Close to excellent area golf courses and natural park
10-minute walk or free shuttle bus ride from the beach
Rooms are comfortable and relaxing, offering great views
In-room flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and tea- and coffee-making facilities
Gorgeous pool area that's surrounded by sunbeds and palm trees
Family rooms and kids' club are available
Well-equipped gym is free to use
20-minute taxi ride from Faro Airport
Free, fast Wi-Fi and free on-site parking
Sunbeds at the beach must be rented
Extra charge to use the health club facilities
Decor is a bit on the bland side
Centrally controlled lighting on balconies can be annoying
The upscale Ria Park Hotel and Spa, located in Portugal's Algarve region, focuses on relaxation. The decor throughout is traditional, tranquil, and neutral -- to the point of being dull for some guests -- and it sits a 10-minute walk to a sandy strip of beach, with little else around. The 175 rooms are pleasant and bright, featuring flat-screen TVs, furnished balconies with garden or sea views, and kettles alongside tea and coffee. Facilities, from the spa to the restaurant, are good, and the tropical pool area has sections for kids. Those wanting to golf will be well-situated to explore a few courses. Couples may prefer the Magnolia Golf & Wellness Hotel, though it's farther from the beach.
The Ria Park Hotel is designed for relaxation, though don't expect the white minimalist spa look that's often found at other upscale properties. Instead, the hotel is traditionally furnished in restful neutrals and a classic design -- though some guests have complained that the furnishings and overall vibe are on the dull side. Outdoor areas like the palm tree-surrounded pool and restaurant terrace are more attractive. Couples and groups come here on vacation to chill out and many also make use of the good golf courses in the surrounding area. It's also popular with, and well-equipped for, families.
The best part about the hotel's location is its placement near the beach. It's a 10-minute walk to a private strip of Garrao Beach (there's also a free scheduled shuttle service there), where visitors can rent loungers. For other activities, the hotel is between two towns: Vale do Lobo and Quinto do Lago at eight- and six-minute drives, respectively. Golfing is a popular activity and courses are in both of the towns, as well as the Oceanico club, which is 22 minutes away by car. Ria Formosa Natural Park is about 35 minutes away by car.
Beyond the property's own paces to eat, there are a few restaurants on the beach, all of which are pretty good. Eduardo's and Izzy's are about 13 minutes away on foot, while Julia's is about 15. Other than that, the property is pretty remote.
For those wanting to see Faro, it's about a half-hour away by car, and Faro International Airport is 20 minutes away by car.
Rooms are peaceful, though central control of balcony lights can be a nuisance.
The hotel's 175 rooms are designed to be tranquil, with soft neutrals, cherry-wood furniture, and furnished balconies with garden or sea views (the latter are on the upper floors, and the sea is a bit in the distance). Beds are extremely comfortable, with mattress toppers and six pillows on each bed. Family Rooms and Suites are also available. Some guests have complained about lighting on the balconies, which is centrally controlled and turns off fairly early in the night (an issue for those who prefer to read or have a drink outside.
Beyond the basics, rooms are furnished with air-conditioning and 32-inch LCD satellite TVs offering international channels in seven languages. There are also safes and coffee- and tea-making facilities, though some have noted that the tea bags aren't automatically replaced. Marble bathrooms come with hairdryers, T London toiletries, and walk-in showers, while Suites add separate tubs.
The best part of the property is arguably its proximity to the huge stretch of well-groomed white sand along the ocean. It's a short walk from the property down a boardwalk to the shore, which has sunbeds for hire by the day (it's not cheap). There's also a large, oasis-like pool that's surrounded by palm trees and has sections for kids. (Pool towels are included.) An indoor pool is also available, as is a health club (for a fee) with a sauna, hot tub, and massage room. A decently sized workout room has a few cardio machines, weights, and equipment like Bosu balls and kettlebells. Ria Park also has a free kids' club in what's basically a huge backyard, with outdoor areas for play, as well as a cool, log-cabin-like building with tons of toys for indoor play. For older kids, a game room has ping-pong, a few beanbags, and a foosball table.
The hotel offers a few place to grab a drink and a bite. There's a poolside bar, which offers light meals and drinks, as well as a lobby bar, which has an open-air terrace that's a lovely spot for a cocktail. For more substantial meals, Lusitano Restaurant offers both regional dishes and international ones, though most guests head off-site for dinner.
Wi-Fi throughout the property is free and fast, and parking is free as well.
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