Essential Algarve went searching for the best Christmas gifts at Vila Vita Parc’s new venture, VLife Shops
Located behind Café Bica, which now features an inviting esplanade, VLife Shops is an exclusive, open-air shopping centre boasting big names in fashion, eyewear, jewellery and lifestyle, providing a relaxed and convenient shopping experience away from the hubbub of the festive season.
White and bright, looking almost like beach huts, the shops are laid out on different levels and are aimed at a largely international clientele. Some of the brands here include ByRory (resortwear, accessories and handmade pieces); Façonnable (men’s prêt-à-porter); David Rosas (fine jewellery and watches); Etro (men and women’s prêt-à-porter); Tamara Comolli (fine jewellery); Olhar de Prata (eyewear); and the VLife Store, a fascinating collection of the best Portugal has to offer. These shops now join the already existing boutiques by Heidi Klein (women’s and girl’s beachwear) and Vilebrequin (men’s and boys’ beachwear). Happy shopping!
While enjoying the pieces and bohemian patterns from the Italian brand founded in 1968, we were surprised by Kurt Gillig, managing director at Vila Vita. When asked if he was out shopping, Gillig simply placed a finger to his lips with a naughty ‘shush’. However, he broke his silence to tell us that a member of Etro’s founding family was recently in the resort and loved the boutique – the brand’s first to be located on a tourist development. The concept was so pleasing they assured it would be replicated in other boutiques around the world. Etro is known for combining elements from different cultures in a style as luxurious as it is relaxed and bold (proof of that are the linings of some of the blazers in the men’s autumn/winter collection). The Algarve shop receives a limited number of pieces, however the standout item is the velvet and calfskin Velvet Bag, full of details and just the right amount of sparkle for any Christmas event.
Olhar de Prata
Olhar de Prata is a must-have name in luxury eyewear in Portugal. With four stores in Lisbon, the brand has now opened their boutique at VLife Shops. Here shoppers can find sunglasses for every taste, along with some limited editions and pieces made from high-grade materials, from gold to titanium and even horn. One of the standout models for this Christmas is a very special rendition of the mythical Vendôme, with lilac lenses and in traditional aviator style — a classic reinvented for men. For women, the latest autumn/winter collections from Tom Ford and Gucci are the most sought after, such as this rectangular model by Gucci, with metal frame, acetate temples and the brand’s traditional logo on the brown lenses.
For those who enjoy giving (or receiving) jewellery at Christmas, Tamara Comolli is a real treat. Chains, rings, bracelets and necklaces in all kinds of luxury finishes, with colourful precious stones and gems — a feast of fine jewellery. The Mikado Flamenco bracelets are one of the brand’s flagships, with the small charms reminiscent of Spanish dancers’ skirts and producing a sound similar to castanets evoking their inspiration. With smoky quartz, amethyst and tourmaline, to name a few, the Chestnut model is particularly well-suited for a wintery mood and can be paired, for example, with one of various Button Rings, another of the German maker’s star pieces. Available in 18-carat yellow, rose and white gold, they boast an enormous variety of stones, from onyx to diamonds. Their versatility makes them the perfect gift for different styles and women.
An oasis of all things made in Portugal, VLife Store is the ideal place to find a sustainable gift, with a bit of history, for the entire family. From Christmas trees made by Laboratório d’Estórias, Claus Porto soaps and Fine & Candy diaries, to pottery by Vista Alegre or the local Porches Pottery, and the artisanal pieces from Burel Factory and the Loulé-based Projeto TASA, there really is lot to choose from. There is also room for goods produced in the properties owned by the Vila Vita Parc group: wines and compotes from Herdade dos Grous, in the Alentejo; wines from Quinta Valbom, in the Douro; and the resort’s artisanal beers, Porches Craft Beer. However, since perfumes are a Christmas classic, go for the fragrances by Comporta Perfumes. A favourite of ours is Sela (saddle), inspired by a horse ride on the beach, with top notes of thyme, saffron and raspberry; heart notes of leather, oliban and cestrum; and base notes of suede, leather, wood and amber.