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Aquapura Douro Valley

Address: Quinta do Vale de Abroão, 5100


City: Lamego

Phone: 866-454-9351

Website: www.aquapurahotels.com

Expert Review

It's hard to put a finger on why it took so long for the lens to turn to the Douro Valley. It was long overlooked by the glam set, despite containing some of Europe's most scenic countryside. In recent years, interest in Portuguese regional wine has surged (spurred on by the so-called Douro Boys, a group of local winemakers who popularized the area's offerings), and gradually small, refined hotels began to spring up in the valley. Built into a hillside overlooking the Douro River, the revamped 18th-century mansion, Aquapura, has a serene, Asian-inspired decor and Phillippe Bossert - an acolyte of Alain Ducasse - as head chef at Almapura, its Mediterranean cuisine restaurant. Diners can choose from more than 200 wines, including some from neighboring vines. Aquapura’s River rooms offer a Zen ambience, while private villas come with plunge pools and vineyard views. But it's the 23,600-square-foot spa that is the main draw, with holistic treatments based on organic Ytsara and oxygen-based Karin Herzog products. Best season for value: spring. 2008 Smart Luxury Award Winner

Great Value Alternative: CS Vintage House was the area's first luxe property. www.hotelvintagehouse-douro.com

Tags: luxury | spa | smart splurge | smart luxury winner

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