Popular Portugal – Why ?!

Top Reasons Why Everyone is Visiting Portugal.

The country has gleefully reported the tourism numbers are steadily increasing every year. An uptick of 13% in 2017 for the first seven months of the year. Named recently by Travel & Leisure as Europe’s best destination. U.S. travel has increased by 22% in the last 12 months.

Lisbon, the capital and largest city is located on the coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, near the beautiful Tagus River. Often referred to as the city of seven hills and according to legend, it was founded by Ulysses on his journey back from the Trojan War. Picturesque views from the harbor and a maze of cobblestone streets accented by pastel colored buildings. Ride the century old wooden trams and iron funiculars to traverse the neighborhoods. Baixa district hosts tailors, haberdashers and ancient herbal salons in the baroque city center. Regal kings and queens, empires of the Moors and Christians all have left behind a colorful rich history with palaces, monuments and cathedrals to explore. 

Wine Tasting, of course! The national drink porto is abundant across the country, and to enjoy that tasting to the ultimate, why not stay at the luxurious Six Senses Spa property in the Duoro Valley? Hotel and spa is set high in the hills overlooking the rolling vineyards of Portugal’s northern region. A genteel 19th Century manor with river view rooms and acres of forested grounds. Fancy aerial yoga amid the trees? Dining at the Chef table, learn to paint tiles from a local expert and indulge yourself at the award-winning spa after a day of wine tasting.

Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal

Porto, a dazzling second city, is halved by the Douro River. The seaside has blossomed over the last few years and hosts charming restaurants, cafes and a few noted Michelin Star restaurant’s. Mosey through the old downtown and discover magnificent gilded churches. And of course, stop by a charming cafe for an afternoon in the sun sipping the national tipple, Port!

From the Foodie Column. The pork is almost as good as the famed Jamon Iberico from Spain.  The local semi-wild black piggies nosh on acorns from the Cork Oak Trees and produce juicy slabs of tasty ham. Presunto (cured ham) rivals the best from Spain.

Olive oil and goat cheese are also highly rated – notably, try the hard, pungent cow’s-milk cheeses made on the precipitous mid-Atlantic slopes of Sao Jorge island or the creamy Serra da Estrela from the milk of ewes raised in Portugal’s loftiest mountain range. Fancy a stronger dry cheese: try the peppery Terrincho produced in remote Tras-os-Montes. Award winning olive oil based on the world wide ranking finds four firms producing Olive Oil in the top twenty in the world, including the producer: Oliveira da Serra – Lagar do Marmelo.

Activity besides these mentioned, we can organize bike rides through the culinary and cultural heartland, bike through small villages in the middle of farmlands, olive groves and oak tree forests, vineyards and indigo lakes. Six day trips or custom day rides can be organized.

Harry Potter Connection: Did you know JK Rowling taught English in Porto in the 1990’s and was a frequent visitor to Livraria Lello Bookstore, which is one of the most famous shops in the city. Apparently, its decorative bookcases, carved wooden ceilings and lavish staircases inspired the Hogwarts Library in her Harry Potter books.

Weather – Portugal has a moderate year-round temperature.  Lisbon is the continents sunniest city, with close to 3000 hours of sunshine a year.

Exquisite beaches, the swell of the Atlantic Ocean makes Portugal one of the best surfing destinations, the beaches are incomparable. The Azores and Madera are only a few hours away as well.

Charming cities, not far from the capital, dotted with Palace hotels, fine dining, quaint streets and luxury hotels. Sintra is one such city, known for its dominating lush hills, a Moorish Castle and proximity to the Atlantic coast. The entire city is dedicated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A Portuguese Gem!

And did I mention Western European luxury hotels at less expensive rates? The currency is the Euro, but the room rates at luxury properties are significantly less. Portugal has been noted as the second-best value destination in Europe. Portugal is also very safe.

Full report coming soon when I return from my Investigative Journey.

Até mais tarde!



Four Seasons Resort Lanai

Like an attractive gem box, a visit to Four Seasons Resort Lanai proves that good things come in little packages. Lanai, the oft overlooked 140 square mile island, is a quick ferry ride or even quicker helicopter or plane journey from its sister islands.Used with permission from Four Seasons Lanai

Last week, I enjoyed a 45-minute ferry ride across the sparking seas to the snug harbor of Lanai. On arrival at the ferry terminal, I was met by a Four Seasons ambassador; every staff member is capable of managing arrivals, check-in, and will provide personal concierge service during your stay.

Larry Ellison’s newest endeavor in the hotel industry reflects his passion for art and attention to detail in every facet of this stunning preserve. Combined with the renowned perfection of Four Seasons exemplary service and style, the hotel is certain to become a destination resort. Unlike Four Seasons on other Hawaiian Islands, this is a bit isolated; you won’t encounter neighboring hotel guests on the beach, at the bars or on the golf links. This is old Hawaii at it’s zenith. Leisure, fine dining, golf at your own pace with a break for lunch at Views or utilize your GPS operated cart menu and order lunch on the green!  Where else can you enjoy this hospitality?Used with permission from Four Seasons Lanai

The rooms, 217 in total, including 51 suites, are gorgeous, decorated in restful subdued shades of beachy tan and rich dark wood. I would find it challenging to leave my comfy cocoon, perhaps mosey out to the wide deck with stunning sea vistas, but this calming refuge tempts one to do no more than read, lounge and recharge.

The art throughout the resort appears to be carefully cultivated by an owner with a discerning eye for ancient cultures and a collection which grounds the resort with a strong sense of place. Stroll the open halls in each wing and happen on mini-garden sitting rooms. Clusters of sofas circle a lively koi pond overseen by a massive frog sculpture. In another overgrown lush jungle area, an aviary of exotic birds reminds you of the island wildlife. The interior structure has been opened up to provide vistas from every angle, the silky crescent beach is visible from each restaurant. The multi-million dollar renovation on the former pineapple plantation is thoughtful, restful and includes some high tech touches.

If you must rustle yourself out for activities: choose from an extensive list, a list that is expanding each week. The stunning Jack Nicholas designed Manele Golf course is reserved for guests and Hawaii residents only; snorkel or dive with complimentary gear in the protected marine reserve Hulopo’e Bay – where a pod of spinner dolphins call home. An adult’s only pool resembles a natural grotto – the lagoon pool for the kiddies includes a waterfall. Helicopter tours, Polaris ATV rides explore the rough and red dirt up-country. Horseback riding provides a slower pace over a four-mile loop through dry chaparral; the diversity of the island terrain is quite surprising. Tennis and private lessons with a pro is available on property. The island also offers deer hunting; wildlife includes large island sheep and wild turkeys. Something for everyone’s taste or energy level. Deep wooden Japanese soaking tubs are the consummate conclusion to a full day of activity.

Dining – Nobu may draw guests to Lanai on its own! The interior, reached by a massively tall, yet delicate carved door, offers several options for dining. Enjoy refined dining table-side with sweeping panoramic views or shimmy up to the sushi bar, while the talented chef’s prepare classic sushi on a slab. Reserve 24 hours in advance for a dedicated Teppanyaki chef at private teppan tables. Interact with your highly skilled chef while he slices, sizzles and serves personalized plates. Or Nobu Bar serves a light bar menu highlighting innovative Japanese cuisine.

Japanese dining not your style? Restaurant One Forty offers locally sourced ingredients with an extensive steak and seafood menu. Prime and wagyu beef from Snake River Farms and local Hawaiian catch are prepared to perfection. One Forty is a clever nod to the square mileage of the island

Choose from Malibu Farm perched above the bay or dine at Views on the edge of the golf course for more casual lunches. Mark the end of the day with an exciting sunset Champagne sabering ceremony at Malibu Farm.

An on property rental car fleet allows guests to explore Lanai without resourcing an outside vendor. Yacht charters for sunset cruises are also available on property, the hotel manages all aspects of a visit, guaranteeing the celebrated Four Seasons guest-centric service.

Technology is visible in many aspects, from the 75-inch platinum-bezel LED televisions in each room and the iPads that allow you to order meals, read numerous newspapers and be alerted to the spinner dolphins arrival in the picturesque bay! I loved the easy to use in room switch that magically adjusts the mood lighting to day, sunset or relax.

The Lodge at Koele is under refurbishment and will reopen by the end of the year.

Highly recommend an escape to Four Seasons Resort Lanai, a unique Journey.