Earlier in the week I visited Macdonald Monchique in the Algarve, Portugal. It was unbelievably perfect. For most of my first day, I was pinching myself wondering if someone had gotten me and Beyonce mixed up!
I’d never been to Portugal before, but if those four days are anything to go on, Portugal is one of the most beautiful and friendliest countries in the world. We flew to Faro airport, in the south of the country, and were then taken into the hills, where Macdonald’s Resort & Spa is situated. It was pitch black as we pulled in, so waking up the morning after to bright sunshine and the incredible views were a real surprise! No wonder they call it the Garden of the Algarve.
Macdonald Monchique is a five-star resort and spa specialising in wellness, with a focus on sustainability too. The place is built into the mountainside in a way that preserves the local ecology, sloping and twisting to match the rock face. It also takes advantage of the naturally alkaline mineral water in the area, coming from a spring in the nearby village, Caldas de Monchique. With it being over 9 PH, it’s quite a rare water and is perfect for recovering after a workout.
Speaking of workouts… On my first morning I went to the Zen Room for a HIIT workout, and boy by the end did I hurt in places I didn’t know could hurt! After the session I had a worthwhile bite to eat in one of their three restaurants, where the waiters were fully-briefed on my diet preferences (vegetarian) and were so helpful in taking me through the menu, and customising meals where I wanted (if you’re a bit afraid of doing this, here’s my guide to eating out as a vegetarian).
Afterwards, I headed down to the Sensorial Spa… definitely more my kind of wellness! I was treated to a full body massage which used Monchique Cosmetics, their own brand using the local mineral water and natural ingredients, and then completed a Thermal Circuit. This was a beautifully new, peaceful place, and there was so much to choose from: a Himalayan rock salt sauna, aroma steam room (my favourite scent was Finnish birch), foot baths, igloo, jacuzzis and two pools, too. I say pools; the outdoor one was technically out of service and the heating was off to preserve energy, but I still gave it a very brave-faced dip!
I have to admit, I also headed back to the spa again on the Sunday for a De-sensitiser Facial and Pink Hair Mask, using products from the ESPA International range, which is made from natural, sustainable, and ethically sourced ingredients. The brand is also cruelty-free, is suitable for vegetarians, and only uses animal-derived beeswax, honey, keratin, and sodium lactate. I’ll be honest, keratin is on my list of ingredients I avoid, but ESPA sustainably sources it from sheep’s wool during shearing season.
On the final morning, we wondered into the grounds and found the yoga cabin, nestled among the trees smelling of eucalyptus and pollen. While it was out of action during my stay, I’m told it’ll be up and open soon, alongside a menu for vegetarians and vegans, and a smoothie using local madrono berries – if you get a chance to go when this is all up and running, please let me know how good it is!