A family-friendly break to Portugal

A good villa if you need lots of space for a family; Villa Ivy

A good villa if you need lots of space for a family; Villa Ivy - Credit: James Villas

I'm sure you'll agree that James Villas is a name that most people recognise. It has a reputation for professionalism and reliability, so in a time when so many aspects of air travel are disrupted, who better to sort out our annual summer holiday for us.

Villa Ivy
We travelled from Bristol Airport to Villa Ivy in  Portugal, as a family of four, with a three-year-old and 22-year-old in tow, so quite a generational mix. It was the first time our daughter had been on holiday with her older brother and the first time we had tried self-catering with our young daughter.

I was incredibly impressed with the pre-arrival pack from James Villas - it had an A to Z of everything you'd need during your stay, from local supermarkets to things to do and how to work the television. There were also very clear directions to the accommodation, which I was thankful for after a delayed flight.

We arrived late at night at Villa Ivy in Clube Albufeira, having stopped off for essentials like milk and water on the way. Our first impressions were that the villa was extremely large and there was a huge amount of space for a family of four. There were three bedrooms, which meant each of the children could have their own room.

The bedrooms had plenty of storage space for those holiday outfits

The bedrooms had plenty of storage space for those holiday outfits - Credit: James Villas

Stairgates were fitted to the top and bottom of the stairs - not the most professional pieces of equipment, but they did the job just fine.

The outside pool was lovely, with two seating areas, and, much to the gents' delight, a table tennis table - that got lots of use over the week. There were also a further two dining areas inside in the air conditioning if the heat got a bit too much.

There was a gorgeous outside seating area right next to the pool

There was a gorgeous outside seating area right next to the pool - Credit: James Villas

We had a few teething problems with the WIFI, a light that didn't work, air conditioning not working and a noisy shower. But I can honestly say they were swiftly and professionally dealt with by James Villas.

Villa Ivy could do with a bit of TLC in places, some of the bedding, though clean, had seen better days, the flooring in the upstairs bedroom needs a revamp and the dining room chairs had seen better days. But none of these factors affected our stay or made it any less comfortable or enjoyable.

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We used the pool a lot, every morning we would all jump in, with our three-year-old insisting she 'do her lengths' before we could go out.

We jumped in the pool every morning

We jumped in the pool every morning - it was gated, which is great if you're travelling with small children - Credit: James Villas

The layout was also very good, with a really nice downstairs en-suite double/twin bedroom, which meant the 22-year-old could have his own space. But with another en-suite double upstairs and a twin, we could safely tuck the little one upstairs to bed and not worry about making a noise downstairs.

The downstairs and upstairs doubles both had lots of storage space, in fact I didn't need to use the storage in the upstairs twin as there was more than enough room for three lots of clothes in our room.

The god sends of the week were the dishwasher and washing machine - the washing machine meant none of that post-holiday washing pile when we got home and the dishwasher, well, no explanation needed.....

Clube Albufeira
The resort has more than 400 villas and apartments, plus two communal pool areas and a play area.
We really enjoyed the contrast of using our pool and spending the day by the kids' splash pool, where food was served much of the day too. Along with cocktails of course!

Sadly the mini-market on-site is closed for now, but there is a really good mini-market across the road at the campsite and a supermarket within walking distance.

There is also a lovely-looking Italian restaurant on-site, which we didn't have chance to try - perhaps next time!

Other things to do
Villa Ivy is centrally located for many great activities.

My top 5 would be:

  • Albufeira beach - rent a lounger for £7.50 each a day.
    Panoramic view of beach in Albuferia town in summer, Algarve, Polrtugal

    A view of the beach in Albuferia town in summer - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • The Lake at Quinta Do Lago - around half an hour away. Hire a pedalo and get out on the beautiful lake or hire a Balinese bed for four and eat at The Shack.
  • Faro - head to the historic, cobbled streets of the old city and watch the planes come in at a breathtakingly low height while sampling some Portugese delicacies.
    Faro is the main town of Algarve, Portugal

    Faro is the capital of The Algarve - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

  • Zoomarine - an aquatic, marine and theme park, that even has its own beach. Just don't pick a day that's too hot as it's a lot for families if it's blisteringly hot all day.

  • Vilamoura Marina - this place comes alive at night. Pick from one of the many lovely restaurants that have tables on the water side of the marina and soak in the atmosphere whilst admiring the big yachts.

We flew from Bristol Airport and used the parking there. It was incredibly convenient and is located very close to the terminal building.

Click here for more details.