Our experience at the five-star Vilalara Thalassa Resort in Portugal’s Algarve region.
Let me start this by saying I (subconsciously) did everything I could to make the Vilalara Thalassa Resort in Portugal’s Algarve region hate me.
We arrived on a Friday and I booked our room for … Saturday. When we were actually, um, going to be in Sintra (almost three hours away) on Saturday. #Fail
I then had to use the manager’s cell phone to make a long-distance (and I’m sure expensive) call to Asia, where Hotels.com is apparently based. #Fail
Hotels.com then had to call the manager – who was sitting across from me – on another phone line to ensure they were OK with me switching dates. Trust me, I tried to tell them I was literally an arm’s length away and he didn’t need to make two calls, but nonetheless we had yet another #Fail (and to be fair, I totally get where Hotels.com was coming from.)
Throughout the “Hurricane Stephanie” havoc I wreaked on their quiet Friday afternoon, the Vilalara team remained smiling – even laughing – at the craziness at hand. That, in and of itself, makes this hotel a dream destination in Portugal’s coastal Algarve region. But at the paradise that is Vilalara Thalassa Resort, this was only the beginning.
Oh, before I go further into swooning over this resort, let me assure you: My visit wasn’t sponsored. I just really, really liked it here.
Like, a lot.
On to the good stuff! The five-star Vilalara Thalassa Resort is pretty enormous; it has about 100 rooms, including suites and junior suites. Some of these suites also have balconies and patios with cozy beds overlooking the pools. Said differently, you can sleep on a bed on a patio in the Algarve.
I’ll let you dream about that for a second.
OK, you’re back? (Probably not … my heart’s still in Portugal, too). Vilalara Thalassa also has six pools, a luxury spa, multiple restaurants, a private beach and a free sauna and steam room.
Oh, in case patio beds weren’t enough, I forgot to mention the cozy outdoor beds that sit on Vilalara’s hilltop, overlooking the pools, the beach and the heaven that is Portugal’s Algarve region. (Because there are cozy beds that sit on Vilalara’s hilltop that overlook HEAVEN).
I could – very obviously – go on and on about this gem of a resort, but let’s be real: Words are hardly as pretty as pictures. So without further ado, let’s take a quick little tour through what I hope to one day call home. Er, at least a second home.
THE PRIVATE BEACH
To be accurate, Portugal actually has no private beaches; this one is just technically “private” because it’s almost impossible for people to swim to from other beaches, and the only mainland access is through Vilalara.
This beach was everything I imagined when I dreamed of the Algarve’s beaches. Golden cliffs. Waves crashing against towering rock formations some three feet off the shore. And quiet – the absolute quiet is what truly placed us smack dab in the middle of heaven. While Frank took a nap on the beach chairs, I frolicked around in my Elephant Pants soaking up the scenery.
Sadly, we visited during the off season (which is why the resort was so empty). While positive in the sense we were one of maybe 12 guests, the negative was we had no pool time. But either way, those pools sure are pretty.
THE HILLTOP BEDS
The outdoor beds! Oh, the outdoor beds! After lounging in the sun (or Elephant Pant frolicking in my case), then eating and drinking celebratory “we made it and my screw up didn’t matter!” drinks, we took a good old fashioned nap on these cozy beds overlooking the entire resort grounds. I spent oh-so-much time photographing said nap, but Frank? Well, he was out.
I didn’t take any photos in the spa because, well, does anyone? We also didn’t pay for any services because I knew I’d be dropping my allowance and then some on fancy date-night dinner. So instead, we tried out the free sauna and steam room. Both were clean and left us feeling refreshed, and made us feel part of the “spa culture” even though we couldn’t afford it.
You have two choices for restaurants, the more casual restaurant/ bar by the pool, or the fancy, upscale dining experience overlooking the Algarve’s cliffs. We tried both, and while fancy dining was nice, we were blown away by the casual-yet-delicious fare at our poolside lunch. (Note: We ate more than just the bread pictured below, but by the time the food arrived we were too ravenous to photograph…)
I obviously showed up to Vilalara in rare form – having booked the wrong day, and not knowing how to fix it – so because they felt bad for me, we got a free upgrade from basic room to suite. #LivingRight #FailNoMore.
The suite was just what we needed to recover from Hurricane Stephanie + a wicked case of jetlag, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fall asleep on that patio bed (after taking the “definitely not posed” photos with my Lonely Planet Portugal book – ha!).
As I mentioned, we visited Vilalara Thalassa in the off season (February), which is why there are almost no guests in any of these photos. Is it different in the summertime? I’m sure. But either way, if you’re visiting the Algarve, make sure Vilalara Thalassa is on your itinerary (and, um, for the right date…).