Journey: Algarve tourist hotspot where the ocean pervades all life
However, it may surprise you that the Algarve is predominantly located along the entire southern coastal region of Portugal up to the eastern border with Spain. Embarrassed? I know I was when I was first invited to visit the Pine Cliffs Resort, the Luxury Collection Resort near Albufeira and the development of the Ombria Resort.
Both are in the southern part of the Algarve region: the Pine Rocks hug the southern coast of Portugal, while Ombria is located near the village of Querensa, about 30 km inland. Upon receiving this assignment, I realized how the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama must have felt as early as 1497 when King Manuel I plucked him out of commercial obscurity to lead the first fleet to India to establish a trade route to the East.
As an intrepid seafarer, I was plucked from the relative obscurity of the sports table to consider the “coast versus country life” in the Algarve, a region about which I knew next to nothing other than its popularity with British holidaymakers. However, instead of taking advantage of King Manny’s patronage, the kind staff who joined us on the trip gave me a tortuous travel route from Glasgow to Faro via Luton. star hotel, villas, townhouses, timeshares and suites, and later, as we headed inland, to the resort of Ombria, nestled in the remote hills a few miles north of the historic village of Loulé.
Arriving at Faro airport, descending over the Atlantic coast onto a sun-drenched runway, I felt for the first time how the vast ocean interacts seamlessly with almost all aspects of life here. Our first meal that evening at Pine Cliffs’ O Pescador (one of the resort’s 12 bars and restaurants) only reinforced that. Starting outdoors, the aroma of burning coals mixed with fresh seafood dishes wafted to us on the ocean breeze as we arrived for al fresco dining and wine tasting.
After that, even at 10pm on a winter night, it was nice enough to go down from the frills around the grassy areas punctuated by the large outdoor pool and seating areas, to the decking around the edges of the resort, where access to the sandy beach can be reached via a private lift or stairs.
The tall wooden elevator shaft that takes residents to and from the shore will set the stage for the next morning when, after a hearty breakfast at the Jardim Colonia Resort’s restaurant, I descend the boardwalk steps to the beach where the sun’s rays are endless azure and where the sky meets endless blue. ocean. You who grew up on the west coast of Scotland might think that such a view was something of a mundane thing, but apart from the obvious climatological differences, there is something rather humiliating about the continuous ocean horizon compared to the pockmarked view of the islands and clouds in the Irish Sea. . . You can really feel its boundless greatness. We then headed to the nearby Vilamoura Pier, half an hour from the resort, and headed out into the ocean for a two-hour boat trip to Benagil Cave.
On the trip we passed Pine Rocks, and from about a kilometer it was humiliating to see the reverse side of the coastal view. Suddenly, the human footprint on the natural landscape became almost invisible, and part of the genius of the resort’s interaction with the environment became clear. It was literally cut into the coastline. The boat trip itself was more like a city tour by bus than a discovery (and the dolphins promised in the company brochure never materialized), but it did see some of the local sights—maybe even more bookmarks for future exploration. .
Back at the resort, you’ll get a taste of another of the Algarve’s top tourist attractions: a golf lesson and game on the pristine nine-hole course located within the Pine Cliffs. After the club pro had the toughest hour of her career, I started with a few helpful pointers in my golf bag and enjoyed a calm, sun-drenched playing experience (a stark contrast to the West Coast of Scotland).
Devil’s Parlour’s signature sixth hole is the undoubted highlight: set 200 feet above the sandy Falesia Beach below, the tee-shot is a reassuring hit through a dangerous gorge that seemingly leads you to a waiting room in the fire pits. Looking down, you can believe it too. The next morning, after coffee on the balcony overlooking the ocean, we headed to Loulé to visit the local market, a bustling covered bazaar offering a wide variety of local seafood, ground spices and honey.
We then strolled through the quaint old town with its castle, historic Islamic baths, craft shops and cafes, providing a very special Portuguese experience. We tried the 12 course tasting menu at the prestigious Cafezique in the city centre. From local spider fish, cuttlefish and octopus to fermented leek rice and even fermented olives, the carefully curated gourmet menus and wine accompaniments were impressive, if a little out of touch with the quirkiness of the city.
Perhaps this is a sign of the city’s desire to attract a thriving tourist clientele. This spirit is at the heart of the upcoming Ombria Resort. Claiming sustainability in its massive building project — a 378-acre resort that mirrors Pine Rocks in the Kerensa Hills — Ombria aims to combine luxury (its incredible 18-hole golf course, for example, would be a luxurious addition to a formidable line-up) with sustainable design. Although the coast is only 30 minutes away, the resort is more like Appalachia than Newfoundland.
After a tour of the luxurious villas offered in the resort, which will also have a hotel in the center, we went to Kerenka, a typical mountain village. The area offers a completely different coastline perspective, with nature reserves and walking tours catering to more active lifestyles. Ombria’s close attention to sustainability gives the luxury development an organic, earthy feel that sets the right tone amid the roughness of its surroundings. It definitely felt like a step up from serving tourists in the Algarve and in terms of a place to stay on a more permanent basis, the resort will surely offer true comfort in an authentic Portuguese setting.
It will be interesting to see how this will affect this high-end market, especially in competition with coastal resorts such as Pine Cliffs, which are so close. On our return to Pine Cliffs, we experienced the third night of plentiful portions of delicious dishes, when the slight smell of the air in the mountains had evaporated. For a short vacation getaway, Pine Cliffs offers everything any individual, group, family or couple could wish for. However, when it comes to “life on the coast versus life in the country”, the “living” part of this confrontation is important. Inland, in Loulé and Cerence, there is a sense of a historic region, confident in itself and striving for growth and development.
Albufeira and the coastal areas of the Algarve offer every kind of coastal food that one could dream of, and the fact that they are so affordable in Ombria is an added bonus for the new project. For the intrepid explorer or those looking for a new way of life, a step inland can be the start of their own journey and perhaps discover a few surprises along the way. Otherwise, it’s just a short jump to the beach.
In addition to staying at a hotel from £129 a night, the Pine Cliffs Resort near Albufeira offers two and three bedroom apartments, townhouses and new luxury villas with prices ranging from €1.1m to €4.5m. www.pinecliffs.com Ombria Resort has launched the Oriole Village pre-sale of 83 fully furnished one and four bedroom apartments starting at €575,000. www.ombria.com In addition, Viceroy Residences currently start at €711,500 for a fully furnished 1 bedroom apartment and offer a guaranteed minimum of 5% rent per annum for the first 5 years.