In Lisbon, a historic city with mosaic-tiled streets and playgrounds, family is intrinsic to daily life; wherever you go, you see children who frolic, walk, jog, cycle and parents who push strollers and carry groceries from park-covered hillsides to a riverfront promenade.
The city’s architectural beauty reflects its cultural heritage. In Alfama, narrow cobblestone streets surround the Medieval Castelo de S. Jorge — where Islamic Towers top ancient Roman walls — and red terracotta tile-roofed buildings top pastel-colored buildings, many fronted with hand-painted blue and white Azulejos tiles. Christian history flourishes in Romanesque churches, Gothic monasteries and cloistered convents.
The modern city dates to its reconstruction after the devastating earthquake of 1755; its centerpiece includes the Avenida da Liberdade — a central tree-lined pedestrian promenade lined with splendid Belle Époque buildings with wrought iron balconies — which stretches to the famed (circular) Marques de Pombal Square, named for the architect of the reconstruction and the jacaranda-bordered Eduardo VII park, with its verdant gardens and lawns, inviting children to run and play.
The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon faces the beautiful park from rooms, restaurants, pool and from the staffed, rooftop fitness center with an outdoor running track. The hotel was established after World War II by Portuguese Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar (1932–1968) who wanted to welcome guests in haute style and promote Portuguese art and culture.
The stylish hotel boasts 400,000 square feet of rare marble, 241 luxe a la Four Seasons guestrooms and 41 suites, some with amazing views. The 5-star hotel is notable for its contemporary art collection, featuring work by a cadre of local artistic luminaries, including the notable Portuguese artist Jose Almada Negreiros. Known as Almeda, in 1956, the artist was commissioned to make a trilogy of hand-made Centauros tapestries, the eye-catching backdrop of the lobby lounge now named for the artist, and a show-stopping engraved black marble wall with gold leaf. Interestingly, Calouste Gulbenkian, an Armenian-turned-Portuguese art collector who purchased many of Almada’s works, lived at the Hotel Ritz for years — even after he created The Gulbenkian Foundation, a seven-acre art complex which displays his Almada collection as a gift to the city.
The hotel welcomes families with a Ritzy Programme that includes a treasure hunt, items to childproof a room, cribs and rollaway beds, complimentary infant supplies and an indoor pool, upon request and availability. This summer, 2020, it will launch a new outdoor pool.
The concierge plans special must-sees for children and the Lisbon Through Four Seasons Eyes City Guide, designed by the staff at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, provides a city guide.
I visited the classic, mid-century Modernist hotel for lunch at the gastronomic Varanda Restaurant, on my first visit to Lisbon in November 2016, and chose from the beautiful and bountiful buffet which showcased Portuguese produce and products, including sea salt and olive oil. I stayed in the hotel for two nights on a more recent visit, but never got to experience the famous Sunday brunch or chocolate afternoon tea.
I had a signature facial at the exceptional, subterranean Ritz SPA, with its light-filled indoor pool where chaise lounges are backed by a glass window wall, which separates the pool area from an exterior fountain, and access to an outdoor terrace. This four-room facility is a destination no matter where you stay in Lisbon; it features a stunning couple’s suite and full- and half-day programs offer a variety of face and body treatments. Some use organic ESPA products, plus there’s a selection of facials incorporating nourishing Swiss Perfection cellular products. The most supreme indulgences are the 80-minute, four-handed Symphony Massage and the Portuguese Retreat, which features regional almonds and honey for the scrub, followed by a hydrating moisturizer and massage.
With technology advancing faster than ever, children globally are becoming attached to devices. Adults too. Our Netflix queue and ever-expanding inbox call our names even when we’re on vacation. We carry distractions with us everywhere, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to truly connect with your loved ones.
Hit hard by the Stay at Home mandate, the travel industry is forced to get creative — and we’re not complaining. One way hotels ad luxury accommodations are assisting in flattening the curve: offering fun ways to enjoy each brand’s core attributes and amenities from home.
Updated April 1, 2020