In the Lap of Luxury: Honeymoon in Portugal
> Written by Jessica Latimer
Famous for its internationally-recognized wines, diverse cuisine, breathtaking coastline, rolling plains and mountainous interior, Portugal—located on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe—is a honeymooners dream. It offers all the rich history that comes with Europe, while affording plenty of opportunities for leisurely days followed by cosmopolitan nights.
Located a half hour outside of Sintra and a short drive from the country’s capital of Lisbon, in Cascais, is the Grande Real Villa Itália Hotel and Spa. Opened in 2007 and built on the site of the former Italian palace of King Humberto II, this five-star property matches sophistication with comfort. The hotel encompasses 124 rooms, including eight suites and three penthouses, two restaurants, a bar, two outdoor saltwater swimming pools, a health club and spa. One of the only of its kind in the area, Real Spa Marine boasts a heated treatment pool, Thalassotherapy, Vichy and Scottish showers, choronotherm, hydro-massage, a plethora of face and body treatments and of course, massages.
Close-by, in the Alto Santo Amaro area of Lisbon, is the Pestana Palace Hotel. A restored 19th-century palace and national landmark, Pestana overlooks the Tagus River and is within walking distance of the renowned “Belém,” known for its historical treasures, and “Docas,” known for its exuberant nightlife. It offers the highest standards in service and is internationally-acclaimed for its Valle Flôr Restaurant. If you are looking to rejuvenate, explore the Garden Spa equipped with heated indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, Jacuzzi, and Turkish and Scottish baths. Looking to try something different? Opt for the Hot Chocolate Treatment geared at regenerating your skin.
To the east of Lisbon, is an area known as Alentejo, which comprises approximately one-third of Portugal. Bordered by the Tagus River and the hills of the Algarve, in a town called Evora, is the Convento do Espinheiro. With a reputation for restaurants hidden in medieval alleyways, Evora offers some of the best food the country has to offer making it no surprise that the former 15th-century convent and national monument boasts five restaurants and bars. Also known for its Diana Spa, which derives its name from “Templo de Diana,” named after the goddess of the moon, it is a certified E’SPA. Want to experience the epitome of indulgence? Try one of the spa’s famous wine therapy treatments, which infuses grape extracts to free radicals and act as an anti-aging agent.
In southern Portugal, within the Algarve, is the Blue and Green Vilalara Thalassa Resort in Lagos and Vila Vita Parc Resort and Spa in Porches. The Vilalara Thalassa Resort is a lakeside retreat known for its exclusivity. Positioned on 11 hectares on the Praia das Gaivotas cliff, its location was chosen by Englishman George Ansliy in 1966 during a boating trip and its design resulted from collaborating with his son-in-law and architect, Almeida Araújo. When he welcomed the birth of his granddaughter, Lara, a year later, hence came the name. The property offers enchanting gardens and low-rise architecture and is a working wellbeing resort. Its facilities include six fresh and saltwater pools, Thalassotherapy and Spa Center—the first of its kind in Portugal and one of the most respected in the world—activities like tennis, golf and swimming, and gourmet low-calorie menus.
Ten minutes away is the seaside Vila Vita Parc Resort and Spa. A five-star resort, Vila Vita is set on a cliff amidst 54 acres of subtropical gardens. Part of the Vila Vita Hotel Group, it opened its doors in 1992 and was instantly recognized as a true destination. Rendered partly as a golfer’s paradise you can request the accompaniment of the resort’s golf expert as you navigate the 18-hole course, take lessons and use the nine-hole pitch and put. Also known as a holistic property, Vila Vita’s services include personalized therapies, classes and treatments at their Vital and Physiotherapy Spas. Want to experience a different kind of leisure? Charter the resort’s 72-foot Princess Yacht or explore its wine-growing estate: Herdade dos Grous.
About three hours to the north, in the Douro region, lies the Aquapura Douro Valley Hotel. An ideal spot for wine lovers, Douro is carved with ancient vines that form stepped rows along the banks of the Douro River. Reopened in 2007, Aquapura includes rooms with views of the cloister and valley, as well as 10 suites and one, two and three-bedroom villas. Additionally, adjacent to its spa, are 16 spa rooms conceived and designed to deliver maximum relaxation, each of which are appointed with panoramic views of the woods and a private plunge pool. Services booked at the spa include use of steam and herbal baths, the sauna, water beds and a heated indoor water jet pool. For the pinnacle of romance, enjoy a private dinner and wine tasting in the wine room or in the award-winning geometric gardens.
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