Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve Region of Portugal // Review
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Pine Cliffs Resort turned out to be the perfect place for our family to get some down time. We tend to be quite busy traveling and get a little restless if we go somewhere just to sit. We were all craving a bit of down time though. Pine Cliffs Resort was the perfect place to have some fun as a family in a relaxing atmosphere. The resort had plenty to offer everyone in our family and was close enough for a few off the property excursions. We did notice that prices both on and around the resort were much higher than you will find in the rest of Portugal. Pine Cliffs Resort aims to have everything you need for your vacation right on property. We visited in May just before high season in the Algarve was in full swing
You will need a car to reach the resort, unless you call and book their transfer service from Faro airport. We flew into the Faro airport, which is one of the few airports we’ve visited in the world that was just a mess. We had trouble flying both in and out of Faro and found the staff to be not just unhelpful but downright ignorant. If I had it to do again I would have flown in and out of Lisbon and taken the longer drive. (We used the Lisbon airport for our previous trip to Portugal.)
Once we reached Pine Cliffs Resort check in was a breeze. We were traveling with a friend so the three adults and three kids best fit in one of the villas. They have both two bedroom and three bedroom villas. The resort also has several different hotel properties, so you are sure to find something that fits your needs.
Our villa was well appointed and provided plenty of space for us to hang out. We had a family room with a tv, a living room, a kitchen, two and a half bathrooms and an outdoor patio. This was certainly one of the larger accommodations we’ve had while traveling. Because the villas are individually owned and rented out when not in use, you never really know what you’ll get. The front desk couldn’t even tell us one day prior what kinds of beds we should expect. That was a big hassle for us because it makes a difference if our three children are split into singles or piled together in a king.
The resort is rather large so have a plan for getting the kids around. We saw plenty of strollers out and about. If your kids are too old for strollers bringing along your scooters would also be a good plan to keep the kids moving around the resort. We had our zFlyte bags with us, which double as scooters for the kids. Pine Cliffs has golf carts they will drive you around in as well. On several occasions when the staff was pointing us toward something they should have offered us a ride as where they were sending us turned out to be quite far away. That being said the resort is large and there is plenty to do.
There are half and full board options which seemed to be quite popular. The Little Little is in the one year old stage where having him hold still at meals is a problem so we opted to eat most of our meals in the villa.
There is a grocery store across the street from the resort. The first day we walked there but ended up driving there on a subsequent visit as it was just more convenient (easy, free parking out front). We picked up easy to prepare meals and snacks to have at the house. The villa has an outdoor patio with a table, grill and umbrella, which was the perfect place to hang out in the evenings. The supermarket across the street has both prepared foods and ready-to-grill foods.
We ordered pizza from the pizza place next to the grocery store one day for lunch
Jeff and I did sneak away one evening while our friend watched the kids to enjoy a meal on the property. As it was not high season only a few restaurant options were open each day. When everything is open there are seven restaurants to choose from. We checked out the buffet but decided we were better off at one of the sit down options. We ended up at the recently renovated Corda Cafe. Our food and service were excellent. We saw many families enjoying a meal out with kids running around in the courtyard during the meal.
Pine Cliffs Resort has a kids club that will watch your kids from age 6 months and up. We had a bit of a misunderstanding when we signed up for the morning session – we missed the opening time by about an hour and a half. Once we dropped all three littles off though they were all put in red vests and enjoyed playing in the kids area supervised by the staff. There was even a bird show during their stay at the kids club. Unfortunately, there was a hard sell of souvenir photos with the birds at the end of the show, which was really awkward for a five-star property.
Even if you don’t sign the kids up for Kids Club you can still utilize the facilities at any time with your kids. We took full advantage of the playground, miniature golf course (fee) and pool.
There is even a small area just for the smallest of kids. Our Little Little (1) loved this area.
The boys loved the bikes which each sat two kids. Our kids peddled around the track that circles the playground. There were also some mini scooters to ride in this area.
The kids area has a variety of equipment – some of which is extra. It is not particularly well signed though so we ended up needing to ask lots of questions. Everyone was happy to help but we wished it would have been a bit clearer or offered in some sort of kids package that allowed us access to everything.
The bouncy castle obstacle course was included and was a huge hit with all three of the littles.
The Serenity Spa
The Serenity Spa should be on the top of your list as a reason to choose the Pine Cliffs Resort. While the kids were at the kids club the three adults spent some time in the Thermal Area. You can get a day pass to this area without booking a treatment (~ 30 EUR pp).
It feels so luxurious to be able to enjoy some quiet time. Bathing suits are required in this area and you are given a locker, a robe, slippers and as many towels as you need.
The “Experience Shower” was one of my favorite areas. This shower uses light and water for a calming experience. You can try a rain storm or a tropical forest. I also just enjoyed the setting where the water nozzles down the side of the shower spray you.
The large pool was a bit colder than I expected but once I had warmed up in one of the two saunas it was perfect. The little chairs bubble for a relaxing experience. You can also turn the waterfall on and off with a push of a button. We all liked the sound of falling water.
The outdoor hot tub was perfect for our May visit. We liked the cool air and the warm water. It also had a lovely view onto some of the gardens of the property.
Honestly though I just wanted to sit and enjoy the relaxation room. I should have packed my book and just hung out here for a bit. Instead I popped in a podcast and took some quiet time to myself. Jeff was kind enough to go pick the kids up from kids club so I could soak up a bit more quiet time before rejoining the family.
The beach at the Pine Cliffs Resort was perfect for our kids. There are life guards on duty and the beach area is clearly marked. We even saw the lifeguards change the safety flags as a storm passed by.
There is plenty of sand for sand castle building and playing. We were disappointed that there were no buckets or shovels to borrow down on the beach. The vendors just outside the resort had marked theirs up so high that it wasn’t worth it. We made do with what we had and the kids were happy. There were so many large shells that we were able to use those as little shovels. The funny thing was that we decided not to bring our shovels/buckets from home because we thought a five-star resort would have amenities like these. We were wrong this time!
Access to the beach is down a glass elevator from the property to a boardwalk with 100 small stairs. You wind your way through the cliffs to emerge onto the beach. The towel pick up area is on the boardwalk for your convenience.
Pine Cliffs has plenty of seating on the beach. In late May we never had to fight for a chair but the first row was typically filled by late morning.
You can walk down the beach in both directions. It is relatively quiet although a few other properties seem to have access down to the beach nearby. The tides here are quite dramatic. The kids had fun watching their sand castles be eaten by the waves.
We also found some rocks to explore early in the morning, but by mid afternoon they were completely covered by water. We were never down on the beach in time to revisit them, despite the kids asking to go there over and over.
Jeff and I also took an evening stroll down on the beach. It was lovely and quiet. There is enough light from the resort to find your way. We discovered a washed up and dead eel. The boys loved finding cuttle bones from their favorite sea creature, the cuttlefish.
The restaurant down on the beach has a lovely view. We kept talking about eating there and never did – oops! The boys took refuge in the restaurant for a bit during a rain storm along with everyone else down on the beach. While they were hanging out there they weren’t approached by wait staff at all. We felt the restaurant missed an opportunity to do two for one drinks or another special during a rain storm to boost sales.
There are quite a few outdoor pools on property but only one of them is heated. We spent most of our really warm weather down at the beach so when we wanted some pool time we found the pools to be too cold. (A disadvantage of going in May!)
One of the outdoor pools, near the golf club is heated. It was quite a ways out there so we didn’t go check it out with the whole group. Jeff passed by it on a run though and confirmed that it was slightly warmer.
There is an indoor pool which is heated. Getting there though is a bit of a challenge. It is located inside the gym, so you need to sign in with all your information. It sounds like nothing but for a family of five plus a guest it is quite the process. You are also required to bring a swim cap. We didn’t see this on the webpage and were without caps. They were selling the caps at €5 each. We were walking away, kids disappointed, when a member of staff offered to help us with some swim caps from the lost and found. Ironically we found a few more swim caps on the grounds during our visit.
It won’t take you long to get a lay of the property. There are so many easily recognizable spaces among the white walls that it is actually hard to get lost.
We loved all the white walls and tile work. There are cats that make their home on the property and are cared for there as well. These cats were an endless source of entertainment for the boys.
One square contains a lemon tree grove. We spent some time here trying to get a good one to bring back to the villa for our water.
We of course came home with three lemons.
Overall we loved the property. Jeff and our friend headed out on runs around the property most days and the whole family enjoyed walking around the grounds. We also saw plenty of parents out walking their prams. There is plenty of seating all around the property if you want to stop for a short rest or find a nice place to relax.
The interiors of all the buildings are similarly well appointed. You are sure to be greeted by beautiful flowers in every lobby and a helpful staff.
At the end of the day though we miss the beautiful beach the most. As I sat on the beach with the kids I wondered out loud why we do not take more easy trips like this. The kids playing in the waves while we sit nearby.
The Terrible Flight Home
Unfortunately, all the relaxation we had at the Pine Cliffs Resort was washed away by our Faro airport experience. The staff was rude and unhelpful. We were told the barcode Transavia gave us at check-in was not the right type. We were told our car seat couldn’t come on the plane.
The kicker though came when we came to these stanchions. There was no line so I walked through each and every one and let the kids duck under to meet me. A security guard stopped us and said that we all had to go back and walk through the line. I literally laughed at the absurdity. He was serious though. So we headed back through the line as a group weaving in and out of each and every rope. The Middle Little on his scooter was so so slow. When we were done weaving through a proper line had formed behind us.
Our flight takeoff time was delayed three hours due to the French air traffic controller strikes. Instead of an early morning takeoff we ended up boarding the plane three hours late. Then the plane pulled away from the gate and we waited for three more hours to take off. Entertaining three little kids on a plane that isn’t going anywhere is terrible. Transavia didn’t help things when they sold water on the plane instead of offering it for free. Eventually we were given a free thimble of water. We did survive, thanks to purchasing some wine for the adults and ample amounts of food for the kids.
Despite the terrible airport and flight experience we are still able to enjoy the time we had at the Pine Cliffs Resort & Spa in the Algarve region of Portugal.
Travel is a huge part of our kids education. I’m always looking for books to help us tie things together with our travel. The Tales for Tiny Travelers series is a wonderful resource. We brought Vasco da Gama of Portugal along with us on this trip.
This post contains affiliate links. We were guests of the Pine Cliffs Resort & Spa for the purpose of this review. We only ever share our real opinions of a place though, so you can book with confidence because you have the inside scoop.