The other highlight of our vacation in the Algarve last month besides the beautiful beaches were the hotels we stayed in.
The first hotel we stayed at, Bela Vista, is located in Portimao, a small seaside town about an hour’s drive from Faro airport, the main airport of the Algarve region.
The meaning of Bela Vista is beautiful view and one can get the obvious reference by standing on the high bluff the hotel is situated on and looking down at the gorgeous expanse of Praia de Rocha beach and the Atlantic ocean.
The building seemed more like a converted Victorian style home but in fact was built as a small hotel with 15 rooms in 1934, a precursor to the boutique hotel. It was recently bought by a new company and refurbished into a five-star hotel.
The décor of the lobby was a fabulous mix of classic Portuguese features such as the Azulejo tiles lining the walls and the carved dark wood carved stairway along with contemporary accents of black and white wide striped dining chairs and cherry red dining club chairs with swooping arms. The centerpiece of the lobby is the elongated piano with decoupage.
Our room on the second floor with a spot on view of the beach was an ebullient rush of cobalt blue and marigold yellow with a subtle border of mosaic tiles bordering our white tufted headboard. The mattress was heavenly comfortable and the sheets ever so soft, making me seriously think of investing in some new sheets.
We weren’t so fortunate with the weather and only two days of the four days we were sunny and warm with one day pouring rain continuously. The comfort of the hotel was tested on the rainy day, as it was raining so hard we stayed in all day, so we lazed in the room watching videos all day and reading in the perfect chair in the cozy lobby living room with a fireplace.
We were invited to have dinner in the haute cuisine Vista restaurant in the hotel. The newly appointed 28 year Chef Joao Oliveira trained at some of the top restaurants in Portugal, including the nearby two Michelin star Vila Joya, which I had the pleasure of dining at and will write about in the near future. Oliveira will have a bright future if he continues creating the eclectic and exotic taste sensations we had that night with our five-course tasting menu.
Since we had an early flight going back to Paris on Friday, I booked a hotel closer to the airport instead of having to drive an hour back from the Bela Vista.
I reserved at the Pousada Palacio de Estoi, a renovated 18th century palace. The photos on the website looked appealing and intriguing.
We didn’t arrive till late in the day, as we wanted to have as much beach and pool time as possible at Bela Vista. After getting lost for about 45 minutes (silly me I forgot to rent a GPS with the rental car) we followed a narrow street in a small village up to the hotel. Nothing had prepared me for the beauty and grandeur of the hotel. It was sunset and the orange light hitting the pink stucco palace was astounding. I ran back to the room lickety- split so I could capture these final golden moments before it got dark. The sunset reflecting on the pool was also sensational and it overlooked the village and mountains below.
Our large room was ultra modern minimalist design and the common rooms and lobby had a cool mix of modern décor and some of the original Baroque style furniture.
I was now sorry I didn’t come earlier in the day to enjoy the pool and beauty of the hotel.
I am thrilled to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Postcards, a 6 or 12-month subscription service where the subscriber receives three physical postcards of my iconic Paris photos every month. Each month will have a specific theme, from architectural street scenes to romantic outdoor cafes to beautiful gardens to unique shots of iconic monuments. Each mailing will include two postcards in color and one in black & white or sepia, beautifully packaged in a special French Blue postcard holder with a custom designed seal.
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My offer of a 12-month subscription with an extra month free is good until October 31, so remember to order now before the offer ends.
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New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 195 euros per person (about $210)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
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