Anantara Vilamoura

Rating: 

A half-hour drive from Faro airport in the heart of Portugal’s Algarve, this manicured resort (the first European hotel from the luxe Anantara brand) was refurbished and reopened in 2017. It’s surrounded by the rolling greens of the Portugal Masters golf course and is about a 10 minute drive from the buzzy Vilamoura marina, where we loved exploring the many restaurants and expansive beach.

The classy hotel is sprinkled throughout with child-friendly features - a superbly-equipped kids club, a big children’s pool plus another shallow paddling one for tots, and a fantastic sandy playground - but the marble-clad decor and spot-on food means you won’t just be at the Anantara for the kids.

Information & Facts

Accessibility

there are specially-adapted rooms.

Activities / Excursions Outside the Resort

horse riding in Formosa Natural Park, dolphin, whale & turtle-watching trips, tuk tuk tours, dolphin interaction at Zoomarine conservation park, chef guided tour of Loule market - prices depend on time of year and numbers in your party.

Best Bits for Kids

The palm tree-framed main pool and children’s pool is great for splashing around in all day, especially with the big inflatables and free smoothies and fruit kebabs on offer.

Best Bits for Parents

The fully-supervised English-run kids club means you’ll have plenty of time for a round of championship golf, a spot of tennis, a trip to the spa or just a long, uninterrupted lunch at the poolside Ria, where the super-fresh fish and tangy meze really hits the spot.

Best Family Beaches

Vilamoura beach has golden sand, and (when we visited in October) warm but choppy waters; there are beautiful coastal towns like Quarteira — a 15-minute drive from the hotel — with a long, sandy beach and restaurants serving freshly-caught fish

Digital Detox / Digital Overload

free wifi throughout, Playstation, TV, films at the teen hub.

Endorsement Quote

We felt so relaxed in the luxury of the Anantara Vilamoura - it’s smart, shiny and sleekly-designed, with a beautiful poolside that was really hard to pull ourselves away from. But when we did, there was a sandy beach and plethora of water-side restaurants a short (and free) shuttle away at the marina - it felt like we had the best of both worlds: a friendly resort with all the cocktails and kids’ activities we could want, and the local Algarve flavour on our doorstep too.

Family Traveller's Recommended Family Rooms

Go for a deluxe pool view room if you’re a family of three - these are a few steps from the stunning main pools and near to the restaurants and buzz of the resort too, whilst being set back enough for peace and quiet. Those with more kids will love the family suite category.

Food & Drink

Breakfast: this is a hotel that takes breakfast seriously. So seriously that, on top of a capacious buffet, the Anantara has an actual croissant butler, who comes to your table with a laden basket of baked goods including mouth-meltingly good Nutella croissants. On top of that, there are fresh juice and smoothie concoctions that change daily, all the usual fruit and veg selections, an egg counter with waffles and pancakes too, but local specialisms too: Portuguese eggs, and even Asian-style, coriander-packed chicken soup (a nod to the Anantara’s corporate heritage) which was surprisingly tasty, despite it being 9am. The staff are lovely with kids - even bringing cool towels for tiny man’s fingers each morning, since his eating style is, er, still kind of hands-on…

Restaurants:

The best dinner at the resort was at Emo (dinner only), where the chef’s menu - think beef fillet, scallops, and seabass in coriander vinaigrette - is paired with choices from a huge wine cellar. Kids are allowed in all of the Anantara’s restaurants, day and night.

We enjoyed more casual dinners at the reception-side lounge and bar, with its great Thai menu (don’t miss the rice rolls) as well as stellar lunches at the Ria restaurant with its stunning seafood platter.

Hotel Shop

Stand aside, usual hotel shops full of pricey swimwear and £5 Mars bars - the Anantara’s design store had trays, cushions and other homeware made by local craftsmen that you’ll actually want to buy. Souvenirs - but not as you know them.. Its shop just outside of the main glass doors was a really lovely surprise.

Hotel Vibe

Asian style and service meets European relaxation.

Kids Clubs

This was really well stocked with toys and games, and run by, when we visited, English nannies - it’s under the banner of Worldwide Kids and claims to be the only hotel in the Algarve to look after babes from four months up to 18-year-old teens, divided into age-appropriate clubs.

It's not 'stay and play' - you drop the kids off, with a creche packed with ride-ons and games, and costing around €35 for a half day for under 3s. It was free for over 4s, who the kids take all over the resort including the playground, and pools. Activities included sports, painting and cooking. During school holidays, the ‘hub’ is for 12-18 year olds who can also take part in watersports and football and dance academies (at extra cost). 

Location

Faro airport is under three hours' flying time from the UK and you’ve then only got a half-hour drive until you draw up at the Anantara’s carriage driveway. You’ll be impressed at the hotel's child-friendliness from the start: its transfer cars are serious about safety, installing a clean, comfy baby seat for our baby and another perfectly-sized one for his bigger toddler brother.

The hotel is a 10-15 minute drive from the Vilamoura marina and beach, although that can rise to half an hour or even longer in peak summer months, due to far more traffic. There are no restaurants or shops that you can walk to from the resort, but there’s a free shuttle into Vilamoura marina.

Pools

Five pools - four outdoor ones, including a big family outdoor pool, lined with palm trees; a shallower one for older kids, a bubbling baby pool; and the adults-only 'Cascades' pool complete with Veuve Clicquot cabanas (€120 including a bottle of bubbly). All are surrounded by comfy loungers, and bars, and the pools are heated from mid October but even without the heating in early October we found it warm enough to splash around. There's also another indoor, 'vitality' pool (adults only) in the Eastern-style spa.

Rooms

There are 280 rooms and suites, mostly hinging off long corridors and almost all boast garden, pool or fairway views. The smallest rooms are 40m square and only allow a maximum of three guests, such as two adults and a cot or roll-out bed, but if you’ve got more than one child you’ll need an inter-connecting room or suite, which are 80m square.

Our family suite had sliding doors to separate the big lounge (think large sofa, armchair, TV, bar, and dining table) from the bedroom - giving both us and the kids our own space to sleep (them) and relax (us, when they actually decided to sleep at the same time!) in the evenings.

Spa & Pampering for Adults

I loved the Eastern-style spa - dark woods, orange scents, super calm and with a beautiful terrace overlooking the golf course and the sea. There are Elemis treatments, a hydro pool with powerful jets, and really knowledgeable therapists.

Spa & Wellbeing for Kids

kids yoga, manicures for kids (Not allowed in the spa)

Sports

Underground tunnel to Victoria Course, championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer where the Portugal Masters takes place each year, plus another nine top notch courses within 30km.

Synthetic grass tennis court

Yoga and tai chi classes

Gym

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