10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Relaxing and beautiful place for a short break
"We booked a winter break at the Vilalara, and were lucky to get warm sunshine in mid-November - which allowed us to enjoy the fantastic beach! Great service from very helpful staff, a good quality restaurant, peaceful grounds and beautiful views at breakfast over the pool and out to sea were the highlights. The free programme of activites was excellent and is worth obtaining before arriving if you want to make the most of your stay. In the interests of balance, the rooms were a little dated, and the Thalassa centre was fine, if a tad expensive. The area surrounding the hotel is nothing special, but there are one or two little restaurants worth visiting if you ask for a recommendation. Overall though, a great place for a short break, say up to a week, great staff, good restaurant and plenty of varied activities to suit all levels."
- Travel date: 29th January 2008
a unique place
"this is a secret place in Algarve far from all those ugly touristic building. the private beach of the hotel is really peaceful. 5 pools for this spa hotel, with rooms spread in the park . the restaurant is also very good. as we have been outclassed we get the junior suite which was very large and in a portuguese style (including champagne and fruits) the perfect place to visit the south of Portugal, mid distance from Sagres and Tavira."
- Travel date: 5th January 2008
Top European Thalasso Spa's nested in a private beach cove
"Sofitel Vilalara is by far one of the best Thalassotherapy centres in the World. Stayed there a week in October on a special Yoga/Thalasso package which was worth every minute. The location is secluded and the sand beach nested in a rocky semi cercle offers the utmost privacy. The food is stunning. Wednesday's Staff & Guest cocktail party is a perfect occasion to get to know one's surroundings. The sea treatments at the Thalasso are closely monitored and run like a Swiss clock. The quality is superior. Unfortunately the non thalasso treatments appear poor in quality (the therapists do not seem to have benefited from sufficient training). It is a marvelously well kept resort and returning guests are a tribute to the superior class of the place."
- Travel date: 25th October 2007
Great hotel pity about the surrounding area
"Lovely hotel with apartments spread throughout a glorious estate. Wonderful buffet breakfast. Good food and wine for dinner but not good value. Better to eat at a number of good restaurants in Porches just north of the hotel. Three excellent swimming pools, great private beach and generally excellent level of service. Interesting water treatments in the spa. Don't go to Armacao de Pera, it's ghastly. Fairly unimpressed with Lagos and Silves although old town Faro was great and a boat trip through the salt marshes and lagoons is a must."
- Travel date: 2nd October 2007
Relaxing and good value.
"Unlike previous reviews, we found the hotel complex to be very good value for the surroundings and facilities. The food was to die for, whether you wanted the a la carte or the set meal. There was an excellent choice that would suit all tastes plus a selection of very healthy cuisine, in the low fat restaurant. We had a very comfortable stay in a suite which was clean and luxurious. If you do have trouble walking the only possible barrier would be getting down and up the steps to the beach. However, the pools were so numerous and large that the beach was quite incidental. The grounds are beautifully maintained and very relaxing to walk around with an abundance of mature trees shrubs and other seasonal plants, teamed up with some wonderful evening plant perfumes. The staff were always happy, polite and very helpful. A relaxing paradise that we will certainly return to."
- Travel date: 25th August 2007
LOVED THE GROUNDS
"we have just returned from 11 day stay in Vilalara this is a paradice super service great kids program we loved it all. THANK YOU."
- Travel date: 12th June 2007
"This is a beautiful hotel, catered for those who wish to get away from it all. Set on a secluded beach, with a comprehensive spa and gorgeous gardens it combines to create a satisfyingly tranquil environment, even for the whole family. The staff are very friendly and helpful, and there are lots of nice touches which made the feeling we had stumbled onto something a bit special. While breakfast was a treat, buffet style, with every choice imaginable, on a less positive note, the evening meals, while good in their own right, tend to be expensive, while the menu choice, both for the restaurant and room service are a bit limited. It would also be nicer to have the pools, which look stunning at night, open for longer, although at the time we went, they were too cold to swim in - the only refuge being a heated pool beside the spa. All in all, however, my girlfriend and I found this to be an idyllic getaway and would highly recommend it."
- Travel date: 16th April 2007
Lovely grounds - awful resturant
"A very peaceful 'gated' environment, with enormous and beautiful gardens - although this does mean some very long and steep walks (i.e. 5 mins from bedroom to breakfast and 10 mins to the fantastic private beach - all within the huge grounds of the hotel). In fact it's not a hotel in the normal sense of the word but a series of about 8 low-rise buildings. It is VERY steep to get to the top buildings and there are c100 step stairs to the beach - so if you have any mobility issues this place is not for you. This set up means there's also no real lounge or place to meet other guests - once you've checked in at reception (a small bungalow) you're pretty much left to your own devices. Our room was nice (apart from a stained carpet) with a comfy sofa and bed and double shower and large balcony. The cleaning (twice a day!) was exceptional. Unfortunately, in such a quiet place any sound travels and often our relaxation was disturbed during the day by maids hovering rooms or gardeners mowing - nevertheless overall it was a delightful relaxing place. Breakfast was wonderful, with views over the pool/sea and a buffet inc. champagne and smoked salmon complimented by freshly cooked eggs etc if you wanted. In the evenings however the restaurant lacked any view or atmosphere - it is VERY dated with stone floors and big rustic chairs that are too big for the tables meaning you either have to sit perched on the end or sit back from the table and remove your plate to eat (not very elegant!), but worst of all the evening food is very average yet extremely expensive (c100 euros for 2 with drinks) for this poor quality. Like most people we tried it the first night but then had to resort to driving out to find a local restaurant every night (about a third of the price for better food) - this became a bit of a pain after a few days. The nearby town is definitely not a pleasant place and nor is it within walking distance or appearing safe; none of the local restaurants were brilliant but a small one in Porches run by 2 sisters and their mum who cooks represents great value (e.g. good fresh soup for 1 euro - the hotel soup is worse and is 12 euros!). Because the hotel restaurant is so poor, uncomfortable and raucously expensive we would not stay here again as driving out to find food every night is such a nuisance. The staff are ok, but never more than polite (not friendly or helpful) and there were several hotel facilities we only discovered by chance. The onsite thasoltherarpy spa is very large and clean, but the massages etc. are overpriced at Â£60 an hour and the indoor pool is only available for classes etc - very frustrating as all the outdoor pools are not heated (apart from 1 very tiny mildly warm one) and so are not useable in winter. Until they improve the restaurant and review the pricing (4 euros for a bottle of water from the minibar â you can buy 12 large bottles in the local shop for this price) and train the staff to be a bit more genuinely friendly we will not return â regrettably, as the location (lush grounds and private beach) is lovely."
- Travel date: 1st January 2007
"Just got back from 5 nights at the Sofitel Vilalara, which is a great beach Hotel. Strong points - there are three main pool areas (one includes a small heated pool) and these areas, the gardens and the breakfast/dining area overlooking the ocean as well as the beach are really beautiful. Breakfast buffet very good with plenty of choice. Got a good room rate (non-suite) by booking 3 months in advance on the internet. The rooms are spread amongst the gardens so not a high rise hotel. Rooms can be a few minute walk through the gardens to reception / the breakfast area though. Rooms and marble bathrooms are large and they also have a pillow menu. My wife enjoyed some treatments at the thalasotherapy centre and they have a daily programme of events for free (yoga, personal trainer, aerobics etc if you are interested). The staff are friendly and the hotel also has free internet in reception. Not so strong points - hotel restaurant was very expensive, around 90 euros for an evening meal which is very high by Portuguese standards. Hotel was built in 1973 and bedrooms could do with some modernising although were OK (the bizarre orange cocktail lounge definitely does need modernising though). Take a right out of the front of the hotel and there is a coastal path to Armacao de Pera. The path is unpaved so wouldn't try this at night, if it is raining or if you have any walking problems but walking to Armacao takes about 15 minutes. Armacao isn't the most beautiful town in the world BUT much cheaper for eating out than at the hotel and has a reasonable selection of restaraunts, cheap bars and at least one supermarket. The fish restaraunts that were recommended to us were the other side of Armacao from the hotel, taxi will cost 4-5 Euros. We went to the hotel by taxi from Albufeira - 22 Euros. Definitely happy with our stay due to the beatiful pool areas, wonderful breakfast (7:30 - 10:30) and view over the ocean, especially for the rate we got - but was happy that we looked elsewhere for our evening meal."
- Travel date: 24th September 2006
Good Hotel, Good Location, Uniclusive-style resort !
"I've just returned from an 8-night stay at the Sofitel Vilalara. The location is VERY good, it's in a quiet neighborhood, and the Sofitel is surrounded by the Vila Vita Parc Hotel. You're just 2 minutes by car from Armacao de Pera and its awful buildings, but when you're inside the hotel, it seems you're in another planet, as everything is so quiet and relaxing !!! The hotel's gardens are absolutely marvellous, it doesn't seem you're in Europe, it seems you're in some kind of tropical island !!! Beach is very nice, though unswimmable at low tide, as there are rocks everywhere... At high tide, it's a real good beach ! The swimming pools are very nice, though it's totally ridiculous that they "close" at 6 PM... Anyway my girlfriend and I stayed at the swimming pools much later than that without having any problem ! The rooms are big (we were in a junior suite), they're comfortable, but they are in need of a total updating... In fact I think the furnitures are from the late 80's... We've been recently to the Imperial Samui, and there the junior suites are definitely better and updated in the best taste, for half the price we paid at the Sofitel Vilalara... The maid was not very good, the room was left a little bit dirty on two occasions. The prices inside the hotel are TOTALLY ridiculous, if you want to play tennis, you must pay the court location, the racket rental, and you must buy the balls... Well, believe it or not, it's gonna be more than 35 Euros just to play one hour !!! I mean, I've been to the Hilton Phuket, and you could play tennis free of charge... If you go to the beach, there are very nice bed and loungers on the beach... Well, the first day I wanted to stay on one of this very nice beach-bed: after 30 seconds, the Sofitel's lifeguard arrived and asked me: "do you have a reservation?", I was like: "a reservation for what?", and he told me that you must reserved the beach-bed 24 hours in advance, and that the price is 30 Euros... I was like: "oh my god, this is totally crazy" !!! Believe it or not, there were people paying this price, just to stay on the beach-bed... If you want a sandwich, it's gonna be 8 Euros, and if you want to drink, ONE bottle of water is 4 Euros. I mean, I've been in the Maldives, and prices are cheaper there than at the Sofitel Vilalara, although the Maldivians must import absolutely everything !!! As the Sofitel Vilalara is an expensive hotel, I was very surprised to see that very little is included in the price. I mean, you can use your room, and that's it, nothing more !!! This kind of hotel was OK in the 80's, but now we're in 2006, this is big time for all-inclusive resorts, you can't pay a high price without getting anything beside your room !!! If you want to have dinner in the hotel, it's gonna be 45 Euros... PER PERSON... And we're in Portugal, where for 10 Euros you can eat fabulous dishes... Last advice: don't even think of going to Algarve without renting a car, there are hundreds of fantastic sights there !!!"
- Travel date: 12th September 2006
Vilalara Thalassa Resort is also called
- Sofitel Thalassa Vilalara Hotel
- vilalara thalassa hotel
- sofitel armacao de pera