The mid-range Vila Gale Cerro Alagoa is a 310-room resort midway between Albufeira's lively "strip" and its picturesque old town. It's a 10-minute walk to two lovely beaches, but the hotel also overlooks a busy main road, and some rooms pick up traffic noise. Outdoor pools -- including one with a bar -- as well as one indoor pool mean there's always a place to swim, though poolside loungers can be hard to come by in peak season. Child-friendly facilities include a kids' club, a splash pool, and an indoor and outdoor playground -- for a more adult-oriented option, though, there's a themed English pub. Overall, with little wow-factor, rates seem a a bit high -- the Ondamar Aparthotel offers similar facilities at almost half the price, though rooms are less nice.
Resort-style hotel with relaxed atmosphere and tidy gardens
Stepping inside, guests enter a lobby clad in polished marble with large windows and a skylight flooding the space with sunshine. Below the reception area are more swaths of marble and a curious sculpture with a checkered pattern and black spheres. The hotel was renovated in 2010, but some parts still look dated, and some of the hallways are downright gloomy. Overall, though, the hotel is bright, with a relaxed vibe. Its tidy back gardens have mosaic-tile terraces lined with sculpted shrubs, colorful flowers, and palm trees. Couples make up most of the clientele, with school break season adding young families with kids. Weekends can bring the occasionally boisterous group.
Centrally located off a busy highway, a 10-minute walk to the beach
While the hotel is centrally located within this popular tourist town, the immediate surroundings include mostly other hotels, supermarkets, and the busy main highway that runs through Albufeira. The main attractions are all within easy reach, however, with two beaches (Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Inatel) around 10 minutes away on foot. Both the famous "strip" nightlife hub and the more sedate old town are about a five-minute drive away (in opposite directions). Alternatively, it's a brisk 10- to-15 minute walk downhill into the old town, though some might struggle on the return uphill trip -- the tourist train will come in handy for those who don't want to walk. Aqualand and Aquashow are about a 20-minute drive from the hotel, both of which are popular with families. Faro Airport is a 30- to 40-minute drive from the hotel.
Modern rooms with air-conditioning, spacious bathrooms, and small balconies
The 2010 renovations are most evident in the Vila Gale Cerro Alagoa's 310 rooms and suites, all of which are pleasantly modern. Decor includes warm-wood paneling and floors, modern furniture, and coordinating fabrics. Still, the muted color scheme and simple abstract art all combine to create a style that's similar to a modern mid-range chain hotel. Sliding glass doors let in plenty of natural light and open to small, semi-circular balconies or terraces -- many feature sea views, though others overlook a busy road and are prone to traffic noise. All rooms include mini-fridges stocked with water, air-conditioning, small flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi, though the in-room signal can be touch and go. Bathrooms are generally spacious, with granite countertops, sea-green tiling, shower/tub combos, and bidets. Wall-mounted hairdryers and toiletries are provided, though we did spot a bit of dirty grout in the tub surrounds. Suites feature larger balconies and separate seating areas.
Three pools (including an jungle-theme indoor pool), spa, gym, restaurant, and British-style pub
The hotel's main restaurant, Versatil Restaurant, provides a wide choice of hot and cold items at its breakfast buffet, which is included in the room rate. Buffet lunches are served for half-board guests, and a la carte dining is also available for lunch and dinner. Beyond an excellent breakfast service, food in general receives mixed reviews from past guests. A poolside bar also offers drinks and snacks, while another is dressed up in the style of an English country pub -- it's either charming or tacky depending on the guest.
There are two outdoor pools, including a splash pool, and while the pools don't get too crowded, though there's not always an adequate number of lounge chairs when the hotel is busy. A health club features a heated indoor pool with a jungle theme and a waterslide, as well as a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool tub. Child-friendly amenities include a kids' splash pool, a kids' club, a game room with foosball and billiards, and a small playground. The hotel has a gift shop and convenience store as well as meeting and event space. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.
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