By Marika McElroy Cain, Senior Editor, Virtuoso Life

Sun, sand, blue water, and wildflowers for miles. The landscape of Portugal’s southern coast is alive in the spring – and pleasantly low-key before the influx of summer visitors.

marika1Last week, I had a chance to soak up the region’s best during a stay at Vila Vita Parc, a five-star resort on a secluded cove marika4in the western Algarve. The 167-room property was my base for explorations of the area, from the cobblestoned streets and cafes of easterly Tavira to the precipitous cliffs of Sagres, the southwestern tip of Europe.

There was even time for a quick trip inland to the arid Alentejo region and Vila Vita’s 200-acre Herdade dos Grous estate, which produces everything from champion show-jumping horses and pata negra pigs to organic produce and impressive wines.

In addition to a glittering private beach, a spa, and several swimming pools, Vila Vita (pictured right) has a pleasingly varied restaurant selection, especially for its size. Among the options: Michelin-starred dining overlooking the ocean, traditional Portuguese fare with a fado sound track, and a sand-in-your-toes seafood extravaganza at the hotel’s beach restaurant.

Go to the Algarve. Stay at the Vila Vita, and, if you can, charter their private yacht for a sunset cruise and toast this gorgeous, golden coastline.

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