Absolutely Mama Editor Carly Glendinning travels with her toddler to The Magnolia Hotel in Quinta do Lago in the Algarve, Portugal…
The afternoon we fly into Faro, there’s a very light mist of rain. It seems we’ve brought it with us from London, and everyone from the airport staff to our taxi driver is up in arms about it. The Algarve is famed for having 300 days of sunshine every year. Thankfully, the uncharacteristic rain spell doesn’t last long, and by the time we’ve arrived at The Magnolia Hotel in Almancil, the clouds are a distant memory.
With its Palm Springs-inspired decor, The Magnolia is the perfect escape from dreary London. Think bohemian wicker chairs, colourful tufted berber rugs, and neon signage. I could quite happily lounge by the pool all day with a cocktail in hand, but that’s unlikely to be on the cards as we’re holidaying with our toddler.
The Magnolia is, in fact, a great destination for families. The boutique hotel has 74 rooms, and seven cabin-style cottages. We were staying in one of the cottages, located in a peaceful area of the hotel’s grounds. Our cute little cabin was super spacious inside, with a kitchen / living room area, two bedrooms, and a bathroom with an all-important bathtub. The hotel had set up a travel cot in the second bedroom, making it feel like the ideal home-from-home.
The Magnolia has the benefit of being on the edge of Quinta do Lago, with access to the five-star resort’s many facilities. Known for its award-winning golf courses, it’s also become a wellness destination thanks to ‘The Campus’, a stylish sports complex, which opened in 2018. World-class athletes and professional sports teams travel from all over the world to train here and with the extensive facilities and feel of a private member’s club, it’s easy to see why.
During the summer months, the resort has a variety of programmes to keep children entertained – from dance, to tennis, and soccer camps. My two-year-old however, was more than happy to play in one of the resort’s many playgrounds with my husband whilst I took a restorative Yin Yoga class and snuck off to the spa.
Whilst we were staying in Quinta do Lago, we noticed that there was lots of young families holidaying with the grandparents. The resort is perfect for an intergenerational holiday – with an activity to please literally everyone. My daughter loved the pool at The Magnolia, and she had plenty of space to splash about as it never got over-crowded.
The resort is set in 2,000 acres of the picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park, next to the Formosa Estuary (Ria Formosa) and the sea. Quinta do Lago has pedestrian access to the beach, and benefits from stunning views out over the estuary and the sea.
There’s nine acres of lush gardens and nature enthusiasts can explore the area with access to walking trails where you can observe many different species of birds. The resort is so big that ideally, you need a car to get around. We didn’t hire one, but it was no problem for the hotel to arrange private transfers for us.
During our stay, one of the best things about being able to access the Quinta do Lago resort was the variety of restaurants on offer. We had a buffet-style continental breakfast every day at The Magnolia, but ventured out of the hotel for lunch and dinner.
We ate at Casa do Lago, an elegant fresh fish restaurant with stunning views of the lake; UMAMI, which is said to be the most refined Asian gastronomic experience in the Algarve; and Casa Velha – Quinta do Lago’s newly refurbished Portuguese restaurant.
The food was incredible at all of the restaurants, and I was especially impressed with the plant-based options at Casa Velha. With creative flavour combinations, each dish was an absolute treat. The service was also impeccable. Quinta do Lago does offer professional babysitting services, but we chose to bring our daughter with us in the evenings. The staff were amazing with her, and when she had a bit of an overtired meltdown one evening, it was no problem to box up the rest of our meal and order a car to whisk us straight home.
It’s this attention to detail and easy-going atmosphere that makes holidaying at Quinta do Lago so great for young families. Parents will love the stylish decor and world-class restaurants, and the whole family can enjoy an active getaway with the range of activities on offer. And sunshine is (pretty much) guaranteed too.
The Magnolia Hotel
Standard Double Rooms from €157/£139 on a B&B basis. The Family Cottages are available from €309/£273 per night on a B&B basis.