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.

Take a sneak peek inside with our holiday video:






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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


  1. Gemma Hendry

    good to see james villas is a good company

  2. Fiona jk42

    We always loved villa holidays when our kids were younger. Having a kitchen is much better than having to wait for room service when you have hungry children, plus you can cater to special diet requirements. We also enjoyed visiting supermarkets in foreign countries as they had products we were not familiar with, and the kids liked trying new treats they discovered.

  3. Diane Carey

    I love reading holiday reviews. So helpful. Never visited Portugal – looks gorgeous

  4. Eileen Tingle

    What a fantastic prize, I’d love to take my daughter and grandchildren there

  5. Christine Hobbs

    Have never been to Portugal it looks amazing. The villa looks inviting and I love nothing more than space and the ability to explore. Perfect retreat x

  6. A S,Edinburgh

    I love a villa holiday, and this is absolutely gorgeous.

  7. Fiona jk42

    When my kids were young we did several villa holidays as it’s so much easier than a hotel. We used to go with another family, so that we could afford a bigger villa with more amenities. The kids loved spending time with their friends, which gave us parents a much more relaxing time as the kids pretty much entertained themelves.

  8. Pam Francis Gregory

    The villa looks wonderful – Always love going to Portugal.

  9. Rebecca Whatmore

    This looks beautiful – would love to go there. Have never tried James Villas.

  10. Sarah Christie

    I can really see us chilling in a villa for a week, funny enough we haven’t been to the Algarve since Jack was 2 so forever ago and that was the last time we stayed in a villa and we had a wonderful time. I love to be pampered maybe thats why but there is so much to be said for having a whole pool to yourself, putting a salmon on the BBQ and not having to get dressed up x

  11. paula cheadle

    we went to Gozo a few years ago with James Villa’s, it was awesome, fantastic service

  12. Lucy Howard

    Oh wow, those photos are stunning and the villa looks amazing. I love the sound of the large terrace area with the retractable awning. I would definitely want to spend most of my time out there and by that beautiful pool. A villa holiday really does sound perfect for families. What a fabulous post. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  13. Oh this villa looks beautiful and you have some stunning photos. I’m really impressed with the grounds and the swimming pool with the villa. We only live 14 miles from France by ferry and we are looking to book a villa next summer for our holiday. I will have to look and see if James Villas have any suitable villas near us! I think we would be very happy in a villa for a couple of weeks.

  14. It’s brilliant that they sort everything out for you like the car hire and car seats. I’d completely forget about something like the car seats. The villa looks absolutely stunning!

  15. Sandra Fortune

    What a beautiful place to go. Your pictures are stunning I love the villa you stayed in. Never been anywhere like this but am certainly inspired to go. Hope you had a lovely time.

  16. Debbie Finnerty

    What a stunning villa! Looks like you guys had a lovely relaxing break.

  17. Laura Dove

    Oh wow this looks AMAZING! As a family of six I think a villa holiday would be incredible, it’s great to have your own space and not have to worry about other people – especially with my four! I love the algarve, it looks gorgeous!

  18. Rebecca Sutton

    I need to go there! it looks amazing and so beautiful. But were stuck with Peranporth this year.

  19. Tracy Nixon

    Villa holidays are perfect for families – glad you enjoyed your holiday!

  20. Laura- Dear Bear and Beany

    We love a Villa holiday, but haven’t been abroad with the girls for a few years. It looks a beautiful Villa and they’ve thought of everything a family would need. We love the Algarve x

  21. That looks beautiful, especially the pool. Would love to visit the Algarve.


  22. Oh my word, it’s so beautiful. I’d never leave, so much nicer than my actual house!! #BloggerClubUK

  23. michelle twin mum

    Ohh wow, it just looks amazing, we haven’t tried a villa yet but we’d love to. The kids having a private pool would just be ideal and they’d be so happy. Mich x

  24. Mummy here and there

    Looks a lovwpt and relaxed family holiday X #bloggerclubuk

  25. My mum went to this area and hated it but I think it was because she went for weeks on end and had bad weather. Your post has made me reconsider visiting #BloggerClubUK

  26. The villa is stunning and that pool! It seems so peaceful and relaxing x

  27. Margaret Gallagher

    Amazing place – never had the pleasure yet – certaintly high on my list to try

  28. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons

    I love a villa holiday too and this looks like a beautiful one – that staircase! And the garden and pool area looks perfect. I love the seating area in the shade by the pool, and we always love to BBQ when we’re in a villa, so that’s an essential for us. It all sounds like they’ve tried to hard to make things easy for families, which is ideal, as travelling with kids can be stressful at times!

  29. Marie Blake

    This is gorgeous. Stunning pictures. We’ve talked about getting a villa instead of a hotel next year as it seems better with little ones. The Algarve is stunning.

  30. Heather Keet

    What an absolutely gorgeous place! #BloggerClubUK

  31. Tracy Albiero

    What a charming Villa! I would live in the pool! #bloggerclubuk

  32. Tracey Hallmark

    WOW! Great photos and what a fantastic villa thanks for sharing with us

  33. Cecile Blaireau

    How gorgeous was your house! I love the mosaics and the white tone everywhere. It just says summer all over it! I remember seeing your stories and loving the dinner you shared. It must have been for for your two boys x

  34. Rosemary Tily

    A brilliant review, makes me want to go and pack my suitcase this very moment. It ticks so many boxes for the kind of holiday we enjoy!

  35. Kate m Jones

    I’ve looked at the James Villa holidays for a few years now, I think we might just give it a go next year after this lovely review 🙂

  36. Sara-Jayne

    I had no idea that it could be so stress-free! I love that they arrange everything including car seats – that’s my kind of holiday! It looks amazing there, we love the Algarve so definitely one to consider next year!

  37. Lynn Neal

    We have never stayed in a villa before but after seeing this, I am tempted!

  38. Zena's Suitcase

    I think villa holidays work really well for families with children. I love all the space you had and the pool looks amazing for the kids too. Looks like the perfect holiday to me

  39. Emily / Babies and Beauty

    Oh it looks beautiful, so glad you had an amazing time. A James Villa holiday is on our bucket list for next year.

  40. Veronica Lee

    Looks like a little patch of heaven! Love the photos


  41. Sarah - Mud, Cakes and Wine

    we love portugal and very interested by james villas with how much they helped with the whole booking. i am about to go and check them out #bloggerclubuk

  42. Oh what a beautiful place to stay. It looks so tranquil. You’ve made me quite envious now though… in a good way of course! 🙂

  43. Claire @ The ladybirds adventures

    I really want to visit Portugal. This villa looks gorgeous. I prefer this kind of holiday too. So much more relaxing/practical with young kids.

  44. Treasure Every Moment

    Oh wow what a stunning place to stay on holiday! I’ve just been looking at James Villas for our holiday next year, as they look like such perfect places to stay as a family 🙂

  45. Tracy Hughes

    I’ve always thought about going to Portugal, but generally end up in Spain!

  46. Your travel posts always send me off into a daydream about gorgeous places and this one is no exception. Fab villa and look at that magnificent garden. Being able to choose between a dip in the pool or a short walk to the beach must have been wonderful. The children must be storing up many happy memories for the future.

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