It's been a bleak, forever-long winter and even my most optimistic self was struggling without having had a hint of sunshine. So, the chance spend a few days in Portugal came at the perfect time.
When it comes to luxury hotels boasting beautiful spa treatments, steeped in Portuguese history I'm no know it all. Really. Before my visit to The Oitavos hotel in Quinta da Marinha, I had never been to Portugal let alone experienced anything five-star.
However - being a trooper - I made myself acclimatise to these all new, all sleek and streamline surroundings extremely quickly. In fact, it took no time at all to soak up the stunning Atlantic Ocean views, the omg-could-this-be-any-more-attentive service and the swanky hotel interiors. The guest suite - all 64 square meters of it - was insane. Hello balcony view! Ola mini bar!
After checking in, it was time for lunch and I was joined by Pureza Champalimaud, the hotel marketing and communications director. Pureza's family built The Oitavos which handily sits alongside an 18-hole golf course AND boasts a private escape – The Forte. Here, guests can take advantage of a secluded suite, private pool, beautiful landscapes AND personal butler. Totally one for the honeymooners.
We ate light – oysters, clams, super salads, breads and oils and drank Quinta do Cotto wine from the family vineyard. And then I whipped out my bikini (for first time ALL year) and hit the pool. Here's a fact for you: floating around a pool in the Portuguese sunshine will make your life better.
Dinner that evening was a tasting menu of endless courses from the hotel's Ipsylon restaurant and bar. When you go you have to try the seabass and the lobster. Oh, hang on, you're on holiday - have it all.
The hotel offers a number of activities from horse riding, surfing, biking, golf and there's even a helicopter pad for those after a tour on a whole new level. I gave the yoga class at the spa and fitness centre a whirl - an hour practicing hatha yoga, stretching and sculpting at a steady pace left me feeling pretty smug.
Did I mention the spa – or the luxe Balneotherapy area where you can swim, sauna or steam? A-ha, this you have to indulge in. I went for the Fucus Salt Glow Exfoliation which is a detoxifying salt-exfoliating treatment that promises to rejuvenate and smooth from top-to-toe. The results? I was silky, glowing and floating on air.
This amount of maxing and relaxing gives you a real appetite so lunch at Verbasco the Clubhouse of the Oitavos Dunes golf course – different views, same delicious seafoods - was spot on. Another yummy experience is the Japanese bar where you can watch your own personal chef make sushi, sashimi and unamaki to die for. Seriously delicious.
After you've done all these things - and ONLY after you've done all these things - will you be ready to leave. Who am I kidding? Anyone in their right mind would stay here forever.
For more information about a Portugese get-away, staying at The Oitavos and prices, visit the website here.