Quinta do Lago is one of the most exclusive corners of the Algarve. It is also home to the latest resort from the Martinhal brand.
Martinhal Quinta is a complex of 2 to 5-bedroom villas, each with private garden and pool. We were invited to stay this October half-term in a two bedroom townhouse, and spent five days in Quinta.
Quinta do Lago
This swanky corner of the Algarve boasts warm weather for much of the year, and it’s very beautiful.
The local beach is just a mile from the resort. We spent a gorgeous morning here in spite of sporadic showers. Although I’m not sure Flea quite thought through where she was standing when I took this photo…
This is her two minutes later, wearing my sweater as a dress, having been drenched by the waves!
When the rain became too heavy, we took refuge at GiGi’s. This seafood shack serves fresh fish and seafood by the kilo, with salads. There are no cushions on the seats, the menu is a chalkboard on the wall, and there is a serious lack of coffee options. But our sea bass was fresh, and simply cooked, and we loved it. Beware though – this place is popular with the fashionable people, and has a price list to match.
A 20-minute walk beyond the beach is the lake, where you’ll find the Quinta do Lago Watersports Centre. Here, you can hire pedalos, paddle boards and canoes. During the high season, the company also provides activities on the beach, including banana boat rides and jet ski hire.
Our visit coincided with heavy rain and thunder so it was a little on the quiet side, and the lakeside cafe, The Shack, was closed due to the rain for much of our stay.
If you do visit Martinhal Quinta, I strongly advise taking a car. Although the resort is only 20 minutes from Faro airport, the nearest shopping area is a good hour’s walk from the resort.
Martinhal has an arrangement with a local taxi firm that lets you bill cabs to your villa account. This is convenient but not cheap – a trip to the supermarket costs 30 euros and our cab to a local restaurant was a 40 euro round trip. Once you factor in the 5 euro per person cost for the shuttle Martinhal runs to the local beach, a car hire starts to look like a pretty good idea!
Martinhal Quinta is a part of the local tourism association, which means guests can use the facilities at other Quinta do Lago resorts and hotels. With a car, you can easily access a host of activities (at a fee) on more established resorts from golf to horse riding, water sports and spa treatments.
For dinner, there are dozens of local restaurants to choose from. We tried out Alambique, which serves a wide range of local fish and steak dishes. The restaurant is very pretty, particularly if you’re seated in the garden area. We found the service to be really friendly and the food not too expensive considering – a two course dinner for two, plus dessert for Flea, and coffee and a glass of wine for me, came to around 120 euros.
For shopping, the local option is Quinta Shopping, around an hour’s walk from Martinhal Quinta, or a short drive. Here you’ll find upmarket boutiques and a range of restaurants. We particularly liked Pizzeria San Marco, a laid-back pizza place, which has a fab atmosphere and is very family-friendly.
One real highlight of staying with Martinhal is the concierge, who will book restaurants, arrange taxis and generally help out with directions and recommendations. This sort of service is fab when your local language skills are limited and you don’t want to waste precious holiday time going to a bad restaurant or the third best beach in the area…
The Martinhal Quinta Resort
I think Martinhal Quinta has the potential to be a beautiful luxury family resort. But perhaps it’s not there quite yet.
Visitors should note that this is a 15-year-old resort, which Martinhal took over in June 2015. While many improvements have already been made, the villas are mostly privately owned, and modernising them all to the same standard you’ll find on other Martinhal resorts may take some time.
For this reason, rentals at Martinhal Quinta are quite a bit cheaper than Martinhal’s Sagres property.
The central pool area is really attractive, with a large outdoor pool with slides, and views over the golf course. There is an adjoining play area with table tennis, a trampoline, sandpit, and a converted VW camper van that kids can play in.
You’ll also find a separate splash pool for toddlers, and plenty of comfortable loungers to relax in. The pool is unheated but there are plans to change this.
To one side of the pool is a brand new building housing the on-site cafe, M Bar. This serves a range of pizza, pasta and sandwiches. Upstairs, you’ll find a large, airy dining room where you can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Downstairs, there’s a heated indoor pool, and a games room complete with consoles, table football and a pool table.
There is also a daily kids’ club, which we didn’t try, as it’s for children aged 8 and under. I understand you can pay-by-session for this service.
On the other side of the resort, there’s a small hairdressing salon, and a supermarket. We found the stock rather limited, but I suspect this was down to the time of year we visited. During the summer it stocks fresh bread and baked goods, chilled meals and a range of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Our two-bedroom townhouse was clean and spacious, with simple tiled floors and white walls.
If I’m being 100% honest, it felt a little dated. There were a few areas where I’d expect to see improvements made over the coming months to bring these properties into line with what you might expect from a luxury brand like Martinhal. But if you go expecting something simple, pretty and functional, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Downstairs, the attractive living/dining room is spacious and there is a TV and CD player. The kitchen is really well equipped, with a washing machine and dishwasher. It’s a small niggle, but there was only one power socket so you can boil the kettle or make toast – but not both at the same time.
Upstairs there are two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, each with a bath and a lovely hot shower.
There is absolutely loads of space and storage, and we both found the beds comfortable.
Some of our linens had seen better days, and I didn’t like that the window blinds had dangling cords with no way to tie them up, and no safety devices fitted. This is not ideal if you’re travelling with a young family.
All the properties have free, fast WiFi and air conditioning, plus a daily maid service, which is very efficient. The townhouses have a small, unheated plunge pool and patio furniture, while the larger villas have their own swimming pools.
It is possible to ask to have your pool fenced off before you arrive, which is a nice touch. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, the townhouse gardens are small and not fully divided from your neighbours. This means you do need to keep an eye on little ones. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed as Martinhal continues its site improvements.
Beyond your villa, Martinhal Quinta is ridiculously pretty. Cobbled streets are lined with lush greenery and flowers, with palm trees providing shade overhead. Everything is well lit and sign-posted and it feels very safe, and secluded.
I would expect that by summer 2017, the Martinhal Quinta resort will have changed a good deal.
There are plans for a second restaurant, heating of the outdoor pool and an expansion of the children’s club. This will mean more activities, including more options for older children. With these improvements in place, I think Martinhal Quinta is certainly worth a look if you’re looking for an affordable family villa holiday in the Algarve next summer.