Vila Joya at a Glance
Private in feeling and elegantly Moorish in appearance, Vila Joya offers the ultimate luxury accommodations in Portugal's magically beautiful southernmost region, the Algarve.
Perched on the Atlantic in the 1,000-year-old, Moorish-conquered Algarve town of Albufeira, Vila Joya is set well away from more crowded tourist areas.
The hotel is open year-round, but the ideal months to visit are May, June, and September, when the Algarve's beaches are warm but not overrun by tourists.
Vila Joya, opened in 1982, was named for Austrian-born owner Klaus Jung's baby daughter, Joy. The hotel attracts many German-speaking guests as well as luxury travelers from Europe, North America, and Brazil.
Albufeira is two hours and change by car south of Portugal's capital, Lisbon. A closer airport is in Faro, a richly historic town that has yielded artifacts from Paleolithic, Roman, Moorish, Castilian, and English occupants.
Vila Joya's Best Rooms
Vila Joya is a small hotel that offers grand comfort. The hotel has 18 elegant, Asian-accented rooms and three larger, lavishly appointed suites. Vila Joya's suites, and its spa as well, are set in a separate building down a bucolic garden path. The only sounds you hear in a Vila Joya suite are the burbling water in your private pool and the crash of ocean waves on a nearby bluff.
The Royal Deluxe Suite
Vila Joya's ne plus ultra of accommodations is its nearly 1,000-square-foot Royal Deluxe Suite, which could be Buddha's Iberian Retreat. This lovely suite is filled with fresh roses and green plants, and features a wooden likeness of the Buddha.
The Royal Deluxe Suite's handsome furniture includes twin couches, a table and four chairs, and a desk. The living room and bedroom have wall-mounted flat TVs with Portuguese, German, and American channels.
In Portugal, it is rare to get hotel rooms with king, queen, or even double beds. Hoteliers simply push twin beds together. No matter. Vila Joya's sumptuously sheeted "memory foam" mattress felt a bit soft at first, but soon produced the effect of floating. Guests are likely to sleep blissfully.
Sliding double doors separate the Royal Deluxe Suite's living room from its bedroom, so two couples sharing the suite can have complete privacy. The main bathroom, however, must be shared. (There's a small guest bathroom near the suite's entrance.)
The main bathroom is over-the-top deluxe and spa-like. Its deep porcelain tub is meant for two. Plush his-and-hers robes are strategically placed by the walk-in, temperature-controlled steam shower. A full-length mirror flanks the twin sinks. The floor is opulent white marble.
Clothes and luggage can be stored in an enormous walk-in closet big enough for a visit from Lady Gaga. The safe is easy to use.
In-room amenities are sparse but well chosen. A basket of fresh fruit sits on the wooden writing desk. A chest beside the bed is stocked with local Sagres beer (complimentary) and top-drawer Billecart-Salmon Champagne (not).
Three sets of French doors open onto The Royal Deluxe Suite's private patio and cabana area, equipped with a private pool and hot tub. Lined with traditional Portuguese blue azulejo tiles, the pool is sized for a casual splash or soak, but not for swimming laps.
• There is an outdoor Jacuzzi as well, and an open-air shower area big enough for a party
Vila Joya's wifi signal is spotty and the bandwidth sluggish, but it is free. There is no business center. Vila Joya has a no-smoking policy, and pets are not allowed. There is ample parking in a gated courtyard.
Dining at Vila Joya's Two-Michelin-Star Restaurant
Vila Joya's superb restaurant, helmed by Austrian-born star chef Dieter Koschina, possesses the rare two Michelin stars there are only two such restaurants in Portugal.
The subdued, alluringly lit dining room has high-backed chairs draped in white cloth, and a formal cast. Diners may opt for a table memorably set outdoors, overlooking the sea. Chef Koschina specializes in fresh-caught Atlantic fish cooked with creativity and French flair, and served with Continental panache.
All three meals are served daily. Breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m., and a light a la carte lunch begins at 1 p.m. Dinner generally gets underway between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and can last for several indulgent hours. An ever-changing, multi-course gala dinner is served every Thursday. Another offering that guests savor: wine tastings from Vila Joya's 12,000-bottle wine cellar paired with tapas whipped up by Chef Koschina.
Room service breakfasts arrive in a leisurely manner. But there are better options. Guests can relish fresh fruit, warm breads, and cafezinho (inky Portuguese espresso) at the hotel's breakfast buffet, with seating in Vila Joya's stately dining room or on a terrace overlooking the deep blue Atlantic.
• Read more about the Michelin-star Vila Joya restaurant right here on Luxury Travel
Spa and Gym at Vila Joya
Vila Joya has a small but well-designed gym, with an elliptical machine, treadmill, and stationary bicycle. Free weights are few, but there are dumbbells, a few stretching devices.
The hushed, Asian-look Joy Jung Spa offers a range of face and body treatments including hydrotherapy, facials and body wraps using marine botanicals, and sports massages. The spa is equipped with a state-of-the-art steam room and sauna bath.
The Vila Joya Golf Academy
The Vila Joya Golf Academy, 10 minutes from the hotel, is leading center of swing on the golf-crazed Algarve. The academy's intensive courses range from the two-day Crash Course to the 5-day Intensive Course, geared to your level. The school's mentor, Portuguese golf pro José Ferreira, has improved the game of players on the Ladies European Tour, the Challenge Tour, and the European Tour.
Vila Joya offers room packages for Golf Academy students and for vacationing golfers. There are 35 golf courses within 45 minutes of the hotel.
Vila Joya's International Gourmet Festival
Vila Joya is the site of the annual International Gourmet Festival, held every January. Vila Joya owner Klaus Jung began the festival in 2007 to commemorate his late wife, chef Claudia Jung.
Today, the 10-day International Gourmet Festival is a highlight of the global culinary festival calendar. Culinary and social in equal measure, the festival introduces attendees to dozens of celebrity chefs from all over the world. They've come to Vila Joya to cook, talk, mingle, sign books, compete in contests, deejay, laugh, and cook some more.
Is Vila Joya Right for Your Portuguese Beach Getaway on the Algarve?
Vila Joya may be the right Algarve hotel for you if:
• You like quiet, secluded luxury
• You love the idea of walking a few steps to an in-house, two-Michelin-star restaurant
• You'd love to settle into a cushy mattress and be lulled by the sound of crashing surf
Vila Joya may be the wrong Algarve hotel for you if:
• You'd rather stay amongst English-speaking guests
• You prefer a lively young crowd at your hotel
• You're looking for a resort with various activities and offerings such as golf
• You're traveling with kids
For More Info About Vila Joya in Albufeira, Portugal
As is common in the travel industry, the Guest Author was provided with a complimentary stay in order to describe the hotel. For more info, see our Ethics Policy.