Just the two of us: mother daughter Algarve holidays have surprising benefits

Last updated 14th May 2024

We know Pine Cliffs Resort Algarve is fabulous, but can it really reset bad behaviour in kids. Antonia Windsor took a one-on-one break with her 7-year old daughter recently to find out.


Beautifully behaved Zenya, Pine Cliffs

Pine Cliffs Resort Algarve may not solve everything, but it’s a great start

Any parent or carer of more than one child will know the clamour for attention that is the claxon of daily life.

I had three children in four years and they’re constantly jostling with each other for me to, “look at this” or “listen to this”, or simply fighting with each other to goad me into telling them off. In my experience, the old adage that negative attention is better than no attention certainly plays out.

So when I had the opportunity to go away with just my youngest – the one that feels she has to shout the loudest to be heard – I jumped at it.

Just before October half term, my older two successfully auditioned for a pantomime and rehearsals were to begin immediately. This left me with the choice of cancelling our half-term trip to Pine Cliffs Resort Algarve, or leaving my husband behind with the older two and heading off with my youngest. I went with the latter option, and I couldn’t have made a better decision.


Pine Cliffs Resort Algarve

Europe’s best family resort turns out to be the best place for a mother daughter break

“I can’t believe I get to have mummy all to myself for a whole week,” was seven-year-old Zenya’s smiling observation as we stepped out of Faro airport in Portugal’s Algarve.

I shared her delight, but had reservations. What were we going to talk about over all those meals? What was she going to do without her siblings to play with? Were she and I going to get bored?

Thankfully we’d chosen to stay at Pine Cliffs Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort on the edge of golden cliffs above Praia da Falésia in the Algarve. The resort is often voted Europe’s best family resort, most recently winning the accolade “Europe’s Best Luxury Family Resort” in the World Luxury Hotel Awards, so I was in safe hands.


Porto Pirata Children’s Village, Pine Cliffs Resort Algarve

The Porto Pirata Children’s Village converts kids’ club refuseniks

It sprawls among pine trees and landscaped gardens with views across the Atlantic and accommodation options range from private villas and townhouses to luxury hotel rooms, while the leisure facilities are first-class. Admittedly, I didn’t set foot on the nine-hole golf course nor the tennis courts. But I did manage a massage in the wellness centre, thanks to the resort’s incredible kids club.

Zenya is a kids club refusenik, particularly without her siblings, so I made a point of visiting the Porto Pirata Children’s Village as soon as we arrived. The kids club is inside two life-size wooden pirate ships and so on that first visit I just let her play. Beside the ships is traditional playground equipment, a mini track for ride-on cars, a bouncy castle and mini golf. After a turn on the swings together, we played house in the climbing frame and when I was bored of pretending to sip tea and eat cake, I paid for her to have a go on the bungee trampoline.


Family cookery class, PIne Cliffs Resort Algarve

From cooking class to private Pilates sessions, there’s so much to do together

The familiarisation worked. Next day, she let me sign her into the club, and I picked her up chattering about bracelets she’d made and children she’d met. Apart from those two hours, I didn’t need to use the kids club as there was plenty at the resort the two of us could do together.

On one of the days we went to their Mimo Algarve cookery school, where we learnt to make fluffy Chinese pancakes that involved whisking egg whites until we could turn the bowl upside down, a process that delighted and amazed Zenya.

On another day we had a private Pilates class. And when we weren’t engaged in organised activities we had 6km of beach to explore, as well as indoor and outdoor resort pools.


View from Pine Cliffs Resort

Saying goodbye to Pine Cliffs Algarve was the only tricky part

I needn’t have worried about getting bored at lunch or dinner, either. Zenya proved fabulous company and the resort has 11 restaurants and bars, so there was always somewhere new to try. We particularly liked O Pescador where Zenya braved a plateful of sardines.

And most importantly, over our few days away her bad behaviour vanished. Apart from on our final day when she burst into tears, refusing to say goodbye to any of the staff, no matter how much I pleaded with her.

When I explained in the taxi to the airport that her behaviour had embarrassed me she protested, “But Mummy it’s not my fault for crying. I just didn’t want to leave.”

Planning a break at Pine Cliffs Resort Algarve

How to get there

Direct UK flights to Faro from 2 hours, 50 minutes

Where to stay

Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites (2 adults, 2 children), from £285 per night

Book Pine Cliffs Hotel, a Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve

Good to know

Annabel Croft Tennis Pine Cliffs Junior & Teenage Tennis Camp, from £60pp per day (minimum 2 days)