Monday, 28 March 2011

An Algarve Must Do

Spend a morning enjoying the beautiful views of the Algarve coast, visit the caves and dive with the Dive Spot team, marine biologists, Instructors and Dive Masters.

Distance = 8 nautical miles
Duration = 3 hours

You will have the opportunity to bring home underwater photos and videos of your adventure.

Book now:- Tel: 282 314825 E-mail: -

Trip Advisor - “SIMPLY THE BEST”

Date of review: 26 Mar 2011 - New

Having spent many holidays in the Algarve this was our first stay in the resort and we loved it.

We have stayed in many Holiday Inns but this has to be the best experience. The location is so wonderful, a step from one of the best beaches on the coast and the sea view room balcony provided many relaxing hours just taking in the view.

Tea and coffee in the room was much appreciated as was the free daily afternoon tea complete with cake served in the lounge with beautiful views. Wifi was free in the foyer if you have your own PC. Small touches but much appreciated.

The breakfast was good quality with plenty choice. The staff not invasive but attentive when needed. Check in was speedy and the staff really helpful. Free parking was also provided though may be an issue when hotel full. The pool area is not large but provides beds and an additional seating only area at a higher level. Layout geared more to couples than families.

We used the RAJ Indian Restaurant attached to the hotel and it was brill. Staff so helpful and the food delicious.

The pedestrianised walkway into the old town allows for a gentle amble in the evening with a supermarket en route and we enjoyed the food on the main road at Daves where fresh fish was lovely. On the opposite side of the road to the left of the hotel is a really nice snack bar selling huge ice cream and cakes etc .

We do not often return to the same hotel or resort but we will certainly make an exception for the Holiday Inn. It provided everything we needed for a relaxing 5 night stay. Thank you to all the staff and in particular the Manager who made us feel very welcome throughout our stay.

* Date of stay: March 2011

Sunday, 27 March 2011

In the Press - Caseworkers' Course

Royal British Legion caseworkers’ course

Harvey Tilley, the head of RBL Community Services, Desmond Briggs BEM, Portugal Branch Chairman, course trainer Jo D’Souza and Eddie Hefferman MBE from the board of trustees. Photo: SUPPLIED.

A welfare caseworker and branch management course, organised by the Portugal Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), was held at the Holiday Inn Algarve in Armação de Pêra between March 15 and 19.

Caseworkers from all across Portugal and Madeira attended, with many returning to re-qualify as caseworkers.

The course was attended by 26 people, with Eddie Hefferman from the overseas section of the board of trustees and Harvey Tilley, the head of the RBL community services based in London, also visiting during the course.

British Consul Clive Jewell gave a talk to the caseworkers while a member of the UK Department for Works and Pensions also visited from Spain.

The Portugal branch of the RBL are currently answering on average 18 calls for assistance per year from ex-servicemen and their dependants in Portugal, with this figure also including Portuguese citizens who are married to ex members of the UK armed forces.

The management course also included individuals who are interested in setting up RBL groups in Caldas da Rainha, north of Lisbon, and Coimbra in the centre of Portugal.

This year is the 90th anniversary of the RBL and there will be special events around the world at the beginning of June, including Portugal, to celebrate.

For further information on joining the RBL or activities in the area contact Barbara Briggs on 282 084 438 or Eddie de Bie on 282 381184 or please visit the Portugal Branch website at

Courtsey of the Algarve Resident

Thursday, 24 March 2011

From the Press - St Patrick’s evening craic

More than 80 members and friends of the Algarve St Patrick’s Society danced the night away in celebration of Ireland’s patron saint held on March 12 at the Holiday Inn Algarve in Armação de Pêra.

Irish Ambassador Declan O’Donovan took part in the event which included performances by a group of dancers of various nationalities from the Annette School of Dancing in Quarteira, and music from a mixed choir who sang traditional Irish songs.

Society chairman Sean Walkin said: “It was an event full of good food, wine, music and of course loads of craic among those who thoroughly enjoyed the celebration five days ahead of the official St Patrick’s Day.

For further information about the Algarve St Patrick’s Society, please call 282 352 530

Courtsey of the Algarve Resident

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Algarvian winter warmth - contributed

Jonathan Plumridge, of Personal Touch Holidays, describes an idyllic base for winter bowls tours on Portugal’s Algarvian coast.

HISTORY HAS been very kind to some places, by-passing them sufficiently to allow them to retain their natural, modest, yet alluring charms. This had always been the case with the Algarve, until mass market tourism took hold in the 1970s and 80s, and enchantingly sleepy little fishing communities began to be engulfed and indeed engorged by land hungry, greedy and largely insensitive tourism developments.

During the magnificent Moorish empires of the Middle Ages, the Algarve had lain largely dormant for over 500 years at the western extremities of Moorish influence (Al Gharb in fact designating a far off ‘west’ in the Arabic dialect spoken at the time).

Later, from the mid 13th century onwards, as the last area of what we now know as Portugal to have been wrested back from Moorish dominion, it continued to remain well away from all major centres of influence and development within the country for many centuries. Unspoilt, traditional, and unchanging, generations of its inhabitants have eked out a meagre living from farming its lands and fishing its waters, in all probability blissfully unaware of the natural beauty that surrounded them.

This rural simplicity and the strikingly scenic coastal beauty in which it was embedded, allied to the wonderfully warm reception that was proffered to people visiting the Algarve, proved an alluring recuperative tonic for the first-world weary British that first ‘discovered’ the area in the mid 20th century, and thenceforth made it one of their holiday havens of choice.

Where then today can one still capture something of the flavour of this bygone holiday idyll?
One of the most comfortable and yet affordable accommodation options offering both incredible coastal vistas and also a heart warming service style is undoubtedly the Holiday Inn Algarve in Armação de Pera.

Home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve, Armação, like many other fishing communities, had begun to succumb to the pressures of largely unfettered tourism avarice, and appeared about to be entombed in high rise concrete when good sense finally struck home and its municipality embarked upon a plan to salvage it, the most striking result of which has been the construction of a beautiful palm-studded cliff-top esplanade that delightfully enhances the spellbinding vistas that it offers over Armação’s main beach.

Immediately adjacent to this esplanade, and occupying the prime sea view setting in the resort, stands the wonderfully located Hotel Holiday Inn Algarve.

Gazing dreamily out to sea to a distant azure horizon, the Holiday Inn offers the virginal coastal views over unspoilt sand and infinite sea that were once so characteristic of most of the coastline, but which now can only be experienced from one or two very special hotels.

Moreover, it capitalises to the maximum on these views, offering them from its main restaurant, its à la carte restaurant, its breakfast and dining terrace, its swimming pool, its sun lounging area, and many of its rooms. Imagine the therapeutic effects of dwelling on such relaxing, undiluted natural beauty throughout an entire extended stay at the hotel.

And when luxuriant inactivity eventually begins to pall, as sadly it eventually must for most of us, the Holiday Inn also offers immediate and direct access both to several kilometres of fine sand beach and to the scenic Armação esplanade, that itself leads directly to the historic heart of the resort, that then gives way to an intriguing mosaic of narrow lanes and former fisherman’s houses, that eventually embrace one of the most picturesque parts of the resort, and the historic nucleus from which it originally grew, its fisherman’s beach.

Why was this beach and the buildings surrounding it originally known as Armação de Pera? Because, as a thriving fisherman’s community within the municipality of Pera, it formerly housed, for over 300 years, a large ‘armação’, or special facility, dedicated to the fishing of tuna.
Though the tuna have long since departed, and the ‘armação’ has unfortunately been pulled down, the fisherman’s community that they generated is still very much alive: their brightly adorned boats decorate the beach, their catch is the life blood of several fine fish restaurants located close to the beach, their fascinating visages (tanned and leathered by constant exposure to the Algarve’s dazzling sunshine) continue to beam with enjoyment as they chat, discuss and debate amongst themselves whilst mending their nets during the day, and the fricative nasalised buzz of their conversation continues to contribute to the endearing soundscape of the resort.

In the high summer, all this beauty can occasionally come under severe pressure from the sheer volume of enthusiastic visitors that it attracts. In the low season however, from November to March, with the weather still sunny but temperatures at comfortable levels, both the resort and its residents can breathe freely and make the very most of the good fortune that nature has bestowed upon them.

Because of its character, and because of its central location on the Algarve, Personal Touch Holidays has decided to make Armação its principal base for bowls tours in Portugal for the 2011/2012 touring season. A third reason for doing so is the remarkably strong partnership that it has forged with the resort’s leading hotel, the aforementioned Hotel Holiday Inn Algarve.
For years, operating as the Hotel Garbe, this hotel provided excellent 4-star service to a loyal clientele of principally British long-stay winter guests. Now rebranded and the recent beneficiary of significant investment in its appearance and facilities, the same team of loyal long-serving employees looks forward to continuing its tradition of highly personalised and friendly service way into the future.

What else then makes the Holiday Inn Algarve so special, why is it so well suited to winter bowls tourism, and what precisely is the nature of its special relationship with Personal Touch Holidays?

Firstly, it is much more than simply a hotel, it is focal point within its community and a particularly important facility for the Algarvian British ex-patriot community. This is because the Holiday Inn is both innovative in terms of the services that it offers and also because it exudes the familial warmth that nearly all small service industry businesses strive for. The oldest bridge club in the Algarve meets there every week, Pilates classes take place twice a week, the local branch of the Royal British Legion meets there regularly, as does the Rotary Club, the British Portuguese Chamber Of Commerce, and the St Patrick’s Society. It also organises special events to celebrate all important dates in the calendar and actively sponsors many local events, such as the Algarve Literature Festival, the Fiesa International Sand Sculptures Festival (that takes place on Armação’s main beach), the Armação Caldeirada (or fish casserole) Festival, and the Algarve Spring Pairs bowling competition, based at local bowls club Valverde.

The ‘home from home’ atmosphere that pertains throughout the hotel is perhaps best described in the words of some of its regular guests. “The Holiday Inn Hotel has a certain ambience which cannot be found in any other. One is conscious of it from the moment of arrival. All the staff go out of their way to assist you”. And, “the genuine welcome which greets you each time you arrive is like a homecoming”.

Moreover, the Holiday Inn is particularly well suited to winter bowls tourism because of the marvellous added values that it offers from November to March. Not only is the wonderfully positioned swimming pool heated throughout the winter, but complimentary wine is offered with dinner and complimentary afternoon tea with biscuits is offered each afternoon.

Personal Touch Holidays’ special relationship with the hotel furthermore enables them to offer complimentary upgrades to sea view rooms to all twin share room bookers and special no single supplement conditions to all single land view room bookers.

Finally, due to its central location on the Algarve, the hotel also offers manageable transfer times to all the bowls clubs in the region.

At the moment, due to the worldwide economic recession, prices for a one week stay on half board including flights, transfers, and four included bowls matches lead in at only £549 per person. Please contact Personal Touch Holidays on 01403 786200 or at office@thepersonaltouch. for further details.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

FIESA 2011 - 9th International Sand Sculptures Festival

9º Festival Internacional de Escultura em Areia - 15th April until 15th October.

Fiesa - the International Sand Sculptures Festival is being held in Pera once again this year. It is the only event of its kind in the Iberian peninsula and given its dimensions is the largest in the world.

Each year the festival is dedicated to a different theme. This year the theme is the Animal Kingdom.

It occupies an area of 15,000 square metres and showcases the skilful and intricate work of artists of various nationalities. In preparation for the festival the artists shape over 35,000 tons of sand during a one month period!

During the day the sculptures can be admired in all their infinite detail and at night there is a varied programme of live music, theatre, dance and circus acts.

More information:

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Honeymoon at the Holiday Inn Algarve

Armaçâo de Pêra is the ideal place for a honeymoon.

At the Holiday Inn Algarve we offer the following package:-
· Accommodation in a sea view Executive room
· Welcome Bottle of Port wine
· Breakfast in the room with Sparkling wine
· Romantic Dinner for two

Enjoy the romantic Sunsets
For more information or to book, please e-mail:

Monday, 14 March 2011

April Quiz Night

Holiday Inn Algarve, Armação de Pêra
Monday 4th April, 2011
In the Raj Restaurant

Lynn & Martin’s QUIZ NIGHT

With fund raising raffle
proceeds to
Pirilampos/Gaivota Childrens Homes
in Albufeira

Starts 8 pm
€2.50 per person
Teams of 2 – 6 people welcome
individuals can be added to a team

Tel Lynn on 919 266 770 to book your table
or just turn up on the night
everyone welcome

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

March Quiz - contributed

Seven teams braved the elements to compete in the March (7th) Quiz Night and despite the best efforts of the two previous winning teams it was the newcomers 'Postman Pat & Friends' who after five rounds emerged victorious by just 3 points.

Close to another 100 Euros were raised in the night's charity raffle which will be donated along with the proceeds from other events to the Gaivota Childrens Home in Albufeira later in the year.

Our next quiz night is at 8pm on Monday 4th April and everyone is welcome to come along and take part.

For more information please contact Lynn on 919 266 770

Thursday, 3 March 2011

TripAdvisor - “Great Hotel and Great Staff”

Date of review: Mar 2, 2011

Everything about the Holiday Inn was excellent. The rooms are very clean and comfortable, the views and beaches were spectacular. But the most impressive thing was the staff which was the friendliest and most helpful group that I have encountered at a resort. The Raj Indian Restaurant was a special treat with good food and service. We also played golf at three local courses which were busy but well organised. The golf office at the hotel organised everything for us.

Coming up this weekend - Chocolate Festival in Vilamoura

5th, 6th and 7th March,
13.00h to 20.00h

The Vilamoura Congress Centre will be holding this year's Chocolate Festival which as usual involves lots of interesting activities.

Visitors of all ages can expect some authentic chocolate experiences: sculptures and painting, several demonstrations from crafts people, chocolate makers and chefs, workshops for professionals and beginners and there is even a room for kids with activities.

Click here for more information

Wednesday, 2 March 2011