August 2009: Portugal by Gerry O’Hare

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portugal-hidden-cove-13Sunshine, lovely beaches, golf courses – Portugal does exactly what promises says on the tin – or holiday brochure.

This year will be no different, although the value for money will be even keener. The Iberian peninsular has been hit just as badly, if not worse, than Ireland by the global recession and hotels, bars and restaurants know they are in an even more competitive market.

Hotel and apartment accommodation is in plentiful supply and the prices are keen to attract even the most wary punter. Restaurants and bars are fighting each other for custom.

Large beers can be bought from one Euro upwards. Cocktails (including mixers) are currently on sale in the Algarve at three Euro. Summer visitors will be able to cruise the bars, picking and choosing, on their evening strolls before deciding which tantalising offer to take up.

And as for “Happy Hours”. They begin at 10.30 in the morning. I do not jest. The accommodation sector has been forced to come to terms with the European recession.

I don’t believe there is better value anywhere at the moment.

 

 

Five-Star and Four-Star hotels are suddenly within everyone’s budget. The  Apartotel Club Humbria in Albuferia is offering full board, all-inclusive, including all drinks beers (and spirits) free.

Definitely the place for hard pressed parents and their demanding children who can indulge themselves in ice cream, minerals and crisps all day. So you know what you are paying for before you arrive.

Wherever you choose to stay along the Algarve, Portimao is a must. Here you can wander around the little streets, with shops full of designer gear at prices to please. Visit the harbour area and dine on sardines, baby potatoes and a salad for about five Euro. Or go on further to Lagos and take a boat trip to the coastal caves for a morning or afternoon.

 

 

For golfers, the Algarve is a dream, with so many to choose from. Play early as the afternoon sun can be very hot. If you want to spend an afternoon doing a relaxing golf lesson, then visit the Daniel Silva Golf Academy in Albufeira.

Silva is a double winner on the European Tour and was recently voted Portugal’s best ever golfer (e-mail: ddasilva@hoteisreal.com). For the more adventurous a day trip on a jeep safari to the Monchique Mountains won’t disappoint. Ask the Budget rep for booking details.

There’s a spa here and the cool waters cure any ill … – or so they say. All hotels, naturally, have well appointed swimming pools and in many special areas for children which are professionally supervised.

Nightlife is as hectic or as quiet as you want it to be. Eating out is not expensive especially for Irish holiday makers who can compare it favourably to prices at home. It really is worthwhile to stroll and read the menus before choosing. Fish and lamb dishes are popular. There is also great value in the off-licences for bringing gifts home.

Graham’s Port is one of the best brand names and, at just 8 Euros, is particularly good value for money.

 

n Gerry O’Hare travelled on a Budget Holiday charter flight and stayed at the Hotel Pestana Dom Joao in Alvor and the Real Bellavista Hotel in Albufeira.

Budget Travel’s summer programme to the Algarve runs from 4th May until 4th Oct 2009.

Flights depart from Dublin, Cork and Shannon and flight time is approx 3hrs.

n SAMPLE PRICES:

Family prices, based on 2 adults/2 children, for 16th August start from Eu1,599

Hotel prices (B&B) from Eu499pp/fully inclusive prices from Eu619pp and from Eu2169 for 2 adults/2 children.

n RESORTS include: Albuferia, Montechoro, St Eulalia, Armacao De Pera, Olhos D’Agua; Lagos; Carvoeiro; Praia Da Rocha; Praia Do Vau; Alvor.

 

 

n Pestana Algarve Hotels & Golf Courses

n Real Bellavista Hotel

n Luna Hotels

n Vau Hotel

n Vila Gale Hotels

n Baia Grande Hotel

n Aparthotel Club Humbria

n Salgados Golf Course

 

 

n Beware of cocktails brought to you already made-up with mixers.  Buy your own coke or tonic and mix them yourself.

n Book your own rental car from a travel agent at home or use a top brand name.

n Booking a car locally can lead to serious problems if an accident occurs.

 

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