© Christian Oliva-Vélez
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Creator and editor of the dogfriendlytraveler.com blog.   He developed a multifaceted career over the years with the positioning of luxury brands and contributing for Condé Nast Traveler, Esquire, GQ and Expansión Fuera de Serie.

A delightful kingdom in the Algarve

In the South of Portugal there is a village resort, unique in its kind, dedicated to the pleasures of life.

I arrived to this paradise by Bentley from Faro Airport.

During my stay in the southern region of continental Portugal, my temporary residence was at the Oasis Premium Rooftop Ocean Suite number 28.  Hospitality is a trait of the Portuguese people and here it has added meaning.  I arrived in a Bentley driven by Jorge, the chauffeur.

I start the day with breakfast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The birds are so used to be respected, that during the breakfast, some swallows come to salute me and pose themselves on the wall of the terrace. They beg, without insisting.  I take a piece of pāo de Deus bread and I feed it to them. They take flight without returning, as free as a bird.  We are in paradise.

The gardens of the resort seem created by elves, and are maintained by over 45 gardeners who have their own greenhouse.  Everything around me is always immaculate.

 The aroma of the lemon and orange trees and the Dama da Noite, at night, fills the air.  Borboletas (butterflies) flutter around, white swans and ducks swim in the crystal waters of the lake.

Speaking of flora, as I enter the Vital Spa I step on a four leaf clover.  This one is immortal, a mosaic.  It represents the four members of the Pohl family, owners of the German hotel group, VILA VITA Hotels.  Amongst the variety of treatments on offer, I choose one for heroes with products from French brand, La Sultane de Saba. It takes me through a 5-step sensorial journey (Le Roi Salomon). I chose well: I´m delighted!

After a tea, I make my way to the Arte Náutica Beach restaurant. My table faces the ocean.  I go for the home-made Piri-Piri, Pataniscas de Bacalhau, and the fresh catch of the day. I accompany my meal with a fresh Super Bock beer, made in Portugal. For dessert, an orange crème caramel and a board of regional cheeses to end.  

I walk down to the hotel’s own beach and paint on my canvas until sundown.  For dinner, I have a date with 2 Michelin stars. Hans Neuner, chef at Ocean restaurant, makes my senses dive into the Atlantic.  His proposals are so original - just a memorable dinner!

Next day, I go sailing. On the way to the yacht, I pass the Estombar salt marshes filled with pelicans.  The vessel awaiting me has 72 feet (22 metres) with comfortable and elegant cabins.  The crew serves me a stew caldeirada of clams, prawns and fish.

I leave the Alvor estuary for my next visit, a protected nature area where hills, lagoon and ocean merge; and Foia in Monchique, a fabulous place for mountain walks. After check-out, I cross the gates of Eden on Earth and don’t look back.