On a beautiful clifftop overlooking the sea, with direct beach access
Large suites and villas include kitchenettes and espresso machines
Two outdoor pools including picturesque infinity pool and kids' pool
Heated indoor pool and hot tub
Restaurant and bar with an outdoor terrace
Wine cellar for tastings or meetings
Full spa with sauna and Turkish bath
Modern fitness center with a nice selection of cardio and weight equipment
Kids' club and outdoor playground
Free basic Wi-Fi throughout
Free private parking
Country decor in rooms looks dated
In the countryside, far from most everything
Fee for high-speed Wi-Fi
Suites Alba Resort & Spa is a secluded three-pearl resort overlooking some of the region's stunning seaside cliffs. It's far from attractions in Carvoeiro, but it has direct access to Albandeira beach, just below the main grounds. The 50 massive suites and villas can accommodate groups, and have amenities such as fireplaces and kitchenettes with espresso machines, though the look is old school in the extreme. The resort has a wine cellar, a spa, and an infinity pool, and though the atmosphere makes for romantic getaway, it's also suitable for family vacations owing its playground and kids' club. It's worth comparing with the Blue & Green Vilalara Thalassa Resort in nearby Porches, which has a similar setting and the the addition of thalassotherapy pools.
Elegant resort with beautiful garden grounds above the beach
There's a bit of an identity crisis at this resort, which very much tries to be an elegant escape in the country. In large part, it succeeds -- with modern common areas -- but the country-style decor in the rooms looks unintentionally dated. Still, first impressions do matter, and the Suites Alba makes a fine one. A long cobbled drive leads up to the resort's stately reception building, decked out in peach with cream-trimmed Juliette balconies. Inside the small lobby, a few cushioned booths provide places to sit for guests waiting to check in, but few are likely to fault the space for being so minimal when so much natural beauty awaits outside. Through the back, a bubbling fountain sits in the middle of a cobbled square with a few umbrella tables, and small footpaths lead off in several directions across the manicured grounds.
The intimate atmosphere, relaxing and romantic is popular with both couples and families. The resort's eight main buildings are separated by small ponds and palm-lined green spaces facing the Atlantic Ocean. A short pathway leads directly to a beach surrounded by towering limestone rock formations and lush vegetation. It's not an uncommon sight to see wedding parties on the cliffs, with white chairs surrounded by huge Arabesque candles.
On an isolated clifftop location, far from anything
The road to the Suites Alba Resort & Spa is small and narrow, and it's not uncommon for guests to miss the entrance due to the conditions and its seclusion (staff are aware and can offer directions beforehand over the phone). There's not much within walking distance other than three sheltered beaches at the base of the cliffs, the largest of which is Albandeira Beach. It's 12 minutes by car to the town of Porches, where there are local restaurants, bars, ATMs, and shops. Armacao de Pera, a small fishing village with a few cafes, is a 15-minute drive away, while bustling Carvoeiro, with more dining and entertainment options, is about an 18-minute drive. Faro Airport is about a 47-minute drive east.
Suites and villas with kitchenettes and terraces or balconies, many with sea views
The resort has 50 suites and villas, all classically furnished with a touch of Mediterranean-country decor. Unfortunately, the decor manages to appear dated despite being well kept, and Alba branding is apparent in several places (including the headboards), cheapening the overall look. The high-ceilings and hardwood accents do add a touch of class -- and the spaces are certainly not underdecorated -- but details like striped fabric headboards, pastel wall art, and bland patterns throughout don't do much to improve the aesthetic.
Each suite has a balcony or terrace with varying views. In all there are 31 Villas with garden views, 10 Suites with partial sea views, six Suites with sea views, and three of the smaller one-bedroom Alba Suites with sea views. The kitchenettes and dining rooms are combined with classic dining tables beside a tiled wall with cabinets and have microwaves, electric stovetops, stocked minibars, and automatic espresso machines. All units include work desks and living rooms with fireplaces and sofa beds, along with flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and free basic Wi-Fi, though high-speed Wi-Fi costs extra. The upgraded suites and villas can accommodate up to five people, with two bedrooms and a total of 914 square feet (85 square meters). Tiled bathrooms have large double vanities, shower/tub combos, and bidets.
Two outdoor pools, indoor pool, hot tub, spa, kids' club, playground, restaurant, bar, and wine cellar
For many, the resort's main draw is its direct beach access, and the sand is just a short stroll down a well-worn path from the main grounds. There are actually two smaller beaches sheltered between the natural rock formations near the larger Albandeira Beach that guests can also access. The resort's two outdoor pools are open year-round, but not heated. The larger infinity pool looks out on the ocean and sits in a wooden sundeck surrounded by lounge chairs and is accompanied by a kids' pool. Below it, there's a smaller pool with more lounge chairs and umbrellas. There's also an indoor heated pool with water features and a hot tub in a small space beneath the main pool's deck.
Spa Alba features a sauna, a Turkish bath, and a relaxation room, along with the usual treatment rooms. The modern fitness center has a few cardio machines and weight-training machines. Parents who need a place to drop the kids can make use of the supervised activities in the wood-cabin style kids' club, which is directly adjacent to an outdoor playground with swings, slides, and a sandbox.
For dining, Morgadinho Restaurant has ocean views and serves small plate-style Portuguese cuisine. The adjacent Clube de Mar lounge bar provides lots of seating on a lovely outdoor terrace, and the underground Wine Cathedral is designed for private candlelight dinners or small meetings, though its main function is for wine tastings for groups of six to 14 people. It has a large selection of Portuguese wines from both large and smaller obscure vineyards.
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