Idyllic landscapes, mountain views and Moorish influences form the dramatic backdrop to one of the Algarve’s most popular golfing destinations: the award-winning Amendoeira Golf Resort.

Its two 18-hole championship courses, designed by golfing legends Sir Nick Faldo and the late Christy O’Connor Jnr, nestle seamlessly in an area of outstanding natural beauty in stunning countryside near Alcantarilha. Blessed with world-class resort facilities and a year-round temperate climate, Amendoeira is unquestionably a golfers’ paradise.

The resort recently scooped the Best Golf Course in Portugal Award at the prestigious annual World Golf Awards, which rewards excellence in golfing tourism; Portugal itself was named the World’s Best Golf Destination, so there is plenty to celebrate. Owned by the Oceânico Group, Amendoeira is in easy reach of Faro Airport and close to magnificent sandy beaches, charming towns and villages and local culture. Golfers from all over the world and of all levels holiday here or visit from other locations across the Algarve.

Lush fairways and greens and a plethora of indigenous trees - almond, carob, cork and olive - flank the gently ascending approach road to the impressive clubhouse and reception, which sits majestically over the Oceânico Faldo and Oceânico O’Connor par 72 courses. The terracotta tones and arched features of the clubhouse and nearby properties emanate a distinct Moroccan vibe. Much of the architecture has been heavily influenced by Amendoeira’s proximity to the historic town of Silves, the former Moorish capital of the Algarve.

All golfers arriving at the resort enjoy a valet check-in service: if you bring your own clubs, simply hand them over to staff on arrival; they will tag your bag and have it delivered directly to a waiting buggy. Tees and water are provided for your game, plus cold towels and club-cleaning at the end.  Before and after play, players and visitors can indulge in the clubhouse’s top-class facilities including restaurant, bar and lounge areas, luxurious locker rooms and the Pro-Shop with top-of-the-range brands. The spacious Garden Deck terrace is definitely a place to chill, with incredible panoramic views of the golf courses.

Statues of Amendoeira’s famous golf course architects, Faldo and O’Connor Jnr, have been strategically placed near their design triumphs: Britain’s Sir Nick Faldo, six-time major champion and former world number one, stands in a familiar pose overlooking his desert-style course; Ireland’s European Ryder Cup hero Christy O’Connor Jnr welcomes players coming off the 18th hole of his lush oasis.

Sir Nick’s eponymous 6958m Oceânico Faldo Course was created by his own Faldo Design team and has been dubbed a strategic masterpiece with memorable challenges for all levels of player. Cacti, wild herbs, ancient native olive trees and desert scrub bunkers spread across the undulating terrain producing an Arizona-type feel. The back nine is quite hilly, but with amazing views. As a perfect complement to the Faldo course, the 6708m Oceânico O’Connor Course, with its wider, flatter fairways and big greens, lies in a fertile valley planted with orange groves and mature palm trees; the many water hazards spread throughout the course test the accuracy of most golfers. The lakes and streams are maintained as a nature reserve, being home to around 50 bird species.

Situated between the two principal courses is Portugal’s only floodlit course: the nine-hole, par three Oceânico Academy Course - perfect for beginners and families or players wanting to improve their short game. Amendoeira’s practice facilities are among the best in Europe, with putting and chipping greens and short and long-game practice areas, including a Faldo-designed undulated chipping green with bunker and a Scoring V for short-game strategy. A spectacular grass driving range, using top-quality NXT Tour S high-performance balls, is maintained to the highest standard.  Lessons for all levels of player, including juniors, are available at the Amendoeira Golf Academy, headed by resort Professional Nelson Cavalheiro. A V1 computer coaching analysis system and Trackman performance-enhancing software are used alongside traditional teaching methods. 

www.amendoeiraresort.com

It all started some 35 years ago, when the late founders of Vila Vita Parc, Dr. Reinfried and Mrs. Anneliese Pohl discovered a unique cliff top site in the Algarve and set about creating a dream.

When VILA VITA Parc first opened its doors in 1992, little of the resort that surrounds us today existed. The resort has evolved over the years, blossoming into what we now see. Some of the most important innovations have in fact been very recent, with last year’s refurbishment of the Clubhouse building representing a major milestone.

Turning back the clock, we remember the opening of the first 60 suites, along with the Clubhouse building, tennis courts and Piazetta. The following year saw the inauguration of the main hotel building, adding another 73 rooms and suites. This was followed later the same year by the opening of the Residence with 29 rooms and suites in a stunning cliff-top location, also housing what is now Ocean restaurant.

From the outset the resort, which became a member of Leading Hotels of the World in 1995, set a standard of luxury and service that saw it immediately recognised as one of the best in the region. But who could have guessed back then that VILA VITA Parc would become one of the finest resorts in Europe?

Investment and innovation has been relentless over the years; in 1998 came the opening of the Cave de Vinhos, the resort’s wine cellar, 2 years after VILA VITA Village, a small resort on the adjacent land with 51 townhouses and supporting facilities. This was followed in 1999 by the VILA VITA Vital Spa along with three suites.

It was around this time that today’s Managing Director Kurt Gillig arrived at VILA VITA, originally as executive chef and later becoming director of food & beverage before taking up the reins as GM in 2010.

Kurt Gillig’s love of food and wine is something that has become imbedded in the DNA of VILA VITA Parc, helping to establish it as a true destination for epicureans. In 2007 he recruited Austrian chef Hans Neuner to take over the kitchen of Ocean restaurant. They aimed for the stars, literally, and the first Michelin star was awarded in 2009, followed by the second in 2011.

2012 saw the start of a major refurbishment project. First came the original phase of suites known as Oasis Parc, which reopened as 1 and 2 bedroom suites in 2013, coinciding with the new Oasis Pool and Palm Bar.

Next came the hotel building with the total renovation of all rooms and suites completed in 2014, followed by the Residence in 2015. With all accommodation in the resort’s three main phases fully refurbished, it was now time to give the restaurants an overhaul.

Kurt Gillig and the owners of the resort decided to take this a great deal further than just skin deep. VILA VITA Parc was already renowned as a destination for gourmets, but the classic style of the restaurants, although loved by many of the resort’s most faithful clients, was not up to the modern design standards expected by today’s most demanding customers. Working with international architects and experts in the field of contemporary restaurant design, a project was sketched out that represented the single largest investment of the overall refurbishment plan.

First to reopen was Ocean, in early 2016, with a contemporary new ocean-themed design concept, a new larger kitchen and enlargement of the dining room onto the old terrace with a retractable glass wall proving stunning ocean views to all diners. This was a taste of what was to come in the Clubhouse building, housing the Aladin Grill, Whale and Atlântico restaurants along with the Manzar Terrace and the original pool area, as well as the Bela Vita restaurant in the main building.

The Clubhouse has been all but rebuilt, with a new infinity pool wrapping around the front of the building. Inside, only the Aladin Grill restaurant is recognisable from the original project. Elsewhere, new restaurant concepts and the new V-Club disco, have been created, keeping only the names of the original spaces and with the addition of the fine dining Japanese restaurant Mizu, replacing the old Aladin Bar.

The final phase of the renovation project, to be competed in 2018 is the complete renovation on the Vital Spa complex, with an enhanced focus on wellness and holistic treatments.

Whilst these physical changes are evident for all to see, it is actually behind the scenes that much of the innovation has been taking place. As VILA VITA Parc reaches this important milestone of its 25th anniversary, there are many aspects of the overall experience for guests that have been enhanced.

Kurt Gillig is rightly proud of all that has been achieved, “Above all, VILA VITA Parc is about people, I am fortunate to have a fantastic team and we have many guests from around the world who return year after year. Like the staff, they are also now part of the VILA VITA family. Times change and we must change with the times, but the core values of what was originally created here, 25 years ago, are stronger than ever.”

With an average of 500 staff, reaching above 700 in the high season, the resort is the largest employer in the local Lagoa municipality. The dedicated staff have helped win many international awards, including World’s Leading Green Resort at the World Travel Awards in 2015, an important recognition of the VILA VITA’s ongoing dedication to sustainability.

The legacy left by the founders, is now in the hands of their two sons, Andreas and Reinfried Pohl. VILA VITA Parc is the jewel in the crown of the family’s investments in Portugal but their love of the country has taken them far beyond the confines of the resort and even of the Algarve. In 2000, the family invested in Herdade dos Grous, a 730-hectare working farm with vineyards and a winery in the lower Alentejo region. Here a small rural resort has been created with 24 rooms furnished in traditional style. Herdade dos Grous is in fact an integral part of VILA VITA’s sustainability concept, rearing much of the livestock for meat served at the resort.

In the north of the country, another wine estate was acquired in 2012, Quinta do Valbom, a magnificent site overlooking the Douro river where high quality red wines and Port wine are produced. Here in the Algarve, other investments include the VILA VITA Collection of luxury villas overlooking the beach in the village of Salema, soon to be expanded to other locations on the Algarve. 

They call it a potato, but it is actually a root with a high nutritional value.

In Aljezur there is an entire festival dedicated to it, where local chefs reinvent the tuberous root.

The biggest autumn gastronomic festival in the south of Portugal, the Aljezur Sweet Potato Festival will take place in the Algarvean town on November 25, 26 and 27. Once again, the event sets out to awaken the senses and to draw people to the heart of the Vicentine Coast.

Organised by the Aljezur Municipality, in collaboration with the Aljezur Sweet Potato Producers Association, this is an ideal opportunity to enjoy the best sweet potato in the country and taste the excellent traditional gastronomy and confectionery of the area, where sweet potato of the Lira variety, certified with the Protected Geographic Indication (PGI), is the main ingredient. There are more than enough reasons to visit the festival: buying the authentic and delicious sweet potato of Aljezur, enjoying it roasted to order in a wood-fired oven or fried in slices, as a snack, with sugar and cinnamon, or even as the main element in traditional dishes from the several local restaurants and eateries on site.       

The fair also includes several dozens of exhibitions and a programme highlighting the best of the Algarve region: handicrafts, local commerce, traditional confectionery, several live cooking demonstrations hosted by renowned chefs, wine and aguardente (firewater) tastings, sweet potato sweets contests and other cultural offerings.

The protected Lira

Only in Aljezur can this root fulfil the requirements to be produced in “inimitable” conditions. In 2009, the association that represents the Aljezur producers was granted PGI certification. The sweet potato, with the guarantee seal, is confined to the parishes of São Teotónio, São Salvador, Zambujeira do Mar, Longueira/Almograve and Vila Nova de Milfontes. The Lira variety is picked only once a year, between September and mid-November, with the best quality available until April.

The particularities of the soil and the climate result in a product of unparalleled taste and textures, which allow for the most varied gastronomic reinventions. It is sweeter, its texture is soft and not too stringy, and when eaten raw its taste is like that of a chestnut. Sweet or savoury, the sweet potato can be found in kitchens all over the world, including at the hands of the most renowned contemporary chefs.

The potato that is good for you

Those who eat it know its unique characteristics, and nutritionists say that it contains high nutritional interest. It has a low glycaemic index, helps to control diabetes, aids in weight loss and prevents anaemia. It reduces cholesterol, regulates blood pressure and strengthens the immune system. It is an important source of complex carbohydrates, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and E, and plays an important role in the formation of collagen.

 

Text by Isa Barros

From the 27th September to the 8th October 2017, the VILA VITA Biergarten, in Porches, in the Algarve, will once again host the Oktoberfest, the most popular beer festival in the world, originally celebrated in Munich, Germany.

The authentic Munich-style beer garden is located just off the EN-125 on the Porches roundabout, and features staff in traditional costumes, vivid murals portraying scenes from Bavarian life and even a maypole.

Open all year, it will be particularly lively during Oktoberfest, with music every evening from the famous Münchner Gaudiblosn band, special menus with German delicacies throughout the week, and of course plenty of Erdinger beer, one of Germany’s most celebrated breweries.

Highlights of the menu include traditional sausages and authentic accompaniments: a Bavarian sampler with pretzels, obazda cheese spread, cold cuts, pickles and chive bread, crunchy knuckle of pork with cabbage salad and traditional potato salad, and of course, apple strudel. Staff will be on hand to explain all about the traditional delicacies, with the guarantee of best quality meat from VILA VITA Parc’s own on-site butcher. 

With a children’s play area also in the gardens, the festival will be a great family treat for all ages. 

During Oktoberfest, the VILA VITA Biergarten will be open from 1pm-10pm, with the band playing from 7pm onwards.

Watch the video from last year's edition:

 

Reservations:

Tel: + 351 282 381 177

Email: biergarten@vilavitaparc.com

GPS: N37.12746º W8.40150º

The transformation of VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa continues, with the opening of the resort’s newly-remodelled hair salon and barber shop, which is now also available to non-resident guests.  

Following a stylish re-design, the space showcases an entirely new, sophisticated and elegant vibe. In addition to the hair treatment area, there is also a barber and male grooming section, and a manicure and pedicure station.

The services offered include cuts, styling and special hair treatments for women, men and children; bridal wedding hair or styling for special occasions such as New Year or landmark birthdays; as well as deep conditioning treatments, highlights, colour and braiding.

Exclusive in the Algarve, the salon uses expert beauty brand La Bioestethique. Founded in the 50’s in Paris, all products are ethically created with pure, natural ingredients, and without animal testing, and are tailormade to every type of hair or skin. For men, Depot’s premium grooming products are characterized by their modern take on classic barber shop products.

The hairdresser and barber shop at VILA VITA Parc is open from Sunday to Wednesday from 3pm to 7pm and from Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm. Bookings can be made by calling +282 310 100 or the internal extension 2084.

The VILA VITA Biergarten, the Algarve’s most authentic German beer garden, located in pretty Porches, reopened on the 4th of July, following a brief period of refurbishment.

With an interior entirely lined with 120-year-old vintage wood, stepping into the Biergarten feels like you’re being transported to a rustic chalet in the Alps. The new decoration, which is even more cosy and traditional, contributes to the unique location’s convivial atmosphere, typical of the best German beer gardens. New features include the new bar at the entrance, covered in characterful wooden tiles used in regional Bavarian design, as well as a raised floor area on the upper floor, ideal for live band performances.

The menu maintains the Biergarten’s long-held “food-for-beer” and “butcher-to-table” concept, with the addition of an array of tasty new dishes which will delight all true Bavarian gastronomy lovers. From the newly-remodelled kitchen at the VILA VITA Biergarten comes crispy Bavaria Blue cheese with potato rösti and blueberries, home-made, cold-smoked salmon salad,  vegetarian Schupfnudeln pasta with roasted vegetables sautéed with basil and almond pesto, as well as the ‘Giant’ beef chop’ for two with crunchy potato salad with fennel, sweet-chili and nuts: all perfect examples of the new VILA VITA Biergarten menu.

 

But the real star of the menu is still the extraordinary selection of excellent German beers as well as the Porches Craft Beer: VILA VITA Parc’s very own craft beer. The new Porches IPA (Indian Pale Ale) - one of the latest additions to the gastronomic world of VILA VITA - has a seductive tropical aroma and a zingy, super refreshing after-taste.  

Come discover (or rediscover) an extraordinary atmosphere and join us in a journey to the delicious world of the Bavarian gastronomy!

For more information please visit the website: www.vilavitabiergarten.com

 

Opening Times:

From Tuesday to Friday, from 1pm to 10pm

Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30 to 10pm 

Don't miss the opportunity to attend a week of peerless gastronomy, delectable cooking and innovative culinary creativity, paired with the finest wines from around the world, all under one roof.

VILA VITA's biennial Fine Wines & Food Fair is Portugal’s most eagerly-anticipated gastronomic event, offering a unique experience for food lovers and wine connoisseurs.

From the 15th to the 20th of May 2017, VILA VITA Parc will host a stellar repertoire of renowned chefs, wine makers and gourmet producers. The event’s awe-inspiring programme includes the now-famous ‘Kitchen Party’, as well as a new series of five exclusive dinners hosted by the world’s top culinary talent in the hotel’s recently-renovated Ocean and Atlantico restaurants, as well as the restaurant Praia Dourada located on the beach at Armação de Pêra. 

Amongst the over 45 top chefs invited to the event are the 3 Michelin star chefs  Eckart Witzigmann (Austria), Klaus Erfort (Germany), Gert de Mangeleer (Belgium) and Juan Amador (Spain), chef Hans Neuner from VILA VITA Parc's 2 Michelin star Ocean restaurant and many other great names in the national and international gastronomy world.

The first night of the Fine Wines & Food Fair, the 15th May, will be an unprecedented event in Portugal entirely dedicated to a selection of 8 Bordeaux wines in Imperial bottles by the renowned Swiss wine critic René Gabriel "The Wine Pope". The other four nights (16, 17, 18 and 19) will be hosted by international Michelin Star and Gault Millau guest chefs, complemented by delightful amuse-bouches prepared by none other than Ocean’s two-Michelin-starred Chef, Hans Neuner. On the 19th May, the Praia Dourada restaurant at the beach in Armação de Pêra, will be hosting a very special lunch with chef Evaristo Triano, responsible for one of the best Paellas in the world. 

On the 20th, the entertaining and convivial Kitchen Party, a unique tasting gastronomic experience, will take place in VILA VITA’s newly-renovated Clubhouse, during which 350 guests will have the opportunity to taste the astonishing creations of over 25 acclaimed chefs, paired with top international wines, as well as delicacies showcased by selected gourmet producers.  A remarkable week, wholly dedicated to celebrating the very best and most exquisite food and wine in the world.

 

PROGRAMME 2017

  • Monday 15 May - Bordeaux Imperial Evening with René Gabriel
    • Atlantico Restaurant – € 380 per person including wines  (learn more)
       
  • Tuesday 16 May - Grand Swiss Stars Dinner
    • Restaurante Ocean - € 330 por pessoa, vinhos incluidos (learn more)
       
  • Wednesday 17 May - Austrian “Young Stars” Dinner
    • Ocean Restaurant - € 330 per person including wines (learn more)
       
  • Thursday 18 May – VILA VITA All-Star Dinner
    • Atlantico Restaurant - € 300 per person including wines  (learn more)
       
  • Friday 19 May  – Chiringuito Chic, Barcelona Style Lunch
    • Praia Dourada Restaurant - € 48 per person, drinks included (learn more)
       
  • Friday 19 May - Spanish Star Night Dinner
    • Ocean Restaurant - € 330 per person including wines - SOLD OUT (learn more)
       
  • Saturday 20 May - Kitchen Party
    • VILA VITA Clubhouse - € 275 per person all beverages included  - LAST TICKETS (learn more)

 

For the latest information on the event, to book accommodation packages and dinners, visit www.finewinesfoodfair.com or www.vilavitaparc.com

One of the most typical elements in the Algarve’s landscapes are the countless almond trees in bloom that fill up the fields with a delicate white and pink colour in the beginning of each year, around January and February.

Legend says that the almond trees first appeared in the Algarve, particularly in Silves, around the time of the Arab occupation, hundreds of years ago. After one of his many battles, the Arab king Ibn-Almundim fell in love with one of his prisoners, a tall, blond and blue eyed princess called Gilda. As time went by, and after he gave her her freedom, he ended up winning her heart and marrying her. But one day, the princess, feeling homesick, fell into a deep depression. The king, desperate, ended up finding a creative solution: he ordered almond trees to be planted all over the region. In the following spring, the king took the princess to one of their terraces so that they could both look over the almond trees that, at the time, where already covered with small white flowers. Seeing that scenery that resembled her homelands’ snow covered fields, the princess cured her depression and started to improve day after day.

In the Algarve, the almond is one of the main ingredients for the local gastronomy and especially confectionery, like for example the famous “doces finos”, “Dom Rodrigos”, “morgadinhos” or “carriços” that don’t leave anyone indifferent.

Besides the delicious sweets it originates, the almond is also nowadays considered a “super food”, and it’s one of the most popular snacks worldwide due to its high health benefits. Rich in protein, vitamin E, magnesium and monounsaturated fat (heart friendly), it’s considered, just like avocado and olive oil, extremely effective to prevent diabetes, heart problems and to lower bad cholesterol levels.

And it is also one of the ingredients regularly included in VILA VITA Parc’s menus, specially highlighted during the month of March. Discover it in dishes such as the Sweet Almond Roll at restaurant Adega, the Almond and Custard Croissants at breakfast at the Bela Vita restaurant or in Oasis Bar’s Spicy Almonds.

Yoga, an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage since December 2016, can be defined as a set of practices born in India, meant to promote physical and mental wellbeing. In sanskrit it means “to join” or “to connect”.

Daniela Luz is responsible for the Yoga classes at VILA VITA Parc. Yoga and meditation have been a part of her life for more than 14 years, since she first discovered it in Portimão, Algarve, when she was only 17 years old. But it was in Sydney, Australia, where she moved to 7 years ago, that she had the opportunity to further deepen her knowledge and techniques. A period of intense stress caused by her professional life at the time lead her to reach even further into Yoga looking to feel more connected with her inner self. Trainings and retreats in India, Thailand and the UK made her wish to dedicate herself 100% to Yoga come true. Today she is also a member of the International Yoga Alliance.

She confesses to being passionate about people and that’s one of the reasons Yoga fascinates her: it gives her the possibility to create a substantial change, both physically and mentally, in those who attend her classes, allowing them also to reach deeper into themselves. Her classes are a result of the combination of her personality, her passion for human contact and the knowledge she has been acquiring thoughout the years which she makes sure to share in a personalised and adequate way with the guests in her classes.

The type of Yoga mainly focused by Daniela is Hatha Yoga practised in a flow and dynamic style, consisting of a series of Yoga postures as well as meditation exercises. In VILA VITA Parc’s Classes Schedule are also different types of Yoga such as Wake Up Yoga (made of postures that focus on waking up and preparing the body for the day ahead), Power Yoga (meant for those looking for a more dynamic class, with more intense postures and a faster rythmn that works on energy and strenght) and Yin Yoga (a more passive type of Yoga focusing on the organs and tissue health, based on slower postures).

Every class includes meditation as well as breathing techniques that contribute towards a body and mind detox and a deeper state of relaxation. They last approximately 75 minutes and begin with a short evaluation of the level and goals for each participant, followed by a guided meditation, some warming up postures, the main Yoga postures (that depend on the classes theme) and a final relaxation of the body and mind accompanied by the sound of Tibetan bowls.

Classes happen twice a day in VILA VITA Parc’s gardens, at the beach or by the Lover’s Fountain whenever the weather allows. During winter time they are held inside the hotel, 4 to 5 times a week.

Besides the group classes, free for VILA VITA Parc guests, there is also the possibility to book private classes that are completely adapted and personalised according to each guest’s specific needs. Private classes may be attended individually or as a couple, and may also be acquired as part of a pack of classes so that you may take full advantage of your stay at VILA VITA Parc.

For more info, please visit: https://vilavitaparc.com/wellness/health-club-gym   

The new Japanese restaurant Mizu at VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa, in Porches, Algarve, will be officially opening its doors on 23 February.

With a Zen and relaxed atmosphere, stylish contemporary décor inspired by Japanese culture and tradition, top quality ingredients, innovative culinary techniques and a privileged view over the Atlantic Ocean, Mizu intends to establish itself as one of the finest Japanese restaurants in Portugal.

The best of Japanese gastronomy can be experienced at Mizu in two completely distinct ways. For those looking for a more intimate and interactive experience, Mizu’s Teppanyaki, which seats up to 10 people and offers a set menu composed of 6 different courses, allows for a direct contact with the Chef’s skills. With a wider choice, the à la carte menu offers a selection of exceptional dishes such as Alaskan Black Cod with Miso Saikyo or Scallop Skewers with Yuzu Kosho, made on the Algarve’s first Robata Grill, fuelled with white Japanese Binchontan charcoal for deeper flavours and a healthier cooking method without smoke emissions.  The menu showcases the top-notch ingredients including the freshest local catches of the day, like wild grouper, golden bream, horse mackerel, sea bream and flounder.

Dishes such as Hirame no Usuzukuri (a rare flounder carpaccio with citric Ponzu sauce), desserts such as Coconut Namelaka with Yuzu gel and basil and Calpis Sorbet, and a homemade Wasabi grated on shark skin at the table, are some of the delightful culinary highlights.

The carefully-curated menu is accompanied by an outstanding selection of beverages with more than 20 different types of Premium and Super Premium Japanese Sakés, from sparkling to sweet, cold or warm.

Mizu restaurant has capacity for up to 70 diners and is open from Thursday to Monday from 7pm to 10pm.

For more information, please visit: https://vilavitaparc.com/restaurants-bars/mizu-restaurant