Langham has pink, Peninsula has green, Kempinski has red (or rather its guest relations executives, known as Ladies in Red, do). Hilton and Ritz-Carlton have blues. Yes, all hotels need colour. The Algarve’s six-month old luxury Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort has not only acres of sun-bleached white stone, inside and out, but it has green too. It overlooks lush greenery as far as the eye can see, over the Arnold Palmer-designed Victoria Golf Club. And look, says the gal, at the image above, which shows a small part of the 280-room hotel’s herb garden – this is intentionally prominent. The GM, Tamir Kobrin, is amazingly eclectic (I am going to take his book The Farang, the Gora and the Gwai Lo: A Hotelier’s Journey Around the World as bedtime reading on my next trip. It looks fascinating and among those mentioned in the acknowledgements are Rajiv Kaul, the Maccioni family and the late Chairman, Capt Krishnan Nair). Kobrin wants to stress how healthy, and organic, this hotel’s food is. See the video below of the splendid breakfast buffet, decorated with local reminders, including a six-inch doll.
I ate magnificently throughout my entire stay. As the light faded we decided to dine outside at Ria, the seafood restaurant named for Portugal’s Ria Formosa National Forest. We started with a selection of superb ceviches, with an escabeche, fish chunks marinated with onion, carrot, chili and olive oil (perhaps the Oliveira da Serra that we had on the table). This was essentially a Portuguese meal, served on Spal ceramics. We drank Soalheiro Oppaco Tinto 2014 – Tamir Kobrin has upped the hotel’s wine cellar from 60 to 450 labels since his arrival this March. This was indeed truly a Portuguese meal, we ate off Spal china, and the olive oil was Oliveira da Serra, and, with the Atlantic under half a mile away, the seabass that we all subsequently shared had not come very far, either.
I suspect there are a lot of people who come to this hotel and simply stay put rather than heading for the ocean or local sites. Mainly a holiday destination, the hotel has nearly everything most might want, including a range of boutiques just outside its front door. The lobby library has books and, what a rarity sadly, proper foreign newspapers, and on the day. There is an Elemis spa, and since he arrived Tamir Kobrin has added a 24/7 gym: it is LifeFitness, and its on-screen walks are not the boring Marin County flat-treks that bore me stiff but a really educational, and fascinating, selection of New Zealand walks. I even ‘did’ the Franz Josef glacier before breakfast.
Ah, breakfast, that was an interesting experience. The foods were fabulous – see the video below – but I was surrounded by well-known golfers and could not, sadly, recognise any of them. This luxury hotel is official partner for the annual Portugal Masters, about to start in a couple of days’ time. Already, looking out from my lovely suite, I could see big marquees, signs, and people setting up viewing stands, and I walked through a carpark behind the hotel where about a dozen mobile show-offices were parked. The largest-permissible trucks have sides that extend: interestingly, the vehicles, be they Nike, Taylor Made or whatever, all seemed to have UK plates.
NOW SEE THE BREAKFAST VIDEO BELOW