IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Category: Portugal (Page 1 of 3)

Spa Getaways: Lisbon Havens 

Lisbon, where the appealing topography descends from park-covered hillsides to a riverfront promenade. Everywhere, people walk, jog, cycle, push strollers and climb hillsides carrying groceries or discovering neighborhood charms. Locally grown farm-to-table fare features fresh produce, wild-caught sh and seafood and made-in-Portugal olive oil, canned sardines and wine, offering healthy culinary pleasures.

The city’s architectural beauty adds to the serenity and rejects its cultural heritage. In Alfama, narrow cobblestone streets surround the medieval São Jorge Castle, where Islamic Towers top ancient Roman walls, andred-tile-roofedd buildings are fronted with hand-painted blue and white Azulejo tiles. Christian history flourishes in Romanesque churches, Gothic monasteries, and cloistered convents. Construction after the devastating earthquake of 1755 includes the jacaranda-bordered Eduardo VII park and the Avenida da Liberdade, with its central treed pedestrian promenade lined with splendid belle-époque buildings with wrought iron balconies. Theatre, opera, and museums abound, including The Tile Museum within a historic 16th-century cloister, the Foundation Gulbenkian, a seven-acre, park-like art complex named for the art-collector donor and the Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology, a riverfront, contemporary cultural center with a walk-up rooftop terrace, which opened in 2016.

Whether you receive a beauty or body treatment at a spa within a posh city hotel or take the half-hour drive or train ride

to one on the beach or in the mountains, Lisbon offers a multitude of wellness options, including public safety, at a less costly price tag than in most Western European capitals.

HEART OF THE CITY

RITZ SPA AT FOUR SEASONS HOTEL RITZ LISBON
The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is a classic, mid-century Modernist structure established by Portuguese Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar. The luxe, art hotel is known for its stylish Varanda Restaurant, its staffed, rooftop center with an outdoor running track and its exceptional spa. The four-treatment-room facility includes a stunning couple’s suite and a lighted indoor pool, where chaise lounges are backed by a glass window wall, which separates the pool area from an exterior fountain. Full- and half-day programmes offer a variety of face and body treatments, some use organic ESPA products, and there’s a selection of facials incorporating nourishing Swiss Perfection cellular products. Among the sensual signature treatments, the most supreme indulgences are the 80-minute, four-handed Symphony Massage, and the Portuguese Retreat, which features regional almonds and honey for the scrub, followed by moisturizer and massage. www.fourseasons.com

TIVOLI SPA AT TIVOLI AVENIDA LIBERDADE LISBOA HOTEL
In spring 2017, the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade reopened, just a year after becoming part of the Minor Hotel Group, with a US$16 million renovation that created a classic lobby, of newly remodeled rooms, stunning eateries, a striking Sky Bar and, for warm weather, an outdoor swimming pool set in a lush tropical garden. The contemporary classic is well located amidst the restaurants and designer shops on the city’s major pedestrian-centered promenade. In October last year, the rst Tivoli spa in the city made its debut. The spacious facility accessed via a lift or flight of marble stairs from the lobby, has luxe, marble floors, state-of-the-art equipment in the new Tivoli Active Fitness Centre and oversized treatment rooms, each with its own changing room, bathroom and shower and at least one with a marble platform dedicated to shiatsu treatments and Thai massages. All personalized treatments begin with a foot ritual, whether followed by an Organic Hydrating Body Scrub, Aromatherapy Massage using essential oils or the indulgent Biologique Recherche Facial. www.minorhotels.com

MAGIC SPA AT PESTANA PALACE

The Pestana Group purchased and restored The Pestana Palace, once the palatial residence of a well-traveled 19th-century

nobleman. The Portuguese family-owned group installed its own branded standalone Magic Spa, which boasts a Turkish bath, Jacuzzi, sauna and heated indoor pool, located in an ower corner of the estate gardens beyond the charming Tea House. For an idyllic day, savour the Magic Exotic Fruits Body Scrub, which exfoliates with sugar and Algarve-grown citrus in an almond oil base, followed by a 60-minute Magic Serenity Massage, which incorporates sweet orange, lavender and a

hydrating base of almond oil. Finally, the 75-minute luxury Magic Facial Flash Effect uses anti-aging antioxidants and features a unique Asian-inspired facial massage technique. A second, smaller Magic Spa, with its own indoor pool and solarium and similar treatments, is located within Pousada de Lisboa, an art historic 18th-century, mustard-yellow hotel in a former government building on the city’s major waterfront square. www.pestana.com

by Irvina Lew

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon Review

After World War II, Portuguese Prime Minister Salazar established a prestigious hotel in Lisbon and appointed Queiroz Pereira to direct the luxury project, dedicated to promoting and preserving Portuguese art and culture. The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon’s classic, mid-century Modernist structure — enhanced by more than 400,000 square feet of rare marble — achieved that vision.

French interior designer Henri Samuel created a sense of place by mixing straight-legged Louis XVI style with Art Deco pizazz and showcasing art from a cadre of local luminaries, including the notable Portuguese artist José Almada Negreiros. In 1956, Almada was commissioned to make a trilogy of handmade Centauros tapestries — the eye-catching backdrop of the lobby lounge named for the artist.

Since 1997, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts managed the property, where park-facing rooms and the Varanda Restaurant overlook the lush Edward VII park.

© Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

VARANDA RESTAURANT © FOUR SEASONS HOTEL RITZ LISBON

I had lunch there on my first visit to Lisbon in November 2016. Even before I learned about Executive Chef Pascal Meynard’s gastro-local policy, it was evident Portuguese produce and products, including sea salt and olive oil, accessorized the dishes. I became an immediate fan of his simple, elegant fare and couldn’t wait to return for dinner in May.

Before dinner, I enjoyed Perrier Jouet served in a slim, engraved Champagne glass and enjoyed the posh, timeless setting, with its zebra-striped and studded leather chairs, mahogany bookcases and window walls leading to the terrace.

Brito, the maître d’, welcomed me to the Varanda — a traditional room with coffered ceilings, huge chandeliers, and amazing floral displays. I chose the four-course Signature Menu, which included eight choices, during which Sommelier Gabriela Marques chose wines, including prominent local samples and Port from the hotel’s 300-bottle selection.

Dinner began with an inspired two-bite snack, which arrived on a wooden plank; an amuse-bouche of a delectable raw clam on a half-shell atop a bed of sea salt; and a bread course with chorizo butter and herbed lemon butter. An artfully presented prawn centered a plate accompanied by white asparagus, crispy tomato bits and a pesto drizzle. Foie gras and black truffle sauce topped the Irish beef a la ficelleentrée, and the pre-dessert, dessert and après-dessert mignardises were handcrafted by Chef Patissier Fabian Nguyen.

I also experienced an exceptional facial in the subterranean spa, which boasts a light-filled indoor pool and access to an outdoor terrace and park views.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon offers a variety of special services, including a popular Sunday brunch, a tea inspired by Almada, a street art tour and a day-long excursion to Sintra, which sits atop a pine-studded hillside.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

Rodrigo da Fonseca 88
1099-039
Lisboa, Portugal
tel 351 21 381 1400

 

See original review
Global Traveler

Pousada de Lisboa Review

Lisbon hosted its first Web Summit last November, and my daughter Jen Lew, a high-tech social media strategist & web designer, was one of 53,000 attendees. When she invited me to accompany her, I offered to book accommodations, always a challenge during major events. The fortunate resolution was a stay in one of only 90 rooms at the culturally significant and comfortable Pousada de Lisboa, opened in June 2015. Though I had never stayed at a Pestana hotel, its affiliation with Small Luxury Hotels of the World assured me, and I booked four nights in the restored art-filled building.

 

Pousadas are nationally protected and preserved properties within Portuguese castles, convents, palaces, monasteries and historic buildings. In this case, the stunning edifice formerly housed the government offices of the former prime minister and dictator António de Oliveira Salazar. It is one of 33 Pousadas the Pestana group updated and transformed into hotels with amazing character.

Architect Jaime Morais retained many of the original 18th-century architectural elements, including high ceilings and a stunning staircase, and added modern bathrooms, a fitness center and the Magic Spa featuring an indoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath and a variety of body and beauty services.

Location is one of the hotel’s major advantages, as the front door opens on the important Praça do Comércio — Lisbon’s major downtown water-front plaza facing the Tejo River. While some rooms view the iconic São Jorge Castle, ours — a large, elongated corner space on the second floor with a seating area — faced the square, bordered by golden-hued buildings and outdoor cafés. It is also home to The Wines of Portugal tasting room. Just outside the hotel door — amidst cyclist-driven tuk tuks and tiny touristic vehicles — I wiggled into a sidecar and had a great time zipping around with a guide.

For breakfast, we ate in the light-filled solarium, and at night we dined under the curved brick ceiling at Lisboeta, a well-regarded restaurant where Chef Tiago Bonito —Portugal’s 2011 Chef of the Year — reigns. When I returned to Lisbon in May, I discovered a new and more casual dining venue: RIB Beef & Wine, a popular steakhouse.

Pousada de Lisboa

Praça do Comércio 31-34
1100-148 Lisboa, Portugal
tel 351 21 040 7640

 

Written for Global Traveler

TAP Portugal Review

In September, TAP Portugal’s cuisine consultant, Chef Vítor Sobral — a celebrity TV chef and cookbook author — will introduce the Taste the Stars programThe project presents authentic, locally sourced Portuguese meals developed by five Michelin-starred chefs, to be served in TAP’s business and economy classes.

TAP also launched a stopover program, offering travelers up to three days in Lisbon and/or Porto at no additional airfare before heading to the Algarve, Madeira, the Azores or 60-plus other European or African destinations. It’s an ongoing promotion with 150 partners, including the Michelin-starred chefs and their participating restaurants. Passenger benefits include a bottle of wine, substantive land discounts and complimentary experiences.

I experienced the Lisbon stopover in May during my trip to Faro — the popular airport in the Algarve along Portugal’s sunny southwestern Atlantic coast, which attracts beach and golf vacationers. Since November 2016, which marked my first flight with TAP, I’ve flown trans-Atlantic flights between Lisbon and both John F. Kennedy Airport and Newark International Airport, and domestic flights between Lisbon and both Porto (OPO) and Faro (FAO). Three of those seven segments were in economy and four in business class so I have a variety of recent experiences. TAP also flies from Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA) and Toronto (YYZ).

TAP Portugal

TAP PORTUGAL CHEFS

My favorite business-class lounge was in Lisbon, very inviting, even for a long layover. The chairs along the window wall had footrests, making it ideal to read with the light coming in over my shoulder. Most of the seats were adjacent to electronic towers with two plugs and tables, which were nice for eating. There were spacious showers in the lavatories, a glass-enclosed smoking space, and ample food and wine choices. Since my last flight in May 2017, TAP opened a brand new and more spacious lounge.

Each flight was pleasant, easy and uneventful and the staff members — from the check-in agents to the flight attendants — were courteous, warm and hospitable. This was particularly true of the gate agents on our first outbound flight from JFK around midnight when the New York crew arrived late.

All travelers are offered fine chocolates and wine, and business class features a selection that includes Port and Madeira wines. Global Traveler has recognized the airline for the quality of its wines.

My business-class flight from Lisbon in May featured fully flat beds on the Airbus A330 aircraft. Of the 80 aircraft in the fleet, 16 are A330s. It had an extra-wide storage pocket, underfoot storage, a side shelf, a large entertainment touchscreen with headsets and a fold-up table with linen cloths. A plush pillow and oversize quilt contributed to an easy sleep.

All of the meals were graciously served and well received on my flights, and though I haven’t yet experienced the Michelin-starred chefs’elevated in-flight meals, I can personally vouch for the culinary expertise.

TAP Portugal

New York (JFK)–Lisbon (LIS)–Porto (OPO); Lisbon–Faro (FAO)

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