Get ready to pack your clubs, sunglasses, and swimsuit. Here are the top golf hotels in Portugal’s Faro District, where the golf courses are arguably as spectacular as the beaches.
Set on more than 160 acres of tree-lined fairways and lush gardens, the 217-room Pine Cliffs Hotel greets guests with sweeping vistas of the sandstone cliffs and deep blue ocean below. Health and leisure facilities include a nine-hole golf course overlooking the ocean; six pool, elevator beach access; the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy, which offers instruction on five floodlit courts; a fitness center with classes; and the stunning Serenity Spa, which features a steam room, sauna, and whirlpools. Elegant rooms feature spacious modern bathrooms (some with soaking tubs) and furnished terraces overlooking the ocean or lush grounds (but no free in-room Wi-Fi). The luxurious suites at Pine Cliffs Residence, the apartment-style section of the resort, all feature well-equipped kitchenettes, dining and living areas. Multiple dining options include an outdoor Champagne bar and chic health food spot.
This traditional resort is within the grounds of the Quinta do Lago Country Club, and is no more than a 10-minute drive from four world-class golf courses, including Quinta do Lago Sul, one of the most highly regarded in the region. (Staff can assist guests in booking tee times for the nearby golf courses.) The 141 rooms are elegant and sizable, with king-sized beds, robes, marble bathrooms, furnished balconies, minibar, and free Wi-Fi. But decor in the rooms and throughout the property is on the tired side. Excellent features include indoor and outdoor pools, buffet and a la carte restaurants, an expansive spa, and kids' club.
Penina Hotel & Golf Resort is situated on 360 acres of rolling golf courses and manicured lawns. Its centerpiece is the championship course, which was designed by the legendary British golfer Henry Cotton, and was the first 18-hole course in the Algarve (it has since hosted the Portuguese Open). The course design and layout are excellent, though some past guests have commented about unrepaired pitch marks. The hotel also has an 18-hole resort course and a nine-hole academy course for novices, plus a pro shop, driving range, practice bunker, putting and chipping greens, and a golf academy with two PGA professionals. The 188 contemporary rooms feature flat-screen TVs, minibars, electric kettles with free coffee and tea, robes, and free Wi-Fi. Some have mountain views and balconies.
The 176-room Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa sits on beautiful grounds that include the 18-hole Pinhal Golf Course, a hilly course with waterholes and bunkers. The upscale, family-friendly hotel has a bright, contemporary style with a touch more personality than your average Hilton. Most of the spacious rooms feature details like hand-painted traditional tile art, and all come with private balconies, marble bathrooms, large flat-screen TVs, and tea and coffee facilities. In addition to the hotel-run golf course, there are six pools, three restaurants and bars, free shuttles, and dedicated off-site beach space -- but note that many of these features are seasonal. The large spa and kids' club incur extra fees -- as does Wi-Fi for non-Hilton members. Sandwiched between Pinhal Golf Course and Oceanico Old Course (the second oldest course in the Algarve), the adjoining As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa apartment complex shares many facilities with Hilton.
Popular with families, Balaia Golf Village Resort is a large golf-focused resort set in manicured grounds. Outdoor sports facilities include a nine-hole golf course, driving ranges, and golf academy, plus four clay tennis, a tennis academy, and a bowling green. The resort also has an impressive six outdoor pools, plus one indoor pool, and is within 12 minutes' walk of a lovely beach. Some of the 250 homey apartments and villas could use a makeover, but all feature full kitchens and terraces.
The Four Seasons Vilamoura (not part of the luxury Four Seasons brand) is a time-share property directly adjacent to Hilton's Pinhal Golf Course. The quiet residential neighborhood is home to several other renowned courses, including the Laguna, the Old Course, and the Millennium, all within a 10-minute drive of the hotel. With several large outdoor and indoor pools, three restaurants serving good food, daily activities for all ages, and a spa, Four Seasons is a good year-round destination for families, couples, and golfers, though it's decor is a little dated throughout. The 114 self-catering apartments are clean and spacious, and all have full kitchens, washer/dryers, and balconies. Free parking is convenient for those exploring the area by car, but there are fees for in-room Wi-Fi and for use of the kids' club. The neighboring Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa has similar rates but is more stylish and upscale, and provides a shuttle to the beach.
As Cascatas Golf Resort & Spa is an upscale apartment complex sandwiched between two 18-hole golf courses in the Algarve resort of Vilamoura. There's little else within walking distance, though a free shuttle ferries guests to the nearest beach and buzzy marina. Its 69 suites are have up to four bedrooms, and all come with simple decor, fully equipped kitchens, spacious lounges, and deluxe bathrooms -- all with jetted tubs. Adjoined to a Hilton hotel, much of the facilities are shared, including six pools, six eateries, an excellent kids' club, and one of the largest spas in Portugal. It all adds up to an impressive property, though those looking for a beachfront stay should check out the family-friendly Crowne Plaza Vilamoura.
Attached to the renowned Vila Sol Golf Course, Pestana Vila Sol is an upscale resort geared mostly to golfers. The 27-hole, par 72 course was designed by British golfer Donald Steel, and includes an 18-hole championship course and nine-hole academy with a driving range. Although most guests here are golfers, the hotel also offers an array of amenities for those seeking some peace and quiet. The large outdoor pool is surrounded by a large deck and gardens, and features a seasonal swim-up bar and a kiddy pool. The hotel also features an indoor pool and whirlpool, fitness center, and basic spa with sauna and steam bath. Two tennis courts and loaner bicycles are also available on-site. Its 189 rooms are sunny and spacious, and have small flat-screen TVs, lightly stocked minibars, and free safes. Suites are housed in villa-style buildings, and feature furnished patios and stylish details such as exposed stone walls and wooden beams.