Saturday, 1 October 2016

A family holiday in Vale Do Lobo, The Algarve

Vale Do Lobo Beach
Every year I go on my family holiday with my daughter, my two sisters, their partners and my gorgeous nephew. We started this tradition five years ago and we all agree this week away every year is one of our best, most fun and relaxing holidays. Because of our number, we always go for a villa and we have stayed in some beauties!

This year, in the second week of September we stayed in Vale Do Lobo in the Central Algarve, Portugal. I have wanted to go to Portugal for many years, having only been to Lisbon for a day trip a long time ago whilst on a cruise around the Med.


Vale Do Lobo is a golfing, family friendly resort which caters for all ages but is probably most appealing to families and couples. This is no clubbing mecca! The resort itself is the most pristine, clean, tidy and beautifully manicured resorts I have ever stayed in. The landscaping of the whole resort, range and variety of accommodation and restaurants has been well thought out. Although I have to say that having to pay one euro an hour in the car parks by the beach irritated me. People are already paying quite a lot to stay on the complex and so to charge to park for a day at the beach - the resort's beach - I think is a cheek and don't even get me started on the price of the beach sun loungers! For our group of seven - 75 euro! We had to pay for parasols, even though we didn't want them because they're not movable.  But those were the only minor put offs. So rather than ramble on too much, I've broken down the key points for holidaying in Vale Do Lobo.


Getting there and Getting around

Nearest airport is Faro, which is only a 25 minute drive away. Flight time from London Gatwick is approximately 2.5 hours. For this trip I paid for meet and greet for the car at Gatwick. It was only about £30 extra than long stay parking but meant we could pull up outside the terminal, someone was there to take the car off, and then on the return give them a call when you are through customs, and then back outside the terminal to be met with the driver and your car. It was a shame this seamless arrangement was then totally ruined when it took us twice the normal amount of time to get home, thanks to the M25 and M4. Cruel mistresses those two.

We hired a minibus for the duration of our stay, otherwise known as the fun bus. We picked this up from Faro airport after a ridiculously long wait in the sun.


Vale Do Lobo offer a circuit bus, which you can pay 25 euro per person for a week and then wait at the bus stops to get around the resort, or apparently you can call reception to order the bus to come to you.  I expect they'll charge you extra for that!


Villa

We stayed in one of the Royal Golf Villas , which is a very modern large three storey house with 4 bedrooms, sleeping 8. Here's the link for more detail https://www.affinityvillas.com/679_Royal_Golf

I have to say that this is not a very (young) child friendly villa. Due to its modern design, it has an open stepped wood and glass staircase, an infinity pool with no gently sloping steps in to it and quite steep concrete steps up to the front door. Don't get me wrong the villa was very nice but just some things to bare in mind. My nephew is nearly 3 and very well behaved and does not run around but still he didn't have the freedom of other villas we have stayed in before where he could have easily walked in to the shallow end of the pool, without a sudden drop.


We booked this villa through Affinity Villas and they leave you with a really handy welcome pack, which had more than sufficient food supplies to make a solid lunch on our arrival. There is a well stocked supermarket on the edge of the complex, which we could easily get to in the fun bus.


The pool - who hasn't dreamed of an infinity pool, especially for that perfect Instagram shot. t's all lies. Well it was here anyway. Our pool was unheated, with no option to heat and it was absolutely freezing. Like unusable freezing. And it would have had all summer to heat up, but no. And our inflatables kept blowing over the edge! 


Our Villa is on a corner plot which meant the sun did not hit the sunbathing deck until about 11am but it also meant we were not at all looked on to  and it was a nice quiet spot.


Restaurants
There is a gas BBQ at the villa and we had a lovely BBQ one night.

On the resort there are a variety of restaurants and bars and a creperie/ice cream shop. There is also a small shop that sells water, ice creams (for the beach) and other beach type rubbish that you don't really need but buy because you're at the beach!


The restaurants/bars we ate/drank at were:


Breeze - great dining location, right above the beach with uninterrupted views of the beach and sea. Really relaxed atmosphere. Great for lunch.

Sandbanks - slightly more formal lay out with outside dining. I think I lost my sunglasses here.
Cantina Del Lobo - second floor mexican. Nice seating but most of our meals were quite bland.
Monty's - great food, really swanky bathrooms and we had a great outside table watching the cheesy but enjoyable evening entertainment one night.
Beach Bar - we all really enjoyed this chilled out/Ibiza style beach bar. A popular place to go and sit overlooking the beach with a jug of sangria. They play good tunes too.

Just outside of the main resort we went to:


Alambique - nice outdoor dining restaurant, it was quite quiet but got busier later on. I had a nice steak here.

Sao Gabriel - this was my favourite. Lovely setting, very pretty, good atmosphere. 


Beach
The beach is beautiful. By far the cleanest beach I have been on. It's sandy and there's lots of shells to be found. Backed by stunning orange cliffs, the beach area is peaceful and sun loungers are well spaced out. You do get the occasional lookey lookey man selling fake bags, fruit and beach dresses (the beach dresses looked nice actually) but they don't bother you unless you show an interest and then they'll come over.

You need to take water etc on to the beach yourself but the Beach Bar is accessible from the beach.


You can also get a massage on the beach. 35 euros for 25 minutes.


I would certainly recommend Vale Do Lobo as a family resort, just make sure you have the option of a heated pool if you stay in a villa.


xx






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6 comments

  1. These photos are beautiful!
    Kathy x
    www.alongcamekathy.blogspot.co.nz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thanks so much Kathy. I took so many it was quite hard to choose which ones to put up.
      Julie x

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  2. What a beautiful place. My husband played golf there last year and loved it too. Paying to park at the beach however is out of order, it always grates at me the amount you have to often pay for beach beds!
    Steph x
    www.pricelesslifeofmine.com

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  3. Looks amazeballs...review very informative, shame about the pool as it looks fantastic!

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  4. It looks like a beautiful place, your photographs are stunning! How lovely to go away with your family too, my sisters mother and father in law have been with them the last couple of times they've been and they've loved it. Both our girls still come with us every year and have booked for next year to Greece and they'll be 20 and 26, it's lovely they still enjoy coming, I love family holidays. I have been to the Algarve to Olhos D'Agua and it was beautiful, it's a long time ago but I have very happy memories of it xx

    Zoe ♥ MammafulZo

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    Replies
    1. Oh Zoe you've given me hope that my 19 year old daughter will still want to come with us. How lovely your girls still go away with you.
      Julie x

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