Roger St Pierre finds the delightful Quinta Bonita hotelStretching like the proverbial string of pearls along the Atlantic coast, from the Spanish border all the way to Cape St, Vincent – the most south-westerly point in Europe – is the Continent’s largest concentration of glitzy de luxe resorts and spectacular world-class championship golf courses.
Fully geared to the global corporate market, the region can comfortably handle major conferences and conventions.
But Portugal’s Algarve has much more to offer than a cosmopolitan environment, world-class amenities, tee times and the 19th hole. Head due west from Faro airport along the uncrowded A22 motorway to Lagos then strike just a few kilometres inland and you’ll discover a rural idyll that has hardly changed down the years – this is real-time Portugal, perfect for an incentive destination or somewhere to hold discreet business negotiations in a relaxing environment.
If those big-time resorts along the region’s south coast are aimed at high flyers who live their lives in the fast lane, here on the less well-known west coast there’s an opportunity to ease up on the throttle and spend some quality time on nature’s hard shoulder.
Perched high on the slopes of the Matos Morenos hillside, with sweeping views across the busy old fishing town of Lagos and Luz bay and a backdrop of the alluring Monchique mountains, this eye-poppingly gorgeous property was developed in the 1970s on the site of an historic farming estate. In Portuguese, ‘Quinta’ means estate and ‘Bonita’ means beautiful and is more usually used to describe a lady than a house, which is why the tag unfailingly gets the locals smiling.
The house certainly lives up to its name. Set in 10,000sqm of immaculately manicured Italianate gardens – replete with cobbled pathways, ponds, fountains, statuary, an orchard, two large lawns, a commodious and inviting heated outdoor pool and a gnarled 400-yr-old olive tree – it’s perfect for the outdoor lifestyle. The expansive terraces are perfect for sun-downer cocktail parties.
Back inside, you’re enveloped in luxury, with traditional charm complemented by contemporary flair and furnishings.
The lounge has huge glass doors leading out to the terraces, in effect bringing the al fresco ambience right into the room, while there’s a choice of eight light and airy bedrooms with super-king beds, Egyptian cotton linen and spacious bathrooms gently warmed with under-floor heating.
A bounteous buffet breakfast gets the day off on the right note while light lunches can be set up around the pool. Afternoon tea, with delicious homemade cakes, is a daily ritual.
With a wide choice of good restaurants available just minutes away, except by special arrangement, Quinta Bonita serves dinner only on Friday evenings, when guests foregather for cocktails on the terrace ready for a masterpiece of Portuguese cuisine, using the freshest of local ingredients.
Local restaurants offer specialities like pork and clams, grilled sardines and salt cod – the accent being very much on fresh-from-the-sea fish and seafood.
The western Algarve is uncrowded yet has some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, including our favourite at Bordeira, with its sweeping bay and magnificent cliffs. Its impressive breakers are a veritable magnet for surfers.
You can return to Quinta Bonita via the fishing villages of Salema, Burgau and Praia da Luz or do as we did and opt to take the quiet byways inland, through beautiful countryside, stopping to explore the elegant spa town of Caldas de Monchique and the historic fortified town of Silves to reveal the undiscovered rural charms of this enchanting region – and there will still be a pot of tea and a slice of homemade cake awaiting you back at Quinta do Bonita.
Bespoke team building and corporate meeting packages, yoga and well-being programmes are among a wealth of special breaks and deals on offer while, if your party should crave some Algarve golf time, the renowned Boavista course is just five minutes away. Good transport links make Quinta Bonita good for weekend sunshine breaks from northern Europe.
For full details visit: www.boutiquehotelalgarve.com or phone: +351-282-762135