The vibe is modern chic but Portugal’s first W Hotel has been designed with Portuguese tradition at its heart
Set on a 23-hectare, ocean-front site near Albufeira, the W Algarve is Portugal’s first five-star resort by the W Hotels & Resorts branch of the Marriott international group.
Even before entering the hotel, the inspiration for the entire unit is clear – the white, wave-shaped building and asymmetrical lines let the sunlight shine through and reveal the blue sky, reflecting the colours of the Atlantic, the Algarve cliffs and the ocean waves. Inside, the reception area reveals the first secret behind this hotel’s uniqueness and an homage to national culture. The main wall is lined with 630 ceramic plates by Portuguese brand Vista Alegre, and, to the left, hand-painted tiles make up the W Lounge, a terrace in the garden where one can enjoy the best gin brands from around the world.
This is the essence of the hotel, which is enhanced by neutral, light colours in shades of cream, blue and green. “The idea was always to embrace the local landscape with something simple, in harmony with nature and neither too modern nor intrusive,” states general manager Cajetan Araujo. “The most important thing it to create a connection between our guests and the destination, and one of the ways to do that is through space design. Aside from wanting visitors to experience everything the region has to offer, we wanted to make the Portuguese proud.”
And so, the feeling of relaxation that only an ocean view can provide (possible from all balconies in the 134 rooms of the hotel) is combined with an environment that is quintessentially Portuguese. Elements depicting tradition are found throughout, from custom-made Algarve chimneys used to store coffee capsules alongside the coffee machine, sardine-shaped pillows on the beds and crochet-patterned headboards, to finishing details that evoke the Portuguese calçada (limestone pavements).
The hotel also boasts 10 WOW suites with private pool and an additional balcony for al fresco meals, all on the top floor. But the highlight is the Extreme WOW suite, whose design was inspired by the hugely popular Benagil caves (in the Lagoa borough) and features an infinity pool on the rooftop. Within the resort, there are also 95 one- to four-bedroom residences matching the hotel’s colour palette and featuring kitchenware also by national brand Vista Alegre. Technology also adds a special dynamic, with Smeg appliances and ultramodern Bose sound systems installed throughout. As a standout feature, all residences enjoy use of an exclusive pool and support bar along with all hotel services.
According to Cajetan, the international brand chose the Algarve for its enviable lifestyle. “In many ways, the Algarve represents the best of Portugal. It is such an intense destination. It is a great place to help our guests connect with the rest of Portugal because it has everything you could possibly want: history, culture, wonderful beaches, year-round sunshine, mountains, safety and great food and wine. It has everything and, as a brand, we see this region as a great destination,” he says. In fact, and despite the 60 hotels the brand already operates in several countries, the new W Algarve was designed “to be one of the best resorts in the world”, Cajetan points out.
Local influences can be found in all its facilities, with the bars serving cocktails using Algarve ingredients, such as camomile, rosemary and figs.
Guests are invited to enjoy the sunset at the Sea Sky, the rooftop bar next to Italian restaurant Paper Moon, where they can admire breathtaking views of Armação de Pêra Bay while sipping a cocktail and listening to music played by a DJ. For dinner, guests can try the Market Kitchen restaurant, headed by W Algarve’s executive chef Nuno Gonzalez, who has made a name for himself internationally. The menu was entirely conceived around fresh, local ingredients, with modern reinterpretations of classic recipes. The flowers decorating the tables are picked just a few metres away, on the pathway that leads to the beach.
The brand wants to standout for its uniqueness and support of national products. So much so that W Algarve is the first hotel in Portugal whose staff uniforms were created by renowned Portuguese fashion designer Gio Rodrigues.
Regarding W’s focus on the quality of Portuguese handicraft, Cajetan Araujo states that the goal has always been to feature culture and history. “We wanted to build something local and support Portugal’s artisans and their incredible handmade crafts. We built a very close relationship with them and that is really important to us. Investing in local craftsmanship makes total sense as we are both helping the economy as well as embellishing our hotel. The message is simple, we don’t need to import when we have everything here.”
For wellness lovers, W Algarve has plenty to offer, such as the ‘Fit’ zone, a gym fitted with the latest exercise machines and a balcony that allows for outdoor cycle or Zumba classes, for example. There is also the Away Spa, with six treatment rooms, a hairdresser, a beautician, and a sports shop, where all products are biodegradable, free of harmful chemicals and are not tested in animals. In fact, sustainability and environmental awareness are at the forefront of the hotel’s philosophy. It has invested in solar panels, electric vehicles and charging points, and smart lighting systems. Eco-conscious guests can even request for all in-room amenities to be plastic-free.
As for large events, the hotel has several gardens covering hundreds of square metres, which can be adapted to capacity and are versatile for any celebration, be it weddings, christenings or gala dinners.
There are also six rooms for corporate activities, fitted with everything required for meetings or presentations.
In Cajetan Araujo’s opinion, all of this makes W Algarve “one of the most spectacular hotels in Portugal”.