Penha Longa Golf Resort and Spa, Portugal, says: "Penha Longa is a breathtakingly beautiful location which encompasses a luxurious hotel, a 19th-century palace originally founded as a monastry in the 14th-century, two spectacular golf courses and a stunning Six Senses spa."
Part of the Ritz-Carlton group of hotels (which boasts the Ritz in London
as the jewel in its crown), Penha Longa is a sprawling pink-walled affair, handsomely housing 194 rooms, five restaurants, two championship golf courses, and newly renovated Six Senses Spa. Designed around
a palazzo-type estate, set on 545 acres of land, there’s also ample room for a gym, tennis courts, jogging tracks, squash courts, horseback riding and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. There’s a pretty walled papel garden, Jardim do Núncio, and an exquisite monastery that dates back to the 14th century when the location provided a quiet retreat for Portuguese royalty.
Life is for lounging:
One of the most wonderful discoveries on our short break was the Amphibious Lounger. Sort of a cross between a giant Fat Boy beanbag and a lilo, the Amphibious Lounger invites you to lie back and languish in the pool, watching sparkling diamonds of sunlight dancing on the water, as you take in the luxuriant surroundings where the clear blue sky meets the lush greenery of the Sintra National Park. Never mind that it’s a slightly less elegant affair actually getting on the darn thing, legs akimbo as you try to hoist yourself up (best done when the pool area is bereft of too many fellow bathers, who might pretend they are snoozing under their sunglasses, but are secretly rather amused by your various attempts to hop on the beast). My son Joe, seven, adopted a bolder approach, which was to take a running leap as a vacant lounger wafted past, which worked for him. Once safely on board, however, we both agreed this was a most pleasurable manner to drift off in a dreamy floating state.
Joe was delighted by the bundle of gifts waiting for him in our room. In anticipation of his action-packed programme of activities at the children’s club, there was a Scallywags baseball cap and rucksack, while my gift was a beach bag and some posh suntan lotion. Powder Byrne prides itself on its excellent childcare and children’s clubs, which run during July and August. There's a pb crèche (catering for four months to three years), Scallywags (four to eight years) and The Zone (for nine to 12 years). Children's clubs have their own site a short walk from the hotel, though guests can also use the hotel’s own (unsupervised) play room and games room, where children can mingle with the young non-English speaking guests (language doesn’t seem to be much of a barrier when you’re talking Xbox).
The Six Senses Spa is designed to offer a haven of tranquillity and inner peace. Before my massage, the therapist suggested I took a dip in the “contrast” pool, where you test your steel by dipping yourself in the icy water before immersing yourself in the warm (or was I supposed to do it the other way round?). Either way,
I was soon languishing on a lounger, listening to the sweet sounds of insects and birds and the gentle trickle of the water features designed to promote a meditative and contemplative ambience. Yes, I was feeling meditative
and contemplative (actually, I was contemplating what I might eat for lunch…). I was lulled further into a mood of relaxation by an hour-long massage – always a good sign,
I think, when you have to be awoken at the end of it.
It’s all mod cons within the comfortable rooms – flat screen television,
iPod docking stations, Nespresso machines, swish power showers. You can opt to stay in a deluxe room, a premium room or - for the ultimate indulgence - one of the hotel's newly refurbished suites.
Where to eat:
You'll be spoilt for choice, with five restaurants to choose from. On our first night, we decided to wander down the cobblestone path to eat at Arola. With a contemporary, almost night-clubby, feel – the resident DJ treats diners
to a mix of funk, jazz and soul while they eat – the décor
is a tasteful blend of white and silver chairs and leather banquettes, while the ambient lighting gives an ultra-violet glow. The cuisine is tapas with a modern Portuguese twist. Our charming waiter, who looked like some distant cousin of Cristiano Ronaldo, suggested that I sampled the chef’s selection of mini dishes with his recommendation of wines for each course, so while Joe tucked into a burger from the children’s menu and had fun doodling in an activity sheet, I
tried the most melt-in-the-mouth langoustine, meaty tapas and lots of garlicky loveliness until I could eat no more. Well, apart from dessert (wafer-thin slices of marinated fresh pineapple, with
a refreshing sorbet on the side).
When to go:
Powder Byrne resort teams and childcare programmes are available throughout July and August 2014. Families can enjoy the resort concierge service, shuttles to and from the beaches and Lisbon and Sinatra, plus exclusive tennis coaching.
Early-bird prices for a week at the Penha Longa Golf Resort & Spa in July and August cost from £928 per adult, in a deluxe resort view room, half-board. Prices start from £737 per person sharing a Forest View room, B&B for a seven-night stay. Children from two years upwards on an extra bed in their parents' room from £165 in July and August on B&B. Under-twos are free with Powder Byrne when sharing their parents.
Flight prices from London to Lisbon start from around £175 per person in ecomony - early booking is recommended to secure the best deal.
Six Senses Spa for the grown-ups.
The beautiful beaches of Estoril and Cascais are a short car journey away.
Outdoor activities include kart-cross, hiking, jeep tours and surfing.
Day trips to Lisbon, a 30-minute drive from the Penha Longa resort. Among the highlights are the Jardim Bordallo Pinheiro (the garden of the City Museum) which is filled with colourful animal sculptures by lengendary artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro, and the Parque Das Nacoes, which has playgrounds, gardens, a museum, a funicular railway and the Oceanario aquarium.
All prices quoted are subject to change.
For further details, see Penha Longa Resort and Powder Byrne.
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