TRAVEL: Get away from it all in the Venice of the Algarve
There are not many destinations where you can see the pretty resort church from your poolside lounger, but then not many places are like Vila Gale, Albacora.
Situated in the grounds and buildings of a former Portuguese tuna fishing camp, the complex has been completely restored and transformed into an idyllic seaside hotel.
The old fishermen houses, workshops and warehouses gave place to 162 rooms with beautiful views of the Ria Formosa. The existing chapel was preserved and is now adapted for hosting weddings and christenings, as well as the old school, converted into a kids’ club
We are in Tavira - described as the Venice of Algarve - and driving through the open salt flats and past winding rivers, it’s easy to see why.
The unique resort is found in the heart of the beautiful Ria Formosa Natural Park and is the ideal place to get away from it all.
A quad of clean, airy rooms surround a lovely open-air pool, with a terraced bar area just a few paces away. If you can tear your can tear yourself away from the poolside bar you can always venture underground, where you’ll discover a small heated indoor pool, sauna and Turkish bath in the chic resort spa.
There are treatment rooms here too if you really want to indulge yourself with some serious relaxtion and pampering.
Although the complex is completely self-contained and has everything you need on hand, one of the delights of staying here is taking the hotel’s own ferry boat on the briefest of rides across the estuary to a beach area where you’ll find wide white sands, along with a scattering of restaurants, bars and snack shacks.
We flew from Doncaster Sheffield airport - by far the best I’ve ever used - to Faro, which is about a 40 minute drive away from Tavira.
It’s one of the new destinations added by Flybe from DSA last year and makes this beautiful part of the world really accessible.
The town of Tavira itself is well worth exploring and is one of the most photogenic on the Algarve, with bridges over azure waters.
There are traces of Arab influence in the town and it’s well worth exploring the Ribeira Market and the castle
There are plenty of good restaurants in the town, but we ate in the Vila Gale restaurant most days, which offered plenty of choice for diners of all kinds and levels of adventure.
Local dishes were served every night and seafood, as you would expect, featured strongly on the options.
Chefs man the hotplates and would griddle your steak to perfection before your eyes.
Vila Gale, Albacora is a beautiful resort in stunning surroundings and whether you want culture, nature, cuisine or just to lie in the sun, it has it all.
For more details on Vila Gale Albaroca, visit www.vilagale.com/en/hotels/algarve/vila-gale-albacora
For Flybe flights to Faro from Doncaster Sheffield Airport, visit http://flydsa.co.uk/ or http://www.flybe.com/