Hilton Vilamoura review – a family friendly hotel in the Algarve
The Vilamoura area of Portugal has plenty going on for holidaymakers, from gorgeous beaches and pristine golf courses to shopping malls and a wide range of restaurants.
It says a lot about the Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas that we barely left the resort and its five acres of gardens and gently cascading waterfalls during our six-night stay.
Eager to find some rest and relaxation for the final week of the school summer holidays, we couldn’t have chosen a better place to unwind and have some fun.
To maximise our time, we booked Meet and Greet parking at Newcastle airport through the excellent Holiday Extras.
This allowed us to drive almost to the door and drop off the car without the hassle of getting a bus to the terminal or walking a fair distance with our luggage.
Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas Gold Resort & Spa
Call +351 289 304000
Prices start from £120 when booking directly with www.hilton.com
Holiday Extras offers Meet and Greet airport parking service and lounge access at all major UK airports. Meet and Greet parking at Newcastle Airport from £55.99 for eight days. (Price searched on August 25 for arrival on September 10.)
Lounge access price from £22.99 per person at Newcastle. To book, visit HolidayExtras or call 0800 1313 777.
On the return journey, our vehicle was waiting for us in the same spot, too.
We had also arranged lounge access at the airport with Holiday Extras and settled into comfy seats with snacks, beer, wine and soft drinks for a couple of hours before departure.
Within an hour of landing at Faro airport – the Hilton is a 25-minute drive away – we had checked in and were headed to the hotel’s Aquarela restaurant.
It was dark but the tables were lit by pretty candles, with a star-filled clear sky above us and flame-filled torches on the roof adding a sense of drama.
After tucking into platefuls of the restaurant’s speciality barbecue dishes, we turned in for the night eager to return to enjoy more of the resort having glimpsed some of it from our poolside seats.
That alone was enough to have us up and about early but the sumptuous breakfast buffet was well worth getting up for.
There was plenty of choice to suit my husband, our six-year-old son and me as well as my sister and her partner.
With fresh fruit, cold meats, pancakes, omelettes made to order and traditional cooked options, it was a feast to look forward to every day. For those with a sweet tooth, there were even doughnuts and beautiful Portuguese custard tarts.
There was more than enough to fill our bellies until dinner time but with so many tempting options both within the resort and nearby, we often ate out for lunch also.
On those days when lounging about in the sun didn’t give us a strangely ravenous appetite, we made use of the light and space in our suites to make our own food.
Each had a well-equipped kitchen, including a fridge, microwave and toaster, a large table and a dishwasher so no one had to do the washing-up.
With supermarkets nearby, it would be easy to save the pennies and self-cater throughout a stay but that would be to miss out on the excellent dining out options available.
Not least of those is the Michelin-starred Willie’s, located behind the Hilton.
Named after the German chef Willie Wurger who runs it, this unassuming restaurant was a real find where we enjoyed fabulous food and great service so much that we booked a second night there.
We also ate out several times at restaurants overlooking Vilamoura marina.
This is a great spot for people-watching and there is everything from Italian to Indian cuisine served here. Get there early for dinner if you want a table overlooking the water.
We quickly slipped into a routine of a leisurely breakfast, followed by bagging a row of sun loungers next to our favourite of the six swimming pools.
It had a wide shallow end and lots of room for our boy to splash about safely.
After a morning enjoying the heat – temperatures barely dropped below 30C during our visit – we either dined out or made our own lunch before more pool
time in the afternoon before dinner.
The rare exception to this was a visit to the nearby Family Golf Park for which we took advantage of the Hilton’s free and convenient shuttle bus.
This makes regular trips from the hotel to both the marina and the beach, where the rest has its own H20 club and private area exclusively for guests.
The golf park is a short walk from the marina stop and has two crazy-golf courses. We bought tickets to complete both but with the sun beating down, finished just one.
At least, that’s what the rest of the family’s excuse was, I think there were just sore after I scored not one but two holes in one.
With dozens of other families having had the same idea, we were not alone in making the resort our choice and the ever-helpful staff made sure all were treated well.
Anyone who needs extra soothing can book time in the 7 Seven Spa while gym-goers don’t need to neglect their workouts thanks to the 24-hour fitness centre.
Children too benefit from the Paradise Island Kids Club open in the summer months where you can stay and play with your youngsters or leave them in the capable hands of staff.
In short, in a location which already had lots to offer, the Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas has it all.