Tivoli Marina Vilamoura: Chic Algarve hotel looks just like new 30 years on
- Credit: Tivoli
EMMA BARTHOLOMEW stays in the purpose built Algarve resort Vilamoura with her children where they all get a good dose of sun, sea and sand at Tivoli’s revamped landmark hotel
With thunder storms on the cards and temperatures peaking at 18 degrees, perhaps it’s time to start looking further afield for a summer where you can emerge outside in a summer dress rather than a woolly hat.
The Algarve is a pretty safe bet for that, with the thermometer flirting with 30.
And it’s not out of the question for a weekend away either, with a flight time of just two-and-a-half hours.
Good rates for car hire can be bagged in advance if you pre-book through sites like rentalcars.com, and if you pick the vehicle up at the airport it’s easy to be independent and reach your destination quickly.
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Once you’re in Faro you needn’t travel far. Just 20 minutes north of the airport, the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura is perfect for a short break.
Vilamoura is one of the largest single tourist complexes in Europe and one of the three corners of what is today known as Algarve’s Golden Triangle.
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It was founded by Portuguese banker Cupertino de Miranda in 1966 and now it boasts six golf course, the largest marina in Portugal, a shooting club, an international casino and some of the more prestigious hotels along the coastline.
Tivoli Marina Vilamoura boasts a prime position, with a view of the port on one side and the sea the other.
You’d never guess the iconic hotel is three decades old. It looks like the newest building on the port rather than the oldest.
As you draw close you pass an impressively huge golden sign with the hotel’s name just ahead of the huge white building, which strikes you with its grandeur.
The sign is new and part of the overhaul of all Tivoli hotels that Minor has carried out since it brought out the brand, including the nearby Tivoli Carvoeiro and the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa.
The hotel’s base has walls which slope inwards up to the second floor and glass ceilings, giving a stunning effect as you enter the huge open plan lobby for the first time through sets of revolving doors.
There are plenty of sleek orange and white leather sofas and the walls’ metallic finish gives a luxurious, contemporary feel that you’d hope for from a five star hotel.
Other cosmetic alterations include replacing all the balconies with clear perspex. The result took my breath away when we entered our family room. It looked as though there was a sheer drop outside the room down to the harbour and its luxury yachts.
At the beach - as you’d expect from the Atlantic - the waves can be quite choppy. My teenage sons were confident enough swimmers to duck dive the waves and get the dip in the ocean they’d been dreaming of. My daughter meanwhile was content jumping in the shallows and collecting tiny shells with hues of pinks and purples.
All three of them spent a good while digging holes to bury each other in the sand until only their heads were visible.
Hefty dark wooden loungers with white mattresses can be found at the hotel’s Puro Beach club complex.
The massive round outside swimming pool is unheated making it a little bit nippy in April to stay in too long. But my daughter and I had lots of fun at the indoor one. Purimporn, one of the spa’s masseuses pulled what’s quite possibly the best massage I’ve ever had. Apparently that’s what most of her customers tell her. She’s a tiny Thai woman but she’s got a lot of power and delivers a strong sports massage. Despite some uncomfortable moments kneading out stress balls, I was left feeling so relaxed by the end I was in a state of semi-consciousness.
Don’t be put off by the slightly cheesy name of Pepper’s Steakhouse, which overlooks the marina. Here executive chef Andre Boscan delivers fine dining at its best. The starters were all beautifully presented and their simple descriptions belie sophisticated foodie concepts. Little mounds of foie gras came with tiny fried chicken balls on top, a sliced pear and plum sauce and it was exquisite. The fillet steak and chips didn’t disappoint either.
The bar here is chic and apparently a haunt for plenty of VIPs and celebrities like socialite Paris Hilton and rapper Snoop Dogg.
Tivoli Marina Vilamoura’s laid-back chic ambience makes it the perfect destination for a totally relaxing, car-free family holiday.
Prices in low season at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura start from 150EUR on a B&B basis for a double room.
In high season it goes up to 400EUR.