Absolutely visits Purobeach Vilamoura, the opulent Portuguese beach club where tranquil days easily slip into party-fuelled nights…
By Helen Brown
Portugal’s sun-kissed southern coast is certainly no secret. Offering the promise to play golf in your shirt sleeves all year round, and with spectacular beaches and seafood, the Algarve has long been a hero destination for those in need of an effortless holiday and a quick dose of vitamin sea.
An easy half hour drive from pseudo-capital Faro and its airport, is Vilamoura. Located on one of the Algarve’s finest beaches and home to a swanky marina, it’s a modern and sophisticated holiday destination by most standards and where internationally famous Purobeach – made popular by party-goers to the sites in Marbella, Palma and Barcelona – has chosen to set up its latest beach club.
The area is a natural choice for Purobeach. Popularity for Vilamoura picked up in the 1980s when it established itself as an elite golfing centre.
Today it’s arguably the best spot in the Algarve for the sport, with five exceptional golf courses, along with the exclusive marina complex, where million-pound yachts moor and visitors can dine and socialise in spectacular fashion.
The area is unlike most other Portuguese towns with their dilapidated charm – here lie perfect beaches, world-class hotels and an overall glossiness which seduces the rich and famous.
While this crowd typically likes to languor in the luxury of it all, a lot can be accomplished in a quick trip. Not least because you can tick off everything from fine dining to pool party at Purobeach.
The brand made its name with sizzling summer soirees and effortlessly chic beachside socialising and has seven sites dotted around Spain, with one recently opened in Morocco.
Purobeach Vilamoura has two distinct zones: the beachfront and the garden. Visitors can flit between the poolside beds and lush green surroundings of the garden, and the sand, sea and sunbeds on the Atlantic shore.
For a livelier vibe, the beachfront is where the club’s resident DJs are set up, playing throughout the day. Both sides have bars and restaurants, with friendly staff more than happy to serve you at your sunbed.
On a scorching day, lunch at the beach front is a refreshing affair. The menu features vibrant local dishes like seafood cataplana and fresh fish, as well as international options ranging from Peruvian ceviche to Moroccan tagine.
Much of it is skewed towards healthier dining so salads and superfoods also feature heavily. Bar options follow suit with many cocktails created around a wellness angle, as well as there being a long list of vitality-boosting smoothies available. Just the thing to get you back on your feet after the night before.
While it’s highly encouraged you let day slip into night in this hedonistic retreat, you can’t actually sleep on a sunbed. However, the Anantara Vilamoura matches Purobeach’s slick service and high-level luxury.
The 280-room and suite hotel is a sister site to Purobeach, so getting between the two is a doddle – the concierge has a fleet of tuk tuks for hotel guests to do just that.
The hotel marks Anantara’s European debut and displays the brand’s signature opulence – grand lobby, marble cladding and columns – alongside its trademark emphasis on local heritage.
Artisanal pottery, wicker furniture and Portuguese wines create a real sense of place. The building looks out onto the peaceful, landscaped green of the Arnold Palmer-designed Victoria golf course, famous for hosting the annual Portugal Masters.
As you’d expect, the rooms are extremely comfortable and each comes with a terrace and views onto the golf course, the gardens or the main pool. So-called ‘main’ because there are three others: an indoor pool, another reserved for adults and a kids’ one.
Like much of the Algarve, Vilamoura is predictably seasonal – summer represents peak season and from June to September you’ll find Purobeach and the surrounding shoreline packed with holiday-makers.
However, Anantara Vilamoura is ideally situated to explore the traditions and history that shape the Algarve during the cooler months.
The resort’s very own experience guru is on hand to get you out into the hillside villages to meet local farmers, basket weavers and schnapps distillers, while a Spice Spoons masterclass offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in the day-to-day of the famous Loulé food market, before heading into the kitchen with chef to create a collection of traditional dishes.
Of course, you’re not expected to do all of the cooking. Between here and Purobeach, guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner, with three more restaurants and a handful of bars to settle down in.
Eating at Emo restaurant is one of the more exciting options. Here, Chef Bruno Viegas takes Portugese dishes that are as old as time and modernises them with exceptional flare. The restaurant has established a reputation for delivering one of the Algarve’s most memorable dining experiences, and last year was included in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards 2019.
The extensive wine cellar contains around 350 expertly selected wines to accompany dishes such as asparagus brûlée and Bacalhau à Brás, a traditional Portuguese dish of salt cod with potato matchsticks.
Elsewhere, seafood restaurant Ria offers a traditional menu of fish stews and rice dishes, and Victoria restaurant offers an impressive breakfast of breads, fruits, cold meats and an egg station – it’s certainly worth filling up if another Purobeach pool party is on the cards.
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