The Anantara Vilamoura Resort is a short 25-minute drive from Faro airport and just ten minutes from the busy beachfront at Vilamoura. It is a large hotel, but wonderfully luxurious and peaceful as it is set among golf courses and gardens. There are five swimming pools, four restaurants and a restful spa.
The spa is very smart, with black slate floors in the corridors and black and gold walls. The seven treatment rooms are large with wooden floors and shaded windows. Each has a shower and changing area, so it all feels very private and personalised. I loved the huge fluffy towels, plenty big enough to wrap yourself in after a shower. It’s a nice touch of luxury.
The vitality pool area is impressive. Floor to ceiling windows on two sides open out onto a large veranda overlooking the gardens and golf courses. You can sit here and sunbathe or snooze. Inside there are tiled warmed recliners and soft reclining seats. The pool itself has swan pipes, underwater seats and a hydrotherapy walking section which is perfect for anyone with hip or back problems. At 28 degrees the water felt cold – more invigorating than relaxing. Thankfully both the steam room and sauna are hot and very spacious.
The Anantara spa offers a range of treatments including a signature massage, a golfer’s massage and several Ayurvedic therapies. In my treatment room there was a proper wooden Ayurvedic bed, made in India and complete with a copper kettle suspended above it for the pouring of oil on your forehead or ‘third eye’.
I tried the Udwarthana massage, a dry massage using herbal powder as a natural scrub. Kristiana, my therapist, said that I would have ‘skin like a baby’ after the treatment.
Kristiana began with a welcoming foot treatment. I dipped my feet in the warm water held in a copper bowl and Kristiana added milk and rice grains to scrub my feet. She them wrapped my feet in a warm towel and dried them while asking me what I wanted from the treatment. I opted for some simple pampering. Kristiana then used a wonderfully warm oil to massage my neck and shoulders.
Most scrubs are rather aggressive, but this one was fine and gentle. Kristiana worked along each limb and over my back and front, massaging and cleansing. The scrub smelt wonderful. It’s always a nice touch when you get to choose elements of your treatment and here at the Anantara Spa they offer a choice of oils to tailor-make the treatment. I choose to have it mixed with orange oil for its uplifting effect.
At the end of the treatment I sat in the steam room for five minutes so the products could soak into my skin, and then took a shower.
I felt clean and refreshed, and my skin was super soft. Kristiana took me to an easy chair and brought ginger tea with honey and segments of orange and apple to revive me.
One of the delights of Portugal is the amazing array of local foods. You drive past orange groves on the way from the airport, there is honey in the comb for breakfast, local olive oils and wines and, of course, excellent seafood fresh from the beach.
Anantara has several restaurants to choose from. The Ria Restaurant specialises in seafood. Here, we had marinated carrots (a local delicacy), delicious olives, local olive oil, local sea salt and warm bread. And that was before we ordered! The calamari salad was fresh and tender, the prawns in garlic sauce were deliciously rich and garlicy, and the local grilled turbot came with a choice of sauces and a bowl of fresh vegetables. Heavenly and healthy!
The Emo restaurant offers fine dining and the Lounge and Bar is open all day for drinks, snack and meals.
Who do you think would like it?
Golfers and their ‘best beloved’: Vilamoura has 5 excellent golf courses. If, like Mark Twain you think ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled’, send your partner off to the green and book in for one of the combined treatments such as the Almond Blossom journey (120 mins) which includes an almond milk and honey bath, a massage and a facial. Overdone the golf rounds? The Anantara spa has a massage for that!
Anyone looking for peace and quiet: Vilamoura itself is fun with the stylish marina, shops and restaurants, but it can feel busy especially in high season. If you need to unwind and recharge your batteries the Anantara is the place to do it.
Anyone needing to recuperate: If you are recovering from surgery or dealing with back pain, try the ‘Restore and Reform’ course held here regularly.
Hopping on the hotel tuk-tuk to the Purabeach Vilamoura for lunch. Built right on the beach, this white and glass house has views out to sea and across the wide sandy beaches. The signature menu is inspired by Melbourne, Miami and Marrakesh so everything is brightly coloured, fresh and healthy. On Sundays they offer a long and lazy brunch with local specialities and cocktails. Weekdays they offer fish fresh from the sea.
The outdoor pools. An avenue of tall palm trees line up alongside the two large heated pools. It’s a real suntrap during the day, and the perfect spot for watching the sunset with a cool drink in hand.
The Pastel de Nata. Rich and creamy custard tarts with crisp pastry served for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Served warm and dusted with cinnamon, once eaten they will always remind you of Portugal.
Two-night breaks start from £232 including breakfast
Spa breaks from £342 including treatments
Golf breaks start from £237 for seven nights B&B and five golf rounds
For more information visit: https://www.anantara.com/en/vilamoura-algarve Several budget airlines fly to Faro airport with prices from £25 each way