Portugal: Cascade Wellness And Lifestyle Resort, Lagos
A multi-level cascade of water welcomes guests to the reception of the Cascade Wellness and Lifestyle Resort with the gentle sound of falling water. A great way to set the scene for some unwinding and relaxation. The hotel is built on a cliff top and looks out over the Atlantic Ocean, so make sure to take a walk from the hotel along the headland to enjoy the most spectacular views.
The 86 hotel rooms are split into four wings, each named after a continent as a nod to the Portuguese history of exploration. The Africa wing is decorated with masks and animals; the Asia wing has stone Buddhas. Our room in ‘Africa’ had dark wood floors, cream carpets and sofas, a zebra patterned lamp, and views from the balcony of the blue sky and the sun glinting off the sea.
The hotel has a large main pool and an excellent gym complete with personal trainers and a physio. The energetic can tackle the outdoor ‘boot camp’; if you are lucky you may find yourself sharing the climbing ropes with a football team or two (there are a couple of full-size football pitches which attract teams from around the world to come and train here). The Brazil ladies team were in residence on our visit, so plenty of super fit women showing us that, yes, ‘girls really can’.
The spa is tucked away on the lower floor but opens out into a sheltered area of wooden decking complete with outdoor pool, which is kept at 28 degrees celsius -- perfect for breezy days. There are five treatment rooms, a nicely hot saunawith glass sides so you can see out, a small hot tub, and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas with reclining beds.
The changing area is petite with ‘bijou’ lockers with no hangers. My advice: get changed in your room and wander down in your robe.
Tell us about the treatments
Since we were staying in the ‘Africa’ wing we had the Africa Balancing Cashmere Wood Treatment. This uses Cashmere Wood Oil. My therapist Elisa explained that the word ‘cashmere’ refers to the silky sensation of the oil on the skin, not where the oil comes from. The treatment began with an exfoliationusing very fine sea salt and the ‘wood oil’, so instead of feeling coarse, as many exfoliates do, this one felt soft and silky but still did the job of sloughing off a layer of dull skin. After a shower, I was covered in more of the oil to act as a mask. Elisa wrapped me up in sheets and towels so the warmth of the treatment bed gently encouraged my skin to absorb the oil. For the next 15 minutes I drifted away as Elisa gave me a very relaxing face and head massage. I was sad to have to wake up for another shower, but very glad to have the next massage with hot stones. This type of massage is usually delightful, but it was especially effective as my muscles had been relaxed by the exfoliation.
The final phase of this lovely, long treatment (110 minutes) was a mini facial using wonderfully-rich creams. Elisa cleansed my skin and then used the Babor Hy-Ol mixed with the Phytoactive Base. This turned into a milky texture on my skin, which she worked in with her fingers. The effect on dehydrated areas of my skin was quite remarkable. My forehead in particular looked so much better.
By the end of my two-hour treatment my skin felt soft, my face looked brighter, and I felt relaxed and calm. Elisa made sure I was comfortable throughout the treatment by adjusting the bed to prevent tension in the lower back, and supporting my ankles when I was lying face down. Nice finishing touches.
There are two restaurants within the hotel, the small Senses fine dining restaurant and the main restaurant that opens out onto the main pool and is open all day. Fine dining here means offering some traditional Portuguese disheswith a modern twist: poached egg with onion soubise and Portuguese sausage, and local fish served on a ‘stew’ of broad beans and coriander. They also serve a range of Portuguese wines which are well worth trying.
A wander round the old town of Lagos. You might have heard of the Lagos in Nigeria, but it was actually named after this small town in the Algarve. Portuguese explorers and traders travelled right across Africa and across to Asia as well as going west to find South America.
Pottering around the craft stalls that line the water by the elegant marina, and the street markets in the cobbled streets and market area in the old town.
Supper at Dom Sebastiao, a local restaurant that serves fish caught that very day. They bring the fresh fish to your table, so you can choose which one to have, then grill it straight away. A pescetarian’s dream meal. Ask nicely and they will let you visit their amazing wine cellar which has bottles of port dating back to the late 1700s.
Who would like it?
Anyone who wants an active holiday coupled with the delights of a spa. There are good walks around the hotel, and it’s a perfect area for cycling and golf.
Families. Cascade Wellness and Lifestyle Resort has villas and apartments next to the hotel, so you can book en famille and still use the hotel facilities.