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13km (8 miles) W of Faro; 306km (190 miles) SE of Lisbon

Almancil is a small market town of little tourist interest, but it's a center for two of the most exclusive tourist developments along the Algarve. Vale do Lobo lies 6.5km (4 miles) southeast of Almancil, and Quinta do Lago is less than 10km (6 1/4 miles) southeast of town.

The name Vale do Lobo (Valley of the Wolf) suggests a forlorn spot, but in reality the vale is the site of a golf course designed by Henry Cotton, the British champion. It's west of Faro, about a 20-minute drive from the Faro airport. Some holes are by the sea, which results in many an anxious moment as shots hook out over the water. The property includes a 9-hole course, a 9-hole par-3 course, a putting green, and a driving range. The tennis center is among the best in Europe.

Quinta do Lago, one of the most elegant "tourist estates" on the Algarve, also has superb facilities. The pine-covered beachfront property has been a favored retreat of movie stars and European presidents. The resort's 27 superb holes of golf are also a potent lure. This is true luxury -- at quite a price.