The glitzy cornerstone of the Algarve and watering hole for the rich and famous, Quinta do Lago has long established itself as a five-star Portuguese destination for golfers, families and celebrity holiday homes alike. But its Quinta’s recent transformation into an elite sporting venue that’s really put this holiday hotspot on the map. We sent our girl Emily to enjoy all The Campus facilities’ have to offer.
Now, as someone who regards a holiday as synonymous with beach bars, lie-ins and sun lounging ft. G&Ts on tap, the idea of exercising on holiday even for an hour is few and far between my “wellness weekend” dreams. An elite sporting facility which attracts hordes of football and rugby teams, world renowned tennis pros and hard-core mountain bikers then, seems more than a little intimidating for an amateur, “now and then” exerciser like myself. As it turns out though, even the most unconvinced can be converted.
Opening for business last October, the place oozes high-performance and class, with a beachy wooden exterior, minimalist yet chic interiors and calming ambience that makes the prospect of working out seem far more attractive than a Pure Gym at 6pm post-work rush hour. Facilities include artificial clay and hard tennis courts as well as padel courts (a racket game popular in Spain and Portugal which is a cross between squash and tennis) offering private and group coaching, match sessions and professional tournaments. Beyond the rackets, the multi-sports complex includes a state-of-the-art pitch used by the Ireland rugby squad as a training base ahead of the Six Nations. Fit with elite changing rooms, high performance gym and nutrition facilities, The Campus is marketed as an elite training facility for Olympic athletes and sports teams to use for high-intensity periods of training, particularly when inevitable winter rain drives sporting professionals to the warmer climates of the Mediterranean.
Glitzy sheen aside, The Campus was designed to fit the needs of professional athletes and amateurs alike. For those, like me, who are more into mainstream fitness, a spinning room, as well as daily yoga and Pilates classes is plenty to keep most of us occupied for a few hours. A morning fitness session is followed by a quick change in the chic, Wes Anderson styled dressing rooms and a dip in the recovery and wellness suite. The wooden oasis features hot and cold plunge pools, sauna, steam room and reclining loungers. Soft relaxation music rings through the humid air and an abundance fluffy white towels are stacked against the sashed windows which lead to the outdoor pool – where the afternoon really begins. Wicker recliners line the water’s edge and overlook the emerald grass pitch – a perfect sun-trap for a few hours spent napping and sun-tanning in a quiet oasis.
If you get peckish, Dano’s is the Campus’ onsite sports bar; with a wraparound veranda and outdoor sofa seating, a cold beer in the courtyard is mandatory after a long morning of activity. Its evening scene is a little more high-class than your average Walkabout to say the least – with an interior reminiscent of Soho House, the bar boasts chandeliers, wall to wall TV screens and a striking bronze statue suspended from the high beamed ceiling. Live music plays well into the night and the menu offers everything from dirty burgers to light seafood mains and truffle dusted fries. Delish. If you’re keen to explore the Quinta resort without too much huffing and puffing, head to the Campus’ Bike Shed and set out on a leisurely tour of the Ria Formosa natural park. A winding ride with a local Marine Biologist is the perfect way to see and learn about the swathes of wildlife that inhabit this rich landscape; the dusky pink Flamingos basking in the salt marshes are a particular highlight
One thing is for sure, even if you ditch the gym for a gentle yoga and an afternoon of spa-side to poolside lounging, a day (or a week’s) membership at the Campus is the ultimate wellness hoorah and the perfect way to balance summer indulgence with healthy habits sure to leave you energised and refreshed, rather than sunburnt and sluggish. So whether its business or pleasure that brings you to the Quinta resort, be sure to make it to the gym!