Penha Longa is a 5-star Ritz Carlton resort - so we were naturally expecting it to be good.
Notwithstanding, we were truly amazed by the quality of our experience. Indeed, we only returned a couple of hours ago after a 7-hour drive back to Madrid after the Easter break, so that's how happy I am.
The resort is beautiful in itself, set in spectacular scenery no more than a 10 minute drive from Sintra (about 20 minutes north of Lisbon). It boasts a 27- hole golf complex (Robert Trent Jones- designed), a wonderful Six Senses Spa complex, an equestrian centre, squash and tennis courts, two wonderful pools (one outdoor, one indoor), a very well equipped gymnasium. I could carry on, however you can read up on all this yourself on the hotel's site. I will just focus on what the site will not tell you. The level of service in this hotel is absolutely remarkable. The warmth of the welcome we received and indeed our every dealing with staff during our stay was truly exemplary and left us delighted. They made us feel special and went well beyond our expectations on every occasion. Some examples: Children Their care for young children is marvellous - they have a well-equiped games room and superb kids club and went out of their way to accommodate us at 21:00 when, unplanned, we asked if we could leave our 7- year old and have a quiet dinner. They took him and three other youngsters in our party and even prepared their meal in a flash. The hotel laid on a free mountain of chocolates and goodies for them in the foyer (Easter treat), two real bunny rabbits to play with in a room next to reception, and as we were checking out today, the porter even humored them by allowing them to ride atop the luggage trolly, making "vroom vroom" noises to make them laugh!! When their Treasure Hunt was cancelled due to a deluge this morning, they laid one on especially for our 4 youngsters upstairs! I witnessed not just great levels of patience, but genuine care and warmth for the children at all times. This means great recruitment - I'm not sure this amount of empathy can be trained or even nurtured. The Madrid-Barcelona game We turned up late to the bar, but the Concierge seeing us looking a bit bewildered, came over and greeted me by name (it was the day of our arrival and we hadn't met), asked us to feel absolutely at home, ensured the barman knew we wished to watch the game, created space in an already crowded bar and made sure we were set for food and drinks. General The lobby staff ensured we had maps and clear directions to wherever we wished to go. The doormen always greeted us with a smile and asked how we were enjoying our stay. The breakfast crew also greeted us with lovely smiles, brought our eggs over to avoid them getting cold every day. I should mention the breakfasts at Penha Longa is divine - English breakfasts like my Dad made them, Champagne or Bloody Maries made for wonderful consolation on the rainy mornings. Tropical fruit was wonderful, Nespresso machines, smoked salmon bagels....everything you could wish for. Our room (standard) was fabulous. Large, bright, well-appointed, wonderful king bed (as you'd expect). Great spacious bathroom and lovely balcony. Nespresso machine with plentiful capsules and huge supplies of free mineral water was a lovely touch. The wireless Internet access isn't free, but it is reliable and truly high-speed. As we were leaving today, two different members of staff begged me to leave my feedback and points for improvement, however small. They asked us to come back again for some better weather and to spend more time relaxing. There was nothing I could think of at the time, but I do now remember that one of the squash courts looked like it needed a new coat of paint! That's it! I'm also sure you're thinking that I must be some celebrity, big shot or Marriott Platinum Elite customer to have been so well pampered. However I am none of these. This was my first ever stay at a Ritz Carlton resort and my first year of experiencing Marriott. The quality of service across their hotels and the quality of my sleep in their beds means I have recently started seeking them out whenever I do business travel, but this was our first ever leisure stay. My wife is not usually superlative about anything, but this stay really did impress her and she has already said she wishes to return. The friends we made at the hotel will be too. I'm sure you've got the gist of this review- Penha Longa is simply a must-stay resort (especially if you have kids) and I'm sure it will be a magnificent and unforgettable experience for you also. If you work for Penha Longa, Ritz Carlton or Marriott and are reading this - we offer you our heartiest congratulations and thanks for a truly great experience.
Thank you for a wonderful and stress-free break.