Welcome to Portugal’s Paradise!
Vila Joya Hotel, Restaurant & Spa
The Algarve region of southern Portugal has, since the 1960s, attracted tourists in greater numbers than many regions in Europe. Known for its white sand beaches, stunning cliffs, top-ranked golf courses, and winsome weather (over 3,000 hours of sunshine annually), The Algarve draws discriminating aficionados of travel elegance to some of the finest resorts in all of Portugal.
Taking its name from the invading Moors who called it Al-Gharb, “the west,” this region of sun, sea and sand was hailed as Europe’s best beach destination in the 2013 World Travel Awards. Some ten million visitors, 70% of whom are non-Portuguese, annually invest their time and money vacationing in this idyllic coastal setting.
Our top choice in Algarve resort excellence is the spectacular 5-Star Vila Joya, “House of Joy,” eponymously named for its owner, Joy J. Jung. In addition, the Portuguese term joya may be also translated “Jewelry Box.,” a meaning that becomes more evident as one comes to appreciate this sparkling gemstone. Jung is the daughter of Klaus Jung, the founder of Vila Joya Hotel Restaurant & Spa. In a recent feature story on Portugal and its justifications to feel great pride in its many accolades, Jung’s Vila Joya Hotel was credited with “repeatedly placing Portugal at the very top of the world’s hotel industry.” As a resident of Portugal for 11 years, the German hotelier calls Portugal her “home away from home.” Villas & Golfe magazine (No. 76, 2014, pp. 36-37). Thanks to her and the years of constant improvement Vila Joya is, in many ways, the crown jewel of the Algarve.
Located some 260 km from Lisbon and just 50 km from the international airport in Faro, the Vila Joya is located in a residential neighborhood of the Praia da Galé in Albufeira.
The private, Moorish-inspired villa built during the 1970s was acquired during the following decade by the senior Jung who named the resort after his daughter, transforming the oriental palace into the elegant 20-room showpiece it is today. Twelve unique rooms and eight stunning suites all enjoy gorgeous views of the shimmering Atlantic, set atop cliffs overlooking the manicured landscaping and lush tropical gardens of bougainvillea, palm and cypress trees, accompanied by a myriad of flowers. Two swimming pools grace the facility, one heated and surrounded by lounge chairs, while the other, near the outdoor spa, is not heated.
It was with great anticipation that we arrived at Vila Joya, passing through the electronically operated gate and into the magnificent courtyard, lined with graceful trees and surrounded by dense foliage. We knew the hotel and its highly acclaimed restaurant had earned many prestigious awards, such as the 2014 winner of “Europe’s Leading Boutique Hotel,” by the World Travel Awards, “World’s Leading Fine Dining Hotel Restaurant” in 2014 and that it had risen to No. 22 on the San Pellegrino “World’s 50 Best Restaurant” List. Additionally, for fifteen straight years (1999 to 2014), it consistently maintained its esteemed 2-star Michelin rating. (Please see our review of The Vila Joya Restaurant in an accompanying article.)
As we passed through the posh villa’s entrance and under the reception hall’s ornate ceiling, we were cheerfully greeted with the words, “Welcome to Paradise,” and asked to enjoy a welcome beverage out on the terrace. At once, the jaw-dropping views ahead froze us in place as we stared out over the sweeping expanse of ocean, sand, and luxuriantly verdant landscape. After savoring our glass of champagne, we were invited to see our elegant room. Most of the rooms are located in the main house, but our room was in a separate building or annex where three of the most spacious suites were found along with the Joy Jung Spa. Here one finds the Master Deluxe Royal Suite Alegria, the largest suite in Vila Joya, featuring its own private pool and measuring over 200 square meters (2,100 square feet). In high season it is available for €2,300 per night. The Royal Suite Joia has its own private Jacuzzi. Our room was the Junior Suite Maresia, a fabulous residence with outdoor terrace leading to a private garden, and furnished with a four-poster bed. The huge-mirrored bathroom featured a garden tub and large tiled-shower, along with stacks of fresh white towels and Molton Brown shampoos, gels, soaps and lotions. The Joy Jung Spa, just outside our door, offers a full menu of massage treatments, as well as steam room, Jacuzzi, and a gym with sea view. (Please see our review of the spa in an accompanying article.)
Guests are invited to request an iPod dock or Ipod with a Vila Joya music selection for use in their rooms. Bicycles are also available. The tennis court is close to the spa area. Equipment is available at the reception. Vila Joya is located near 45 golf courses all reachable within an hour’s drive. The closest course is just five minutes away by automobile.
We strolled down the private path from our room to the emerald green lawn below, past languid sunbathers, some dozing, others enjoying a cocktail or reading a book. After finding the path to the beach just outside the security gates on the oceanside perimeter, we ambled down the cliff-top trail to the beach and sand dunes below. We were told there might be flamingoes near a residence by the dunes, but we were unable to find them. Returning later by the same path, I found time to enjoy the outdoor Jacuzzi hot tub, just outside the spa, and to be regaled by the majestic vistas of ocean, adjacent pine forest, and sweet aromas of the jasmine-scented gardens. Later in the afternoon, and just before our dinner seating, we donned terry cloth robes and walked across the hall to the spa for a relaxing couples massage.
Our dinner at what many consider to be Portugal’s finest restaurant (until recently, it was the only restaurant in Portugal to earn two Michelin stars) was a three-hour extravaganza of eleven courses and seven wine pairings. The almost supernatural trinity of Hotel, Spa and Restaurant overwhelmed our senses making it necessary to pinch ourselves to make sure what we were experiencing was not merely a dream. Paradise is an intoxicatingly amazing place!
The breakfast buffet includes a dozen fresh fruit choices, smoked salmon, cheeses and cold cuts, cereals and muesli, and several different varieties of bread. We ordered eggs cooked to order and bacon, brought to our table by our server. A pot of wonderfully hot and fresh coffee was also served. Seating is available in the dining room or on the beautiful terrace with its captivating views.
The ultra chic Vila Joya, situated on the Algarve’s picturesque Atlantic coast, offers guests unparalleled service amidst unmatched natural splendor. Constant care and attention has been given to every detail in furnishings, décor, cuisine, and hospitality. This is truly a magical place where memories are made. Here one’s expectations of 5-star quality surely will be surpassed by a new definition of luxurious elegance.
Vila Joya Hotel, Restaurant and Joy Jung Spa
Estrada da Praia da Galé
8201-917 Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal
Telephone: +351 289 591 795