A three-hour flight from Manchester makes warm and welcoming Portugal a favourite port of call for a holiday, a short break, or a second home.

The 2023 World Travel Awards named it Europe’s leading destination, one of 17 honours won across various categories at these Oscars of the tourism industry, including the Algarve voted as Europe’s leading beach destination.

I only discovered Portugal a few years ago, and during those 2020-to-early-2022 months of no flying, it became the place I most wanted to return to. On previous holidays we have stayed in a villa and a small hotel. On our first post-pandemic trip, the dream became a reality with a visit to the Wyndham Grand Algarve, at Quinta do Lago, the multi-award-winning estate, three times the size of Monaco, that stands out as the resort of choice for travellers looking for luxury accommodation, fine dining, natural beauty and world-class sports facilities.

Great British Life: Home from home, the Wyndham Grand. (c) Andre BotoHome from home, the Wyndham Grand. (c) Andre Boto

The estate, part of the 2,000-hectare Ria Formosa Natural Park, has a broad choice of accommodation with an array of private and rental villas, apartments and three five-star hotels. The Wyndham Grand, a 20-minute transfer from Faro Airport, gives residents the chance to own a piece of real estate within this highly desirable location. The one, two and three-bedroom luxury managed residences offer both long-term investment and guaranteed rental returns, with owners able to use their apartments for their own regular visits.

This is five-star hotel living, with a spacious gym, exclusive spa with indoor heated pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, a kids’ club and a dedicated concierge. We dined in the outstanding XXL by Olivier Restaurant within the Wyndham Grand where the highlights included grilled lobster with drawn butter, french fries and rice; entrecôte simmental with Café de Paris sauce and a starter called simply The Egg, combining truffled mashed potato, four varieties of mushroom and, of course, egg – you need to be there to discover how good it is.

We visited the Grand Spa for facials and massages, sunbathed by the pool and drank a toast in the Grand Bar and at the Oásis Poolside Café, and then ventured out into the wider world of Quinta do Lago.

We collected bikes from The Bike Shed and took the Ria Formosa Bike Tour, cycling out towards the sea. We watched the golfers and padel players, footballers, tennis players, and gym and water sports enthusiasts using the elite facilities (many world-class athletes come here to work, rest and play). And we ate the best of Portuguese cuisine in the Casa Velha restaurant, the 300-year-old former farmhouse on a hill that was the only building standing on the site when it was first visited by property developer André Jordan half a century ago.

‘It was a day I will never forget,’ he says. ‘I sat on the hill, looked across the marshlands and I had a vision of what would become the Quinta do Lago Master Plan.

Great British Life: A taste of the sports facilities on the grand Quinto do Lago estate. (c) Quinto do LagoA taste of the sports facilities on the grand Quinto do Lago estate. (c) Quinto do Lago

‘There was no road access to Quinta do Lago, so I had to drive along trails and through pine woods until I came to a high point overlooking it, with the ocean on the horizon. Within 10 minutes I had the concept for the whole project in my mind. I wanted to create a high-quality resort that reflected local character and style.’

It would be easy to visit this part of the Algarve without ever leaving Quinta do Lago but on our short break, we ventured out twice, once to Loulé for the famous market where we walked the old streets filled with music, dancing and the scent of good food, and then for a night at Johnny Hooper’s Saxophone Bistro, which is becoming a tradition on visits to the Algarve. Welshman Johnny and his wife, Susan, who is the chef, spend most of the year in Portugal hosting twice-weekly party nights, where visitors from all nations gather for the things that bring people together – music, good home cooking, wine, and a very competitive pop quiz.

Our taxi driver to Loulé – a typical representative and advocate of this charming nation – whetted our appetite for future visits to Portugal with recommendations of boat trips around the beautiful Algarve coast, outings to its pretty villages, and city breaks to Porto and Lisbon.


The Wyndham Grand

Tailored ownership packages on fully furbished residences.

Guaranteed rental income of up to five per cent annual net return.

Access to all hotel amenities and all residences managed by the Wyndham Grand Algarve.

Current Golden Visa eligibility – one of the best residency-by investment programmes.

Complimentary five-year membership with The Registry Collection® – the largest luxury exchange programme, with more than 240 of the finest vacation properties in the world

One-bedroom – from €550,000

Two-bedroom – from €815,000

Three-bedroom – from €1,965,000

email residences@ wyndhamgrandalgarve.com or call +351 289 000 300. wyndhamgrandalgarve.com

Quinta do Lago

An award-winning golf, leisure and lifestyle estate in the heart of the Algarve, at Europe’s most south-western tip, Quinta do Lago is also privileged to be a part of the protected coastal sanctuary, of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, surrounded by 60km of natural beauty which supports an active and healthy lifestyle. The Algarve is renowned for a year-round temperate climate, Moorish history, spectacular coastal and inland fairways, and access to the most beautiful beaches along the Atlantic coast for surfing, boating and simple relaxation. quintadolago.com/en