Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Feeling Fyne at Portavadie: recharge the batteries at this Argyll haven

Noah in the pool
Noah in the pool
Stena Line
The spa and infinity pool
The main restaurant

By Geoff Frazer

The last time I survived three days without phone signal was when my three-year-old son Noah dropped my iPhone down the toilet to see how big a splash he could make.

This time around, however, things were rather different.

No toilet was involved and I wasn't remotely upset - in fact the lack of phone reception ensured my stay at Portavadie on the shores of Lough Fyne in Scotland wasn't interrupted by any unwanted phone calls.

I was actually glad nothing was able to shatter the peace and tranquility of one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.

Portavadie's near-perfect location in Argyll, on Scotland's west coast, really does help you to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and unwind amid glorious scenery.

As well as world-class marina facilities, this rather futuristic-looking resort offers a range of holiday accommodation, restaurants and bars, beauty and wellbeing treatments, shopping and event spaces.

The spa and leisure experience is the jewel in their crown, though, and offers an exceptional way to enjoy the views over Loch Fyne at any time of year.

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It's easy to get to too - if you hop on a Stena Line ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan, it's only four hours' drive away when you arrive in Scotland.

Of course you could fly into Glasgow and hire a car and drive from there, but to be honest the ferry is so good why bother?

Believe it or not, Portavadie occupies a site which was originally intended to become an oil rig construction facility.

Despite extensive work, including the construction of an entire village nearby, it was never used - great news for anyone visiting the secluded oasis that you see today.

There truly is something for everyone at the resort - from the walker to the sailor, families to couples, those looking to splash out to those on a budget.

It is the ideal location whether you are looking for a family holiday, romantic weekend break or relaxing afternoon by the water with friends.

The bedroom
The bedroom

The leisure facitlites offer the ultimate in indoor and outdoor pool fun and relaxation for all, featuring a 16-metre indoor pool, toddlers' pool with water features, outdoor spa pools, Scandinavian sauna and what is claimed to be the largest heated outdoor infinity pool in Scotland.

The facilities are complemented by a state-of-the-art Precor Gym, featuring a range of cardio and resistance equipment as well as free weights.

My family and I were lucky to be able to stay in a two-bedroom luxury apartment overlooking the marina and were bowled over by the gorgeous, modern interior.

The whole apartment was amazing - exposed stonework and polished wood helping to create a natural, calming space that reflects the true natural beauty of the area.

Although there are great restaurants on-site, the kitchen would actually encourage you to put on an apron and start cooking.

It's packed with everything you need for self-catering, with plenty of stylish crockery, cutlery and cooking equipment. There is also a dishwasher, washing machine and large fridge freezer to pack away any food you may need for the trip.

The spa and infinity pool
The spa and infinity pool

During the evenings we all enjoyed the open plan living room - relaxing on the sofas with a glass of wine and looking out at the marina.

The master bedroom was huge and the king-sized bed supremely comfortable. The en suite, with complementary toiletries by The Scottish Fine Soaps Company, was just as impressive and even had a small sauna tucked away in the corner.

The second bedroom came with twin beds and an en suite shower and was equallty as impressive.

We tried two of the three restaurants at the resort and I'm happy to report both are excellent.

The Lodge Kitchen and Bar serves large portions of tasty home-cooked food.

I can definitely vouch for the McIntyre of Bute gammon steak and egg, fish and chips and the slow-cooked blade of Scottish beef with creamed potato and seasonal vegetables.

If you'd like something slightly fancier, head to the Marina Restaurant and Bar.

With 2 AA Rosette award-winning cuisine and panoramic views of Loch Fyne, this is one of the top places to eat in Argyll.

Floor-to-ceiling glass awaits you, and every table offers a view of the marina and beyond.

Food at Portavadie
Food at Portavadie

As starters we chose the scallops and the pork terrine which give us a great indication of the high quality of the food to come.

For mains we had the McCaskie's 8oz sirloin with hand-cut chips, confit mushrooms, plum tomatoes and a whisky and mustard sauce, the Isle of Gigha Halibut with almond crust, cauliflower, golden raisin and potato fondant and the roast Scottish chicken breast with salt-baked turnip, creamed potato, haggis and greens.

All three dishes were quite simply incredible - and among the best I've sampled in the past 12 months.

What made the meal even more memorable, however, was the service provided by our waiter, Valentin. He was a fountain of knowlege about the food and offered some great recommendations. Whatever Portavadie is paying him, it is not enough.

I'll be honest, it's not easy to actually leave Portavadie but if you can tear yourself away, there's loads of day trips to enjoy.

Benmore Gardens is a magnificent woodland garden near Dunoon and it's only a short drive away.

It's also easy to catch the ferry from Portavadie to Tarbert to explore the Mull of Kintyre - or take a day trip to the beautiful island of Bute.

No matter what you decide and no matter what the weather, you are just about guaranteed a Fyne time at Portavadie.

Travel factfile

To book your stay at Portavadie, call 01700 811075 or go to

Stena Line is the Irish Sea’s leading ferry company, offering the biggest fleet and the widest choice of routes between Ireland and Britain.

Stena Line offers great onboard facilities such as free movies, free wi-fi, great value onboard shopping, luxury Stena Plus lounge, en suite cabins, children’s play areas, the new Hygge Recline Lounge and a choice of places to dine including a Barista Coffee House and Met Bar and Grill.

Enjoy an eggcellent Easter, scorching summer, awesome autumn, cracking Christmas or nifty New Year as it is time to pay less for your 2019 getaway!

Simply use offer code ESCAPE and save yourself up to 15% off from Belfast by car.

What's the deal?

Save up to 15% off Economy, Flexi & Premium motorist fares;

Available on Belfast, Cairnryan and Liverpool routes;

Travel up to January 5, 2020;

Use offer code: ESCAPE;

Book by March 31 and 48 hours in advance of travel;

Full details can be found:

Stena Line

Fancy a trip to Liverpool? It is just waiting to be discovered from just £10 single! Don’t miss out on this great offer.

What's the deal?

From £10 per adult, £5 per child foot passenger single;

Travel from Belfast and Liverpool routes;

Depart at 10:30 hrs, Tuesday – Sunday until December 19, 2019;

Book at least 48 hours in advance of travel

Stena Line operates daily return sailings from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool all year round, booking details are available at

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