As the Summer is coming to a close I wanted to venture out on one last quest for sunshine. Seeing as Ireland has really produced the definition of an Irish Summer this year. I know what you’re thinking – Lisa aren’t you only back from a massive holiday with Richard? – and yes you would be correct in thinking that, but I wanted to jet away one more time before the winter comes, the sun goes away and I head into the busiest time of the year work and family-wise. Like, could you blame me?

For the last few years I’ve been exploring the world, trying and tasting new cultures with the intent of always experiencing something new but recently I’ve come to realise that sometimes the old experiences are my favourite and that’s why I decided to fly back to my beloved Portugal. I think its safe to say that Portugal is a favourite among the Irish. Its got a hot sun, beautiful coastlines and food to die for! Overall it’s kinda the perfect holiday destination in my eyes. Now I’m going to be really honest and admit that one of our biggest incentives for this holiday was when I happen to stumble across the amazing deal Anantara Vilamoura was offering. The temptation of the sun, a luxury stay and of course some good food and fine wine! So it was settled flights were booked, cases were packed and our next destination was the Algarve.

One of the best things about Portugal is that the flight isn’t too long so within a few hours you’ve landed and ready to just enjoy your trip hassle-free. Which is ideal if you’re travelling with children, you can entertain the kids until you land and then it’s smooth sailing from there.

On arrival at Faro airport, we weren’t disappointed, It’s one of the few airports I’ve been to in my time that makes ever journey so quick and painless that you don’t even mind returning to go home. Now I have spoken a lot in previous articles about that feeling of stepping off the plane into the heat and well it was no different here. I was basically dressed to sit by the pool all day when I left Faro and was whisked off to the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort by the car that was waiting to collect us. I always think if your gonna do a trip do it right and just treat yourself.

Check-in at the hotel was impressive, it was quick and super easy which was ideal because I could see the pool and the bar from reception which all of a sudden made me a giddy little school child with no patience. Before we knew it we were whisked off to the exclusive lounge area and nibbled on local produce and sipped on the purest Algarvian orange juice before heading to our rooms. At that moment in time, I started to feel like I had finally found heaven on earth – I could have moved in forever! Before we knew it, the swimming cossies were on and we were lounging by the impressive outdoor pool and ordering the freshest of fish from the Ria Restaurant. Life felt good and to be honest, at that moment it made up for the horrible Summer back home. For the following days we feasted on the most indulgent hotel breakfasts which even included a Croissant Butler who came to your table, I spent a large chunk of the holiday thinking of ideas to convince Richard that we needed one at home. The staff at the hotel were just wonderful and couldn’t have been any more welcoming or friendly if they tried.

Each of the 280 rooms and suites are designed to have soft touches and to reflect the natural woods and fibres of the region. These individual touches to each room really gave a warm and relaxing feel, as if the room was almost handpicked for you. The hotel offers a range of different rooms starting with the Deluxe rooms which have views over the gardens, swimming pools, and the fairways of the golf course. Up next they offer the Golf Suite which gives you the same views but also includes a living and dining area, which is perfect for families if they are looking to eat in with the kids.  Following on from there we have the Victoria Suite, which features a separate dining area and terrace with outdoor fireplace, ideal for evenings looking out the sunset sipping on a glass of wine. Last but certainly not least there is The Presidential Suite a sprawling penthouse with a living, dining and bar areas, as well as an enviable rooftop terrace. If that doesn’t sound like the ultimate night in luxury then I have no idea what is! All rooms come with complimentary wifi and a smartphone which can be used to order room service or request any additional help. The hotel prides itself on being family-friendly and offers specifically-designed Family Suites. Attention is provided to kids of all ages through the Adventurers Crèche, Adventurers Kids Club, and The Hub for teenagers, where they can take art and cooking classes, watch films outdoors, or participate in clinics in golf, football and dance. I found the idea of The Hub for teenagers amazing as we all know how hard it can be trying to get teenagers excited for a trip with the parents.

With any holiday location is key! The last thing you want is to be so secluded that its a hassle to take any trips or go exploring but you also don’t want to be close to the city because you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the busy city life when you’re trying to relax. The Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort is perfectly situated on the grounds of the Victoria golf course which happens to be the home of the Portuguese Masters. With a short tuk-tuk ride, you can visit the beautiful Falesia beach and popular Vilamoura marina entertainment complex. The tuk-tuk rides are all compliments of the hotel to encourage guests to explore the region as much as possible.

The Anantara brand famously known for having some of the most luxurious resorts in Asia, this is the company’s first opening in Europe and with that, they have very successfully adapted their model to the Portuguese culture. It’s clear to see that  Anantara worked with the locals to design the hotel from the handwoven pool bags, the locally sourced cork coasters and of course the Algarvian ceramic fruit bowls! Which I may admit caught my eye every time I walked by as they displayed some of the most colourful vibrant fruit I’ve ever seen (I may have even taken a piece or two for sitting by the pool enjoying my book).

Days were spent lounging by the Anantara pool, hopping on the Tuk-Tuks and taking naps in the afternoon something that I dream about when I’m at home stuck in rush hour traffic. As the evenings drew in it was time to pamper ourselves with the divine ‘Elemis’ bathroom products. What is it about being on your holidays that you feel the need to get dressed up and look fabulous for every dinner? Of course, no trip is complete without heading to the hotel lobby bar for pre-dinner cocktails, it became some sort of a ritual that we indulged ourselves with cocktails before sitting down to a full meal. Have you ever had a meal where you’re so full but its actually so good that you can’t stop eating? Even though you know if you take one more bite you might pass out? Well, that was every night here. Like how could you refuse a Nutella Mousse for dessert? You can’t, it’s just that simple! As I’ve gotten older I consider myself a tad bit of a foodie and all I will say is, I would fly back in a heartbeat for just another meal, the food is beyond divine. The hotel also offers a range of planned trips with “gurus” who are experts in all things wine, food and experience. During the Spice Spoons experience guests are taken to a nearby market along with a chef to learn how to cook and prep Portuguese cuisine. This allows guests to have a private dinner with menus that are made for you based on your taste in food. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect date night I think you might have just found it!

If you know me at all then you will know that I can’t refuse a spa trip, I was really impressed by how The Anantara showed its true Asian roots show in the spa. Offering treatments such as Thai massage in specially designed Thai-style rooms and ancient Ayurvedic rituals which I found out later is the only spa in the region to offer them. They also offer signature massages using Algerian citrus fruits and figs and almond powder. The hotel also offers a wellness program that includes yoga and tai chi classes where you stand on a platform and look out over the beautiful nature surrounding you. Of course, the hotel has a swimming pool. Not one but two, one for adults and one for families which are heated all year round.  As a guest, I was able to attend workshops with the artisans, which I loved! I always try to do things on holidays that I don’t do at home and I can tell you for a fact that when I’m at home in Dublin I barely have time sit down and watch the TV never mind attend a workshop in the middle of the day. As I always say its the little things you do in life that make you happy!

Overall I can 100% say that I will be returning in the future. The hotel staff were constantly by our side granting every wish and request which made the holiday an utter state of relaxation. I personally loved the little touches around the hotel from the complimentary juice shots (which were fresh-pressed) and the scented ice flannels brought to your sunbed to cool you down from the beating sun. Oh, I forgot to mention that everyone was assigned a sunshine butler who was on hand to assist you thought the day, I never had to lift a finger!  The hotel also offers a nightly turndown service and of course nothing was better than returning to your room after a night out to see that they had left behind some sweet treats beside your bed!

Anantara Vilamoura was simply fantastic. The Anantara Vilamoura ticks every box for a year-long holiday, as the sun did play a huge part in my holiday and as I did go to escape my busy lifestyle. I would love to return during the cooler months to enjoy the on-site actives that the hotel offers such as The Asian Spa, complimentary workshops and even the hotels cooking school! From visiting Its clear to see that the hotel has mastered entertaining every age group from young kids to teenagers and even couples looking for a romantic getaway. I could go on for pages about the wonderful experience I had in The Anantara Vilamoura hotel, I think its made me love the Algarve even more, which I wasn’t sure was possible. The Anantara Vilamoura hotel opened my eyes to the true beauty of the Algarve from the nature to the culture. I have finally found my perfect destination and its only a three-hour flight away!

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