BIRDS take flight into the clear blue sky, over sparkling marshes, as the sea laps against the sandy shore.
Welcome to the Salgados Lagoon Natural Reserve, on Portugal’s Algarve coast — where the 150 species of birds were clearly drawing as much comfort from the landscape’s calm beauty as we were.
But our 5-star Salgados Palace Resort, just a five-minute stroll from the reserve, was a haven in itself. On the outskirts of the buzzing town of Albufeira, it is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
There is more of the same at the nearby beach of Praia dos Salgados, too. Less crowded than neigh-bouring beaches, it features rolling dunesa and four miles of soft sand.
After getting up close and personal with nature at the reserve, we indulged in a pistachio ice cream and ice- cold beer at the Os Salgados beach bar.
Then it was on to nearby Mama Mia, a spot-on Italian in the VidaMar hotel complex, where we enjoyed pizza while watching surfers and bodyboarders do battle with the waves.
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Loveholidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 5-star Salgados Palace Resort in Albufeira from £780pp including return flights from Stansted on September 23, 2019, based on two adults sharing, or £770pp from Manchester.
For more info, visit loveholidays.com or call 0203 870 6844.
OUT & ABOUT: For trips to Benagil Cave and the nature park, see experitour.com and albufeira.com.
SUNLIGHT FLOODS INTERIOR OF CAVE
The beaches may be stunning but a boat trip reveals in its full glory the other gem of this part of the Algarves — its rocky coastline and many caves.
Just 20 minutes along the coast we came to the stunningly beautiful Benagil Cave. Bobbing toward it, you are rewarded with an Instagram-gold photo opportunity as sunlight floods through the giant, eye-shaped hole in its roof.
The more adventurous can admire the cave from within on kayaking and paddleboarding trips from the fishing village of Benagil itself.
It was tempting never to leave the splendid serenity of the Salgados Palace Resort.
Four outdoor pools, including two for kids and a play pirate ship, are set in front of the modern, low-rise hotel buildings.
From the hotel’s upper floors, the manicured greens of Salgados Golf Course hove into view, as well as the simpler beauty of the local nature reserve.
Ask for a room with a view of the sea or nature reserve, where from your balcony you will be able to kick back and enjoy the perfect sunset drink.
Stay all-inclusive at the hotel and you will have your pick of three restaurants, two buffet-style and one a-la-carte.
Fancy a drink? Order a cocktail or two by the pool or in the impressive lobby, but for the ultimate sun-downer head to the bar of the Moonlight restaurant on the hotel’s fifth floor.
The views go down a treat while enjoying a drink but the restaurant is well worth a visit too.
A roster of local chefs take turns to create menus inspired by the best Portuguese cuisine. But it is worth booking as soon as you arrive.
This is a big hotel and out of season you may find yourself sharing it with work conferences. But at least there is more room by the pools in the day!
Or enjoy a dip in the indoor pool, Jacuzzi and Turkish bath.
CHANCE TO ENGAGE WITH NATURE
The rooms are spacious and breezy, with copious cupboards, huge beds and slick iPad-style control systems for the lighting and aircon. But it is the staff who really make this place stand out — friendly, approachable and endlessly knowledgeable about the surrounding area.
For a livelier end to your evening, the clubs and bars of Albufeira are a mere ten-minute bus or taxi ride away. The town’s old quarter has a gentler pace, offering authentic Portugese food and watering holes.
If you are looking for a hotel that offers all the amenities you want for a super-relaxing and comfortable break — but also the chance to engage with nature — Salgados Palace is your perfect pick.
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