Dream Destinations: Yolanda Choy-Tang's Guide To Portugal

Travel

July 11, 2018 | BY Oliver Giles

Tired of Thailand? Bored by Bali? Adventurous globetrotter Yolanda Choy-Tang, founding partner of Central Weddings and Vera Wang Bridal, gave us insider tips on her favourite holiday spot off the beaten track

Portugal

We travel to Portugal at least once every two years. The weather is like California, the people are amazingly friendly and generous, the seafood is among the freshest in the world and the wine is relatively undiscovered, so you can have an amazing bottle for just €35.

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On our last trip to Portugal we spent two days in Lisbon and four in Beja. We stayed at Santiago de Alfama in Lisbon and Herdade da Malhadinha Nova in Beja, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Staying there was a dream holiday. The hotel can arrange horse dressage lessons with Pedro Sousa, who is one of the leading riders and instructors in Portugal. There are also all-terrain vehicles to ride around the property, cooking lessons, a swimming pool and a spa—there’s almost everything within the hotel. And the food and wine are delicious.

But what was even more impressive was the service. The hospitality in Portugal is like that in Asia, which is unusual in Europe.

When my daughter had an ear infection, the hotel’s general manager helped me arrange everything with the doctor and even drove us to the doctor himself to make sure everything was okay.

He went out of his way to ensure we had a memorable trip. One day he even hosted an impromptu cooking lesson for the kids. That’s the kind of service you don’t forget.

Getting there: Cathay Pacific flies once a day from Hong Kong to Milan, Italy. From Milan, we flew TAP Air Portugal to Lisbon. Beja is a two-hour drive from Lisbon.

Days out of office: 8

Extra stops: If you also visit the Douro Valley, I’d recommend Casas do Porto Apartments in Porto and Quinta do Vallado in the Douro Valley itself. If you visit the Algarve, my favourite hotel there is Pine Cliffs Resort.

Top tip: In Portugal, choose boutique hotels over big chains. Portuguese people are very friendly and proud of their country and will do everything to make you feel comfortable.

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