There has been great interest in the Algarve Long Stay program for 2019 & 2020 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?
Costs, dates and details for the 2020 Trip will be released soon.
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?
You can expect flights to cost from $950 – $1550 depending on airline and routing. Flight prices change all the time though. This gives you a ball park. 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 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?
Deposit and final payment deadlines will be available soon.
WHAT HOTELS WILL WE BE STAYING AT?
Vila Petra which is a 4 star property in Albufeira, one of the main cities in the Algarve Region. It is centrally located, walking distance to a beach and all amenities.
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.
The hotel only provides one key per room which you will be asked to leave at the front desk each time you leave. Last person out of the room drops the key at the desk and first person back picks it up. The key is also required in order to operate the power in your room. In an emergency, the hotel has a spare key that you can use to enter your room, but it will not operate the power.
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 price will be available shortly.
If you are traveling alone but open to finding a roommate, please email me to be put on the list. I will not be pairing people up, but will certainly connect those who are interested and if you decide you’d like to room together you can let me know.
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
Past participants have noted that the frying pans are metal instead of teflon, so you may want to buy a cheap non-stick pan locally.
You will need to purchase your own condiments and supplies such as salt, pepper, sugar, coffee and tea. these are not standard items in the units.
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 (opens at 9am), 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. There is also a small laundry facility on site.
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 arrival and departure transfers to the airport. 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.
WHAT TOURS AND EXCURSIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Tours and excursions can be arranged through Shari in advance, or independently when you arrive in the Algarve. The following are ideas and approximate pricing.
Coastal Cruise to Insonia Caves – $50 CAD
Loule Market Half-Day Tour – $25 CAD
Lagos & Sagres Half-Day Tour – $30 CAD
Seville Full Day Tour (13 hours) – $65 CAD
Ria Formosa Birdwatching by Segway – $60 CAD
Silves, Foia, Lagos Full day Tour (11.5 hours) – $55 CAD
Jeep Safari Full day (7 hours) – $80 CAD
Faro, Olhao & Tavira Full Day (9.5 hours) – $55 CAD
Quarteira Market Half Day – $25 CAD
Ancient Silves, Monchique & Mount Foia Half Day – $30 CAD
Portimao Segway Tour – $84 CAD
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.
- Motorized wheelchairs can be arranged locally and stored at the hotel on special request.
- If you need to purchase distilled water for a sleep apnoea machine, it can be purchased at the larger grocery stores nearby.