There are over 150 beautiful beaches to choose from in the Albufeira region of Portugal’s Algarve and it is not surprising that Kuwaiti entrepreneur Jassim Al-Bahar decided to buy a 72-acre, pine-studded site right above one of the best (see above, looking up to the cliff top of what is now Pine Cliffs Resort). An elevator takes guests between the luxury resort’s beach, left, and the cliff top, but it is still 112 boardwalk steps from elevator base to the actual sand – forgo the elevator, as the gal did, and you have another 80 steps up to clifftop level. Down on the beach it is lazing-or-activity, all day long, as shown in the video below. There is also a beach-set café, run by Olivier, from Lisbon.
Other guests at what is, in total, a 733-room resort spend all day up at the top of the cliffs, enjoying everything from activities to hours of sunbathing. There is also an impressive Serenity, The Art of Well Being, spa, where I had an 80-minute Senses of the Algarve experience. First, Catarina did a hearty scrub, using Fleur-de-Sel from Ria Formosa National Park blended, here at the spa, with Falésia Beach sand and orange oil. After a shower, I was wrapped in chocolate-smelling (and looking) carob, which apparently is rich in selenium, and good for antioxidisation and fighting bacteria. Another shower, and I was massaged with local orange oil, and I finished with lemongrass tea. Then it was time for lunch, outside under a Zest umbrella.
I was really impressed by the eating opportunities here. I loved Zest, which opens at 9 a.m. fine for most, for breakfast, but not for this early bird. Zest’s menu stresses Mind, Body & Soul. I had a tray of dips and vegetables, with crudites set vertically in an ice-filled glass bowl (loved the eggplant spread). My main course, shown here on the left, was superb toasted quinoa topped with harissa chicken, grilled halloumi and just-right avocado, all of which, according to the menu, offered 250 calories, 150mg sodium and nine grams of carb. Zest has a small to-go counter, too, which supplements what you can also buy at the resort’s minimart. Sadly, in my short stay there were many restaurants I never had time to visit.
That evening started with sundowner cocktails, Mirador Champagne Bar, outside at the clifftop. There was a gin-and- tonic promotion, which proved to be an introduction to a Portuguse gin, Big Boss, from the long-established Nato Costa distillery: Big Boss uses 11 botanicals and, certainly, it is a distinctly dry gin, which some say highlights angelica and cardamom. It was served in a big tulip glass, with lots of ice and that now-universal tonic, by Fever-Tree. As the light faded, we walked across to O Pescador, choosing our enormous seabass from a display outside, by the cooking station. Inside, the fish was later presented, grilled with marvellous local vegetables. Yes, I ate well, in fact very well, while staying at the luxury Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites – and Le Jardim breakfast showed off the best of local produce, plus a chef in whites who threw away my first plate of eggs because he was not 100% happy with them. NOW TAKE A BEACH WALK, BELOW