What’s the plan?
I’m headed to the alluring Algarve, known for its golden beaches, scalloped bays and sandy islands. It’s an easy flight from Gatwick to Faro and prices are reasonable.
My tip: Grab a window seat if you can as the views of swirling turquoise waters and white sands are spectacular, this is my first Insta’ opportunity and all before I’d even touched down #sorrynotsorry.
Where’s best to stay?
I checked into the Conrad Algarve, this hotel has a reputation for being the most luxurious in the region, that’ll do nicely. It’s super easy to get to, just a 30 minute drive from the airport. Arriving at the Conrad is an event in itself, the entrance is so grand I feel as if I should have arrived in an ancient chariot. Inside, things are kept modern, clean and luxe. I’m checked in by the friendly concierge but I’m already distracted by the amazing pool lined with palms and symmetrically positioned loungers.
So what about the rooms?
Spacious, modern and luxurious but with a homey touch of freshly baked pastéis de nata awaiting my arrival. I polish these off in about ten minutes flat, a mistake if you plan to get in your bikini straight away! You’ll get lost in the biggest bed I’ve ever seen, with lovely pressed white linen sheets, it’s hard not to sleep well here. I can choose to be technology free but I can’t resist and there’s even a T.V in the bathroom (you can fulfil a life long dream of watching T.V whilst taking a soak!). I especially love the iPod dock and sing along to Beyonce whilst I enjoy the sun filled balcony.
A bit of relaxing won’t go a miss and there are plenty of options, one pool is never enough and this place has many. Two outdoor pools are heart of the hotel, do lengths to work off indulgent lunches in the top pool or head down to the more secluded lagoon style pool down below. White flowing curtains line private seating areas like something from a J-lo video. There’s a sense of calm in the air and although families are around the vibe is very chilled, I forget anyone is even around and fall asleep in my huge sun bed.
Sounds great, but what about a bit of action?
I love an activity but I’m feeling pretty relaxed now and don’t want to spend half my holiday organising. Conrad Algarve has got that covered for me thanks to the launch of its new Stay Inspired initiative, offering tailored activities all arranged for you ranging from a one, three or five hour time period (hello Conrad 1/3/5!); all curated by Peter Lindberg the Director of Inspiration for Conrad Hotels & Resorts (yes, coolest job title going!), Peter was the Executive Editor at Condé Nast Traveler so knows a thing or two about what to do and see whilst you travel.
I go for a five hour experience, first I get picked up from the hotel entrance in a trendy Jeep. My driver Marko knows the region like the back of his hand and takes me through the Algarve’s rugged hills. We take the top down and stand up, it’s the best way to make the most of the views. Be prepared to duck under almond trees dangling their branches over head. I hold on tight as Marko’s not afraid to slam the brakes on when he sees something of interest, he picks wild sage and thyme that line to roads for me to smell. We stop by a local cork making factory, it’s a big thing here in the Algarve, 50% of the worlds cork is made here. I get a tour, meet the workers and see tree’s go from bark to Dom Perignon stoppers!
All this talk of champagne, what about some wining and dining?
I climb in the jeep for a short drive to restaurante Case Dos Presuntos serving up the most amazing local Portuguese food. You’ll sit side by side with the locals and feast on amazing appetisers of local meat, cheese and fresh tomatoes. The wine is amazing and accompanies the hearty, comforting dishes like stewed chicken and chick peas or if you’re feeling more adventurous try the pork cheek stew or octopus rice which are both delicious.
Exhausted from a day of activities, spa anyone?
After a full on day in the exploring the hills of the Algarve do as I do and make an appointment at the Conrad’s spa. I go for a back massage, as I’m feeling pretty stiff from my bumpy jeep ride but I also hear the facials are great. Open door treatment rooms back onto pools with fountains providing the soundtrack to your massage. But the spa is much more than just a treatment, there are steam rooms, sauna, plunge pools and hot tiled relaxation chairs, I could stay here for hours!
How about an aperitif ?
I’m a huge cocktail fan and luckily for me I hear rumours of Nelson the Conrad’s expert cocktail maker, I make it my mission to sample one of his unique recipes. There’s so many to try you’ll be sipping on something different every night, I recommend what is known as an ‘Lousã Inside’. A sweet and and sour tasting drink and one of the prettiest cocktails I’ve ever seen finished with flowers and bee pollen, definitely Instagram material!
Had one too many of Nelson’s cocktails the night before?
I decide to get some fresh sea air to clear my hangover and go for another of the Conrad’s 1/3/5 experiences. About half an hours drive from the hotel I arrive at the harbour where small fishing boats await, as we coast along the shallow sea I learn about the clamming and oyster business here on the coast of the Algarve. We dock our little boat and begin our activity of clam picking, wellies, wicker baskets and clamming tools are provided so you’ll feel the part. If you’re faint hearted or squeamish you might want to watch from afar as the clams rise to the surface it’s a surreal and alien like experience watching them squirm in their shells, but of course once you’re done the clams are set free back to the ocean.
My tip: take five minutes yourself and observe the local workers on the Oyster farms and clim over the dunes to find the most beautiful secluded beach that stretches for miles, it’s worth a visit!
Worked up an appetite?
Take the boat to ‘Isla Deserta’ a secluded desert island the only building here is Restaurante Estaminé, our lunch spot! The long board walk leads to a strangely modern building with graphic lines set against the blue sky. The chefs here bring out a giant plates of the freshest sea bass, served with delicious prawns, fresh zesty salads and rice.
Totally over indulged at lunch, let’s work it off…
I take a swim in the beautiful sea surrounding the island, but this is no normal dip, I swim with Portuguese water dogs (These dogs are so on trend right now and even Obama has one!). Surprisingly cute, curly black fur and webbed feet known for helping them power through the water retrieving nets as loyal companions to fishermen.
My tip: Make sure you find a dedicated photographer on dry land this is going to get some serious likes on your Insta page.
Sounds amazing, how do I book?
Nightly rates at Conrad Algarve start from £121 (€164) based on two adults sharing a grand deluxe room on a B&B basis. For reservations and enquiries, please visit www.conradalgarve.com or call +351 289 350 700. For further information on Conrad Stay Inspired and Conrad 1/3/5 please visit www.stayinspired.com.