There has been great interest in the Algarve Long Stay program for 2019 within the Halifax Retirees Lunch & Travel Club.
Of course, there are lots of questions as well. You can refer here to see if your questions are answered. This page will be updated when new questions come in. If your question is not answered, please feel free to email me for further information.
WHO IS THE TRIP FOR?
Technically the trip is for anyone who wishes to escape Canada for three weeks in the winter to the sunny Algarve region in the South of Portugal. The trip is being marketed primarily to the Halifax Retirees Lunch & Travel Club. It is not a requirement for you to be part of the club to participate (although we’d love to have you as a member, and it’s Free!), nor do you have to be retired. However, by nature of it being a long stay, most people who join are likely to be in the later years of their jobs, or fully retired.
Friends and family from other provinces are welcome to join. While I suspect most participants will be from Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is not a requirement.
WHAT IS THE COST OF THE TRIP?
$1698 CAD per person for the land portion of the trip.
Includes: 4 star accommodations with kitchenette (18 nights Albufeira), 4 star accommodations with breakfast (3 nights Lisbon), in-destination transfers, 3 breakfasts, 1 dinner, on-site support staff in the Algarve
Flights (see below)
Travel insurance – I can get you a quote for cancellation, interruption and medical insurance.
Excursions, fitness classes, car rental (optional)
Groceries / Meals – Cost will vary greatly depending on how many meals you cook in your apartment and how often and extravagantly you eat out.
HOW MUCH WILL GROCERIES AND EATING OUT COST?
It is near impossible to predict this as everyone’s preferences are different. It will depend if you eat a hot breakfast vs a piece of toast, how many meals you cook in your apartment and how often you like to indulge in seafood and alcohol.
You can expect meals and groceries to be the same, or slightly less expensive than in Halifax. The exception to this is wine, which you will find for $5 per bottle or a few dollars per glass. Beer is generally cheaper in the Algarve than Halifax as well. When I lived in the Algarve I spent about $50 per week on groceries to cover breakfast and lunch. I ate dinners out regularly and rarely spent more than $15 – $20 on a meat and potatoes style meal. You can find the local plate of the day for lunch around $6 – $8 Canadian (5 Euro), including a beverage. There are also lots of options for fast food – McDonald’s, food court or pizza.
Note: You should have no concerns with the cleanliness standards of food / restaurants in the Algarve or Lisbon. They have European food standards which would be similar to Canadian. You do not have to worry about parasites / bacteria like you do in the Caribbean. You do not have to avoid salads or raw vegetables. All will be prepared appropriately, with clean water.
HOW MUCH WILL FLIGHTS COST?
As of May 2nd, you can get flights corresponding to these dates, for approx $970 – $1550 depending on airline and routing. Flight prices change all the time though. This gives you a ball park. $970 is a fantastic rate, but it does take a couple of hours longer than the $1500 flights for example. Travel time (not flight time) is 12 – 17 hours depending on the routing and how long stop overs are. There are no direct flights from Halifax, so you’ll go through Toronto, Montreal, London, Brussels or Frankfurt (as a few examples).
Once we have 10 people registered, I will look into group flights. Group flights are usually an average price. Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but allows everyone in the group to fly together and pay the same rate, rather than 1 person paying $900 and another paying $1500. And sometimes group flights provide extra perks like additional luggage, additional weight in your luggage or free seat selection. However, I won’t look into this until 10 people have registered.
For budgeting purposes, I would say plan on $1200 – $1300 for the round trip flights. I’ll do everything I can to get you cheaper options, but that is around average.
Should you wish to use frequent flyer / loyalty points for your flights, you are certainly welcome to. Please check with me before booking to ensure that you will arrive on time to join in on the group transfers.
NO FLIGHTS SHOULD BE PURCHASED UNTIL MINIMUM GROUP NUMBERS (10 people) HAVE BEEN MET AND SHARI GIVES THE FINAL GO AHEAD. Should you purchase your own flights prior to this, it is your responsibility, your risk.
WHAT IS THE PAYMENT SCHEDULE?
$700 Deposit due by Jul 20, 2018.
Final balance due by January 4th, 2019
Early Booking Bonus: Deposit by July 2nd, 2018 – save $100 per person
Flights: Must be paid when flights are booked. My suggestion is to do this near the same time as final payment – early January.
WHAT HOTELS WILL WE BE STAYING AT?
IF I WISH TO TRAVEL WITH A FRIEND CAN WE HAVE TWO SEPARATE BEDS?
Yes. The rooms can be requested to suit a couple with one bed, or two single beds. Please keep in mind that as with many European hotels, single beds are often placed very close together, sometimes without waking space between them. However, you will have separate beds and bedding. You may also pull the beds further apart for your comfort, but it varies by room. Each room also has a pull out couch.
IF I WANT TO TRAVEL ALONE IS THERE A SINGLE SUPPLEMENT?
If you do not have a travelling partner and wish to have a room on your own, this can be arranged. The single supplement is $1078.
I have created a group on Facebook for solo travellers who are interested in finding someone to room with. Please send me a message to request an invite to the group. I will not be pairing people together, however I will try to help facilitate solo travellers getting to know one another! In the end, it is up to you to decide if you are compatible to room together for three weeks and make arrangements. I cannot guarantee that there will be someone suitable for you to room with. If you are solo and wanting to room with someone, please email me to be put on the list.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE KITCHENETTE FACILITIES?
The kitchenette is fully equipped with:
exhaust fan; cooker hob; oven; microwave; dishwasher; fridge; toaster; coffee machine; water boiler and blender
WHAT OTHER SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE HOTEL?
Hotel Vila Petra is well equipped with both an indoor heated pool and an outdoor pool. There is a fitness centre, various fitness classes and activities (additional charge). There is a restaurant, wine and tapas bar, snack bar and pool bar. Squash and Tennis each cost approximately 10 Euro per hour. Massage and a Turkish bath are also available at additional cost.
WILL THERE BE ORGANIZED EVENTS?
The idea behind a group long stay package to the Algarve is that you get three weeks to escape Winter in Canada. You will be in the same hotel as other members of the group, but there are no planned activities, other than group transfers to/from the Algarve and to the airport in Lisbon. Should you wish to arrange a group tour with some or all members of the group once you are there, representatives will be on site to assist. There are no obligations to do anything with your fellow travellers, however I suspect throughout the three weeks, great new friendships will be made. There is one group dinner included as a ‘farewell’ at the hotel in Lisbon. Details will be provided closer to departure date.
Once you have arrived there will be a meeting with a local representative to provide information about the destination, transportation, activity options. This representative is separate from the hotel staff. They will also be available to assist by phone throughout your stay and are local.
HOW MUCH DOES GOLF COST?
There are lots of off-season rates in March / April as well as discounted packages if you wish to buy several rounds at one course, or rounds at a variety of courses. Ball park costs for one round are as follows:
9 holes runs about 40 – 50 Euro for green fees.
18 holes runs 40 – 165 Euro for green fees.
As you can imagine, there’s a wide variety of courses and the more exclusive, the more expensive.
Buggy rentals = 40 – 45 Euro
Trolley rentals = 9 Euro
Club hire = 40 – 60 Euro
WHAT CURRENCY DO THEY USE IN PORTUGAL? SHOULD WE TAKE CANADIAN OR USD?
The currency in Portugal is the Euro. Throughout Lisbon and Albufeira there are a variety of different bank machines. If you feel more comfortable having cash on hand when you arrive, you can order a small amount of Euro from your local bank to take with you. However, that is generally the most expensive option. Normally the better option is to withdraw local currency from an ATM when you arrive. Yes, it will cost you $5 – $7 CAD, so best to take out a decent amount, but that is still cheaper than ordering the same amount through your bank and paying their percentage ‘handling fee’. Please don’t convert good Canadian money to USD and then to Euro, you’ll lose twice on the exchange rate. Much better to just withdraw money locally or pay for what you can with your credit card! Visa / MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express. Also important to know that ‘tap’ on debit cards is not regularly used and any bank card PIN numbers should be 4 digits, not 5 as many European banks don’t have the option to enter 5 digits.
HOW DO WE WIN $500 SPENDING MONEY?
Once you have made your deposit for the trip, you can earn chances to win $500 spending money. A draw for the $500 Grand Prize will be done January 7th, 2019 from all eligible participants. Eligibility and group requirements can be found on the contest page.
Two rules are very important:
1. The draw only takes place should we reach 20 passengers, paid in full by January 4th.
2. You must have your own deposit in BEFORE you can start earning ballots.