Monarch (www.flymonarch.com) has flights to Faro International
from Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester. Check the website for last minute deals. Golf bags must be pre-booked and paid for. Extra leg room and seat selection is available on some flights.
Where to play
Perched on a rugged, orange cliff, the par-3 16th on the Royal Course is one of the most photographed holes in the world. Although the Ocean Course lives in its sister’s shadow somewhat, the sea views and the rollercoaster fairways make this course a beauty.
Two minutes drive down the road lies Quinta do Lago in the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
There are two courses the North and South, each of which features water. The latter is the tougher of the two and has hosted eight Portuguese Opens.
If you walk to the edge of the resort you’ll reach the salt marshes which are home to a host of birds and other wildlife. It’s in this particularly beautiful spot that the fairways of another great course, San Lorenzo, twist and turn, using the spectacular views of the sea and the marsh water to great effect.
Ten minutes to the west lies Vila Sol, one of the best courses in Europe. Every hole offers a new delight, although clipping the pines with a well-struck shot can be frustrating.
Also unmissable at Vilamoura is the Frank Pennink-designed Old Course an umbrella-pined oasis in the metropolis. The par 3s are particularly good and although the greens are tricky, with the right club selection you could see some birdies flying your way.
Where to stay
Stay in any of the Vale do Lobo properties and you’ll be given a card which entitles you to savings on things such as restaurants and green fees.
Club Med Da Balaia is perfect for families containing only one golfer as
there’s a golf desk where you can book tee times and hook up with other players. Transfers to courses are included and tournaments arranged. Golfing couples can deposit babies aged over four months in the crèche.
Vila Sol is the Algarve’s only “Leading Hotel of the World”. A wonder of chrome, glass and wood with a good handful of art thrown in, the hotel has a contemporary feel.
Vilamoura is a modern, purpose-built resort offering high-rise hotels and apartments. There’s a wide beach but it’s not nearly as pretty as the dunes and cliffs of Vale do Lobo. However, the casino and bar-packed marina make this a lively centre and great for people watching.
There is a large shopping mall outside the region’s capital of Faro but the historic town centre contains some good shops too. There are golf equipment stores everywhere.
Loulé is one of the most historic cities in Portugal and has Roman ruins and a castle. Cool off on a hot day on the water slides at Aqualand in central Algarve. Armação de Pêra is a fishing village with one of the biggest beaches on the Algarve. Tavira is one of the most attractive market towns in the region with cobbled streets and fine churches.
East of Tennis Valley in Vale do Lobo, with views over the dunes, lies The Shack. Prices are good and the food which varies from four-inch thick homemade burgers to prawns in garlic is outstanding. Gigi’s on the beach in Quinta do Lago has a daily fish menu.
For information on Vilamoura golf packages visit www.vilamouragolf.com.
VALE DO LOBO
QUINTA DO LAGO
CLUB MED DA BALAIA