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Breaking Travel News close up: Affordable luxury in the Algarve

Breaking Travel News close up: Affordable luxury in the Algarve

The Algarve is the perfect place to say ‘I do’ or to celebrate recent nuptials on a dream honeymoon.

The variety of landscapes in the region, from golden sandy beaches on the coast, to sleepy hillside villages gives couples the ultimate choice of wedding or honeymoon location complimented by a plenty of outdoor adventures, gastronomic and cultural options.

Brides and grooms are virtually guaranteed glorious weather, as the region boasts on average of 300 days of sunshine per year.

The two national parks in the region, Costa Vicentina and Ria Formosa, are each home to an abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna and are excellent spots for a romantic, walk, bike or horse ride - some of the best ways to see the region.

For more adventurous couples, there is the option of mountain biking and hiking through the parks to discover spectacular views and the perfect picnic spot for some newlywed privacy in unspoilt natural surroundings.

For a totally secluded romantic day out, the Ria Formosa, a national park formed of deserted barrier islands accessible only by boat, is perfect.

Classed as an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Ria Formosa is formed of sand dunes; lagoons and fresh water lakes, as well as being home to native species such as flamingos.

The park offers a number of romantic activity options including self-guided nature trail walks, swimming in the clean, calm, warm waters of the lagoons, and admiring the park’s elegance from either a traditional fishing boat or an elegant cruise.

Beach-side meals can be enjoyed on both of the park’s inhabited islands, Farol or Culatra, and to complete the perfect day at Ria Formosa, honeymooners can bask in newlywed privacy on a deserted island whilst watching the sunset.

The Algarve offers exciting aquatic experiences for honeymooners, with the cleanest waters in Europe the region is an excellent location to learn how to scuba dive with PADI certified instructors and witness some of the underwater marvels of the Atlantic Ocean.

For adrenalin seeking couples, windsurfing, kite boarding, diving and jet skiing are just some of the water sports available in the region.

The western Algarve homes rock formations that are only accessible by water, and so, for total seclusion couples can hire a state-of-the-art kayak and take a romantic trip to explore the Algarve’s caves and grottos, discovering the hidden coves to escape from it all.

The Algarve’s culinary scene is another draw for couples who can sample an array of romantic meals from the freshest seafood cuisine in fine-dining and Michelin- starred restaurants to speciality dishes served by warm local people eager to share the passion for their traditional fare.

Of the five Michelin-starred restaurants in the Algarve, Vila Joya and Ocean at Vila Vita Parc, especially stand out with two stars each.

Vila Joya Austrian Chef Dieter Koschina attributes his two stars not only to a high level of excellence in technique and service, but ultimately, the most important factor is high quality product purchased daily from local fisherman and farmers.

A paradise for seafood lovers, delicious grilled fresh fish dishes feature on many menus as do local cockles, razor clams, oysters, squid and cuttlefish due to the fishing tradition of the region.

Local delicacies that every couple should try include the cataplana, a traditional Portuguese dish consisting of clams, mussels, bacon and chorizo which is perfect accompanied with a chilled glass of vinho verde (semi-sparkling green wine).

Inland delicacies include sweet treats such as almonds, oranges and figs that are great in desserts.

From traditional towns in the hinterland, to ancient remains left behind from Neolithic, Roman and Moorish periods, the Algarve offers honeymooners a host of charming cultural sights and places. Culture vulture newlyweds will not tire of the 16th and 17th century buildings, historic castle ruins and quaint cafes found in the local towns and villages.

Where to stay in the Algarve

The region also boasts 34 five star and 141 four star hotels, many of which specialise in making their guests’ experience truly memorable and the Algarve region’s tranquil surroundings complement the harmonious atmosphere in its many spas, which are the perfect location for total relaxation and revitalisation prior to or following the big day.

Here are just some of the hotels in the region offering beautiful settings and first class services for weddings and honeymoons:

Five Star - Vila Vita Parc

Vila Vita Parc is set in the heart of the Algarve’s coast offering couples the opportunity to tie the knot in the stunning grounds of its 22-acre resort.

The resort features nine venues including a two-Michelin star restaurant and a lush garden setting overlooking the ocean, perfect for an intimate ceremony or a larger celebration.

Honeymoons are also a speciality for Vila Vita, with private, ultra-luxurious suites at the water’s edge, and an overnight stays aboard the resort’s exclusive yacht.

More information here.

Five Star - CS São Rafael Suite Hotel and Five Star - CS São Rafael Atlantic Hotel

Located just 30 minutes from Faro airport, the new CS São Rafael Suite Hotel offers a relaxed beach wedding experience.

A multifunctional event room or spacious gardens are also part of the settings options, complemented with a personalised service make for a truly memorable day.

The hotel enjoys an enviable location facing the Atlantic. For those who dream of a beach wedding, the stunning São Rafael beach provides the perfect backdrop for the big day. 

Take a look at the official website here.

Five Star - Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel

Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel is located in magical Sagres, the most beautiful and romantic beach setting in the area and offers an infinite number of wedding options from an informal beach party wedding, to a sophisticated wedding reception.

Honeymoon packages range from two-night to seven-night, featuring room service breakfast, romantic dinner and for two and four night packages, a massage in the double treatment room at Finisterra spa.

Packages valid from February 1st 2012 utill March 31st 2013 and are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Take a look at the official site here.

Five Star - Hotel Algarve Casino

With a magnificent view facing the Atlantic Ocean and Praia da Rocha, the Hotel Algarve Casino offers a romantic atmosphere that will ensure an unforgettable wedding.

The ceremony can be held in the hotel’s gardens with the beach as a backdrop while the reception would begin with a welcome drink in the terrace bar overlooking a breathtaking sea view.

For the wedding meal, the hotel provides two options: a room decorated in an Arabic style or in the main restaurant with views of the ocean and gardens.

Head over to the official site for more information.

Five Star - Tivoli Victoria

Located in Vilamoura, the Tivoli Victoria’s surroundings with its stylish rooms and panoramic views out over the beautiful fairways of the Victoria Golf Course, designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer, provide the perfect background for a special wedding day.

The event facilities at the Tivoli Victoria include rooms with a total area of 900m2 and capacity for up to 950 people. For honeymooners, the Tivoli offers a bespoke package including a dinner at the EMO Gourmet Restaurant and one 90 minute Earth Essence massage for two the Elements Spa.

More information here.

Five Star - Le Meridien Penina Gold & Resort

With 360 acres of gardens the Le Meridien can offer church weddings in the quaint St. Andrews Penina Church located within the resort’s grounds and civil ceremonies.

From the Blue Lounge to the Dunas Beach Restaurant there are a range of venues available to suit.

The resort’s bespoke wedding package for 50 guests includes free accommodation for the wedding night, floral decoration for the top table and wedding menus printing.

Take a look at the official site for more information.

World Travel Awards

The highlight of the tourism calendar for any region, the World Travel Awards will visit the Algarve in September for the annual Europe Gala Ceremony.

Taking place at the new Conrad Algarve, the event will welcome the leaders of the European tourism industry to a red carpet event designed to select the best-of-the-best.

World Travel Awards president Graham Cooke said: “We are delighted to host our first ceremony in the Algarve, a decision that reflects the crucial role that tourism plays in the region and its overall contribution to the Portuguese economy.”

He added: “The Algarve is also one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world, and the new Conrad Algarve will set a new precedent for luxury in the region.

“Our Europe Ceremony will provide a perfect forum to showcase its facilities to travel’s top decision-makers.”

Take a look at the official site for more information.