien.
us in on who was related to who, Last year Paul McGinley, captain of the winning Ryder Cup
We loved that holiday and still talk about it despite all the Team, joined forces with a US course architect Beau Welling to
exotic places we have been to since. I can’t give you a simple revamp the North Course at Quinta Do Lago with a rumoured
explanation – it just works. Everything is easy and the feeling investment of circa €9 million. It opened in October and a
of slowing-down is almost instantaneous. The flight was month later took the title of Europe’s Best New Golf Course
painless, the journey from airport to house was less than 30 at the World Golf Awards. I have never played but golf lovers
minutes, so within a few hours you’re sitting outside with the rave about the quality of the courses, and rant quite a bit about
the scandals we missed, the business sun on your face wondering whether a walk to the beach or a the high prices so it looks like Quinta will continue to be a
connections we would never have known. We were also told gentle cycle might tempt you by early evening. golfing mecca for some time to come.
that all the Irish go to Marbella and Portugal – particularly Yes there are lots of Irish people in the Algarve, particularly
an area previously unknown to us – Quinta do Lago. So we in Quinta do Lago and Val do Lobo, but it was nice sometimes There isn’t much you can’t do at Quinta do Lago even if
quickly decided both destinations would be off our holiday to nod at a familiar face in a restaurant or stop for a chat you’re not into golf. Tennis, water sports, horse riding, fishing,
list. Who wants to spend precious downtime meeting everyone with someone you know. It didn’t feel like we’d been corralled cycling, squash and of course walking the beautiful beaches –
you meet back home? So fast forward to two years ago, mid- into a corner of the Algarve. Each evening our hosts found especially in the early morning. And if some of it feels man-
way through my herculean attempts to work 20 hours out of a different restaurant – some casual on the beach, some made then that’s because some of it is, including the lake. But
24 doing Newstalk, RTE’s Today show and The Takeover, I more formal – but it’s the conviviality and the laughter than the surrounding countryside of olive groves and vineyards,
was persuaded by concerned and well-meaning friends to take I remember the most. The relaxed informality of being in the tranquillity of the pine trees and the beauty of the Ria
a break with them at their house in Portugal. After a while I a place that felt a bit like home but only better. For all the Formosa, a 2000 acre Nature Park, add a degree of charm to
realised the world would continue turning if I took a week off criticism that the Algarve gets for being overly developed it the development.
and that time wouldn’t run out if I slowed down a bit so I found is still beautiful and there are lots of hidden gems and quite
myself leaving Newstalk one morning and boarding a flight to spaces. I renewed my love of cycling there. For the most part Regulars at Quinta drop names of the rich and famous into
Faro with Dara. the landscape is mercifully flat so that for hours each evening most conversations – usually a spotting or a tale of when they
were last in the area. So I heard about Chris Evans who was
often seen on the Pinheiros Altos golf course, of Alan Shearer
and Michael Owen, now the owner of a house that belonged
to Ayrton Senna. I got snippets about Nasser Hussain, Steven

134 IRISH TATLER MAY 2015 MAY 2015 IRISH TATLER 135

travelfeature Gusto by Heinz Beck “Gusto has a The tasting menu changes all the time
certain panache but the Fagottelli Carbonara always
Monte do Quinta resort copia which makes you feel makes an appearance.
like you are on a very
special night out” Part of the experience of dining at
Gusto is the hotel itself which is well
A THEATRE of worth a visit. The Conrad Algarve is
“Regulars at Quinta drop names Monte do Quinta resort FOOD AT GUSTO palatial and created quite a stir when it
opened in 2012. Palm-trees, fountains
of the rich and famous into most T here are some great and flaming torches line the avenue
conversations – usually a spotting or a restaurants near leading to the gleaming white and glass
tale of when they were last in the area” Quinta do Lago but seven course tasting menu so sat façade. A cavernous light filled atrium,
this was the highlight back and enjoyed a wonderful clean lines, white marble, imposing
some outside space. I love sitting outdoors in the early was always pleasant and the service was friendly. We ate at the of the holiday. Gusto (named Blue Cocktail meal with the attentive service of pillars and minimalist muted furnishings
evening or last thing at night sipping a glass of wine when Starfish restaurant the first night because we arrived late and it for Conrad Hilton’s father a knowledgeable and unobtrusive add to the opulence. The interior is
the heat of the day dissipates – it’s a luxury you can rarely was fine but it’s quiet and there are so many restaurants in the Augustus) is lead by Michelin xxx xxxx waiter. This was an epic feast cool (in décor and temperature), and
enjoy in the precarious Irish summers. So they were all on area it’s best to be adventurous. We ventured forth to explore star chef Heinz Beck at the featuring wonderful flavours and the turquoise infinity pool provides a
my wish list for the perfect place to stay and I found it in other places for the rest of the week but we ate lunch every day five-star Conrad Algarve. In the xxx xxxx twists from the imaginative Beck dramatic centre point as you emerge into
Monte da Quinta, a five star all-suite resort. Like the Algarve at the resort. The Grill was just a short stroll from the pool to world of gastronomics Heinz kitchen – prepare to be amazed the sun drenched terraces opposite the
it just worked. And it was also the best value proposition by the table and back again. It was a perfect holiday for effortless Beck is held in high esteem xxx xxxx by some of the extraordinary entrance. The hotel has 154 guest rooms
far. relaxation, book reading and enjoying the simple pleasures of having earned his Michelin Some Culinary combinations and settle in for a (if you ever come into money splash out
eating and drinking lovely food and wine in great company. credentials at La Pergola delights from Gusto few hours of gourmet heaven. The on the stunning roof garden suite with
The apartment was perfect – two bedrooms with en-suite restaurant at the Waldorf asad asd asdasdasa theatre of Gusto adds to the spec- its own private pool). There is also a
bathrooms, sitting room, kitchenette (well stocked) and And the best part was the price. At the time of writing the Astoria Rome Cavalieri. I had a sdas d sad adsas tacle. Prior to the meat course – Technogym in the wellness centre and the
outside balconies. It also had free Wi-Fi and cable TV for Monte do Quinta was offering a one bedroomed suite for read that the bar at Gusto dasdasdasdasda number five I believe – our waiter hotel has five restaurants and lounges,
Dara, a walk-in wardrobe, a hairdryer with some decent two people plus a spa experience for €116 in total per night boasted the Best Barman in dasd asdasda s arrived with a flourish to present several pools, tennis courts and a golf
power and great make-up space in the bathroom for me! and two bedroomed apartments from €126 per night. Check Portugal. His name is Wilson us with a choice of beautiful concierge.
The Suites have all the amenities of a hotel but with all the the web site for special offers and I promise you will not be Pires and he made me an handcrafted Laguiole knives, each
privacy and space (99m2) we wanted. It had some surprising disappointed – I would return here in a heartbeat and if I can incredible gin and tonic with a one unique but all according to Gusto by Heinz Beck Conrad Algarve
extras – all of the toiletries are from Prija a hypoallergenic escape in the summer I quite possibly will. large juniper infused ice cube the waiter put through over 100 Hotel & Resort, Estrada da Quinta
botanical range with wonderful earthy scents. The décor is which created a blue glow as it processes by a French artisan. do Lago Quinta do Lago 8135-106
contemporary and relaxing and it was a pleasure to return Monte do Quinta Resort, Avenida Andre Jordan, Quinta slowly melted. He has a great Almancil; telephone +351 289 350 700;
in the late afternoon to the cool air-conditioned rooms for a do Lago, 8135 998 Almancil, Portugal; telephone cocktail menu too. In the same way that sipping placeshilton.com
few hours of downtime. There are 132 Suites on two floors +351289000380; email [email protected]; wine from a beautiful glass
so no lifts required. It has a kids club, a spa, gym, sauna, Gusto has a certain panache enhances the experience OTHER RESTAURANTS TO TRY:
Turkish bath, indoor heated pool and of course an outdoor which makes you feel like you choosing and using those A QUINTA
pool. are on a very special night out. It beautiful knives added to our
has a Water Menu – yes a serious enjoyment of the meal. The One of my favourite restaurants in the area. The
The location was great. I try not to hire a car when we are listing of bottled water complete highlight was undoubtedly menu here is classic and the atmosphere is homely
on a real chill-out holiday because I usually feel I have to with pH ratings. We laughed like the Fagottelli Carbonara, and friendly. Starters include chicken liver pate,
drive it places because we’ve paid for it! Monte da Quinta drains and wondered whether his signature dish where the Provençal fish soup and staples such as rack of
is in Quinta do Lago so had all the amenities right on the it would travel to Ireland. We carbonara is uniquely inside lamb and great grilled Argentinean steak. Booking
door step. Good restaurants were a short taxi ride away thought not. Then we had a the pasta parcels. A simple but ahead is essential.
and local shops were walkable. Breakfast at the poolside choice of six types of salt. We sensational dish. I could have
opted for wine matches with the happily dispensed with all of Rua Vale Formoso, Almancil, Loule, Algarve;
the other six courses and settled telephone +351 289 393 357;
down to a bowlful on its own. www.aquintarestaurant.com

Izzys Beach Restaurant; Vale do Garrão, 8135-000
Almancil, Portugal telephone +351 289 396 984;
www.izzysbeachrestaurant.com

Hamburgueria Casavostra; Avenida 5 de Outubro
360, 8135-103 Almancil, Portugal; telephone +351 289 391 104;
www.hamburgueriacasavostra.com

Pizzeria Casavostra; Avenida 5 de Outubro, nº 302,
8135-103 Almancil, Portugal; telephone +351 289 397 565;
www.pizzeriacasavostra.com

Maria’s Beach; Praia do Garrão Poente 8135-170
Almancil Portugal; telephone +351 289 358 675;
http://mariasbeachalgarve.com

Restaurante Casa Do Lago; Quinta do Lago Norte,
8135-024, Almancil, Portugal; telephone +351 289 394 911;
www.quintadolago.com

Restaurante Alambique; Sitio do Corgo da Zorra,
8135 Almancil, Portugal; telephone +351 289 394 579;
www.alambique.de

Gourmet Natural Restaurant, Apartado 3954, 8135-
018 Almancil, Portugal; telephone +351 289 355 271;
www.gourmetnaturalrestaurant.com

136 IRISH TATLER MAY 2015 MAY 2015 IRISH TATLER 137


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