The Portuguese golf resort that’s surprisingly good for wellness
The golf resorts of the Algarve are not the first destinations that spring to mind when I think of “wellness”. Boot camps in LA? Yes. Austrian clinics? Certainly. Thai detox spas? One hundred percent. But southern Portugal and its famous fairways? Not so much. come with us and see Vale Do Lobo Wellness in the Algarve and see its vast amount of great things to do!
Golf has elements of wellness, of course – sport, outdoors and all that walking – but its myriad benefits are often countered by sausage rolls at the ninth hole and G&Ts at the 19th. In and of itself, I would wager, golf is not a guaranteed passport to optimal health. Therefore, as a healthy-holiday lover, my instinct has always been that a golf resort’s idea of wellness runs about as far as the L in a BLT.
Vale do Lobo wellness in the Algarve, however, has other ideas and has begun expanding its offering beyond golf which has paved the way for it to become a firm favourite with British couples over the years.
Founded in 1962. This luxurious 1,235-acre holiday and second-home destination on Portugal’s prime southern coast claims the crown of the country’s first premium resort. Its success led to the opening of Faro Airport in 1965. Vale do Lobo’s purist approach to golf means that, to non-golfers like me, it appeared to be an expat playground with minimal appeal.
It seems I may have been missing out, however, as this resort. Beautifully located and blessed with an incredible climate – has stealthily upped its wellness game, perhaps thanks to statistics like those cited by the Global Wellness Institute, which estimates that by next year the worldwide market will reach a whopping £694 billion. Nowadays, Vale do Lobo would have us see it as a place to invest in your body, nurture your soul, and calm your mind – not just improve your handicap.
Word From The Director
The resort’s marketing and communications director, says: “Year on year we see more and more younger couples of 45-plus making a lifestyle decision to move here and we are seeing more requests for spas, not bars, in the new homes.” I decided to see for myself.
Flights and Travel
The plethora of flights from the UK to Faro made booking hassle-free and low-cost. From touchdown to sunbed was 90 minutes – a stress relief in itself. As soon as I hit Vale do Lobo’s wide, 2km-long sandy beach and felt the sunshine (there are 300 days of it here per year) on my winter-worn skin, I experienced instant calmness and a serotonin boost.
The manicured gardens and pristine homes seemed reminiscent of a fancy housing estate in Surrey. less forest bathing, more gin, and a Jag. But there is something relaxing about the inherent familiarity of the place. It is a comfort zone. And who doesn’t like comfort?
The resort’s 1,500 luxuriously spaced villas are dotted along winding roads. Millionaire mansion after millionaire mansion, decreasing in size to smaller but nonetheless luxe townhouses and apartments. On arrival at our privately owned rental apartment, we were given keys and an electric bike – a bid to encourage residents out of their cars.
Vale do Lobo Wellness Algarve at the resort spa, though old-fashioned in decor, proved to be fully equipped with pools, Vichy showers, salt baths, hydromassage, sauna and steam rooms, and good therapists. And the gym was good enough for the England football team, who made their pre-World Cup training camp here. So far, so wellness.
A diary of events encouraged a community feel, which is not something that was one of my top requirements, being a holidaymaker normally averse to making vacation friends. However, I could see how it would have a positive impact on residents’ health and happiness.
An additional pop-up wellness tent, open seasonally, offered regulation classes and an excellent flow yoga class. Bum Bum Fit 30” turned out to be 30 minutes of toning exercises, for buttocks and thighs and not a Little Britain sketch).
At a high-intensity interval training class. A couple of 50+ business owners from Leeds who led a stressful, unhealthy lifestyle in the UK and relocated to the resort during the lockdown. Within a year of moving to Vale do Lobo, following daily fitness classes and a healthy Mediterranean diet, they had lost four stone each.
The number of healthy food options on offer makes it easy to see how they achieved it. With a demographic that encompasses young and old, families, and golfers. The usual burger fare is available, but there are also restaurants such as Well. This is where seafront tables and a beach club vibe accompany healthy sushi. U&Co serves seasonal ingredients that are as tasty as they are healthy – even its cocktails have a botanical twist. The more traditional Sandbanks serve the freshest of fish. Even the modern menu at clubhouse Spikes, whose chef previously earned Vale do Lobo’s La Place a Michelin star. Also offers lighter options. Your view is the golf course, but at least it’s a pretty one.