There’s definitely a touch of Florida, or maybe California at the Magnolia hotel. Set in the upmarket resort of Quinta do Lago in the Algarve, it’s reminiscent of a 50’s style designer motel.
We check into the family cottage, one of three, a cosy wooden 2-bedroom clapperboard cabin. It has its own kitchen, flat screen TV and lovely bathroom with an oversized family bath! There’s no time to dawdle as we have an action packed program: the kids want to explore the grounds, restaurants to discover and plenty of activities to squeeze into our stay.
Indeed the hotel is a magnet for active types – with access to the finest of the Algarve’s facilities. Hop onto a free transfer and hit the high tech Campus, just a few minutes away, where you’ll be spoilt for choice between tennis and padel courts, a high performance gym, pool and Jacuzzi, energy boosting spin cycle classes or regenerating yoga. Even the kids can partake thanks to the Sunday morning multi-sports sessions where they can try their hand at tennis, biking, footie or padel for a couple of hours.
We hit the bike path that runs along the coastline to the Rio Formosa natural park. It’s stunning. The weather is just right for it – sunny yet not too hot and the fact that it’s low season means we have it all to ourselves. The backdrop is perfect – from sandy dunes to heathery marshlands. We spot the odd bird, can’t see the resident turtles, and just enjoy the feeling of inhaling all that glorious fresh air. Next time we’ll plan it better and bring a picnic!
Incredibly our 7 year old still has energy to burn after our tour – but I needn’t worry. Within easy reach there’s plenty to keep him busy: from mini golf, or the real thing (they run camps during the school holidays for future Tigers) to kayaking on the lake. We plump for a tour in the duck-shaped ‘pedalo’ on the lake. This makes 3-year old Tess very happy indeed. Even better, we can stop off at the Shack restaurant for an easy laid back lunch where the kids devour their grilled hamburgers and fries before rushing off to play on the beach, while we enjoy grilled prawns and marinated beef skewers and take our time. It’s blissful!
Thankfully the Magnolia isn’t all about hard work – even if it comes with its own gym and tennis court, it also has a gorgeous pool area to lounge around, and of course a spa with a Jacuzzi, steam room and minimalist contemporary treatment cabins so a little me-time might be on the cards, if I play them right.
The Magnolia strikes just the right balance between a low key relaxed bolthole and something more chic. The vibe is swish without being precious. I am a sucker for the inspirational interior decor and I like that the sportiness can still be combined with a love of good cocktails. Thank goodness!
The tropical bar is just the spot to kick back, overlooking the sparkling blue pool and swaying palm trees. It’s a funky mix of 80’s and 50’s and something more. I love the giant rattan chairs, the pink sofas and the 80’s inspired geometric prints. Definite points for effort here – from the yellow metallic chairs that pop against the blues, to the beautiful ‘Magnolia’ branded town bikes, ideal to explore the area.
For dinner we head to the rather chic Bovino steakhouse, and despite all my best intentions to cut down on red meat I fall for the melt-in-your mouth steak platter. Carnivores take heed. It’s a must-do experience. Having not really experienced anything like this before, I was gobsmacked to taste the difference between each cut – who knew there would be such a difference between a filet, a NY strip and a Ribeye?
The mixed, sharing menu is a real treat for the entire family – from the baked provolone cheese to the Portuguese sausage bruschettas – not to mention the cheese and onion empanadas. The kids are especially chuffed when the sharing desert tray turns up with its strawberry cheesecake, brownies with salted caramel ice cream and rice pudding! What’s not to love?
Although we didn’t think we could eat again for a few days, at breakfast we were all raring to go, tempted by the Magnolia’s eggs and ‘smashed’ avocado offering. Then again, fuel is definitely necessary for a break here. The days are busy and definitely action packed.
The kids are in heaven. I’m not surprised – their main concern, what’s up next? Mini golf, kayaking, a pizza at Koko’s or an ice cream at the beach?
The key is to get the balance right – with a lot of everything and a little bit of nothing. And, the big plus in Quinta do Lago? The proximity of everything really makes a short break with small kids very easy. And, for them – well, it’s just another day and another adventure…
The Magnolia Hotel themagnoliahotelqdl.com ; (+351) 289 390 705) offers a Standard Double Room from €92/£80 on a B&B basis or €108/£94 on a half-board basis.
The Family Cottages are available from €216/£188 per night on a B&B basis and kids stay and eat for free. For more info, visit
The Magnolia Hotel is offering a specialpackage for families during Easter. When booking accommodation in one of the family friendly cottages, children get free accommodation and meals. The cottages are located in a secluded part of the hotel grounds, nestled amongst the pine trees. The wooden cabins are fitted with double bedrooms, a bathroom, lounge, kitchenette and a private patio area. A special Easter party and movie screening in the hotel cinema will take place on 17th April 2019 from midday for guests to enjoy a feel-good atmosphere over Easter at this stylish boutique hotel.
This Easter, enjoy 20% off your family holiday to The Magnolia Hotel with a five-night stay in April. Book to stay in Cottage accommodation and the kids stay and eat for free!