Family Getaway Review by Travel Dad, Robert Molijn (images and text Robert Molijn) April 2018
We flew into Lisbon on Friday morning, we picked up our pre-reserved rental car and were on our way to Penha Longa, A Ritz-Carlton® Hotel in Sintra. The roads in Portugal are easygoing and using the navigation on the phone is sufficient. The Penha Longa Resort is only a 30-minute drive from the airport.
At the entrance of the grounds, we were met by a gatekeeper who noted down our name. The short drive from the gate to the resort main building already gets you very excited, the path swerves through nature and offers exits waiting to be explored. We were met by two staff members who opened our doors and greeted us with our family name (passed on by the gatekeeper in advance, now that’s service!) No need to park the car or unload your luggage, everything is taking care off.
Approaching the reception, we were met by yet another staff member, ever so helpful directing us to the next available check-in desk. Our girls were immediately approached by the staff members of the Kids Desk. Luckily for them, they spoke their language (Dutch) although our girls do understand quite a bit of English which is spoken fluently by every staff member at the resort. They were asked what their hobbies are and what they would like to do, a really warm welcome.
We could check in immediately and entered our Executive Suite situated on the second floor offering a grand view of the Golf Course and Monastery. We then set out to explore the grounds. The resort offers a great variety of services from Golf, Swimming to Spa and from Gaming to Horseriding and everything in between. In 2013, we stayed here with our family for two weeks. This time, our stay was a bit shorter but still allowed us to experience many activities.
Wow, what a resort, the pools are amazing. It was really too cold to go in the outdoor pools however we did very much enjoy the indoor pool. As a frequent swimmer, I went in the morning to do some laps and later enjoyed playing in the pool with our daughters. The outside pool, because of the cold, free of guests, offered me the ability to take some very nice pictures. Outside they now offer the main pool and an adults infinity pool overlooking the golf and resort area.
The resort offers a 1,500 sqm Spa with a great variety of treatments. My spouse and my youngest daughter went to the spa to enjoy a “Mommy and Me” treatment.
Mommy and Me Spa treatment:
A perfect gift to share with friends, sisters, mothers, daughters or grandparents! A Feel Free massage followed by a facial treatment from Natura Bissé. A world of relaxation and tranquillity for the whole family also designed for our younger guests.
I would for sure recommend mum and dad to check out the possibilities and treatments they offer here. For some exercise, they also offer a fully equipped fitness centre.
GOLF AND HORSES
I did not play golf, however, have been tempted to go out on this magnificent championship course. Professionally run and staffed to accommodate all sorts of players.
This was not our first time to Penha Longa, and a few years ago we also took our girls out to take some riding lessons on the beautiful horses just a 4-minute walk from the main building. This was a great experience for all of us. Grand horses and great staff to help you take your first steps as a rider. Of course, they accommodate very experienced riders too. You can also take the horses out to ride on the premise and explore the grounds.
Now, this is where it gets really good. The hotel offers a great variety of restaurants, one with a Michelin star. We enjoyed the Italian Il Mercato, the Spices and the Arola restaurants. Each restaurant also offers a great Kids Menu so you do not have to worry about them.
All the staff was ever so helpful and nice in each and every restaurant. Breakfast was included in our stay, something I would highly recommend. The Breakfast Buffet was what I would call “grand” and something for everyone to enjoy and start his or her day.
We also took a ride to the beach to enjoy a great lunch at Villa Tamariz offering a great view of the ocean and also a great place to kick-back and relax during the hot evenings in the summer.
Due to our short stay, we couldn’t try out all restaurants, but next time we will definitely dine at LAB and Midori.
“LAB by Sergi Arola awarded with its first Michelin Star, transport diners on a highly-innovative and emotional gastronomic journey; the renewed Midori, the oldest Japanese restaurant in Portugal offers gourmet cuisine which mixes traditional flavours with modern influences; Spices our new Pan Asian restaurant inspired in four different cuisines: Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Thai ; Arola, also with the signature of Chef Sergi Arola, where tapas are recreated in trendy and relaxed atmosphere; il Mercato, delivering Italian flares and tastes for the whole family; AQUA, our seasonal poolside restaurant showcasing fresh fish and light meals; B-Lounge, the lobby bar where our mixologists create the most incredible cocktails and, last but not least, Villa Tamariz Utopia, a reflection of barefoot elegance nestled by the beach in Estoril and showcasing the hotel’s only off-premise restaurant.”
LITTLE BARMAN WORKSHOP
For the kids this experience was grand, they joined the workshop “Little Barman” and learned to mix (non-alcoholic mocktails) drinks by a real bartender in the B-Lounge. They made their own Mojito and other great looking drinks. A real experience. Back in our room, we were happily surprised with a picture taken by the staff from our girls and a personal note. Also, take note of the great quotes we found in the menu of the B-lounge. The B-Lounge is also an ideal spot to go to enjoy pre-dinner drinks.
GAMES, PLAYGROUNDS AND MORE
The fully packed activity room offered an x-box driving experience, a pool table, kickback area and even an old style Atari game centre where you could choose up to 999 old school games. This is where I showed our daughters how we used to play computer games when we did not have an I-pad or X-Box yet. I was told that the inside play area (the Kids Club) also offered great stuff however our girls are too old for that now.
Outside they offered a whole new experience for the kids. A grand play area packed with fun stuff, a climbing wall, a Volkswagen Bus to chill in, a Zipline, trampolines and even a mini golf court. Even a drinking fountain is available for when you or your kids become thirsty. The playground is accessed via a gate for which you need a key. This gate keeps the kids in during their stay in the play garden, something less to worry about.
Penha Longa also offers many activities outside the resort. You can schedule surfing lessons, horse riding, golf clinics, enjoy a movie (with popcorn), actually, it is so much I would recommend you to surf on Penha Longa’s website where most of this can be found.
Just an 8-minute ride outside of the resort there is the great Cascais Shopping centre offering all sorts of shops and also a great place to enjoy a lunch in the great food court, recently upgraded in a new part with food trucks and healthy and local food. TIP: stop by at Sacoor, a Portuguese brand that offers great clothes for men, women and kids. Their service is impeccable, they even walk you out and hand you your bag outside the store.
CULTURE and SURF
This part of Portugal offers great abilities for day trips to Ericeira to enjoy the beach and maybe learn to surf, or go to Sintra, the Moon Hill, a place full of magic and mystery, where Nature and Man have combined in such a perfect symbiosis that UNESCO has granted it World Heritage Site status. And as it is so close you could even decide to do a day of sightseeing and shopping in Lisbon. Portugal and Penha Longa, A Ritz Carlton® Hotel will be forever on our shortlist for family holidays. It’s the whole package of people, place, unique experiences, indulgent, food and relaxation.
In 2017, our BabyMoon® Travel Ambassadadrice Lotte checked-in at Penha Longa Resort to explore the Sintra area. Her explorations can be read at her review of Fairytale Sintra.
Below some pictures of Villa Tamariz, be sure to go here, and do watch out, you will get wet when the flood rolls in :-).