Sheraton Cascais Resort: Portugal’s quieter coast uncovered
With Lisbon just 40 minutes away, is Sheraton Cascais Resort the ideal sun and city escape?
Many hotels claim to be amid areas of outstanding natural beauty or set next to vast untouched beaches, but as we opened our wicker hamper up and laid our towels down on the golden sands of Praia Cresmina with not another soul in sight I had to admit, Sheraton Cascais Resort had not been employing creative license.
We had cycled down to the beach on the hotel’s electric bikes, first through the charming pine-clad grounds and then out and along the wide cycle path, which hugs the dramatic Atlantic coast (you can cycle all the way to Cascais and beyond on the same, safe path). The views are spectacular, with rocky enclaves shelving into the cobalt Atlantic and wide sweeping beaches punctuating the cliff formations.
The famous Guincho beach lies 3km from the hotel (an easy peddle on the electric bikes) but there are other smaller pockets of marigold sand enroute where, in our case in June, we found blissful isolation.
The hotel offers pre-prepared picnics for guests, so once we cherry-picked our perfect stretch of golden sand sheltered by the ochre cliffs – lunch was served. With denim-blue sky above we devour the fresh wraps, salads and dips and keep a little room for the homemade desserts. Our only company is a few surfers bobbing on the horizon waiting for their next wave. The area is famed as a top surfing spot and surf lessons can be booked at one of the many schools that fringe the shore between Guincho and Cascais. Guests can also make the most of the surrounding national parkland and scenery by book rockclimbing, hiking, cycling and 4×4 day trips from the hotel – great for active holidays.
Even if not in the mood for high-octane adventures, the appeal of this stretch of the Portuguese coastline will suit many thanks to its wide sandy beaches with low foot fall, golf courses, quiet walking trails, fabulous fish restaurants with decks looking out across the Atlantic, and the foodie Mecca of Lisbon an easy 40-minutes away.
Sheraton Cascais Resort
The Sheraton Cascais Resort is located in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, five-minutes’ shuttle from the beach. Its four low-lying ochre-hued buildings nestle into the undulating greenery under a canopy of pine trees. The neighbouring golf course is a year-round attraction for those who like to putt and drive, and with a stunning main outdoor pool flanked by lush greenery, plus tennis courts and an award-winning spa, there is much to keep guests busy on site.
The hotel has 156 rooms and suites and also has three and four-bed owned residences. While family friendly, the resort has a high-end feel and the décor is slick, stylish and modern – the rooms are all generous sizes with the Deluxe Rooms particularly well suited to families, with a large modern kitchenette, living area and capacious bathrooms.
For romantics, the show-stopping two-bedroom Panoramic Suite includes a cosy fireplace and rooftop whirlpool. For families, the Brave Kids club is set amongst three tepee-style huts and offers activities from mini golf and archery to science workshops and treasure hunts.
A recent addition at the Sheraton, and a highlight of the trip, is Yakuza, a Japanese restaurant opened by the Olivier Group. With an open-plan sushi kitchen, cocktail bar and sumptuous Asian-inspired décor, the restaurant is a cut above – as are the incredible sushi platters and tempura dishes.
The next morning we head for an early morning swim before indulging in the breakfast options at the hotel’s all-day restaurant, the Glass Terrace, where floor-to-ceiling windows allow light to stream in to the interior while the large outdoor terrace overlooks the garden and is ideal for alfresco brunching.
The breakfast buffet is fresh, varied and a big tick was the pancake making machine, loved by all the kids.
From March until October, the Glass Terrace Sunday Brunch menu offers dishes ranging from traditional Portuguese cheeses to the classic bacon, eggs and pastries, as well as a variety of salads and barbecued Tuscan sausage and filet steak. On Saturdays, a healthy brunch option is also on the menu, with an outdoor yoga class included as part of the brunch package.
Day trip to Cascais
Nearby, the pretty coastal town of Cascais is a five-minute drive. Cascais’ popularity as a holiday resort dates back to 1870, when King Luis made the citadel his official royal summer residence. The elite continued to the flock to the town and its three bays for decades. Today, it is a mix of interesting architecture, cafes and (unfortunately) some English pubs and bars. The museums and ornate houses of Cascais should not be missed though, including Casa Santa Maria and its colourful tiles, and the bustling restaurants in the mainly pedestrianised town centre.
Before heading back to Lisbon for a couple of days of city sightseeing and tram riding, we booked into the hotel’s Serenity – The Art of Well Being spa. The spa is a boutique-sized sanctuary where signature treatments utilise regional natural products. The Senses of Cascais treatment is one of the most popular and uses indigenous, locally sourced ingredients to soothe frazzled nerves – a salt and sand exfoliation created from the shores of Guincho Beach opens pores and purifies the skin, and is followed by a luscious body wrap using locally produced red wine and a relaxing back and head massage.
While rooms at the Sheraton Cascais Resort offer more country and golf course vistas rather than sea views, the hotel is a stylish option perfectly suited to those who fancy exploring the region – from Guincho to Cascais and day trips to Lisbon. The hotel’s lush grounds are beautifully manicured and the main pool is especially lovely during shoulder season when we found it blissfully quiet. With only one outdoor pool, however, young families used to all singing family resorts may need a little more. That said, the larger suites with fully kitted out kitchens and sitting rooms are great for family vacationing.
The nearby coastline is dramatic and well worth exploring – particularly on two electric wheels – and with Cascais just down the road, there’s lots to fill your time. Yakuza dishes up some pretty unbeatable sushi and the many golf courses that dot this region are another big pull for many guests. For long weekends combining sun and city, Sheraton Cascais is a great pick for exploring the Cascais region, and with Lisbon only 40 minutes’ drive away a twin-stopcomes highly recommended.
For more information, visit: www.sheratoncascais.com