An Algarve Family Holiday with James Villas: Last week we returned from our first family holiday to the Algarve. We had been invited to stay at one if the villas in the Algarve by James Villa Holidays. We had previously stayed in Tuscany with them last year. It was here we fell in love with villa holidays. They offer us so much flexibility and with little ones and we need that in abundance. So we already knew the reasons why a villa holiday would work for us. I guess the question is did Villa Olive live up to expectations and did the Algarve give us the family holiday we were looking for?
One of the things I really like about James Villas is that they will book everything for you. So they took care of the flights and the car hire. As well as arranging the boys car seats. As a busy working mum this is essential. I often don’t even think about our holiday until the weekend before we fly. When I go into a blind panic that all the boys clothes still fit and we have those holidays essentials. Having one less thing to worry about arranging really helps with my stress levels.
We caught an early morning flight out from Gatwick arriving in Faro around midday. The flight is only three hours which is perfect for young travellers. Kipper was very excited about getting on a plane. Although the novelty wore off after about an hour in. Snacks and play dough saved our sanity. Honestly if you are travelling with a toddler or preschooler I swear by play dough. The car hire is located outside of the terminal a short walk away. Hertz were brilliant and turned us around really quickly. Villa Olive is about an hours drive from Faro airport. James Villas provide detailed instructions although we used google maps and it worked fine.
Villa Olive is essentially on a little complex where there are a lot of privately owned villas. Initially I wondered if this would work for us, but it so did. It meant that there was a restaurant a five minute walk away and we also saw others in close proximity. Its only a short drive to a large supermarket and a fifteen minute walk to the beach. It was incredibly peaceful and we were not disturbed by the other villas at all.
The villa itself was stunning and so much more than we expected. You enter via a gated driveway that opens into parking at the front. I was initially hit by how beautiful the gardens were. The driveway could have easily accommodated three cars. The entrance hall is beautiful and really makes an impact. It’s circular room which has a spiral marble staircase in it going up to the first floor. To the right is the living area. Which consisted of a lounge-diner with direct access to a large terrace area. We spent a lot of time out there eating almost all our meals outside. With plenty of seating, two tables and a retractable awning it was the perfect space. Plus it was gated which meant a certain young man couldn’t get down to the pool area. Pots of beautiful flowers and a trailing pink climber made it really beautiful.
At the far end of the house there was a large modern kitchen with a black granite work surfaces, a small breakfast bar, gas hob and electric oven. It had everything you could want for. It made me think that the villa is actually lived in out of season because it was so functional. With plenty of sundry items including cloths, bin liners, tin foil and tupperware. They had even provided an essentials pack for us which consisted of milk, bread, butter, ham, cheese, tea, coffee, sugar, biscuits, beer, wine, water and some soft drinks. It was much more than we were expecting and exactly what we needed after our journey.
At the other end of the villa there are two large bedrooms, one set up as twin and the other as a double. Both have huge bathrooms with double sinks and much needed air conditioning. The boys took the twin and their bathroom also had a bath/ shower. We took the double next door with a beautiful walk in rain shower. There is a third bedroom on the first floor again with its own bathroom and a roof terrace. But we decided to stay on the same level as the boys. As wooden cot had already been set up for Kipper and they decided they wanted to share a room. Both bedrooms also opened out onto the main terrace. I was pleased to see that they not only had shutters but built in mosquito nets on the doors. Each room also had its own mosquito plugin which again I thought went to show just how thoughtful the owners are. Villa Olive would easily sleep six adults, with four toilets, three showers and a bath, space is not an issue. It was immaculate with plenty of linen and pool towels were also provided.
The pool area was beautiful with six sunbeds and an umbrella. To one end there is a BBQ area, which really caught the sun in the evenings. It was very pretty with blue and white painted tiles and had a built in seating area. The pool itself can be heated but with temperatures in the mid to late thirties we didn’t bother. The pool is graduated at 1.2m in the shallow end it was just about okay for Monkey. I really like that its fully enclosed, something which was very important for us with Kipper. The only access was a short set of steps from the terrace, via a lockable gate. The terrace had also been reinforced with white metal mesh in front of the railings. Another sign that the owners have thought about it. As I think with the original railings Kipper could have climbed up. The white mesh stopped this and didn’t detract from the views.
Villa Olive was very kid friendly and thought had been given to the holiday occupants and their stay. As well as the cot with linen there was also a high chair provided. Plenty of plastic tableware for outside and by the pool. There was a whole cupboard of books you could borrow and a couple of board games. The TV had English kids channels which helped when we wanted to keep them inside while preparing meals etc. Plus there was wifi for general internet use (not for streaming)
A villa holiday works perfectly for us. During the day we got into a regular pattern visiting somewhere new in the morning and coming back to the villa to relax and have a swim before dinner. We treated the place pretty much as our own, a home away from home. I am completely sold on the flexibility which the villa gave us. No more having to drag the kids in from the pool, only to have to rush around in a cramped hotel ‘family’ room to make sure everyone is showered in time for dinner. Yes the kids had some late nights still but it was on our terms.
We were totally spoilt with Villa Olive and had a wonderful holiday, we were sad to leave after making so many memories. We will definitely be looking to book though James Villa Holidays again in the future, after all they have 2900 villas in 50 countries and adding more all the time.
I will be writing about what we got up to in the coming weeks as some of the locations deserve a post of their own. The first will be a summary style post of everything we got up to, plus a little video of our adventure, so do come back to hear and read more .
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We were invited to stay with James Villa Holidays in return for this honest review. All opinions and words are my own