25 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
I love Alvor and D jao hotel
"I love Alvor it is so quaint and peaceful and yet also a thriving holiday resort. My favourite time to visit is Autumn/winter when its quieter and cooler.
We walk alot to praia da rocha and praia do Vau. Along the beach is beautiful.
We have a few favourite places to dine and a few sunny terraces to frequent.
We stay in dom joao hotel always its a perfect location close by everything .
It is a lovely hotel inside the public areas and the rooms although i find the front of the building ugly and old looking so its a nice suprise when you go inside.
Its about a 45 minute drive from the airport and taxis are not cheap (approx 80 euro) we learned from a fellow traveller to book a transfer company on the internet so we now use yellow fish transfers and they charge 54euro i think it is . They are efficient , i no alot of people who use them. don't use the shuttle service as you will be inside a coach for 3 hours
Alvor has a new boardwalk which means you can now walk all the way acros the estuary.
For shoppersvit also has a new shopping mall in nearby Rocha where you can shop till 00:00.
Coffee lovers you will be in heaven portuguese coffee is good and cheap.."
- Travel date: Mon 29th of October 2012
"I usually go traveling searching for a great,pristine beaches and always try to experience its local culture. I went to this resort because it's a gift-unfortunately it turned out unpleasant!
I should've known it is a place for old people as we arrive I know it is not the right place for young/active people.
we stayed in the new refurbish room for 7 days and in the second days I already feel trapped-there are not many restaurant offering different food-all the same typical menu! and to go to the nearest village you have to walk through the dusty road-and dark at night.
The room is nice but every morning around 8 am you started to hear the maid shouting to each other and bang the doors while they make up the room. They never greet you with smile and very unfriendly!
I find 7 days in this resort was very boring!
- Travel date: Sat 13th of November 2010
At a Pestana your safe is not safe
"We went for 10 day relaxing holiday at the Pestana Dom Joao 2 (Alvor) but on day three it was anything but relaxing as we arrived back from a stroll into Alvor for an evening meal (lots of very good restaurants) to find that our room had been burgled (the door forced open as was the safe which was only held in with wood screws) and all our money , jewellery , camera and wallet had been stolen. The local police are hopeless (we had to spent hours in the station with interpreters to fill out forms which are only in Portugese) the staff were apologetic however 2 months later we are still waiting for Pestana's insurers Generali to get in touch and settle our claim (we're still â¬1000 out of pocket) and the hotel seems reluctant to do anything to help despite repeated requests. This is not what we expect from a 4 star hotel or from a company of Pestana's reputation.
So be warned keeping your valuables in the hotel safe isn't always a good idea.
No photos of this lovely area to post as the camera was stolen ....
Several rooms were also broken into ours was on the 5th floor !
Security around the hotel was poor as anybody could bypass reception by wandering in the rear of the hotel as there are no fences to stop them. We won't be using a Pestana hotel ever again.
And 6 months later neither the hotel or their insurers Generali have been in touch !"
- Travel date: Sun 28th of February 2010
Excellent hotel & great location
"Recently stayed at this hotel and I was very pleased with the whole experience. The hotel is spotless and staff were very friendly. The drinks were a bit pricey so we went to a local bar 'chill out' in the evenings where beers were 1 euro. Nihgtly entertainment was a bit boring but we went out in the evenings so it didn't bother us. The hotel is situated on the beach and a 5 minute walk into Alvor, great location. Food was nice, evening buffet was a little bland but not too bad."
- Travel date: Tue 29th of September 2009
"This is a lovely hotel almost on the beach. The free pool towels were a bonus. The only downside to this hotel was the evening entertainment which was dire. 15 minutes walk away in the village of Alvor there are lots of bars and restaurants and if you shop around you can find drinks much cheaper than they are sold in the hotel. Don't be lullued into a false sense of security by the lovely atmosphere here as we did here of a mugging near to the harbour while we were staying here. This would not put us off returning you just need to stay together and be careful. We made use of the Ali supermarket only minutes from the hotel for our bottled water, chilled cans and snacks.If you have small children the menu might not always be to their liking no pizzas, chicken nuggets etc. but there is plenty to choose from for adults."
- Travel date: Tue 22nd of September 2009
Pestana Dom Joao II
"I recently visited the Dom Joao II with my husband (42), father (71) and my 4 year old son. We thought the hotel was very well presented and very clean. The grounds were well tended and a pleasure to walk around. We had been advised there was a playground for children (also seen on the Thomson video of the hotel) but when we searched for it, it had gone (even though there are lots of signs pointing you towards it!) I asked at reception but they didn't seem to have a clue either. There are 2 plastic houses to play in so not too much interest was shown by my son. However the children's pool was good although very cold so it took a few minutes to get completely immersed as it took your breath away! There is a children's club but as it was term time when we visited it was very quiet with a few toddlers watching TV and drawing.
The hotel food was very good in my opinion. Yes there is only one toaster at breakfast time and you have to put your bread in twice to get it even slightly browned but it was only a minute or two at the most. It was pretty much the same each day but there was a wide choice all in all. The evening buffet was very good and we were all surprised at the good quality. The displays of fruit, veg and salad were great and you almost felt guilty disturbing them. In the week we were there they only had chips twice which I was pleased about as they made the effort to put out other potato variations. The drinks at dinner are expensive as is to be expected. A coke was 2.80 euros whereas a small lager was 2.60 euros!! Wine was 4 euros a glass.
I have to agree with most other reviews that I read about the staff - efficient but not always the friendliest except our chambermaid who was lovely. The bedrooms are well presented and everything was very modern.We heard very little noise from any other guests which was great as this is a pet hate of mine - listening to every scrape amd shout from your neighbours! Airconditioning and heating, satellite TV - Cbeebies came in handy for our little one from time to time. It was handy also to have a small fridge in the wardrobe.
The position of the hotel was great - a few yards from the beach so if you did want to swap between the pool or beach it was no big effort to get there. The only downside with the beach is the trucks that go up and down all day long distributing fresh sand. They can get quite noisy to be honest. The beach is great though and the sand is very fine with loads of shells. Alvor centre was approx 15 minutes walk but as my father has walking difficulties we mostly took a taxi which cost either 3.80 euros or 4.70 euros - not sure why it kept changing as sometimes it was cheaper coming home later than going into town earlier in the evening. Alvor is quite hilly in parts but pleasant enough. There are a few good Irish bars - The Black Stove was our favourite and the live music was of a good standard too. It was just strange having to re-adapt to being in a smoky atmosphere again after being smoke-free in the UK for 2 years.
Lastly I would like to recommend the boat trip we went on. It was with The Algarve Boat Company who operate 2 traditional sailing boats called Trigana and Formosa. The guys who took out the boat were very friendly and entertaining (thanks once again to Toby, Rick and Nuno). The engine was hardly used at all on the trip and thankfully there was sufficient wind to use the sails and get us quite a long way down the coast. The peacefulness of being on a sailboat compared to a noisy engine is far preferable. Drinks were included in the price of the trip (25 Euros per adult) and is well worth it.
Overall a good, relaxing holiday & a modern hotel to be recommended for a very reasonable price. "
- Travel date: Wed 10th of June 2009
We stayed at this hotel for one week in...
"We stayed at this hotel for one week in August . I was very impressed with the refurbishment and the hotel looked very nice on our arrival.
We arrived at 1.30pm and our room was not ready. We were told it would be ready in one hour so we went for some lunch in the restaurant. The hotel is a little on the expensive side in comparison to restaurants in Alvor but the food was very nice.
Our room was on the 1st floor and was very nice and clean and tidy.
We were staying bed & breakfast. The breakfast is a buffet and offered a good selection. There was cereal, fruit, cheese and ham , eggs, bacon and beans , so every taste is catered for. There was only one toaster but if you were down for breakfast before 9am ( when the rush usually started ) then this was not a problem.
The hotel operate a beach towel service where you exchange a card given at reception for a beach towel. I thought this was a good idea.
The pool area is nice and there are plenty of sunbeds. The pool is on the cold side but its fine once you get in !
As mentioned in a previous review the only bad comment i would have is regards the staff. They never really looked happy in their work and the bar staff were not overly chatty, however they did provide a good level of service.
The only comment i would make is there was a PR lady who most days caught us as we came out the lift to tried to get us to go and see the 5 star developement. We weren't really interested but she was rather persistent !!
The beach is lovely and is just over the hedge from the hotel. There is a beach bar which is also part of the hotel were you can get drinks and snacks and its nice to sit there to watch the world go by and get out of the sun !
Alvor itself is very nice. The main town is about a 10 minute walk. There are alot of different restaurants catering for every taste. Right down by the mqarina there are a number of fish restaurants where you can select the fish you want and get it cooked on the BBQ outside the restaurant. It can be a bit pricey as fish is priced by the kg but its nice to have one or twice !
We went on a boat trip along the coast one afternoon which was a nice excursion.
Overall the holdiay was very nice and i felt thoroughly relaxed and would receommend the hotel and Alvor. "
- Travel date: Fri 5th of September 2008
This was our first visit to Portugal and...
"This was our first visit to Portugal and we stayed at the Dom Joao for 1 week.
The Location: Absolutely perfect! The hotel is adjacent to a beautiful sandy beach, a truly stunning position, We enjoyed a walk on the beach before breakfast every morning and it takes about 15min to walk into Alvor. In the evening we walked into Alvor on the road [ well lit and quite safe] and that took about 10min. Alvor is a pretty village, bustling with loads of Restaurants.
The Accommodation: The newly refurbished rooms were excellent. Very clean and beautifully furnished. I could not fault it.
The Hotel Food: Dreadful! Too much in the way of canned/frozen food. Looks like it is all prepared for their convenience i.e. with as little effort/cost as possible. Some people may think it is good but I like my food to be fresh quality produce. Breakfast was a buffet and the only items I considered to be good were the fresh oranges and the malted multi seeded bread. Some other things on offer were pears/peaches obviously from cans, Croissants which were never fresh, fried/scrambled eggs [not good], and just one toaster for all of us to toast bread on, and the jam was cheap rubbish in individual portions. Come on, where's the chef who cooks fresh omlettes etc on demand like most good quality holiday resorts have! Dinner was worse, after 2 nights we could not face eating there for the rest of the week.
Fortunately we had a good deal on the holiday with our child being free [Â£500 more had we gone a week later], so despite paying for half board our budget covered the cost of eating out at night.
The Hotel Grounds: Great! One large pool and one children's pool. Sun loungers and parasols were plentiful and towels were provided [change as often as required].
Price of Drinks/Food at the Hotel: Do not buy water at the Hotel. A 1.5lts bottle [ordinary plastic not fancy] of water is 3.20 euros!!! That is a rip off. A 5ltr bottle is just 1.45 euro in a shop near the hotel. Everything is very expensive and not just because of the Euro-Â£ rate. The pool bar was literally empty, I never saw more than 2 people there despite the fact there were loads of people around the pool. Also not many were drinking in the main bar area in the evening, I think most like us would go into Alvor. The entertainers were often there with almost no audience. They put a couple of good shows on during the week when it was fairly busy but generally it was very quiet.
The Staff: I do not know why but the general impression was that they were pretty miserable and not happy being there. They were polite but the atmosphere was not good. It is probably down to poor management? And perhaps they also get very little in tips because the food/drinks prices are so excessive.
Would we go again:
The Hotel and location was fabulous so maybe Yes, but we would never book half board there again. Prices for 2009 have gone crazy, about Â£1000 up on this year for us, so the price will probably prohibit another visit.
Eating out in Alvor, I would particularly recommend Albar Snack Bar which is on the corner at the upper end of the main street leading down to the harbour, good food at very reasonable prices. Definitely the best restaurant was OS MARAFADOS, about 20yds down the hill on the right - that is without doubt the best food I have had anywhere [in the World], and dinner with a bottle of wine was excellent at just 50 euros for 2 adults and a child!"
- Travel date: Fri 25th of July 2008
hotel has been refurbished throughout ....
"hotel has been refurbished throughout . only opend a few weeks so a few teathing problems ( air conditioning not to good and a bit noisy) the whole hotel though is excellent rooms wonderfull ,bathroom great food, excellent, everything about it top class. staff so friendly, and every where spotless. the beach was wonderfull and 2 min walk away. quite a few young chilldren about but also a good mix off people ,entertainment ok , Alvor a very lovely place day and night, weather windy but supperb. wished i could afford a sea veiw room 302 looks great. hopefully return some day. flew from bournemouth just so easy and pleasant and affordable. excellent!"
- Travel date: Mon 7th of July 2008
The whole hotel is about to close for th...
"The whole hotel is about to close for the winter for a total refurbishment, but apart from being a little dated the decor was fine. The hotel was clean, the staff pleasant and the buffet breakfast was more than adequate.
We were there making up our lunch rolls and filling our water bottles without a single funny look from the staff. We had a superior sea view room. We are usually quite lucky with rooms and don't normally bother with this sort of extra, but I have to say we had a stunning view of the ocean and, if we were there at that moment, the sunset and the moonset along with the distant twinkling lights of Lagos. You fell out of the hotel onto 4km of wide sand (blue flag beach).
Compared to all the other Prestana hotels this was definitely in the best position. We were concerned about going to the Algarve in August, but even when the beach was at the busiest we never felt crowded. Mind you the sea is a bit nippy!
Alvor is a very pretty town which has kept much of its old world charm whilst embracing a few improvements. Go down to the harbour front and past the fab restaurants bbqing fresh caught fish and you come to a pleasant walk along a new promenade along the estuary. All the restaurants we went to, and there is quite a choice, were good to excellent.
Look out for the best piri piri chicken at a restaurant in the harbour just behind the Lifeboat house, never very busy, but we went there twice! also goodfellas and vagabonds. most of the eateries have roof top terraces so ask for a table up there and you wonât go wrong. The shopping is ok, but quite limited. Make sure you do go right to the ends of the main pedestrian zones as we found some of the better shopping here.
The walk to the centre of Alvor from the hotel is a good 20 mins and 10 of that is along the road outside the hotel adjacent to what we called the great wasteland - basically scrubland. we didn't mind this, but if you have walking difficulties (especially as the town is on a small but steep hill) you may prefer to arrive by taxi.
We went to Slide and Splash, recommended! You can get tickets with bus pick up right outside the hotel.
The only other excursion we did was to Portimao. Whatever you do DO NOT waste a precious holiday day on this. The guidebooks were clearly written by people who had never been! The park described was rank and not much bigger than swimming pool! the shopping was great if you wanted to buy a frying pan or a Gucci jacket (no this is not the home of designer shopping I just happened to see a Gucci jacket there that's all) otherwise go home and pay a visit to your local pound shop - the will be more choice!
If you do go then find the fountains, Portimao's only good feature and at least you can stand in them and cool down! If the tower blocks you pass on the way in and out I don't recommend holidaying in Priare de Roach either.
In summary, if you like the beach, good weather and dining out stop reading this and get booking!"
- Travel date: Sat 8th of September 2007
We had a fantastic holiday in Alvor at t...
"We had a fantastic holiday in Alvor at this hotel. Although the hotel decor is a little dated the facilities are good and everything is clean and well kept.
The best thing is that the staff were very friendly and helpful. The deputy manager and chef really went all out to accommodate our dietary needs (as we are vegetarian).
The location is also fantastic (right on the beach and walking distance to Alvor) but if you want to party maybe a bit far from that sort of action. We hired a car to explore the area which was well worth it.
The highlight of our trip was a bike ride with Outdoor Tours too, if you want to see the country side on an easy ride then this is a fantastic option."
- Travel date: Sat 3rd of March 2007
My husband and I have visited Portugal m...
"My husband and I have visited Portugal many times over the years but always on a self catering basis. This is the first hotel we have stayed at in the Algarve. Very impressed. The hotel was comfortable and clean - lots of polishing of floors every day!
The staff were very friendly, the food was very good, though buffet meals do lose their appeal after a while no matter how good. The food was beautifully presented on the buffet and the staff constantly made sure that it looked attractive all the time. The dining room was very attractive and a la carte was also offered with a supplement. The evenings entertainment was varied but the two guys who provided the music and singing every night were perfect.
They seemed to suss out their audience and mixed the music very well. The grounds were lovely leading to a beautiful beach. Alvor itself is just a short walk away and is full of shops and eating places. We would certainly recommend this hotel for a quiet relaxing holiday."
- Travel date: Thu 6th of April 2006