Hotel Review: Pine Cliffs Hotel, A Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve in Portugal – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine

Renate Ruge enjoys a luxury stay at this 5-star beach resort on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Words by Renate Ruge
Fresh scents of pine fill the air as I walk through the picturesque clifftop gardens among the majestic pine trees of the aptly named luxury retreat, Pine Cliffs. This five-star resort is set in a central location perched above the longest stretch of golden sand in the Algarve, Praia da Falésia.
Tucked just far enough away from the touristy bits of Albufeira, its traditional white buildings are strung like pearls along amber-red sandstone craggy cliffs. Running four miles along the edge of the Atlantic, Falésia beach is perfect for a morning stroll, or a spot of sunbathing on the deckchairs at the smart beach club.

Pine Cliffs Hotel, Ocean Suites and Spa, and residence properties are a franchise of Marriott International, under The Luxury Collection brand, found just a short 30-minute journey from Faro International Airport. Arrive in daylight hours and the drive along the coast takes in sea views with picture-perfect snapshots of the nearby upscale marina at Vilamoura.
Like the weather (the Algarve basks in 300 days of sunshine a year), the greeting at Pine Cliffs’ grand reception is warm. The porter remarks that, while the resort has a village feel, it’s bigger than some local hamlets, sprawling over 72 hectares and encompassing eight swimming pools, with room for up to 3,000 guests if every bed in every hotel room, apartment and villa were slept in. However, despite its size, there’s a relaxed and unhurried vibe that affords a real sense of space. Other upsides include a long list of activities and endless places to eat.
My check-in at the hotel, also the resort’s central hub, is swift. The white and modern airy reception, with a wrought iron spherical chandelier at its centre, celebrates traditional Portuguese style with Moorish influences in its archways, internal courtyards and bubbling fountains, creating a strong sense of place. Beautifully ornate hand painted tiles called ‘azulejos’ are a design signature, retained to preserve authenticity, despite recent renovations.

The elegant Portuguese flair flows into spacious rooms with a calming colour palette and decorative headboards in blue, green, or red tiles. Some rooms, like mine, have a sea view, balcony terrace and outdoor seating. Inside, there’s a large comfortable bed, armchair and sofa, tiled floors, ample storage space with built-in wardrobes and safe and a stylish floral arrangement sits on the desk. The well-equipped bathroom has a walk-in rain shower, deep bathtub and plenty of shelves above the vanity, as well as custom-blended Luxury Collection bath amenities, soft bathrobes and slippers.
The resort has 217 guest rooms, accommodation options range from classical low-rise rooms with balconies to chic suites, majestic villas and family home-style accommodation that look over pools, beautifully landscaped gardens or, like the recently opened Ocean View apartments, enjoy wide-reaching views of the Atlantic’s infinite blue.
Service-wise, nothing’s too much trouble with 24-hour room service, laundry/dry cleaning, twice-daily maid service, tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge. Fresh water is offered daily, and Wi-Fi is free throughout.

With the choice of 11 restaurants and bars here, you might never leave the resort.
Let’s start with breakfast, a grand affair served indoors – and out – at Jardim Colonial. Expect pastries, homemade jams and spreads, cereals, a brilliant fresh fruit bar with juices and detox water, cheese, cold cuts from smoked salmon to local hams, and an egg station for hot breakfasts cooked to your request. Being offered a welcome drink of local sparkling wine as you wait to be seated is a thoughtful touch.
Nearby Zest café is perfect for an alternative non-buffet breakfast and a change of scene. Also, less busy than the main dining room, it’s worth a stop for healthy options like avocado on toast and goji berry smoothie.
There’s no better place to enjoy lunch than at my pick of the bunch, Maré, a seafood restaurant on the beach with panoramic views. A glass-fronted elevator transports guests down the steep cliff to a wooden walkway leading to the sea.
The menu offers up easy-going plates, like pan-fried clams scented with coriander, huge grilled prawns, tangy gazpacho, octopus salad and for mains, fish from a long list of the fresh-off-the-boat options. Seasoned with salt from local salt flats and perfectly char-grilled, your catch of the day is then expertly filleted at the table.
I recommend the seabass with a chilled glass of Vino Verde before retiring to the upper deck with a coffee or cooling homemade lemonade cocktail to lounge on Balinese sun beds. An ice cream truck at the door does a good trade in a rainbow of icy flavours.
Doing the rounds, other dining options include Corda café for casual fare like wraps, poke bowls or a quick bowl of pasta; Piri-Piri steakhouse (open seasonally for dinner) is perfect for meat lovers; O Pescador, a traditional fisherman’s restaurant serving, as the name suggests, excellent fresh fish in a white table-clothed dining room, with options to dine al fresco as tables spill outdoors to a pretty patio framed with bougainvillea.
O Grill, a relaxed all-day diner beside the golf course, fires up live cooking stations of an evening, while traditional Japanese specialities with a touch of Mediterranean flair are enjoyed in a garden setting at Yakuza Algarve by Olivier. Open seasonally for dinner, they are perfect for a romantic supper.
Come evening, stunning sunsets are paired with sparkling cocktails of the same rose-hued colour at Mirador Champagne Bar (open seasonally). A handy clock at the door of the bar predicts the time of sunset on the day so tables, best reserved in advance, are perfectly timed for sundowners at this stunning cliff top location toasting the amazing views with Laurent Perrier bubbles. A saxophonist plays as the sun melts into the sea.
There’s also wine tasting at the Wine Shop where you can try before you buy a bottle, peruse and sample stellar local drops.

For a more relaxing way to spend your day, The Serenity SPA lures bathing beauties into ‘The Art of Well Being’. This 1,100 sqm, state-of-the-art facility has 13 treatment rooms including the glamorous Serenity Aurum Suite. The Serenity Thermal Oasis is the perfect pick-me-up for weary travellers, where guests work their way around Finnish saunas and steam rooms, jacuzzi and hydrotherapy spa pool.
The mood is laid back and families are very welcome. Children play happily in dedicated kids pools and adult-only options for swimming are plentiful among six other outdoor pools to dip into, while the serene heated indoor lap pool, jacuzzi and gym are havens for grown-ups.
The lengthy list of treatments using leading spa products is hard to choose from. Signature therapies draw inspiration from indigenous culture and healing traditions using ingredients of the Algarve, like the scrub massage ‘Sentir o Algarve’ treatment, using salt from Ria Formosa to cleanse, exfoliate and stimulate body and mind. Alternatively, the first CBD spa treatment in Portugal is found here too. Either way you’ll float back out into the sunshine feeling brand new.

Pine Cliffs leisure and sports facilities are top drawer, including their renowned golf and tennis academies, a super kids club and a host of wellness experiences, as mentioned above, at its lavish spa.
To work off the indulgent dining, two gyms are fitted out with top-of-the-range Technogym cardio equipment and weights. The adjacent sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and lovely indoor pool are a real highlight. Fitness enthusiasts may also enjoy the Bootcamp Active circuit, where you can work up a sweat, following obstacles around a 250-metre palm fringed running path.
Group classes like spinning, Pilates, yoga, meditation, take place at smart fitness studio Studio Active. A Pilates reformer promises to improve flexibility and balance. If, like me, you occasionally find yourself ‘off balance’, pro trainers like Carlos are on hand to tweak your technique.

Mimo is the standout cookery school cum concept store where you can learn to cook a Cataplana – a traditional Algarve stew-like dish of clams, chorizo and tomatoes cooked in a copper pan. After a steamy and entertaining morning of prepping, chopping and mastering knife skills my class sat down to a group lunch to enjoy the spoils with talented – and patient – chefs Joana Apolónia and Pedro Pinto. A fun experience for foodies and wannabe cooks.
Set in pretty piazza Lemon Square filled with its traditional tiles and citrus trees, Mimo’s also the perfect place to indulge in some late afternoon tapas teamed with a chilled bottle of rosé. The small plates of pulled duck, carrot bruschetta, flaming sausage flambéed in local schnapps, Medrohno are especially delicious.
On Saturday nights local chefs showcase their dishes at Mimo’s Supper Club, where you can learn about the Algarve kitchen while dining.

Golfers are drawn here for nearby championship courses and Pine Cliff’s impressive nine-hole clifftop golf course, set among the pines, with breath-taking coastal views. Its signature hole, the ‘Devil’s Parlour’– a famously challenging, ravine-traversing par-3 – requires a precise game. The Golf Academy and Pro Shop offer everything hobby golfers or tournament players might need, including a practice area with landscaped driving range and nine flag positions, short game area, putting green, equipment rental and shop.

Keen tennis players should head to Annabel Croft Tennis Academy for a game on one of its five ATP floodlit courts (red clay and acrylic). The coaching programme is headed by the eponymous former British No.1 with top-quality coaching to make you an ace – even for beginners.

There’s no shortage of fun for the little ones at supervised children’s village Porto Pirata with its two huge pirate ships, basketball court, children’s pool, bouncy castle and mini golf. A daily programme of activities will keep them happily occupied for hours. Eight to twelve-year-olds join the Junior Club for football, archery, arts and crafts and cricket while budding young golfers tee off at Pine Cliffs’ Golf Academy.

Pine Cliffs is an elegantly spacious retreat with an unhurried vibe. Family friendly, days are filled with beach walks or the beach club, pool and a plethora of leisure facilities including world class golf and tennis and a stellar destination spa. Add to that plentiful places to drink and dine including the lovely restaurant on the beach, Maré. Cooking school Mimo is a real highlight for foodies and sundowners at the clifftop champagne bar Mirador to toast sunset not to be missed. It’s the perfect place for a rejuvenating break in the sunny Algarve.

Rooms can be booked from £189 based on two adults sharing a deluxe room resort view, including breakfast (based on November travel).
Address: Praia da Falésia, PO Box 644, 8200-909 Albufeira, Algarve Portugal
Phone: (+351) 289 500 100
Website: pinecliffs.com
Note – For December pricing visit pinecliffs.com/en/festive season
Stays at Pine Cliffs Hotel start from €252.00 per night including breakfast, based on two adults sharing a deluxe room resort view in December 2022. 


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