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With all the travel restrictions, finding a holiday destination this Autumn proved to be tricky. For people based in the Netherlands (like me), parts of Portugal were still considered to be safe for travel without the need for quarantine when returning. So for the first week of October we decided on a last minute trip to the Algarve.
Usually my preferred chains are Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards or Accor ALL. However there weren’t really any nice options with these brands in the region. Instead, the Pine Cliffs Hotel near Albufeira caught our interest.
This resort is part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection brand. It therefore also participates in the STARS program. By booking through an affiliated travel agent, you receive a space available upgrade, breakfast, late check-out and 100 USD resort credit per stay. Normally a tempting offer. However, for my stay period, Marriott had a Welcome Back Promotion which featured an immediate upgrade upon booking and 50 Euros resort credit per day. This provided excellent value, so we booked a standard Deluxe room for four nights which was immediately upgraded to a Grand Deluxe room with resort view.
Note: during my stay some facilities and services were not available due to the reduced occupancy and COVID-measures. This review may not necessarily be representative. Contact the hotel for the latest information on the availability of services and facilities. The hotel takes part in Marriott’s Commitment to Clean program and the Clean & Safe program by the Portuguese tourism board.
Pine Cliffs Hotel Algarve
The Pine Cliffs Resort is located in between Vilamoura and Albufeira, about a 40 minute drive from Faro Airport. The hotel is part of a large real estate complex with residences and holiday homes, a large golf course and other tourist accommodation.
Next to the hotel, there are the ‘Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites’. Also part of the Marriott Luxury Collection, this property only offers suites ranging from junior to three-bedroom suites. It is geared towards young couples and wellness retreats. In addition, the ‘Pine Cliffs Residence’ belongs to the Luxury Collection as well and offer well-equipped apartments, ideal for families. The hotel, Residence and Ocean Suites each have their own front desk but also share the various facilities. Within the complex are also the Pine Cliffs Golf Suites and the Gardens, but these are not part of a hotel chain.
Across the complex are a couple of restaurants and a supermarket. Besides that, there is little to do in the immediate surroundings, so a rental car is ideal if you want to explore the area.
Before entering the complex, there was a temperature check at the gate. Subsequently you drive past the residences to the hotel entrance.
We arrived in the morning, well before check-in time. A day before arrival, I already noticed in the app that our room was upgraded to a Grand Deluxe with Sea View by virtue of my Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status.
As expected, the room was not ready yet but reception would call me once the cleaning had finished. The front desk agent also mentioned she would have liked to upgrade us to a suite, but that there were none with twin beds as we required. This was not entirely true, as I could see Duplex Suites with twin beds were still available for booking. However, I did not want to argue this further. She also proactively offered the 1000 points as welcome amenity, because our rate already included breakfast.
In the meantime, we explored the resort. The entire Pine Cliffs complex is huge and the hotel is very spread out. The building itself has a lot of character with mosaic tiles and a nice courtyard.
Grand Deluxe Ocean View
It was quite a walk to our room, but this was worth it for the view. With 45 square meters, this room type is 11 square meters larger than the standard Deluxe rooms. This results in a larger lounge area. As is standard nowadays, the room was sealed after cleaning.
Straight past the entrance on the left was the bathroom. Then came the sleeping area with two comfortable beds. The headboard had a Moorish tile design. Opposite the beds was a dresser with a large TV.
Further in was a seating area with sofa(bed), chair and table, and a separate desk. The desk featured some easily accessible plugs, including a UK one.
Finally there was a balcony with two seats and a small table. Because we had a corner room, there was another mini balcony on the side of the room.
While the bedroom has quite a classic (though not outdated) design, the bathroom was sleek and modern. With a single sink, bath, spacious walk-in shower (unfortunately with a weak pressure) and a separate toilet.
The amenities were by Byredo.
The resort was renovated not too long ago. Nevertheless, there were some signs of wear and tear. There were large dents in the wall, not all lights worked properly and some of the furniture was stained.
In the room, a welcome note by the GM and a box of snacks was already waiting.
Something I missed in the room, and which I would nowadays expect in a non-standard room in a 5-star property, was a Nespresso machine. There was only a kettle. As standard, there are no bottles of water and packets of coffee/tea/sugar etc. placed by housekeeping. Instead, every morning a sealed bag with a large bottle of water, disposable cups etc. was placed in front of the room due to the hygiene measures. Through the Marriott app, you could also chat with the reception and ‘order’ items with housekeeping. The requests were always met promptly.
The wifi (the high speed option for Bonvoy elites) worked really well, was stable and fast. There was a solid connection throughout the entire hotel, also outside at the pools.
The rooms were serviced daily. Normally, there is also a turn-down service but this was not provided by default during my stay.
The hotel has various restaurant and elsewhere in the complex there are additional establishments that are part of the Pine Cliffs resort.
Breakfast is served between 07:30h and 10:30 in Jardim Colonial on the ground floor. You can sit either inside or outside on the terrace. As a hygiene measure, all buffet items are plated by staff from behind the counter.
There was a large selection of the usual continental hot and cold options. Each day, a couple of local specialities rotated. The quality of the food in general was very good, but the coffee was appalling.
The service was also mostly friendly and efficient. However, do note that the occupancy level of the hotel, and also the time at which you visit, may determine if you have to wait your turn at the buffet.
Because of lower occupancy levels, not all restaurants were opened during the day or evening. For lunch and diner, Corda Cafe located at the middle of the three pools offers simple dishes.
On the beachfront, Maré is a pleasant, open-air restaurant specialising in fresh fish and seafood.
On some days, fish restaurant O Pescador is open for dinner with both indoor and outdoor seating. Then there is the Mirador Champagne Bar with a great view of the cliffs and lobby bar Portulano.
The Piri Piri steakhouse, O Grill Mediterranean restaurant and Asian restaurant Yakuza were closed during my stay.
The hotel has three large swimming pools, roughly in the centre and both wings of the hotel. In addition, there are some smaller pools including one for children. It was never really crowded at any of the pools; most guests seemed to prefer the deck chairs on the lawns. At check-in you are handed a card with which you can collect your towel (just 1 per person) at the towel hut near the pool. The hut near the beach was closed.
The resort gardens were very extensive and spread out with ample space to distance.
The hotel is next to the sea but, as the name implies, located on top of some (impressive) cliffs. It’s quite a way down to the beach. Luckily there is a lift for the steepest part. After that, it’s a couple of minutes walk to the beach. The hotel has their own area with chairs and umbrella’s. Note that in the high season, some of the sunbeds have to be paid to reserve and use.
Spa and wellness are also a primary selling point for the hotel. The Serenity Spa encompasses 1100 square meters. Next to that, there is a large gym. The spa also features a heated indoor pool, sauna, steam room etc.
The complex also features a tennis court, kids club and a 9-hole golf course.