This is a review for Apartment AC on the Farm Village complex
First of all, as it there is no website, what “Farm Village” actually consists of is hard to judge when you book! It’s a fairly modern ands well appointed complex of 10-15 Apartments and 10-15 Villas spread out around a large kidney shaped pool, a circular toddler pool and a tennis court. It has a restaurant (Farm Village Restaurant) located at the front and is situated about a mile and half outside Albufeira Old Town (5 min drive or 25-30 min walk). It is behind the Albufeira campsite and Apartment AC, being front facing can unfortunately suffer noise from the loud soundsystem on nights when the campsite has entertainment on.
Tripadvisor, HomeAway and Holiday Lettings all show pictures of various apartments on Farm Village which are offered for rentals by different owners (but sometimes the same managing agent) and are equipped by them to their own varying standards of specification. The reviews and descriptions in the main suggest Wi-Fi, air conditioning, cable TV, DVD player and security deposit boxes. Beware of the headlines, because only a few of the villas and apartments do have these features and you are best to check on what is included before booking.
The holiday overall was great, but maybe it’s because there is a cultural difference and Brits prefer a clear process rather than the relaxed Mediterranean ways, but the process of booking, arriving and settling in to our villa was incredibly stressful and cast a shadow over our first few days.
We dealt with Ana Maria Vicente who we believe own some apartments and villas, but also manages them for other owners. On booking by email in April we were asked to send 25% deposit by bank transfer in Euros. This is something we have never done and it felt uncomfortable having seen stories of Brits being ripped off in this way and it didn’t help by taking some time for her to confirm receipt.
A few days before leaving we checked on arrangements and we were informed that we had an apartment and not a villa as we expected and we were over the restaurant. It was also unclear whether we had two bedrooms. Again when you are thinking of your perfect holiday away and the money you have saved for it - this was very stressful because it was not what we expected.
We arrived at Farm Village which does not have a main reception office of its own. It was a bit haphazard to find a only a maid who didn’t speak English meeting us, handing us a key and saying that Ana Maria was not around.
Having expected a really well appointed villa with wi-fi, air con, etc we were really disappointed to have been given Apartment AC which was without these features, “Cable TV” consisting of only 5 channels the only English ones being BBC News and Sky News and no DVD player! Speaking to two other families around the pool, this did not seem to be an uncommon occurrence with tenants of Ana Maria. They claimed that she suddenly made out that her English was not that good and could not understand when these sorts of issues were raised!
What made it worse for my wife was that the apartment was on the ground floor. Having two kids under 10 in Portugal and obvious sensitivities to children going missing kept her awake that first night. We would not have booked had we known it was at ground floor and not the villa we expected.
Having phoned Ana Maria, she brushed off the lack of facilities, saying it was the HomeAway and holidaylettings websites’ fault that listings were not accurate and that it was only a few apartments that had these benefits. When I texted her about the security concerns she came and saw us for the first time for the next day. Mindful that we still had 75% of her payment in our pocket, we wanted to explore options to improve our situation.
Ana Maria showed her diary and there were no other apartments available. I do think some of the challenges we had were cultural and misunderstood communications, as Ana Maria very graciously offered us the use of her own 7 bed villa overlooking the Marina. Beautiful house that it was, with all her family pictures and nick-nacks around, it did not feel like our own space for our own holiday.
We agreed on a 10% reduction on the cost of the apartment and once that was settled and we found ways of cooling the apartment, living without TV (which was amazing for family bonding) and closing the security shutters, we had a great time. However, we probably spent over £100 on data roaming charges that we did not expect as there was no wi-fi in the apartment – but that was our choice (and the Farm Village restaurant has free wi-fi).
The apartment itself was well appointed. Two spacious bedrooms. Two bathrooms, although the shower in only one of these worked. Good kitchen with oven, microwave and fridge freezer and washing machine. You will have to buy or bring dishcloths, washing up liquid, ice cube bags, food bags etc.
Lounge diner with leather couches and balcony facing the road and slightly above the restaurant. We used the integral BBQ on the balcony three times – you need to buy coal.
The pool is excellent, new and really clean with plenty of sunbeds and no need to be up at 6am to reserve one! All sorts of nationalities staying. French, Spanish, Portuguese and lots of lovely Irish folk from north and south.
Would recommend hiring a car, although it can be quite expensive. The walk to and from town is 30 mins each way with buggies and small children which can wear you out in the heat and eat into time. We heard that cabs were hard to get to come to Farm Village and the queues for taxis leaving the old town were huge at peak times.
Lidl and Aldi are pretty close by and we bought food and drinks for picnics and BBQs from here for most days. There is a small supermarket that is even closer – 5-10 min walk. Fab restaurants are O’Leme in Pateo, overlooking the old town for steak, Shalom II in the old town for Ribs, Bistro Restaurant for couples, Golden Garden in the Strip for Chinese.
Overall it was a good holiday and with the car, we explored Faro and its amazing caves, Loule Saturday Gypsy Market, Vilamoura’s rich and famous marina, Silves Moorish Castle and the Slide and Splash and Aquashow Waterparks. Besides Faro, none of these were more than 25 mins drive, so we could be back to the pool by 3.
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