A luxury villla makes the perfect place to celebrate

Renting A Villa After Lockdown

As we navigate our way through the Covid-19 crisis, it’s widely understood that renting a villa provides a private space, protection and security that a hotel-based vacation simply cannot compare with.

As a family or small group of friends who have been isolating together that makes it a positive and entirely appropriate way to enjoy a holiday in a safe environment. A place that you can call your own.

Only last week, it looked unlikely that UK travellers would be able to enjoy a summer holiday overseas. Today it seems things are changing daily as our government unveils new plans and approaches to travel.

Now more than ever, considering a villa for a relaxing week or two in the sun, makes complete sense.

Here are a few reasons why:

  1. A private villa with your own pool offers a safe space for families and friends isolating in the sun.
  2. All the usual airlines including EasyJet, Jet2, Ryan Air & British Airways are open for bookings.
  3. Currently the cost of flights are very reasonable indeed.
  4. UK Government is now positively considering open skies and no isolation for July & August. More news will be released soon.
  5. The Algarve, parts of Spain and the Islands are ahead of the UK and now safely opening up restaurants, beaches and other facilities.
  6. On per person basis, renting a villa is surprisingly cost effective.

Although, things are moving very quickly, there is still availability in some exceptional villas for July, August, September & October.

If you’d like to discuss options and availability, call us now on 01625 581102

Football Coaching For Kids in The Algarve

Family Football Escapes

If, like so many, you have football mad children, here’s your chance to combine their dream holiday with one that is absolutely perfect for you too.
This summer, young footballers can join legendary players like Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Redknapp, Joe Cole and Michael Owen on the pitch at Quinta do Lago’s new Campus facility.

Boys and girls aged 5-15 can enjoy an exciting week of skill development and footballing fun-in-the-sun, rubbing shoulders with the stars whilst gaining insight and experience from some of international soccer’s top performers.

With the recent meteoric rise of the women’s game inspiring millions of young girls to pull on their football boots, this is the perfect chance for young girls to improve their soccer skills, build their confidence and develop their experience too.  Alongside their male counterparts, there are a host of female players on the coaching team at Football Escapes. Each one highly skilled and accomplished, not only as a player but also as a coach. Famous names include Laura Raffery and Cira Sherwood, both of Northern Ireland fame, and Rachel Yankee, England’s first ever female professional who played for Arsenal, Birmingham, Fulham and of course, England.

These unique courses are run over five days (Mon – Fri) with two hours of highly-effective, enjoyable football coaching each day.

As part of the package, each young player who signs up, will receive a commemorative kit including shirt, shorts and socks along with a signed certificate and a medal on completion of course.

Staying at one of our luxury villas in the resort, you’ll be in the heart of the action, easily able to drop the kids off for each exciting session before enjoying some time to relax and unwind.

Widely recognised as The Algarve’s most exclusive resort, Quinta do Lago, has plenty to keep parents occupied too with three world-class golf courses, a number of exceptional restaurants, great sporting facilities and beautiful beaches nearby.

Find out more about our villas in Quinta do Lago here

Enquire about Football Escapes courses in Quinta do Lago here


Portugal’s Golden Triangle – The Adventure Paradise

The small area in Portugal between Vale Do Lobo, Quinta Do Lobo and Villamora, referred to increasingly as ‘The Golden Triangle’ is the destination of choice for the rich and famous. The area’s particularly upmarket and exclusive appeal and has seen it spawn many incredible restaurants (several of which boast Michelin stars) and some hugely impressive luxury villas.

However, not content to simply sit in the sun, the new generation of Jet Setters, are demanding more from their holiday. They want activity and adventure.

Once again, this tasteful, dynamic and forward-thinking destination has reacted, delivering activity and adventure in spadefuls. And all at the exceptionally high standard we have come to expect from The  ‘Golden Triangle’.

Here we run you through a few of the many options that are available in this sporting and adventure paradise.

  1. Beaches

All the beaches in the area can proudly display the Blue Flag, indicating they are maintained at the highest level of cleanliness,  safety and accessibility.
There are a number of great beaches to choose from, many of which have lively and sophisticated bars and restaurants.

beautiful beaches in the Algarve

But variety is the key here. Whether you are looking for a secluded and tranquil spot, a safe and family friendly beach or a lively party beach, this area has all the bases covered.


  1. Golf

golf courses in the Algarve

If golf is your passion, it doesn’t come much better than this. There are several world class golf courses in this area, including the prestigious Vale do Lobo’s Courses: Ocean Golf Course and Royal Golf Course. The golf courses here are amongst the best courses in Portugal and they attract eager players from around the globe.

This year The  Algarve has picked up yet another award, having been named The 2020 World’s Golf Destination of the Year by International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO).


  1. Boat Trips

There are all kinds of boat trips on offer, ranging from party boats and coastal cruises, to luxury sailing yachts and dolphin-watching speed boat cruises. However you’d like to experience Portugal’s spectacular coastline, there will be a boat trip that’s just perfect for you.


  1. Tennis

tennis academy in the AlgarveBest enjoyed in the cool of the morning or evening sun, tennis is a great way to get some exercise and to enjoy being outdoors. With several tennis clubs in the area, there are all kinds of options and there is always the opportunity to enjoy some expert coaching to help improve your technique.


  1. Gyms

Gym in the AlgarveThere are several local gyms which are all air conditioned and equipped and maintained to a very high standard. So you can fit a workout in whenever you have a little spare time on your holiday.


  1. Stand Up PaddleBoarding (SUP)

ZEN SUP offers a range of options for you to enjoy stand up paddle boarding including an invigorating ‘Sunrise Tour’. This early morning excursion has you briefed, kitted up and out on the water in time to watch the sun rise whilst afloat. Leaving you with some very special holiday memories.
Find out more about SUP in our previous Stand Up Paddle Boarding article here


  1. Surfing, Coasteering & Kayaking

surfing in the algarveThe surfing is excellent in this area of the Algarve and there’s no better way to learn to ride the waves than with a recognised surf school. Albufeira Surf School & SUP courses from beginner right up to advanced level. They also offer all kinds of other exciting adventure too including Coasteering and Kayaking

For more information, check out our article on Surfing in the Algarve here


  1. Cycling

If you are a road cyclist, the perfect tarmac roads that wind through the Algarve are ideal for cycling. Heading up to the hills, will allow you to take some seriously challenging climbs, whilst sticking to the coastal routes will provide dramatic scenery and beautiful views, without to deal with the heavy climbing.

If you are more of a mountain biker, there are plenty of recognized mountain bike routes in the Algarve. Whilst most of the more challenging trails are further inland, there are a few good 2-3 hours ride close the Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo resorts.

Bikes can easily be hired in the area and you can opt to hire an experienced guide, which will help you explore further off the beaten track with confidence.


  1. Other Activities.

New and exciting activities are developing fast in this adventure paradise. Right now it is possible to enjoy a high-octane off-road 4-wheel drive buggy safari, feed your need for speed on a karting track, take to the high seas for a little big game fishing or go below the surface on a scuba diving course.

Whatever activity you choose, the great weather, blue skies, clear water, beautiful scenery and wide open spaces, mean you will have the time of your live. Because this area is truly, an ‘Adventure Paradise’

Check out our villas in The Algarve here.



Christmas on a villa holiday

Christmas In A Suitcase

Booking a villa holiday over the Christmas period is an excellent way to get the extended family together and to spend valuable relaxing time with children, grandchildren or just a group of old friends.  In this short article, we give you a few tips on how to make you’re your Christmas Day (or New Year’s Eve) celebrations go with a bang on your villa holiday.

Christmas Presents.

If you don’t have children with you, you may like to consider celebrating Christmas and exchanging gifts before you leave for your holiday or after you return. This needn’t limit the fun. With the right approach it can just add another great day, or at very least an evening, to your Christmas festivities.

If the thought of having no gifts to exchange on Christmas day leaves you cold, you could always reduce the collective luggage weight by opting for the ‘Secret Santa’ approach.

Secret Santa is a long-standing festive tradition in which members of a group all pull one name from their group out of a hat (or have name assigned to them any other random method). Their job is then to choose a gift for that person, and only that person. It is best to agree a maximum budget for the gift, which no-one should exceed. Technically, the identity of the gift giver should remain a secret and should never be revealed. However, guessing who selected the gift is often part of the fun.

When unwrapped and unveiled one by one at the dinner table, this can lead to a very enjoyable and entertaining spectacle. Fabulous fun for large groups and extended family holidays.  There are many apps available for organising your Secret Santa. Here’s one example that we came across www.secretsantaorganizer.com.

If you have very young children, you will probably want to take along a few gifts.

Think carefully about the weight, size and fragility of anything you intend to pack in your luggage. Also, think very carefully about any security issues that may arise. It may be difficult to explain that the brightly coloured rocket launcher in your suitcase is simply a child’s toy.

Wrapping Gifts

Airlines recommend that you do not not wrap any gifts before you fly. Airport security staff may unwrap gifts in your hand luggage or checked in bags, causing delays at security. And of course, leaving you with the job of rewrapping them.

Instead, pack wrapping paper in your checked in bags, and wrap your gifts after you arrive at your villa.  Don’t forget to pack a roll of celllotape. But even though your airline may permit you to carry scissors with blades less than 4 inches in length, it’s probably best to leave the scissors at home. Any well-equipped villa is sure to have a pair in the kitchen drawer.


Yes it’s cheesy, but a few Christmas jingles always set the scene on the big day.

Be sure to take along a Christmas CD or two or better still, compile an online playlist.

If you go for the online option be sure to check the box to ‘download’ the tracks in advance just in case you have no WiFi at the crucial moment.

Christmas Outfit

Spread the word before you leave. Make sure that absolutely everyone packs a festive outfit to wear for the big dinner.

You can give this your own spin. Whatever you choose From Christmas ‘Hawaiian’ Shirts and Santa Hats to Red Dresses, White Shirts and Christmas Ties, it is a chance to generate a bit of extra Christmas cheer and get everyone in the mood. A common theme always makes for great photographs in and around your villa too.

Don’t let your plans become too grand, whatever you choose should be light and easy to pack, easy to find and not too expensive.


We’re not suggesting that you drape the entire villa with tinsel and glitter. However, if you take a few lengths of tinsel and a handful of sparkly accessories, you will be able to wow everyone in the party with a beautifully decorated dinner table.

It is always an option to ask every member of the party to bring one item of decoration. Unveiling the collection of assorted decorations and arranging them around the villa could become an enjoyable and entertaining part of the celebration.


Nothing is more festive than after dinner games. They are a great way to extend the celebrations and to bridge the age gaps. Why not take a long a few simple games to play after dinner. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need pack heavy or cumbersome board games. With a little research, you may be able to simply take along a pack of cards, a pen and some paper and a few notes/prompts to remind you of a handful of games and their rules.

Of course, on a villa holiday at Christmas there is always a chance that you will be enjoying dinner outside on the sun terrace, by the pool or even down at the beach, so you may want to adjust your game selection accordingly.

Whether you play wink murder, spoons, charades or name that tune, you’ll have great fun and create many, many memories

If you need a little inspiration, there are countless suggestions for games online but here are a couple of links to get you going:

Table Place Names

Carefully prepared and packed in your luggage, a pile of festive place names for the dinner table will add a special touch to the big event and allow you to carefully adjust the seating plan to ensure harmony or hilarity.

Skype or Facetime

If you have any family members who can’t make it on your trip or friends at home that couldn’t come along with you for any reason, why not gather round an iphone, ipad or latop and call them up live on video with Skpe, Facetime or any alternative.

There are various ways to make video calls these days. But whatever method you choose, it is best to agree a precise time in advance and to be sure everyone in your party knows when it is happening. Make sure you make the call precisely at the agreed time and all should go to plan.

This is a lovely way to share the festive cheer, have some fun and to share a bit of love at the same time.


For some, cooking Christmas dinner seems like a military operation and an utterly unrewarding task. Whilst others thoroughly enjoy the hustle and bustle of the kitchen preparation and revel in the role of head chef and host.

If it is your thing, throw yourself headlong into the process and enjoy every minute.  But remember, there are no rules. You don’t have to produce the perfect, traditional Christmas dinner. This dinner is about the people and the connection between them.

Be prepared to break the rules and adjust the menu to make it easier for you to prepare and serve. It doesn’t really matter if you serve up burgers, pasta, seafood, curry or a beach barbecue buffet.

If cooking a big dinner is simply not your bag, why not consider the alternatives?

External catering may be an option in your villa. Whether you have food delivered or have dinner prepared by a visiting chef, it well be worth the additional cost.

Don’t forget that you can always book and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. In which case all the tips above still apply.

Whatever you choose to do, think things through carefully in advance and you will soon be enjoying your best Christmas ever together in a luxury villa in the sun.

Check out our range of ‘Family Party’ villas




Surfs up In Western Algarve.

Next summer brings with it the World’s biggest sporting spectacle.  The Tokyo Olympics.
For the first time, surfing will be on the list of Olympic events, showcasing an exciting, fast-growing sport which carries with it a long cultural, musical and spiritual heritage. The increase in exposure will no doubt bring a boost in interest in this unique sport.

For those based in the UK, who would like to learn to surf, there is an increasing array of locations and options on offer. But in a similar way to skiing, few destinations offer consistent or predictable conditions. In order to maximise the potential of your surf holiday, you’ll need to choose wisely. From absolute beginner to seasoned veteran, The Algarve makes an excellent choice for surfers of all levels and is a destination that attracts surfers from all over the world. Here are just a few of the reasons why it is so popular with surfers.

Guaranteed Waves In The Algarve.

Situated on the Atlantic coast, The Algarve can boast good waves almost every day of the year.

The Portuguese tourist Authority are so confident in that claim, they even offer free holidays for surfers who failed to find waves of more than 50 centimetres on 3 consecutive days, on one of the 28 listed beaches.

The Algarve’s Beautiful Water

The water in the Algarve is clear, blue and beautiful. Although the water temperature varies throughout the year, even in winter it is comfortably warm in a wetsuit.

A Massive Choice Of Beaches

The Algarve offers a massive range of beaches. Each one with its own benefits and characteristics, which allows you to choose a surf venue that suits your aspirations perfectly

If you book with a surf school, coach or guide, they will always advise you on the best beach for the conditions and your level of ability.

family surfing in the algarve

Year Round Warmth

Even in winter, the weather is similar to British spring temperatures, making it perfect for surfing. Surfing is possible all year round, although many surf schools close in January and February.  Whether you choose to enjoy the heat of the summer sun, or the excitement of the winter waves, you will always need to pack plenty of sunscreen.

The Algarve’s Welcoming Culture

Lovely people and a community that is always child friendly and a rich and fascinating culture, all combined with great food and wine.  Which all goes together to make the perfect active holiday.

surfing in the algarve

Surf Lessons, Courses Or Holidays

Villa Retreat’s partner organisation,  Watersmile can arrange surf lessons or individual coaching with surf board hire for any number of days during your holiday. There are also options for family days out or multi-day family surf holidays.

For Villa Retreats customers, simply mention “Villa Retreats” to Mauro who runs the company and you will receive a 10% discount on your surf booking.

Aside from surfing they offer other exciting water base activities including Stand Up Paddleboarding, Kaykaing and Coasteering.

Check out WaterSmile’s website here:

Here are a few photos from Water Smile’s’ Surf School

Whether you choose to enroll on a surfing course or just add a day of surfing to your holiday, we have a number of villas in this area which would make the perfect base.

Check them out here:

mosquitos in the medditeranean

How To Reduce The Risk Of Mosquito-Born Disease On Holiday

Diseases previously found only in the tropics have been discovered in European countries like Greece, France, Italy and Spain. A move that may concern those visiting Mediterranean beaches this summer.

The mosquito-borne disease include ‘Chikunguya’, a fever which causes fever and painful joints and ‘Dengue Fever’, a powerful flu-like virus. Whilst the risk of infection is still relatively low, travellers are being advised of the potential risk of mosquito bites and that they should take precautions to avoid them.

Here are a few simple tips to help you reduce the likelihood of mosquito bites whilst on your next holiday.

Avoidance of mosquito bites should always be considered the first line of defence against mosquito-borne infections.

There isn’t really a safe time

Different mosquitos bite at different times of the day. The mosquitos which spread malaria bite between dusk but the mostquitos which carry other diseases like Chikunguya and Dengue, tend to bite during the day.

Which means that bite-preventive measures are advisable at all times.

Insect Repellents

Although there are various insect repellents available , The NHS strongly recommend DEET N, N-Diethyl-m-tolumide above all others.

There are a few things to note about DEET.

  • A concentration of 20% DEET offers between 1 to 3 hours protection.
  • 30% DEET can offer up to 6 hours protection.
  • 50% DEET can offer up to 12 hours protection
  • Duration of protection DOES NOT increase with concentrations above 50%.
  • Concentrations above 50% should NOT be used on the skin
  • DEET is water soluble, so it must be reapplied after swimming
  • DEET induces a reduction in SPF, so a higher protection sunscreen should be used.
  • DEET should always be applied AFTER
  • DEET may damage man-made fibres, and plastics (watches, sunglasses, clothing).


Although they are not recommended above DEET by the NHS, Icaridin (Picaridin) and Lemon Eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8 diol, or PMD) may be used but their protection is not considered as effective or long-lasting.


Mosquitos cannot bite through loose fitting clothing so clothing which covers the skin is highly recommended where appropriate. Longs sleeves, high necklines and long skirts or trousers where possible. Exposed areas of skin should be covered with DEET (20% or above).

It is possible to buy clothing which is pre-treated with an insecticide which may further increase the level of protection. UK Travel Clothing brands Rohan and Craghoppers both have dedicated ranges of anti-insect clothing.

Mosquito Nets

Mostquito nets can offer enhanced protection from bites, particularly whilst sleeping. These can be even more effective if treated with an insecticide. Design and manufacture of nets varies, so it is important to check suitability, practicality and portability before you invest. Most nets are available as single or double bed options.

Remember that whilst mosquitos cannot pass through a net, they can bite through it. So don’t sleep with any part of your skin touching the net.

Room Protection

Check any door and window screens for holes and gaps. Try to keep the doors and screens closed at all times, not just at night.
Air conditioning can be an effective deterrent. Mosquitos are less likely to be attracted to a the room if it is.
Make sure any standing water is removed as it provides that perfect breeding ground for mosquitos.
Citronella Candles and plugin insecticide-emitting devices may have a small effect as an insect deterrent but they should never be relied upon on their own. Great care should be taken using candles indoors and they should never be used anywhere near loose clothing, soft furnishings or a mosquito net.
It should also be noted that candles, coils and plugins maybe trigger the symptoms of Asthma or other breathing conditions.

A Few Myths Busted

Finally, here are a few common fallacies that you should know the truth about:

  • Vitamins B1 and B12: There is no evidence that these vitamins do anything to repel mosquitoes.
  • Tea Tree Oil: There is no evidence that Tea Tree Oil is effective as a mosquito repellent.
  • Garlic and yeast extract: Whether taken orally or rubbed on the skin, there is no scientific evidence to suggest these do anything to repel mosquitos.

High Frequency Buzzers: Devices that emit high frequency sound waves, are completely ineffective against mosquitos. In fact, numerous companies selling these devices have been prosecuted and fined under the trade descriptions act.

SUP Algarve

Stand Up Paddleboarding In The Algarve

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a great way to get out on the water, to enjoy as much or as little exercise as you want and to see the coastline and marine wildlife. We spoke to our friends at Algarve SUP recently, to find out a little bit more about this fast growing sport and how you can get involved whilst you are on your next holiday. Here’s what they had to say.

Have you ever wondered what its like to explore the ancient caves of the Algarve Coastline or to roam freely down the hidden waterways of the Natural Park of the Ria Formosa Lagoon near Faro or Olhao?

With our local trusted providers we have know for some time, ZEN SUP and Algarve SUP you can now discover both of these locations and many more while on your next holiday getaway to the Algarve.

Imagine yourself on a state of the art Stand Up Paddle board on the still waters of the Ria Formosa near Faro airport as the sun dips below the horizon while you, your family and friends have a private viewing point of the planes arriving to touch down on the runway. Magical!!!

SUP Algarve

Taking an early morning tour along the stunningly sculptured coastline of the Algarve will certainly leave you with golden memories that you will treasure for a lifetime. Paddling through some of the most amazing caves, not only in Europe, but in the world. Coastal features that have been formed by nature over millions of years. Breathtaking to say the least!!!

Both ZEN SUP and Algarve SUP have been providing Stand Up Paddle Boarding Lessons and Tours in the Algarve over the past 5 years and are renowned for high quality instruction, service and enjoyment across all their services.

We do our upmost to give you, your family and friends one of the best on beach, on water and in cave experiences that you can have anywhere in the world. From first contact we make it our business to begin tailoring the experience for your total enjoyment. We endeavour to match the timing, conditions and locations to ensure your complete satisfaction. And we also try to follow up with some memorable photos to share the memories with loved ones back home.

We cater for all ages, ranging from 4 up to 76 years (actual client stats) and sometimes have 3 generations on the water all at the same time, enjoying this unique sport together. We accommodate individuals, couples, families, stag and hen parties, yoga groups, team building and others.

We use only the highest quality of equipment from one of the leading manufacturers in the water sports industry and we teach to the highest standards recognised by surfing and SUP communities and authorities around the world.

Why not come along with us on one of our tours and experience first hand for yourself why they say that Stand Up Paddle is the faster growing water sport in the world and why its also one of the best ways to explore, enjoy and get in shape (and stay in shape) while on the water.

Looking forward to hosting you on one of our signature Lessons or Tours during your next holiday in the Algarve.

Find out more about Algarve SUP

Find the perfect villa in the Algrarve

Come Together & Celebrate in Style with Villa Retreats

So you’ve decided on a location and you’ve finally got everyone to agree on a date (completing that task in itself usually deserves a holiday!), now it’s time to decide how to make your celebratory get -together so spectacular that your fellow celebrators will be celebrating your own organising brilliance for years to come!


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