Spread over 72 hectares, Pine Cliffs Resort in the Portuguese Algarve is so vast it has even developed a special botanical handbook and walking tour for its guests.
Officials say the handbook describes around 36 different species of flora around the grounds of the multi-faceted 5-star property, which – aside from diverse accommodation options – offers 10 different restaurants and bars; a health club, a beauty salon, a children’s village and numerous boutiques and shops.
Owned by United Investment Portugal (UPI), part of IFA Hotels & Resorts based in Dubai, the resort is managed by The Luxury Collection brand, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. It is located in Albufeira, a 30-minute drive from Faro International Airport.
The impressive property is divided into six distinct owned and rental sections. The Sheraton Algarve, renovated last year, has 215 rooms; Pine Cliffs Vacation Club has 52 two and three-bedroom suites beside the golf course; Pine Cliffs Village features 45 townhouses, 14 apartments and seven villas; Pine Cliffs Suites offers 26 two and three-bedroom options; Terrace Pine Cliffs has 20 townhouses with two swimming pools, a lake and extensive gardens; and finally there’s the 154-suite Pine Cliffs Residence.
During our stay we enjoyed a first-floor, two-bedroom suite at the Residence, with a large terrace, kitchen and generous living room, with a Moorish design.
Catering for such a large client base, activities at the resort are wide-ranging, from golf to tennis, football and water-sports. Pine Cliffs Golf Course and Academy is a nine-holer, mainly three and four pars, with broad fairways, suitable for beginners. The property also hosts an Annabel Croft Tennis Academy, named after the British former Nr. 1, featuring five full-size ATP floodlit courts – two red clay and three acrylic. For more challenging watersports, ‘Beach Club and Water Sports Center,’ at the resort’s ‘Falesia Beach,’ reached via a pathway through the impressive ravine, offers training in surfing, catamaran sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, jet-skiing and wakeboarding.
For the more laid-back, the beach itself has sun loungers, parasols, changing facilities and a towel hut, with terrace restaurant, Beach Club Pine Cliffs by Olivier, nearby. Gilt-head sea bream is but one variety of fish making for an excellent lunch between sunbathing sessions. Served whole, grilled, with local sea salt and fresh pesto, it’s refreshing, accompanied by fresh tomato salad.
Treatments at the resort’s ‘Experience Wellness’ spa are conducted by friendly Yorkshire woman, Kate Woodhouse and includes a wide variety of packages, from Shiatsu, Thai and hot stone massage to four-day treatments. There are also two health clubs and an indoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi, with Maria D’Orey as in-house trainer.
Children are by no means neglected at Pine Cliffs, with a special Porto Pirata ‘village’ centering on two life-sized wooden pirate ships. Other facilities include a basketball court, a dedicated children’s swimming pool, a ‘racetrack’ for toys on wheels, a bouncy castle, mini-golf, football, archery, arts and crafts, cricket and aqua-gym. The resort has five separate outdoor swimming pools.
As physical effort should be rewarded with fine food, there is no shortage of choice at the resort. The hotel’s ‘O’Grill’ is a relaxed, informal restaurant overlooking the golf course where breakfast buffets are also served. During the early summer season Algarve Chefs’ Week is held there, as part of a collaboration between several fine dinning restaurants in the area. Faced with the challenge of creating a menu based around several key ingredients – such as fleur de sel, orange figs, sweet potato and carob – Chef Osvalde Silva delighted the guests with a Santa Luzia octopus with sweet potato; wild grouper, razor clams and orange chowder served with crisp cockle polenta; carob and chocolate coulant with fleur de sel; and Algarvian fig delight, almond and Arabic spices dukka and lemongrass sorbet.
The resort also features Corda Café for drinks and a light meal, with live entertainment during summer evenings.
For an informal drink, the resort features Portulano, a cozy lobby bar with live music on selected evenings (try amarguinha, the local concoction); and the Mirador Champagne Bar, with an impressive cliff-top location offering stunning views over the Atlantic, where – not surprisingly – sunsets are popular time for couples.
Pine Cliffs Resort also caters for corporate clients, with three conference rooms in the hotel; a boardroom for up to 12 people; an executive boardroom for up to 16; and the Pinhal Room for up to 800 people. For more informal gatherings, the ‘Sunset Deck’ caters for 250.
Awarded “Europe’s Leading Hotel Residences” in 2015 by the World Travel Awards, Pine Cliffs Resort encompasses a little bit of all that makes Algarve such an attractive Portuguese destination – from lush gardens, sandy beaches, luxury accommodation and fine food, a sheer diversity of activities and a great location to explore the area.