Quiet location on outskirts of Albufeira, walking distance from beach
Set in extensive and well-tended gardens full of plants
Apartments and villas all include full kitchens and terraces
Nine-hole golf course, driving range, and golf school
Six outdoor swimming pools, all with kids' sections
Health center with sauna, steam bath, and heated indoor pool
Bright, modern gym with cardio and weight-training equipment
Two restaurants, poolside bars, and on-site supermarket
Bowling green on the property
Children's club and playgrounds
Homey style in some accommodations could use a refresh
Wi-Fi not free of charge in rooms
Quality of food and restaurant service can be inconsistent
Some rooms prone to traffic noise
The Balaia Golf Village Resort is a family-friendly, three-pearl complex set in extensive and well-tended gardens on the quieter outskirts of Albufeira. Its 250 homey apartments and villas are spread throughout the grounds, and all include full kitchens and terraces. Splash pools, playgrounds, and a kids' club make this a solid pick for families, though tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course, and a modern fitness center are bonuses for adults. The resort also has an impressive six outdoor pools, plus one indoor pool, and is within 12 minutes' walk of a lovely beach. Eating and drinking options could be better and some units could use a makeover. More contemporary apartments -- and a small waterpark -- can be found next door at the Holiday Village Algarve Balaia.
golf-focused resort set in manicured grounds popular with families
Is this one of the most contemporary resorts in the Algarve? No. But the perfectly kept exteriors and homey interiors make it more pleasant than many of the dated properties in the area. Perfectly manicured box hedges sweep around to ornate wrought-iron railings and symmetrical rows of mature palm trees grandly usher guests to the resort entrance, elevating the atmosphere here just that much more right off the bat. Once inside, expect to see whitewashed walls complementing cobalt-blue signage, mosaic tiling, and plant pots. Things are dated, but pleasant, from a style perspective. Back outside, crisp white facades provide the backdrop for particularly well-tended and often sculpted plant life, plus cork, almond, and pine trees that populate the extensive gardens. The grounds are indeed huge, comprising numerous clusters of apartment blocks scattered throughout and connected by cobblestone footpaths and driveways. A nine-hole golf course and driving range complete the self-contained property. Despite the resort's focus on golfing, it attracts plenty of families as well as older couples looking for quiet, relaxation, and obviously a round or two.
Quiet location on edge of Albufeira, walking distance from Santa Eulalia Beach
The hotel has a peaceful and relatively secluded location on the outskirts of the popular tourist destination of Albufeira in the southern Algarve. There's very little in the immediate area beyond a few similar resorts, and not much in the way of bars and restaurants within walking distance. Balaia Beach is about 12 minutes away on foot, and a few lovely long stretches of beach are within five minutes by car. The dramatic cliffs of the sandy Santa Eulalia beach are accessible on foot in about 20 minutes -- though only from accommodations near the hotel's entrance; otherwise it's a short drive.
The hotel provides a free shuttle service into the center of Albufeira (10 to 15 minutes) a few times daily. This coastal city offers plenty of nightlife, and restaurants serving Portuguese cuisine and lots of fresh seafood. The Old Town, along Avenida da Liberdade, features souvenir shops selling local pottery and crafts. Faro Airport is around 35 to 40 minutes' drive away and the hotel can provide shuttle service.
Apartments and Villas with fully equipped kitchens and furnished terraces
The resort has 250 Studios, Apartments, and Villas spread throughout numerous, low-level accommodation blocks. Decor can vary greatly from one unit to the next, since many of the units are privately owned and rented out for most of the year. But overall the style leans towards bright, relaxed, and homey, with Standard and Superior levels available -- the latter tends to feel fresher and have more modern appliances. The Superior One-Bedroom Apartment we saw featured a pleasant palette of white, cream, and blue in the bedroom, while the living room had a curved, non-working fireplace and pretty pottery.
Some of the units are looking a little tired and in need of refresh, and the decor can look dated even for all of its brightness. Apartments range from single-room layouts to three-bedroom units. Villas have two or three bedrooms, and all include living and dining areas, full kitchens with washer/dryers, and furnished terraces with garden, golf course, or pool views. Flat-screen TVs with satellite channels are standard, but Wi-Fi is only available for a fee. Bathrooms also vary in terms of upkeep, though all more than cover the basics, with shower/tub combos, hairdryers, and a limited supply of toiletries. While most rooms are quiet, some set towards the road can be prone to traffic noise.
Six outdoor pools, a nine-hole golf course, tennis academy, and two restaurants
Leisure facilities at the hotel are quite excellent, with a wide range of things to do (even if dining isn't exactly a high point). Firstly, each cluster of accommodations features its own swimming pool (six in all), each with a section for children and surrounded by sun loungers. A heated indoor pool can also be found in the health club, which includes a sauna, whirlpool tubs, steam room, and massage treatments; parts of this area could use a refresh. The fitness center is bright and clean, with a good number of modern cardio machines and weight-training equipment. Outdoor sports facilities include a nine-hole golf course, driving ranges, and golf academy, while tennis players have four clay tennis courts plus a tennis academy. A bowling green is popular with older guests. This family-friendly resort has various playgrounds and a kids' club, and there are babysitting services (fee).
The are two restaurants, one serving snacks and meals buffet-style (half-board rates are available) and the other a la carte in the Clubhouse -- quality is generally mediocre. Some of the pools have poolside bars, though there's little in the way of space for evening socializing. A supermarket at the entrance to the resort provides groceries for self-catering. Parking is free. Bike rentals are also available.
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