Flying over the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa at 1000 feet as we cruise in to land at Faro airport I can't help noticing that the landscape has a resemblance of a beautiful archipelago full of wildlife. A good sign of things to come on my short break to Pine Cliffs Hotel, Resort & Spa which is located just outside of Albufeira on the Argarve in southern Portugal. I have a saying when choosing locations around the world to travel to which is "if it's good enough for dolphins then it's good enough for me". Okay so I may have just made that up about 10 seconds ago but it rings true on this occasion as on the first day during sunrise (which is about 06:30 in June) I headed to the beach where a number of people spotted a pod of dolphins in the shallow waters.
The Pine Cliffs Hotel as you can see by the first image below is a 5-star hotel, but it is so much more than that, it's a resort, a golf course, a spa, a lifestyle and an experience. Suitable for families, couples, singletons, sun worshipers, golfers and well pretty much anyone in-between due to the variety of amenities and sprawling grounds that the resort is situated on.
On arrival you are greeted by the most friendly, experienced hotel staff and it's immediately clear to see how and why this incredible resort has won so many prestigious awards over the last few years. Despite its size, the Pine Cliffs Resort is considered as a hidden-gem because it is away from the hustle and tourist trap of central Albufeira whilst situated along a picturesque, tranquil pine cliff and soft, quiet beach front. Take me back now....please!
You can fly to Faro airport cheaply from the UK with Monarch Airways, British Airways, Iberia or Vueling, I personally flew from London Gatwick to Faro on a return flight with Monarch costing as little as £120 *hand baggage only, checked baggage was extra ££. Once at Faro airport, you can grab a taxi or pre-order a pickup service from the Pine Cliffs Resort...which ever you choose it is only a 30 minute journey from airport to resort making it a fantastic choice for those with children. If it's a villa you are after for a larger group such as your friends or family? You can check out the latest offers at Oliver's Travels Oliver’s Travels, luxury holidays specialists.
Are you a sports person? Is it golf that you are in to? The gym or even an early morning run along the beach? The Pine Cliffs Resort caters for you with a state of the art gymnasium, various swimming pools and a private beach, perfect for a run, which is only a short 5 minutes walk, down an escalator and along a wooden walkway. The golf course is a perfectly maintained 9-holes which features an epic par 3, 6th hole which you have to drive 197 metres over an out-of-bounds ravine in the cliffs to land on a small, narrow green. Good luck with that...remember to take an extra few golf balls if you are prone to 'shanking it' off the tee! If it's golf or tennis coaching you are after, speak to the resort and they can arrange this for you.
If you go away for the sunny weather and like to relax, just choose a sunbed next to one of the swimming pools to soak up the sun or under a palm tree, in the shade whilst reading a book.
When packing for a holiday abroad I always plan my outfits for the day and evening, with, of course an extra few items if I change my mind whilst out there. I love to wear a pair of tailored shorts, crisp white shirt and comfortable, airy, slip-on shoes which you can wear with no socks. An outfit that will suit going out for early cocktails during sunset through to dinner and even drinks in the late evening/early morning at the bar. So my first outfit is my day-to-night style and I'm wearing a white grandad shirt from Mr Porter, grey tailored shorts from Reiss, brown shoes from Harrys of London, a watch from Rotary and finally my favourite retro inspired sunglasses from Finlay & Co (*see below to shop the look).
SHOP THE ABOVE OUTFIT
My room was on the 1st floor of the Pine Cliffs Hotel, quiet, large, light, airy and clean with everything you need in a hotel room except for an ironing board and iron. Which if needed just call down to reception or ask one of the cleaners dotted around the hallways (Translation of 'an iron please' in Portuguese is 'um ferro por favor') and they will bring one up to you.
The Pine Cliffs Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort is positioned on an orange sandstone clifftop location surrounded by aromatic pine woods over looking the Atlantic Ocean. The grounds sit within over 72 hectares and therefore requires a large number of diverse restaurants which suit the tastes of all of their guests. Eat at the Piri Piri restaurant which is one of the finest steak houses in southern Portugal; personally I would recommend the t-bone steak or tenderloin fillet. If it is freshly caught fish you are after, head over to O Pescador or if you prefer al fresco dining and a more relaxed atmosphere try Corda Café.
It was during a lunchtime meal that I found my favourite restaurant in the complex; a healthy wellbeing place called ZEST. Fresh interior design and outdoor tables was the perfect setting for a healthy light lunch *minus the wine! Their freshly pressed juices are a must and I would also recommend the quinoa bowl with shrimp, chicken and halloumi.
Of course I'm saving the best until last, this incredible on-site, luxurious, brand new Serenity Spa, offering the worlds best spa treatments and products such as Gentlemen's Tonic. Focusing on 'The Art of Well Being' the Serenity spa offers its guests personalised experiences to relax, treat and revitalise you.
During my first (of many) visits to the Serenity Spa, I booked in a 50 minute 'The Duet' treatment which consisted of a combination of a deep tissue massage and an express facial. The massage treatment tables were incredibly comfortable, to the point where I feel asleep on numerous occasions throughout my treatment. The beauty technicians where knowledgable, professional and exceptionally good at massages.
The Serenity Spa is much more than just treatments, they have invested heavily in state-of-the-art facilities which can be found in the Thermal Oasis, a sanctuary of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Not enough? Then maybe the Aurum Suite is for you, designed to spoil and lavish guests in a privately hired room decorated in an opulent gold bullion designed interior. Pamper yourself and your private guests with your very own steam room, sauna, jacuzzi, double treatment room and lounge area. Heighten the experience, go all-out and celebrate a special day with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.
The Serenity Spa has travelled the world looking for the highest quality products and best brands of which the menswear grooming brand Gentlemen's Tonic is stocked exclusive in Portugal to the Pine Cliffs Resort. As an extension to the Serenity Spa, head up one flight of stairs and along a bit and you'll find a hair salon complete with a barbering chair, perfect for a gentlemen's wet shave.
The guys here can not do more for you, you'll get a relaxed barbering experience straight from Mayfair to the Algarve. If it's a full on beard trim, wet shave, haircut or hot-towel facial; this is the place to be.
Of course what holiday would be complete without a final 'let's get dressed up for a big night out' night. Cocktails at sunset followed by a 3-course meal and some drinks afterwards. So my outfit for this occasion is styled for warm sunset temperatures followed by the cool Atlantic breeze that you get in the Algarve, late into the evening.
Smart, formal is my preference, lightweight, breathable fabrics in a neutral summer palette, I've come up with this look, styled for evening wear. The trousers and blazer are both from Reiss, whereas the 100% cotton, super soft luxury shirt is from my very own Hawkins & Shepherd, the shoes are Harrys of London, the watch is Rotary and the sunglasses are the Brunswick design from Finlay & Co.
SHOP THE ABOVE OUTFIT
Photography either by myself (using an Olympus Pen EPL7) or Toni Tran aka Fashitect (using a Canon 5D MarkIII).
Videography filmed & edited by myself using a DJI Mavic Pro Drone for the aerial footage.