Picture this: a coastline necklaced with powdery beaches and cavern-riddled cliffs pounded by the Atlantic surf. The scenery alone has lured legions of vacation-seekers to the Algarve since the 1960s tourism boom. Add active adventures, rich culture and the warm hospitality that’s part of Portugal’s DNA, and today’s experience-thirsty travelers are equally charmed. What’s more, the year-round sunshine is a surefire cure for seasonal affective disorder. In fact, local experts tell us that the region’s traditional tourism seasons may no longer exist. The Algarve is perhaps even more delightful during the costumed revelry of February Carnaval than during the busy summer season of July and August. And with United launching direct Newark-to-Faro flights in May, we say that now is the time to go. Here are some tips for your trip.

The road to the Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort takes you through white-washed villages on hilly terrain. So, the property’s sublime oceanside setting isn’t immediately apparent. But cross the lobby and step out onto the terrace and you’ll be gobsmacked by the natural grandeur. Beyond the shimmering pool, a dramatic rock formation rises above the ocean, a palette of marigold and ochre against the blue. The view is so fine it takes center stage for destination weddings, hosted in a clifftop garden belvedere—also the spot for the “Dining Delight” experience, a candlelit dinner featuring a tasting menu paired with Portuguese wines. These vistas compete with cocktails and sushi as the star attraction at the Sky Bar, open in the summer.

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort
For wellness seekers, Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort offers yoga or meditative walks in a serene setting. (Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort)

The hotel’s location gives you direct access to a coastal pathway leading to the legendary rock formations known as the Algar Seco. Stairs chiseled into the stone take you through caves and tunnels. High above the sea, the Carvoeiro Boardwalk leads from the Algar Seco to the fishing village of Carvoeiro, its bleached houses clinging to the hills above a pretty cliff-flanked beach (a 10-minute walk from the hotel). In the other direction, the Seven Hanging Valleys is one of the Algarve’s top walking trails. The seven-mile path doesn’t just offer photo ops, but also a chance to learn about the geology (sinkholes galore), history, and flora and fauna, including the killer whales sometimes visible offshore. The Tivoli Carvoeiro works with entertaining local guide Fabio Rodrigues of Algar Fun. Note that Fabio can also arrange itineraries farther afield, such as visiting the castle towns and wineries of Alentejo.

In fact, experiential travel is a central tenet of Tivoli Hotels & Resorts, the Portuguese brand founded in 1933 and acquired by Minor Hotels in 2015. The “Experience More” program provides guests with insider destination access, whether it be picnicking at a locals’ favorite spot (Sítio das Fontes), shopping for traditional Portuguese pottery at a nearby workshop (Porches Pottery), or a chef’s cooking class which starts at the local market to pick up ingredients.

Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort
The family-friendly Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside. (Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort)

Though many guests of the Tivoli Carvoeiro are outdoors enthusiasts keen to explore the area, others come to relax at the beach. For families with kids in tow, the professional monitors at the kids' club organize indoor and outdoor activities for children aged four to 12. For romance-seeking couples, the Tivoli Spa offers “a ritual of intimacy” combining a couple’s massage, facial and rose-scented bubble bath for two. The spa, managed by Ana Marques, evokes the destination via signature treatments using local ingredients, such as pomegranate massage oil, orange flowers and just-picked lavender. The Tivoli Sea Essence incorporates warm, polished seashells and sea salt.

The fine dining restaurant, One, is also a showcase for the region’s bounty. Executive Chef Bruno Augusto—fond of fishing himself—sources ingredients from local suppliers, such as hake caught by fishermen, lamb from Alentejo and shellfish harvested from the Ria Formosa estuary, a protected nature reserve. Menu highlights include the “Land and Sea” starter, a platter of Portuguese favorites, including fried Moray eel, Iberico ham and xerem, a clam-studded cornmeal porridge. The bestseller is the octopus tempura, which never comes off the menu. Did you know that tempura, the batter-fried specialty associated with Japan, is originally from Portugal?

Booking tips: With such killer panoramas, it’s not surprising that of the 248 guestrooms (including seven suites), the sea view rooms are the most requested. The Junior Suite Premium even comes with a jacuzzi on the terrace. The best rooms in the house are the two Carvoeiro Suites, equipped with a separate living room, ocean-facing tub, and furnished balcony for sunset drinks. For VIP bookings, reach out to Front Office Manager Sofia Ramos ([email protected]). She can also take care of concierge requests, such as boat trips and spa appointments. The Tivoli Carvoeiro is overseen by lovely General Manager João Corte-Real, who previously managed Anantara hotels in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

THE MARE BISTRO at Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort
The Mare Bistro at Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort offers light meals made with fresh, local ingredients. It is open from April to October. (Tivoli Carvoeiro Algarve Resort)

The western Algarve exudes a laid-back surfer vibe. Not far from the southwestern tip of continental Europe at Cabo de São Vicente, the town of Sagres is home to wide sandy beaches and mind-bogglingly beautiful landscapes. It’s here on a nature reserve that Martinhal Hotels & Resorts debuted a next-level family hospitality experience in 2010: a village-like, 100-acre enclave carefully designed to blend into the surrounding landscape. At the time, the area was considered to be a remote “Wild West,” too far from Faro Airport to work for tourism. Yet the concept took off.

Long before the multi-gen travel trend, Martinhal filled a hospitality void for luxury-seeking families. Too often couples who become parents stop traveling. Martinhal integrates the needs of both kids and adults so that everyone has a good time on vacation. In fact, the entrepreneurial couple behind the brand, Roman and Chitra Stern, raised their four kids on the property and incorporated firsthand experience and child feedback into perfecting the offering. (And the airport? A fast highway means the trip takes an hour and 20 minutes.)

Sunrise yoga, a surf lesson or stand up paddle tour in the afternoon, drinks by the pool, a post-dinner round of air hockey in the game room… Such is life at Martinhal Sagres, the flagship for the pioneering hospitality group that now has four resorts and residences in Portugal. Or just kick your feet up and do nothing, the kids happily ensconced at the Fox Club, making birdhouses at the Explorer Nature Camp or learning new skills at the Tennis Academy. The options are dizzying. There’s even a treasure hunt for children to find the fairy houses hidden all over the grounds. Find them all and get a prize.

Martinhal Sagres is a family-friendly beach resort featuring a five-star hotel and a selection of luxury family villas.
Martinhal Sagres is a family-friendly beach resort featuring a five-star hotel and a selection of luxury family villas. (Martinhal Sagres )

The best part of this cornucopian choice? You can step away from the planning. The helpful concierge team ([email protected]) can plan as much or as little as you’d like; the dedicated MyMartinhal concierge portal also means activity planning and restaurant bookings are a click away. Note: Reservations are requested at the onsite restaurants, whether you choose Os Gambozinos, complete with a children’s buffet and an adjacent playground, or As Dunas, a seafood restaurant next to the beach where the catch of the day is displayed on ice next to the lobster aquarium. Though it’s tempting to have breakfast in your room, the glorious buffet at O Terraço is not to be missed.

A Martinhal signature is the luxury of space. Like a residential community, the 155 villas come with living rooms, multiple bedrooms (choose from two to five), washing machines, and kitchens with all the gadgetry. The Ocean Houses are particularly in demand because of the panoramic terraces with sea views. For families traveling with grandparents, consider booking an additional hotel room—there are 37 in a wing off the lobby. The design was overseen by Sir Terence Conran, with custom furniture, such as cork-accented tables, made exclusively for Martinhal in Portugal. For VIP bookings, reach out to Reservations Manager Alexandra Lopes ([email protected]). Go à la carte, or book a special package such as inclusive half-board.

Martinhal Sagres
(Martinhal Sagres)

Overall, it’s the attention to detail that stands out at Martinhal Sagres. Kid-pleasing trampolines are placed strategically around the property. The M Bar, oozing surfer vibes, makes cocktails alongside mocktails for children to enjoy in their own dedicated corner. The Finisterra Spa, set in lavender-scented gardens, offers “Mum and Child” facials, “Dad and Child” massages, and treatments for teens and tweens. The restaurant chefs blend homemade purees for babies as young as six months. A dedicated Baby Concierge means you can leave the baby gear—and the hassle—at home. Everything from a baby bath to a bottle warmer can be arranged free of charge.

So, at the end of the day, everyone finds their bliss.

Wine Tourism

In pursuit of a good glass of wine? The Algarve is actually where wine-making got its start in Portugal, thanks to the Phoenicians. Today’s vineyards are reviving indigenous grape varieties in thrilling blends. Open to visitors, the art-filled Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate shows off sculptures in the gardens. Dating to the early 19th century, the Morgado do Quintão estate is surrounded by orange groves and olive orchards. Arvad Winery, overlooking the Arade river, offers guided visits and tastings. It’s even possible to book a round-trip boat ride between Portimão and Arvad Winery. Founded in Algoz in 2001, Quinta do Barranco Longo produces renowned wines found on the menus of Portugal’s top restaurants.

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