Travel: Family adventures on the Algarve, Portugal

The lagoons of the Algarve coastline
The lagoons of the Algarve coastline
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The Portuguese resort of Robinson Club Quinta 
Da Ria is great for all the family, finds Scott McNab

Fancy a perfect break in the baking sun of the Algarve? Few Scots would say no, but throw in a stunning location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean which allows you to enjoy the best of the natural beauty of Portugal’s glorious southern coastline, and it’s hard to go wrong. That your every whim is catered for at one of the region’s most exclusive all-in resorts is a nice bonus, and provides the platform for a family holiday that ticks all the boxes.

The breathtaking Robinson Club Quinta Da Ria boasts both indoor and outdoor pools, a spa with fully equipped gym where you can enjoy yoga or pilates classes or unwind in its Finnish style-sauna. There are also two of the finest 18-hole golf courses in the region. The club is located just 40 minutes west of Faro airport within the Ria Formosa nature reserve and is famous for its bird and marine life. A ten-minute walk through the club’s Atlantic golf course takes guests down to a beach bar. Here you can enjoy the sun with super-size cocktails and take in the stunning vista of the tidal lagoon below with the azure blue Atlantic stretching into the distance. If you want to head out to the beach itself, the club even lays on a boat service at high tide to ferry guests on a two-minute trip out to the coastline. At low tide, the lagoon drains and it’s a simple walk.

Robinson was one of the first to pioneer the club ethos back in the 1970s, catering to guests seeking more than just sun and sand, paving the way for a shift towards sporty, entertaining and sociable holidays. It’s a huge draw for golfers in the off-season. Of the two courses on its doorstep, Quinta de Cima is the championship course with its long fairways challenging the most experienced players, while Quinta da Ria was designed by the architect Rocky Roquemore and boasts some of the most breathtaking sea views for players in the region.

As for the guest experience, accommodation majors on patios and balconies while the buffet restaurant lays on an incredible spread and variety of cuisines from a health food bar to pasta, curry and a fruit and veg counter and everything in between. Parents can have a break with the ROBY kids’ clubs offering a packed agenda for youngsters who can make friends while they get involved in sports activities. Teens can also go to the ROBY youth club which puts on activities like beach parties, while there’s also a babysitting facility for parents who fancy a night off.

If you need a break from the sun, make for the club’s on-site spa, where the massage treatments come highly recommended. If you’re feeling really active you can enjoy a spot of volleyball, with members of staff happy to give guests a game. There are also two tennis courts for guests to play on. If you get enough players together, there’s even a football pitch complete with 4G surface.

The surrounding area is worth checking out on one of the guided cycle tours laid on by the club. I saddle up for one of the “moderate” tours one morning which takes in the beautiful surrounding hinterland on the way out to the dramatically entitled Pego do Inferno which translates as Hell’s Pool. This is actually a stunning waterfall where you can cool off from the baking sun. Local legend has it that a carriage once disappeared without trace in the pool and anyone who falls in goes straight to hell. It didn’t stop me having a quick swim and I escaped Satan’s clutches.

If the impulse should take you to see the wider Algarve, the club also arranges day-long excursions. We headed west one day to take in the stunning Cape St Vincent lighthouse which marks the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe. A brief diversion back eastwards led us to one of the most idyllic spots on the Algarve coast, the Boca do Rio “abandoned beach” where you can crash about in the surf and then enjoy lunch on the sand. Then it was along to bustling Lagos for a visit to its stunning cliff face sea caves, including the chance to descend a winding staircase carved into the rocks to the waters below.

On our return we found the entertainment at the club stretches long into the night with singing and dancing at the pool bar led by the ever-friendly and exuberant events team, ensuring there’s never a dull moment. Before long the glorious Algarve sun is rising and it’s time to do it all again.

Fact box Flights from Edinburgh to Faro with Jet2 (www.jet2.com) start at around £54 return, during August. During high season at Robinson Club Quinta Da Ria (www.robinson.com) a room for two adults sharing for seven nights costs from £846. Excursions are extra, see website for more.