A short flight, no time change, fantastic beaches, endless sport and a mild, year-round climate ensure that the Algarve is a beguiling option
Cathy Hawker finds some beautiful houses for sale on The Algarve in Portugal…
Britain’s oldest international alliance is with Portugal, dating back to the signing of the Treaty of Windsor in the Middle Ages. Nearly 700 years later, that special friendship, forged in 1386 continues to flourish on the Algarve, Portugal’s sun-soaked southern coast, where, last year, British visitor numbers rose by nearly 5%.
The Algarve stretches west for 100 miles from the Spanish border to Cabo de São Vicente, the most south-westerly corner of mainland Europe. It’s an evergreen holiday favourite, welcoming some seven million annual visitors who come for the dual pleasures of beaches and golf. For fans of the former, the sands on the brisk Atlantic are splendid—deep and wide and backed by umbrella pine trees and red cliffs —and, for the latter, some 1.2 million rounds are played each year on the Algarve’s 39 golf courses. Year-round temperatures that hover between 16°C and 29°C ensure that, even outside of the peak summer months, a steady stream of visitors clutching golf bags passes through the Algarve’s well-connected airport at Faro, where a €32.8 million upgrade is under way.
‘Beaches and golf are what everyone knows about the Algarve, but there are also vineyards, farmer’s markets, fabulous fresh seafood and beautiful countryside,’ says Alison Buechner Hojbjerg of the local Savills associate, Quinta Properties (020– 7016 3740; www.savills.com). ‘Best of all, our buyers consider Portugal to be a financial safe haven, with many choosing to sell elsewhere in Europe and purchase here.’ The Portuguese economy is on the up after the dark days of its recession, growing 1.5% last year and is predicted to fare even better in 2016.
Property prices are also improving, rising for two consecutive years, helped by a favourable tax regime. Anyone spending 183 days or more in Portugal can benefit from a tax-free international income for 10 years, paying no tax on non-Portuguese income, including pensions, rental income and capital gains on the sale of non-Portuguese property. ‘We have seen substantial numbers move here to take advantage of Portugal’s favourable tax regime, yet it still seems to be one of Europe’s bestkept secrets,’ comments Miss Buechner Hojbjerg.
Most international interest focuses on the central Algarve and, in particular, the so-called Golden Triangle that includes the golf resorts of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. These prime residential enclaves, within 20 minutes of Faro airport, attract an affluent international audience of northern Europeans. ‘Quinta do Lago is, without doubt, the most exclusive resort in Southern Europe,’ believes Miss Buechner Hojbjerg. ‘I’ve sold property in this region since 1998 and the number of excep- tionally expensive properties being sold at present, priced between €8 million and €15 million, is unprecedented.
We’re seeing the emergence of super villas along with an entirely new profile of buyers. These are extremely wealthy individuals, sophisticated and cultured buyers, who, thanks to modern technology, are spending extended periods of the year here.’ Quinta do Lago was founded 45 years ago by Polish-Brazilian developer André Jordan on a 1,359-acre site running down through the beautiful Ria Formosa national park to the sea. His original plan was to create a lowdensity leisure resort for the European elite and, even today, less than 10% of the land has been built on.
Since 1998, Quinta has been owned by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, who has continued to invest, spending €50 million over the past six years. Improvements include renovation of the North Course and the driving range, a state-of-the-art Golf Academy run by former Ryder Cup golfer Paul McGinley and a well-used fitness studio. Now, with three outstanding golf courses, a tennis centre, 10 restaurants and plans for an extensive new sports centre, and despite the southern edge of the resort being under Faro’s flight path, Quinta do Lago’s immaculately manicured acres include some of Europe’s most prestigious holiday homes.
‘No other resort in Europe has received this level of investment,’ confirms Jamie Robinson, of Quinta do Lago (www.quintadolago.com). ‘Because of this concerted effort to improve facilities and host regular events, we’ve seen a huge drop in the average age of buyers over the past six years. I would estimate that the typical buyer is about 55 years old and 80% have families with children under 21.’ More than half of buyers at Quinta do Lago are from Britain and typically spend between €2.5 million and €3.5 million on a detached villa with pool. Plots beside Quinta’s large lake start from €4 million and one of the handful of villas that have good sea views would be at least €9 million.
‘The security of investment and trust in the Quinta do Lago brand, thanks to its 40-year history plus the quality of golf, tennis, food and onsite security are part of what makes Quinta special,’ adds Mr Robinson. Quinta do Lago is only three miles long and one mile wide, yet, such is its international cachet, that prices can rival any Mediterranean hotspot, agrees Mrs Buechner Hojbjerg. ‘There is a significant price uplift for being on Quinta rather than just across the road. You would pay about 30% less for the same house immediately outside the resort or half the price for one up in the hills 20 minutes away. History has shown that, even in times of recession, the resale market within Quinta is good. It’s a concentrated area of wealthy individuals, offering security, community and status.’
A few miles along the coast, Vale do Lobo (www.valedolobo.com) is one of the Algarve’s oldest golf resorts and, at half the size of Quinta, it’s still three times larger than Monaco.
There are 1,500 villas, town houses and apartments and facilities include two golf courses and one of Portugal’s largest tennis complexes, plus hotels and restaurants. Expect to pay from €500,000 to €800,000 for two-bedroom apartments, €1 million for town houses and €2 million to €4 million for three- to five-bedroom villas. ‘Property owners at Vale do Lobo value the strong sense of community complimented by the wide range of social, sporting and cultural events,’ says the resort’s sales director Alda Filipe. ‘The security of the resort represents a sound investment for owners looking for a future return on their investment.’
Twenty minutes from Faro airport and close to Quinta do Lago, but off the resort, in Caso
do Vale is this villa with five bedrooms and sea views, a heated pool, a wine cellar, separate
staff accommodation and a four-hole putting green in the gardens Savills (www.savills.com)
Quinta do Lago
Built in 2013, this five-bedroom villa has a home cinema, a wine cellar and separate staff accommodation and overlooks Quinta’s most prestigious golf course Quinta do Lago Property
(www.quintadolago. com); Savills (www.savills.com)
Quinta do Lago
Beira Lago has sea and golf-course views from its roof terrace. The eightbedroom home has a cinema, a games room, a gym and a spa as well as topof- the-range technology. Savills (www.savills.com)