Travel Writer & Author

Category: Portugal (Page 1 of 2)

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


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)

Read More on Global Traveler

Lisboans Flock to New and Trendy Food Halls

Located in old palaces and modern structures, the halls offer food stalls and wine tastings

On my first day in Lisbon, I sampled Portuguese wines from the Douro and Alentejo regions at the Wines of Portugal tasting room on the Royal Square (Praça do Comércio-Terreiro do Paco) just across from the Pousada do Lisboa, (a Small Luxury Hotel affiliate), where I was staying. The wines in the waterfront showroom were displayed according to individual regions, just as the restaurants in the food court venues are separated according to menus.

That evening, I met a colleague at the Palácio Chiado, a stunningly restored eighteenth-century palace, which served as a residence, library, museum, and Institute of Decorative Arts before falling into disrepair. It reopened in 2016 as an opulent food court, with seven different wining and dining spaces, including the city’s most beautiful sushi bar, which is also claimed to be the best.

That evening, I met a colleague at the Palácio Chiado, a stunningly restored eighteenth-century palace, which served as a residence, library, museum, and Institute of Decorative Arts before falling into disrepair. It reopened in 2016 as an opulent food court, with seven different wining and dining spaces, including the city’s most beautiful sushi bar, which is also claimed to be the best.

I also visited the Time Out Market, twice, which the folks at the magazine reconstructed within the original Lisbon marketplace Mercado da Ribeira. The Time Out staff selected each of the local purveyors and chefs who represent the region’s best. The first time, I arrived as a side-car passenger after a tour during which the English-speaking cyclist-guide zipped around and up and down some of Lisbon’s seven hillsides and purchased fresh croquettes at the croqueteria and perfect Portuguese pastéis de nata at the custard tart factory. I returned when I discovered that the railroad station — from which I traveled to and from the seacoast village of Cascais — was directly across the street. I ordered a “signature” seafood Francesinha de atun (a tuna, beef, crab meat, onion, and shrimp dish) by Marlene Vieira, the only female among the top chefs in Time Out’s stable. Although it was overly sauced for my taste, I divided it among the new “friends” who shared the community table, and they loved it unabashedly.

There is much to love in Lisbon, from topography to Beaux-Arts (and contemporary) architecture; from ceramic azulejo tiles, art museums and fado music to the fabulous food courts, which offer multiple opportunities to sample the city’s culinary excellence.

Read More at The Daily Meal 


Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort

Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, just 20 minutes from Faro airport, is located along the Algarve, Portugal’s 100-mile southernmost Atlantic coast. It’s the first European outpost of Anantara, a Bangkok-based brand known for its “destination experience,” which focuses on what is local, indigenous, and authentic.

For the April 1, 2017, opening of the sprawling and stunning 280-room hotel, the interior design team redecorated the existing building adding Portuguese art and artifacts, including cork, tin, and hand-crafted ceramics (in the spa, Jorge Marques’ hand-painted his ceramics with traditional olive tree motif) plus iconic local design elements, such as chimneys, a symbol of the region.

Having arrived post-midnight on the last half-hour TAP Portugal flight from Lisbon, I didn’t step out on my balcony until morning. That’s when I viewed the building’s yellow limestone blocks, which surround the grand main pool (one of five), and the Arnold Palmer designed 18-hole golf course (one of six nearby courses).

Breakfast offered a plethora of healthy options: baskets of oranges, peaches, and apples; glass samovar-like jars filled with freshly squeezed juices labeled Algarve orange, Alcobaca Apple, Tropical fruit, Carrot & Orange, ABC (apple, beetroot, carrot) plus, in pitchers, Tomato and Detox of the Day. A buffet offered sliced oranges, diced watermelon, quartered kiwi, papaya, figs, fresh and jarred yogurts, smoked salmon, assorted cheeses, and platters of sliced ham, including the famous Pats Negra—from pigs who eat chestnuts and almonds—and which is sliced by hand, because it is so delicate.

One bread table displayed baguettes, rolls, pastries, and whole breads on a board; another presented only gluten-free options. Still, the pastry chef passed around tempting croissants and pastries. Along with covered chafing dishes with scrambled eggs and a variety of meats, there was an English-speaking omelet maker who sautéed what I selected: onion, peppers, mushroom, scallions, and tomatoes before adding one whole scrambled egg and some liquid whites. Foodies, vegetarians, gluten-free aficionados, and people with dietary restrictions can make special requests and eat well at Anantara.

Locally sourced Portuguese ingredients dominate in treatments, including a coffee exfoliation and citrus-based powders, oils, and citrus tea from the local orange groves.

At Ria, the lunchtime outlet, seafood reigns: fish soup, teeny local clams, sweet and huge Tiger prawns, octopus salad, oysters, lobster, a variety of grilled freshly caught, local fish and bacalao, the famous Portuguese cod dish. For fine dining, Emo offers a fixed-price tasting menu, which can be paired with some of the 350 wines selected by sommelier António Lopes. Mine started with grilled Atlantic scallops drizzled with truffle oil, pan-fried sea bass served with shiitake mushrooms, Portuguese beef in a red wine sauce, a light orange-sorbet pre-dessert, and a Madagascar chocolate-hazelnut dessert. Healthful fare is also available on the Lobby Bar menu along with seven Petiscos (tapas) which include garlicky cooked carrots, bruschetta topped with red and yellow peppers, and a bean salad served in a tiny glass.

The bar faces the Lobby “Tree” sculpture, made with grafts of acacia and pine and surrounded by small chimneys, where a soulful Fado concert is performed by a singer and guitarists each evening at 7:00 pm.

Promontorio Architects chose the uppermost floor for the spa and constructed window walls that separate the indoor heated swimming pool, hammam, and sauna from the terrace where guests can do yoga and Pilates on a grassy stretch and relax on chaises, enjoying the expansive views of the ocean. Each of the seven treatment suites has its own fully equipped dressing room with sink, a beautiful box for jewelry, a large mosaic tiled shower, and a lavatory.

The treatments fuse holistic Asian wellness rituals, including Thai massage in a dedicated room with mats on the floor, Tingsha meditation bells, and a future Ayurveda specialty. Locally sourced Portuguese ingredients dominate in treatments, including a coffee exfoliation and citrus-based powders, oils, and citrus tea from the local orange groves.

My therapist, Renata, met me at reception and escorted me directly to a double treatment room with a private outdoor terrace equipped with a whirlpool and chaise lounges. The 90-minute Anantara Signature Massage started with an almond milk foot bath and coffee scrub/exfoliation. The massage incorporated local orange and almond-infused oil started at the toes, and worked its way to my face and scalp, before Renata twinkled the bell, announcing its end.

During the three days and four nights or my visit, I discovered the diverse appeal of the Algarve traveling by van, raft, jeep, taxi, and tuk-tuk along the 136-mile coastline. Portugal, Europe’s least costly beach, and golf destination offers countless coastal communities—from ancient Moorish fishing villages to dense seaside high-rise communities to golf resorts and hotels for every taste and budget.

Read the full story at Insiders Guide To Spa’s


Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort
Vilamoura, Portugal
+351 289 317 000


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