A SECLUDED sunny corner of the Algarve in a coastal restaurant offering phenomenal food and the views to match - that’s the holiday snapshot I’ve been dreaming of through lockdown.

Unforgettable moments make a holiday but even more so when the next 18 months casts the world into a global pandemic and anchored us all to our homes.

For UK travellers, Portugal is among those on the UK governments amber list for leisure travel (hooray!) and for me there’s no better place to get back out there than the Four Seasons Fairways in Quinta Do Lago.

Nestled in the southern most part of Portugal’s Algarve sits the unique development brimming with luxury villas, created around Portuguese architecture and stunning gardens.

The Four Seasons Fairways – offering holidays and a variety of memberships - is picture-perfect luxury but feels cosy enough to still provide a home from home while holidaying.

Couple that with sensational sunsets and extraordinary experiences to be had nearby - it’s perfect for even the most cautious of travellers post-pandemic.

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They say first impressions count and for Quinta Do Lago it is instantly recognisable as a golfers paradise – no question.

Passengers disembark at Faro International Airport to scores of golf clubs whizzing along the baggage carousel, the odd suitcase appearing among the packed out putters.

The area boasts more than 30 championship golf courses and some 3,000 hours of sunshine, so it is not hard to see why it is heaven for those into golf.

But for those who have no interest in golf (myself included), you’ll find there’s much more to the beautiful resort.

Quinta Do Lago has been meticulously planned out and built in a rather Trueman Show-esque manner. Every inch appears to have been designed to a tee (no pun intended), even down to the telephone poles dressed up as palm trees.

Like the championship golf courses on every corner, the precision and immaculacy spills out into the entire resort and villas that create it.

The area oozes luxury and included in that is the Four Seasons Fairways villas and apartments. Home to 132 luxury villas, the private members’ club is almost its very own village with perfect Portuguese architecture around every corner.

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Outside Algarvian chimneys decorate the skyline, and inside the traditional blue and white tiles decorate the spacious villas that offer more than enough for families (and social distancing!). Some come with a private pool, others can opt for a jacuzzi on a private terrace to lap up the luxury even further.

The ‘village’ of villas gives you a home away from home experience with fitted out kitchens, lounge, dining area, and barbecues on the terrace. Something I would find even more comforting in a post lockdown climate.

All options make it perfect for a girls/guys trip away, a spacious couples escape, or a homely family holiday - which let’s face it we all need after the past 18 months.

Elsewhere at Fairways, you have all the typical holiday hotel offerings plus more. There is a beautiful clubhouse with indoor and outdoor heated pools, Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. It also houses an adequate gym, games room stuffed with books, DVDs and player, plus a snooker table. For parents also wanting a bit of a timeout there is a fantastic kids club created in a fabulous upside-down world to entertain any youngster.

This November, Skeleton Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams has also teamed up with Fairways to host a week of work outs, plus a bike tour along the Ria Formosa, and a kayak safari.

By far the best part comes with the two on-site restaurants Vivo and Amara.

Some 18 months on and I am still trying my best to recreate the mouth-watering menu.

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I can vividly remember the tastes of Amara’s four-course Chef’s Menu – an absolute steal at around 40 Euros with wine pairing optional at an extra 20 Euros.

For our party, this included ricotta gnocchi with the most incredible pumpkin puree and mushrooms. Next, seared snapper with celeriac puree, grilled spring onion, fennel, and orange beurre blanc, and onto braised pork cheek with mushroom duxelle and onion marmalade.

The final encore, a beautifully curated ‘Snickers’ peanut mousse with chocolate caramel and vanilla ice cream – a chocoholic's dream!

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Vivo restaurant also lived up to expectations with particularly enjoyable grilled asparagus and eggs, perfect pastries, and an incredible butternut squash risotto that I have tried countless times to recreate. (Plus a ‘drop and scoff’ option for food delivery straight to you villa.)

Fancy cocktails are also available in their abundance , to enjoy alongside the musical nights which in our case involved dancing the night away to Abba classics.

Unsurprisingly, phenomenal food offerings extended outside the fairways resort as well with an incredible set up at restaurant Estamine at Ilha Deserta.

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By far, the most special experience of the three-day trip and it started with a speedboat whizzing along to pick us up from the harbour in Faro. Feeling somewhat James Bond-esque we were taken to the secluded Ilha Deserta – the only uninhabited island of Ria Formosa Natural Park.

A true desert island, it offers 360 degree views with its own unspoilt (but lifeguarded) beaches, a boardwalk trail round the nature park, and the restaurant.

Estamine is built into the biodiversity of the island, it’s shape like a crab hidden among the sand dunes, creates its own water supply, and is powered almost completely by solar panels. (plus there is the all essential wifi..).

Couple that ethos with a truly incredible dining experience bursting with fresh seafood and more, there is no wonder it is the main holiday moment that has stuck with me through lockdown.

Returning to Faro, and touring the city with LookAl – Vila Adentro – the local scenery included orange trees that decorate every corner leading to narrow, winding streets.

We were lucky enough to spot the Algarve’s White Stalks nesting, and our kind tour guide went above and beyond to get us a close up glimpse among the rooftops.

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The town is bursting with tradition and the residents remain proud to show it off. We met ladies who had spent a lifetime perfecting basket weaving– one bag sometimes taking six hours to make! Elsewhere, we were shown how Portugal has become the biggest country in the world to produce cork, and how another proud country tradition also comes in the form of a Portuguese 12-string guitar - expertly performed by Joao Cuna.

It is that pride and local passion for their beautiful surroundings that really makes the Algarve such a warm and welcoming experience for any tourist.

Combine that with the unbeatable views and sensational sunsets, it leaves lasting memories that stay with you even through the most difficult of years for travel.

A sign at Ilha Deserta summed it up perfectly, and for me captures the importance of stepping back from the daily grind to better live in the moment.

“Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.”

All the facts

Stay at Four Seasons Fairways for 7 nights this winter from £1,050 in a two or three bed villa or apartment with swimming pool or jacuzzi on a self-catering basis. Join Amy Williams MBE for an exclusive Active Living Week from November 21 to 28 from £725pp. For more information visit www.fourseasonsfairways.com

Entry requirements regarding travel to Portugal from the UK are listed here

As an amber list country there are requirements from the UK government on what to do upon returning to the UK from Portugal - check here for the latest

Return flights with Easyjet from London Gatwick to Faro, Portugal, from £40.70

City tours with look-al.com

Performance by Joao Cuna on the Portuguese 12-string guitar - recitalguitarraportuguesa.com

Restaurant Estamine at Ilha Deserta - estamine.pt