Sleek design, incredible views: A fabulous stay at the all-new W Algarve
New luxury hotels are popping up throughout Europe this summer, including the latest addition to Marriott's W Hotels portfolio: W Algarve.
A stunning new property in the Algarve region of Portugal that officially opened its doors on June 1, the W Algarve is a chic getaway in one of Europe's most popular beach destinations.
The decor embraces a cool, contemporary look inspired by the region's laid-back surfing culture, with playful references to the sardines that figure largely in the cuisine. A wave-like architectural feature at the hotel's entrance, fish scale-patterned tile floors in the bathrooms and beachy hues of blue, tan and yellow throughout are just a few of the details that might catch your eye.
Additionally, a number of amenities are available on site, including multiple food and beverage outlets, a spa and a stunning multilevel pool with views of the sea.
Despite knowing a hotel as new as this one would undoubtedly have some minor opening hiccups to work through, which I did indeed encounter during my visit, I was eager to see what this property was all about — so much so that I pushed back my stay by nearly two weeks when the hotel ran into construction delays.
Ultimately, it was more than worth the wait. Even with the occasional service issues that came up and a few facilities still under construction, W Algarve blew me away.
Here's what my recent stay was like and why you should consider it the next time you visit the Algarve.
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Hoping all would go according to plan, I made my original booking for the week of May 20, which was slated to be the property's opening week.
For my five-night trip, I booked a standard Wonderful room, which was going for 450 euros (about $476) or 56,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. Given the favorable points rate and the fact that Marriott gives you the fifth night free on award stays of five nights or more, I ended up booking a five-night stay for 224,000 points, bringing my per-night rate down to just 44,800 points — an even better deal.
All was going according to plan.
However, once the aforementioned delays became known to the hotel, I was notified of the issue and offered a reservation at another Marriott property nearby. Rather than take the hotel up on this offer, I instead moved my stay back to the property's new opening week in early June. Rates by this point had jumped up to 280,000 points for five nights, but at my request, the hotel agreed to honor the rate I originally paid.
Related: How I'm spending over 5 million Marriott Bonvoy points
As its name would suggest, the W Algarve is located in the Algarve region of Portugal, along the country's southern coast, and in the city of Albufeira.
Set back from the beach, the quiet yet central location was ideal for getting some rest and relaxation without being too far from the action. Within walking distance of the property were a number of restaurants and shops. Additionally, several outdoorsy attractions (such as Benagil Cave and the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail) can be found just a short car ride away.
A path going straight to the W's beach will eventually be available to guests, too, but unfortunately, it was still under construction during my stay. Should you crave some sun and sand, you can walk about 20 minutes to two nearby beaches or take advantage of the W Algarve's complimentary beach shuttle.
Getting to the property is a little trickier, as the closest airport, in Faro, is about 40 minutes away by car. You can also take the train to Albufeira-Ferreiras station, which lies roughly 15 minutes northeast of the hotel.
Related: Traveling to Portugal: 7 things to know before you go
Ahead of my stay, I decided to apply five Suite Night Awards to my dates. When I arrived, I was happy to learn my wife and I had netted an impressive bilevel Wow suite, an accommodation that would've cost more than 800 euros (about $845) per night if I paid out of pocket.
Beyond the upgrade, I was immediately struck by the friendliness of the staff. Upon arrival, our bags were promptly whisked away, and the check-in process went just about as smoothly as possible.
In the lobby's small reception area, the agent quickly checked us into our upgraded room, offering us two glasses of sparkling wine while the formalities were taken care of. Before we knew it, the process was complete, and a W Insider (W Hotels' name for a concierge) escorted us to our suite.
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Like the hotel's public areas, my two-story Wow suite was a beautiful space to lay eyes on. The main floor of the 1,291-square-foot suite was occupied by the bedroom, which featured standard amenities like a flat-screen TV and a chimney-shaped minibar (the Algarve is famous for its ornate chimneys), plus an aqua-colored sofa and a sardine-shaped throw pillow, among other playful touches. When we weren't busy soaking up the phenomenal ocean views from the wall of windows and the balcony, we were fixing our gaze on the vaulted ceilings and the open staircase leading to our private rooftop patio.
While the landing at the top of the stairs felt like a misused space, as it only had one chair, the rooftop patio was impressive, offering a minifridge and bar area, a four-person table and two chaise lounges for relaxing beneath a large umbrella.
Back in the suite, there was ample space for storing personal items. A spacious walk-in closet with motion-activated lights had several drawers and shelving plus a steamer, an iron and an ironing board. A safe large enough for laptops was available, too.
The bathroom was visually stunning, though it had a few oddities worth noting. Because the bathtub sat behind a window, anyone using it could be seen by companions in the main room, which could be uncomfortable for those traveling with friends or kids. Additionally, the light switch was confusing at first, leading to me accidentally turning on all the lights in the room on several occasions instead of just the ones in the bathroom. The design was visually arresting, though, with a white floral pattern on the window by the tub, an asymmetrical mirror above a marble vanity and a fish-scale mosaic on the colorful tile floor.
Related: 18 hotels you'll want to book just for the incredible bathtub
Food and beverage
The W Algarve has two restaurants, plus two lounge areas and a bar at the Wet deck where the pool is located.
Since I have Titanium Elite status in the Bonvoy program, I opted for complimentary breakfast for two as my welcome amenity. Breakfast was served in the main restaurant, Market Kitchen, which was open every day for breakfast and lunch and select days for dinner.
Market Kitchen had a modern feel with pops of color and bold design accents which blended nicely with the W aesthetic.
During the first three days of my stay, breakfast was fairly basic, with only a selection of fruit and pastries at the buffet, as well as a few a la carte items like eggs and pancakes. However, the buffet was updated with a number of hot options, including bacon, sausage, hash browns and scrambled eggs, at the end of my stay.
I enjoyed the make-your-own mimosa station, too, though I was bummed the crepe station wasn't open yet. Service was a bit slow as well.
Three times during my stay, I visited the fine-dining restaurant, Paper Moon, which is part of a global chain of Italian restaurants. Not surprisingly, pizza and pasta made up the bulk of the restaurant's menu, though some seafood-based dishes and steaks were available as well. I ate a delicious homemade cheese ravioli with piedmont truffle cream for 19 euros ($20), a run-of-the-mill tagliatelle bolognese for 19 euros ($20) and an incredible pan-fried beef tenderloin with potato purée and pink peppercorn sauce which cost 38 euros ($40). If I could have packed a bottle of the peppercorn sauce to bring home, I definitely would have.
Paper Moon had a classic-yet-modern vibe, with black and white photos on the walls, intricate tile detail around the bar area and traditional moldings throughout. The indoor dining space was intimate yet spacious enough that it didn't feel cramped. The outdoor area had a mix of relatively private cabanas and individual tables paired with a perfect view of the resort and the ocean. It was a great spot to watch the sun go down.
Overall, the food was excellent (albeit pricey), and we enjoyed the wine pairings recommended by the restaurant's sommelier.
For lunch one afternoon we tried the calamari and the Buddha bowl, 14 euros each ($15), at the WET deck. Both dishes were just average — they weren't bad, but they weren't memorable either. And at the W Lounge, we sampled the Celery and Sage cocktails priced at 16 euros each ($17). Of the two, the Sage cocktail was the more interesting drink and came served in a spikey glass that was challenging to hold but could have served as a self-defense aid if necessary.
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Even though some facilities like the property's beach and a Champagne bar are not open yet, for the most part, we really liked the W Algarve's offerings.
At the Wet deck, an expansive two-level pool stole the show. The setting was beautiful, with the upper pool featuring an infinity edge positioned above the lower pool so water would flow from one pool into the other. From both pools and the surrounding deck, which had a bunch of lounge chairs and a whirlpool, you could see the ocean off in the distance.
Next to the pool was a fairly large bar area, where you could enjoy a cocktail, snack or light lunch while sheltered from the sun. A DJ also spins tunes throughout the day, keeping the atmosphere lively.
A spa was available on site as well. While I didn't book a treatment, I took a peek inside and found the space to be quite stunning.
In addition to housing several treatment rooms, the two-story spa had an outdoor area with hot and cold plunge pools, plus a sauna and a steam room. The only potential drawback I noticed was the road noise occasionally heard from the lower level.
I briefly popped into the property's fitness center (which is in the spa), too, though it was purely to take photos, as I'm the first to admit that I rarely visit a gym while on vacation (or ever). Unsurprisingly, the mix of cardio and strength-training machines looked brand-new and more than suitable for maintaining your fitness regimen.
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The W Algarve is a great addition to the Marriott portfolio. The property is well thought out, has very unique design elements and is in a terrific location for those that want to be close enough to the party action of Albufeira without listening to it at all hours of the day.
Were there some minor inconveniences during my stay, such as facilities being not quite ready to use, some less-than-ideal design features and slow service at times? Sure, but that's to be expected as the hotel gets into the swing of things. The property is already a phenomenal place to check out in the Algarve region, so I'm sure it will only get better in the coming months. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this property, nor would I hesitate to visit again.
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