A Hidden Gem on the Algarve- Praia Verde Boutique Hotel

At the very eastern end of the Algarve we discovered a gem of a small property with an amazing restaurant and proximity to beaches and a great selection of off property dinning nearby.   Praia Verde is a member of Design Hotels and is only a few years old with very hip décor & vibe that could make you feel you are at a trendy hotel in SoHo NY.   The hotel is located just 8 km from the Spanish Border and a day trip to Seville is only about a 1.5 hour drive.   The seaside town of Tavira, Portugal is only about a 15 minute drive. This is a lovely town that is worth a visit.Our room (all the rooms are identical) overlooked the pool and gardens with a small patio, a large separate bedroom with king bed, combined with a living and dining area and kitchenette.  Although we never used the kitchen it was stocked with a small stove, microwave, pots, pans and dishes and a complementary espresso machine.  The bathroom was very small and had a shower/tub combination. The hotel is about a 5 -10 minute walk ( on nice paths) to the Praia Verde Beach where there are a handful of fabulous little restaurants that are on or overlooking the sand and water. We had 2 fantastic dining experiences at beach side restaurants just down the hill from our hotel.  . The hotel had a small but very practical gym that offers the opportunity for both Cardio and weights.  The pool is big with nice lounge chairs and there is also a small pool side bar/snack bar which looked great but couldn’t compete with the seaside options nearby.The restaurant at Praia Verde was exceptionally good.  We spent 22 days in Portugal and I would say our best dinner came out of their kitchen (a local fish stew accompanied by cous cous, grilled vegetables and nice salads). We also had the pizza (which is not as common as you might think in Portugal) out of their hardwood burning pizza oven which was a 9 out of 10.  The breakfasts were a simple but very tasty buffet with fresh bread, croissant and other pastries, cereals, fruit, juices, coffees, eggs and sausage.  The restaurant service was top notch and the wines on the menu were very good at extremely reasonable prices (we could get many delicious bottles for under $30).In general, the area is known for its beaches which are busy in August but very manageable and like every part of Portugal we visited there was great dinning with your toes in the sand on the beach.  A typical beach lunch started at 2:30 and lasted 2 hours with a bottle of rose and ended with an espresso overlooking an amazing beach.   If the beach doesn’t interest you the seaside town of Tavira, Portugal is only about a 15 minute drive. This is a lovely town that is worth a visit.Not to mention, the hotel is located just 8 km from the Spanish Border so a day trip to Seville is not out of the question as it is only about a 1.5 hour drive.

THE Oitavios & Cascais,Portugal- Convenient European Destination With Lots to Offer

My family had the pleasure of a 3 night stay at the Oitavios in Cascais Portugal.  Cascais is a quaint seaside town about 35 minutes north of Lisbon with easy access to/from Lisbon airport. The town and surrounding area of Cascais is an amazing mix of city and beach.  It reminded me of Capetown, South Africa. The area is extremely clean, safe and easy to get around. There are many great dinning and shopping venues and the beaches are off the charts, with fantastic little beach side bars and restaurants everywhere.   The Oitavios Hotel is a new modern hotel located at the north end of Cascais offering easy access to the beaches with breathtaking views at every turn. The area around the hotel has many jogging, walking and biking paths, many of which run adjacent to the ocean and connect to the hotel within a few hundred meters.  In every respect the hotel’s views and scenery are very hard to beat and the hotel and service were fantastic as well.The hotel is very modern and stark in style. As the property is only 5 years old everything is spotless. All the rooms at the Oitavios are a minimum of about 650 square feet and have huge balconies with views of the ocean or the amazing dunes that surround the ocean.  We are a golfing family and would rank the course at Oitavios as beautiful, challenging and well maintained as any course we have played with green fee rates that did not break the bank.   Our room (loft) was extremely spacious with a partially open bathroom concept (shower and bathtub – with ocean views) that made everything feel open and spacious. The hotel has a few rooms that have private bathrooms. The king size bed was appointed with great linens with an adjoining seating area with large oversized modern sofa and a desk area with all the appropriate plug ins to run a small business for a day or two.   Both the seating area and bedroom had its own TV with a number of English channels.  The room also had tons of drawers and closet space to help you settle in and feel at home. There was a huge heated pool (most are not heated in Portugal) with an expansive lounge area overlooking the beautiful country side was an uber relaxing environment complete with a pool side lunch/bar area and if you are too lazy to walk the 30 steps the pool side wait staff will get you fed and watered in style.  There was also a very nice co-ed steam/sauna/Jacuzzi/relaxation area that was completely glass enclosed with views of the grounds and dunes.The hotel and immediate area itself offered tons of sporting and activity options as they seemed endless.  Affiliated with the hotel was a world class equestrian center, tennis center, huge gym (not your typical hotel gym), lap pools, squash courts, paddle courts, surf instruction and more.  If you are an active family with diverse interests I would guess that everyone would be busy and happy.  We ate most of our meals in Cascais although our breakfasts and one lunch were top notch.  The concierge desk did a great job of steering us to some great restaurants including a great Indian and sushi restaurant.   Service was top notch and I would easily compare it to any 5 star hotel we have visited.  The resort is perfect for active families or couples just looking to chill out and enjoy the beauty of the grounds and the region with easy access to historical towns and sites as well.

L'AND VINEYARD BOUTIQUE HOTEL- A Romantic Getaway Near Lisbon

L’and vineyard is approximately 1.5 hours from Lisbon and roughly 25 minutes from the ancient walled town of Evora.  The hotel is a very modern boutique hotel on a lovely vineyard that boasts a Michelin star restaurant.   The property is very small and intimate with large suite styled rooms with a private patio and outdoor fireplace.  Our room (Sky Suite) was footsteps from their very large outdoor pool, garden and lounging area and only an additional 50 meters from their casual outdoor dining.  The room was very large with a living room, attached dining area adjacent master bedroom and a massive bathroom with a bathtub as well as an outdoor plunge tub that could be hot or cold.  Our bedroom had a king bed with great bedding as well as a cabriolet roof that could be opened and closed via remote control to take advantage of star gazing at night.  The overhead window had both screens and black out shades so you could pick you level of air flow and lighting.  The hotel is very service oriented. Unlike most areas of Portugal the immediate area did not have a plethora of nice dining although there were good local and modest restaurants. Nearby Evora had a much better selection of dinning and things to see and we would recommend spending an afternoon walking Evora and having dinner there.L’and Vineyards offers great dinning in both their casual outdoor venue as well the more formal dinner restaurant   I would recommend the restaurant to foody/wino types for a couple days.  The rooms were top notch, the food was great, the service was very well done and I would recommend most anyone spend two nights here although I would be hard pressed to suggest the spot for a longer stay unless you were happy to lounge pool side with your book for the duration.  The area is beautiful and filled with history but that aside there just is not that much to do here except relax and enjoy the countryside.  The hotel has a tennis court but no gym. This is a very special little boutique property that deserves your attention and for a couple looking to relax you will get what you want.  Families looking for action might stay a night or two if you are passing by but that would exhaust the creative abilities of most parents trying to keep the family happy.   A very nice little exclusive property suited for couple wanting to kick back.