The Western Algarve is experiencing something of a renaissance at present with sophisticated boutique hideaways, fine artisanal food and wine and a renewed sense that with a rich heritage and natural assets as good as this, why would you bother going anywhere else - especially for a sunshine wedding and honeymoon that's just a two-and-a-half hour flight away?
The charming, eight-room Quinta Bonita perched high on the Matos Morenos Hillside is part of this stylish revival and a far cry from the crowded beaches and high rises that many associate with the region. Like your very own private white-washed mansion with a hint of rustica, this is the place to come for a bespoke, intimate wedding without that big resort feel. Your wedding guests will marvel at how you found such a gem.
It's equally perfect for a laidback honeymoon to pamper and indulge you after the stress of a big white wedding at home. There's no jetlag or fuss, just guaranteed sunshine and relaxation.
British owners, Chantelle Kortekaas and Fraser Lindsay turned the much loved house, which was Chantelle's parent's holiday home where she spent many happy childhood summers, into a luxury boutique hotel in 2010.
As Chantelle explains, "Because we have just eight rooms, it's both intimate and affordable for exclusive use. It's essentially a beautiful, big luxury home with the facilities of a five-star hotel. We've maintained the laid back and friendly atmosphere so that people instantly feel at home."
Quinta Bonita can accommodate 18 resident guests and is available for hire on an exclusive basis (for a minimum of three nights) throughout the year at a very reasonable rate. Even when the house is full, there are plenty of special places to hide away with a good book and a glass of chilled white wine or round the gorgeous heated pool with its blue Portuguese tiles.
With traditional afternoon tea, Tigger the resident cat snoozing, classical music playing gently in the background, access to a well-stocked honesty bar and a cupboard full of books and board games, bride and grooms can offer their wedding guests the feel of a very exclusive house party.
Weddings or blessings for up to 70 guests are a delight here and usually held on the large flat lawn nestling in the middle of the orchard or the recently created terrace, both beautifully lit at night. Chantelle's father created the stunning gardens, an oasis of orange trees, rose beds, a statuesque 400-year-old Olive tree and an exquisite Italian garden along with a giant chess set and a lily pond. It all makes a fabulous settings for wedding photographs with beautiful sea views.
Couples can have a Bedouin style marquee set up on the lawn which gives shade from the hot sun in summer. Flexibility is the key with the choice of buffet, bbq or three course sit-down reception. There are beanbags and picnic rugs for a more laid back feel or for fun kids area. Couples choose from a recommended list of caterers and menus are bespoke. Traditional suckling pig is a big favourite.
Chantelle and Fraser offer a five-star personalised service for brides and grooms with a team of professionals including florists, photographers, make up and hair stylists on hand. Chantelle says the makeup artist is superb especially when it comes to soft natural looks.
There are plenty of in-room spa treatments for pre-wedding pampering including massage, facials, manicures and pedicures. There are special packages for mums, daughters and bridesmaids and you can even book a private Yoga or Tai Chi lesson.
Chantelle's mother created the interiors of the eight sumptuous suites, all named after local beaches. Each has its own balcony or terrace with panoramic views over the countryside to the distant mountains and shimmering coastline. Special touches include Egyptian cotton sheets, hand-painted water carafes, fluffy his and hers bath robes, filtered water on tap, organic toiletries and even a choice of seven types of pillow.
Couples love Zavial, the Master Suite with its four-poster bed. Honeymoon packages include a romantic dinner hamper for two, French champagne, red roses and hand-made chocolates in your room on arrival.
According to Chantelle, "Many couples seek out the beach that their room is named after and it becomes sentimental to them. And amazingly for Europe, you can still find a deserted beach all to yourselves."
Many honeymooners take one of Fraser's gourmet picnic hampers and watch the sun set at Cape St Vincent, the most south-westerly point of Europe, considered to be the world's end in the Middle Ages.
There's plenty for newlyweds and wedding guests to see and do. Chantelle and Fraser can rustle up an excursion such as a day's sailing on a traditional Portuguese sailing boat with BBQ lunch and champagne. More sporty guests might enjoy horse riding, golf, wine tasting or dolphin watching, available for both residents and wedding guests not staying at the hotel.
Just a few miles away from Quinta Bonita is the walled town of Lagos with a rich seafaring history and further into the inland mountains, charming villages such as Monchique with its steep cobbled alleyways and artisan shops selling handmade chairs, shoes and cork goods.
However sybaritic or active you are, Quinta Bonita takes the stress out of tying the knot and gives you precious wedding memories that will last a lifetime. All you need to do is say ‘I do'!
Quinta Bonita, which can accommodate a maximum of 18 people is available for exclusive hire throughout the year from £2,450 (3 nights). For further information please contact www.boutiquehotelalgarve.com or tel: +351 282 762135.