with Trish Maczuga
Early November 2021, I traveled to Portugal with Tempo – VIP DMC. I departed New York / JFK on TAP Air Portugal flight to Lisbon. We arrived at Lisbon the following morning, where Tempo – VIP arranged for Mercedes V Class private transfer to Hotel Tivoli Avenida Liberdade, our home for one night. Hotel Tivoli Avenida Liberdade is centrally located with luxury shopping steps away. It is a large commercial hotel with 306 rooms. A popular stop for pre/post cruise guests. With both indoor and outdoor terrace seating overlooking the city skyline, the Sky Bar is a highlight of the property and the place to see and be seen by both locals and travelers alike. The rooms are large and tastefully decorated, the staff and service didn’t disappoint.
We began our tour of Lisbon with a site inspection of the Small Luxury Hotel Verride Santa Catarina Palace, a small boutique hotel with nineteen rooms located in the center of Old Town Lisbon. This property underwent an extensive renovation and managed to preserve its historical charm. The hotel pool and rooftop bar serve cocktails with a panoramic view of the city and Tagus River. The perfect way to end a long day of touring! Suba, the onsite restaurant, serves up a wonderful fusion of Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine with outstanding views of the Tagus. Entry-level rooms start at 330 Euro per night, an excellent option for clients looking for a small boutique hotel with a modern touch.
After an outstanding lunch at Suba, we had the pleasure of strolling the streets of the old town and stopped at a silversmith/jewelry workshop and a few shops along the way. A day of touring Lisbon isn’t complete without a relaxing sunset cruise on the Tagus, where we enjoyed a champagne toast and took in the unique view of the city’s main monuments. Tempo-VIP can arrange sunset cruises for individual clients as well as small groups both with and without food and beverage service. The jetlag dissolved almost immediately while we enjoyed the sunset! Our last stop of the night was a traditional Portuguese Fado Show at Casa de Linhares, a manor house that was once the residence of the Counts of Linhares. This popular Fado house is home to some of the city’s best singers and musicians. Enjoy traditional Portuguese dishes and wines while enjoying the performance—a great way to experience Lisbon and a perfect first day.
The next day we enjoyed breakfast at Hotel Tivoli Liberdade and continued our journey to Alentejo with a stop at Sintra en route. A short drive from Lisbon, Sintra can be enjoyed as a day trip from Lisbon, a stop en route, or a night or two while taking in the historical sights and nature. Sintra is a mix of natural and man-made beauty. Lush green valleys with castles provide an interesting glimpse into the past. We toured Pena Palace, a colorful hilltop castle with amazing views of the surrounding area. The Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Just a short distance away from the Palace, we toured Quinta da Regaleir, an estate located near the historic center of Sintra. Protected within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Quinta da Regaleira is a postcard-perfect mix of Gothic, Egyptian, and Moorish Architecture. A pair of wells called Initiation Wells spiral down deep into the earth. The wells were a part of a mysterious Knights of the Templar ritual. Templar rituals no longer occur; however, visitors can trace the footsteps of the past by descending the nine flights of stairs down into the well and then find their way back to the light. A perfect place to explore and take some social media worthy pictures.
After lunch, we drove in our comfortable Mercedes Van, equipped with Wifi, to Alentejo. We arrived at Heradade da Malhadinha Nova Country House, A Relais Chateaux. From the minute we arrived, I knew this was a special place. Joal and Rita have spent years developing a retreat that perfectly blends with the landscape. The property is committed to sustainability and organic farm-to-table cuisine. Offering both beautifully designed rooms and villas, guests can enjoy ATV and equestrian excursions, hot air balloon rides, cooking classes, wine tastings, and spa services, just to name a few activities offered on the property. The rooms and villas are spread throughout the farm and come with a vehicle to access the main areas. Perfect for everyone, from a multi-gen trip to a romantic getaway. An experience I will not soon forget and am looking forward to visiting again, hopefully soon.
The last stop on our trip was The Grand House Algarve – a Relais & Chateaux property located in Vila Real De Santo Antonio, Algarve. This property, service, and location didn’t disappoint. The hotel is located on the eastern Algarve on the bank of the Guadiana River boarding Spain, a short 90-minute drive to the heart of Seville, Spain, or a 9-minute ferry ride to Spain. A 5-star boutique hotel with a Beach Club where you can relax at the infinity pool, have a tasty meal and drinks at the Beach Club Restaurant, or enjoy mobile butler service on Grand Beach. We enjoyed visiting Castro Marim Salt Pans, a surprisingly fun experience. We traveled by boat to Ilha da Culatra. We were personally welcomed by the Island’s president, Silvia; we enjoyed learning about the local culture and community and spent some time on a spectacular beach, followed by lunch at a local restaurant.
All good things must come to an end; the conclusion of our trip was quickly approaching. We enjoyed our farewell dinner at the Grand Salon, where we enjoyed a wonderful meal, talked about the highlights of our trip, and shared our new love of Portugal.