Space In Your Case’s Alison has found the perfect holiday resort, whether you’re a fan of a villa or a hotel…
I love a hotel. Like really love a hotel. There’s something so decadent about having room service, a maid who cleans your room and bars and restaurants under the same roof, to wander to. It’s even handier, when you have small children, and you don’t want to be traipsing down the street, looking for a suitable restaurant to eat in.
I’ve got friends though, who are all about the villa holiday. They love the freedom and flexibility of being able to mooch at their own pace, make their own meals (ideal if you have a fussy eater or two) and if they have a pool villa, they can catch some rays while their little ones nap every afternoon.
I regularly have conversations where I try to convert them to trying a hotel stay with their kids, but I’m not sure I’ll convince them…
But somewhere that I think we’d both be really happy is Pine Cliffs Resort in Portugal. I stayed there, for a week earlier this year with my family, and it’s one of the few places I’ve stayed that seems to have totally nailed that hotel feel, with the convenience of an apartment or villa.
The villas (there are 1 bed to 4 bed villas available) are cleaned daily by maids, so you won’t feel like you’ve gone on holiday, just to tidy and clean up after everyone! And if you’re used to a villa holiday where you have a long walk to get to restaurants or shops, you’ll love Pine Cliffs. All dotted around lush green areas with tree-lined paths, you’ll find eight restaurants (although a few were closed when we were staying) and four bars, a short stroll away. From Jardim Colonial (the main resort restaurant) and the Piri Piri Steakhouse to the Clubhouse, there’s loads of different food on offer, and some great kids’ menus.
If cooking for yourself is more your thing on holiday, the villas all have a small kitchen and there’s a small shop on-site (it’s fairly pricey, as you might expect) plus a small supermarket five minutes walk from one of the Pine Cliffs exits. We loved the freedom of being able to make our own breakfasts (Coco Pops for our little one, croissants and coffee for us), having a snack lunch in the villa and then eating out in the evenings.
Another hotel-style perk to Pine Cliffs is the kids’ club. The Porto Pirata club (for kids age 6 months to 6 years) is housed in a giant pirate ship, next to a swimming pool, another pool for remote control boats, a bouncy castle, a recreational terrace, an 18-hole mini golf course, a bike track and a basketball and volleyball court. Older kids can go to the Junior Club where they can enjoy Badminton, Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Field Hockey, Archery, Beach Walks, Water Aerobics, Step Aerobics, Fitness Exercises, Tai Chi and Bike Trips. You can book your kids in for just half an hour or longer (plus you get a free session if you book two treatments at the spa!)
Oh yes – the spa! The Ritual Spa Wellness & Beauty Centre offers loads of relaxing and rejuvenating treatments from facials and massages to body wraps and pedicures. I also spotted some posters for post-natal fitness and wellbeing sessions, which I thought sounded fab for new mums.
For family fun, there are four pools at Pine Cliffs Resort (we liked the small heated pool near the Clubhouse) and there’s an incredible number of activities on offer – aside from the obvious one (golf!), you can play tennis at the Annabel Croft Tennis Centre, hire bikes and go for a cycle, and play in the Adventure Playground.
Falésia Beach is a ten minute walk from the resort – you take a cool glass elevator down to sea level and there are lots of sun loungers and shady spots for families to make a base camp for beach fun. The Beach Club is on hand, down there, for snacks, drinks, ice creams and lunch (they serve awesome sardines!).
So whether you’re more of a hotel holiday type, or a villa holiday lover, I think you will LOVE Pine Cliffs Resort.
NEED TO KNOW
A 7 night stay at Pine Cliffs Resort, near Albufeira, with James Villas in 2015, room only, starts from £1451.
You can book at jamesvillas.co.uk or call 0800 074 0122.
The nearest airport is Faro, with flights from most UK local airports. The transfer from Faro airport is 40 minutes and we booked flights with Monarch who have some brilliantly affordable fares and great service.