My wife (62) and I (58) just spent two weeks at the Nautilus Apartments, Vilamoura. We have not visited Portugal before. We rented a car for the whole of our stay and managed to visit most of the resorts on the Algarve.
The Nautilus Apartments are situated in a position about 1.5 miles from the centre of the town and its superb marina. It is a good half hour walk to the marina, even if you walk fast. If you stay at these apartments then, personally, I think that a car is a must. The nearest supermarket is over half a mile away and the beach is a very long way away, probably nearly two miles.
The apartments are situated in a very pleasant and quiet residential area. The accommodation blocks are in the form of an ‘L’ shape. As you enter the complex, there is a large dirt car park. There is a reception office, near to the complex entrance, which is open from 9am until 1pm and from 3pm until 6pm each day, except on Sundays when it is open for one hour from 4pm until 5pm.
The owners of the complex are Fernando and Isabel Mesquita who, very efficiently, run the complex from the reception office. Their son runs the bar/snack bar along with some staff. The rooms are cleaned by maids on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Towels and sheets are changed once a week.
I don’t know when the complex was built but the whole place is very ‘tired’ and dated and needs complete refurbishment. From talking to Fernando, I got the impression that the couple are trying to sell the complex. Some of the apartments have already been sold and some are currently up for sale on an individual basis.
There are 66 apartments on three floors, ground, first and second. There are no lifts. Our one bedroom apartment was shabby and all of the fittings were old and worn out from the furniture to the beds to the decorations and tiling. The kitchen was reasonably well kitted out with cutlery and crockery, there was plenty of cupboard space, a cooker and a new fridge/freezer. The beds were horrendous and creaked and groaned every time you moved in bed. There was a satellite TV set in the room but CNN was the only channel entirely in English and, unfortunately, that channel flickered all the time. Eurosport was on another channel with some English programmes.
The bathroom was small with a bath and overhead shower, a toilet and a bidet. The water was plentiful and constantly very hot 24/7. Safes are provided in one of the wardrobes but there is a charge of 12.50 Euros per week for the key. There was air conditioning in the lounge area and bedroom but there was a total charge of £20 per week for the use of it and the remote control, which is necessary to control it.
The pool area is extremely small. The swimming pool is tiny but there is a very deep section (3m). There is also a small children’s pool, attached to the main pool but it is fenced off. The area surrounding the pool, on two sides, for sunbathing, is grass and there are about 60 sunbeds at the most. There are no umbrellas in this area at all but there are a couple near to the bar area. If you want to get out of the sun then it is necessary to move away from the pool and bar areas into one of the two garden areas. These garden areas are very pleasant and consist of large areas of lawns which are dotted with mature pine trees which give good shade. There are no sunbeds or chairs in these areas but it is possible to take sunbeds from the pool area, providing you claim them early enough, say before 8.30am.
My wife and I hardly used the bar/snack bar facilities as we tended to go out in the evenings. The bar and staff seemed to be fine but there was constant, loud, radio music playing, all day, which was impossible to get away from unless you moved into the garden areas. I cannot comment on the food available as we never ate there, however, it is fair to say that I never heard any complaints about it. Evening entertainment consisted of radio or CD music from the bar but on Friday nights there was Karaoke provided by the guests. On another night, each week, a singer/guitarist played to tapes. Entertainment and music usually ended at just after 11pm.
As other writers have described, there is a supermarket which is about a kilometre away. To get to this supermarket, go out of the complex entrance and turn left in an easterly direction. Walk/drive to the end of the road where there is a roundabout, turn right towards the town and then take the first left. The supermarket is situated on the left after about two hundred yards. Next to the supermarket is a newsagents and there are a couple of bars/snack bars. There are also some places to rent cars and some estate agents.
In this area, there is also a great place to eat. As you approach the supermarket, etc., immediately before is an uphill road, on the left, with lots of new apartment blocks. Walk up the hill for about 200 yards and, on the right, between two blocks, is the ‘Restaurante Snack Bar Marbel’. This is managed by Jorge Costa Dias and his wife. The premises are situated in a sort of landscaped area between about three of four apartment blocks, overlooking a nice swimming pool. There is always pleasant background music playing and the food is great from fresh fish to steaks to pizzas. I think that the bar is open until about 3am.
There is another complex containing a supermarket, shops, bars and restaurants, within walking distance, but we never used any of the facilities so cannot comment. To get to the complex, turn right as you leave the Nautilus and walk in a westerly direction for about 600 yards, turn left and walk in a southerly direction towards Falasia Beach, the complex is on the left and there is a large car park infront of it.
We tended to eat in the Marina area or in the surrounding streets. There are hundreds of restaurants of all types and nationalities.
Mr and Mrs Mesquita work at the Nautilus until about 7pm. At this time they leave and go and work in their restaurant which is situated near to the Irish Pub behind the marina. The restaurant is called the O’Colonnial and is very nice. Nautilus guests get their first drink free.
We did not use the minibus from the Nautilus into town but everyone praised it, the cost was 1.50 Euros each, per single trip. Many people used taxis to or from the town/marina areas, the cost was 5 Euros, either way. Taxis can be hailed at night from behind the marina or near to the casino area.
My wife and I had a great holiday at the Nautilus Apartments but, as previously said, we did our own thing, eating out each evening and, on alternate days, visiting other resorts or towns from Vila Real de Santa Antonio in the east to Lagos in the west. We also visited Faro. The Portuguese motorways were toll free.
Many of the guests at the Nautilus had been before including one family who were on their third consecutive visit. Everyone said that it was a great place for a cheap, quiet, family holiday and particularly good for young children because with the pool area, bar area and children’s playground being so small and immediately next to each other, it was easy to oversee their children. Also, whilst we were there, a children’s supervisor started work, for a couple of months, during her break from university, she also acted as a waitress at the O’Colonnial Restaurant during the evenings.
Vilamoura has two main beaches, the town beach, to the east of the marina and Falasia beach which is to the west of the marina but it is not easy to get to. Both of these beaches are a very long way from the Nautilus complex and transport is recommended to reach them, particularly if you have children. At Falasia beach there is plenty of ‘pay and display’ parking.
We took our holiday with ‘First Choice’ and their rep, in the resort, was Amy Fletcher. She was very helpful and available twice each day from 11.15am until 12.30pm and from 6.15pm until 7pm, in the bar area. As usual, she pushed the usual excursions, etc., and also car hire. Most of the trips were cheaper if you either booked them yourself or through the Nautilus reception. Also, car hire (with Alamo) was much cheaper if booked through the Nautilus reception than with First Choice.
I hope that this review is of some use to anyone considering a holiday at the Nautilus apartments.
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