The outlook is positive again in Portugal. Tourism rose eight per cent last year, well above the European average, and after three years of recession when property prices fell off a cliff, economic signs are promising.
Figures from Statistics Portugal show the economy grew 1.5 per cent last year with predictions for a similar increase this year. Property prices have risen for two consecutive years and prices of prime properties in the best resorts now exceed those in 2008.
The most prestigious resort in Portugal — arguably in all of southern Europe — is Quinta do Lago, 2,000 immaculately maintained acres with three championship golf courses, a tennis centre, extensive gym and fitness studios, 10 restaurants and a long beachfront on the pounding Atlantic.
“Quinta do Lago was one of the earliest golf resorts to open on the Algarve and 40 years on it remains the most exclusive,” says the resort’s Rita Jardao. “In the last six years the Irish owner, Dennis O’Brien, invested £40 million. He has improved the golf courses, added a golf academy and performance centre, updated the leisure facilities and opened new restaurants.”
Quinta is a mile wide and three miles long, stretching from the glitzy Conrad Hotel down to the wide sandy beach and including the Unesco-protected Ria Formosa Natural Park. Other plus points include an easy 15-minute transfer from newly improved Faro airport, excellent security, and building restricted to under 10 per cent of the resort.
Most owners are British followed by Irish, Dutch and Swiss, average age 55. Jamie Robinson, the resort’s director of sales, says: “Over 80 per cent of new owners and visitors are young families with children under 21 looking for a sophisticated lifestyle resort.”
Quinta hosts sporting “boot camps” for children in school holidays and the modern gym offers yoga and Pilates. Social events include regular Picnics in the Park with live music, while families in golf buggies line up on the driving range for open-air film nights.
HOMES FOR SALE
Good two-bedroom resale flats at Quinta start from £356,000 for 1,076sq ft. Townhouses cost from £436,000 to £1.2 million with annual service charges of around £3,500.
A two-bedroom townhouse in the denser-built Quinta community of Martinhal starts from £277,500 and one- and two-bedroom townhouses in Vale dos Pinheiros with private gardens and communal pools are from £475,600. Built in 2002, these sold well and potential rental yields are strong. Prices rise steeply for the best villas.
“The typical buyer spends £1.9 million-£2.7 million on a detached villa with pool that they know will rent well for 12 to 16 weeks each year,” says Jean-Claire Rodrigues of Quinta do Lago Real Estate. “Plots on the lake start at £3 million and the few homes with sea views would cost £7 million.”
While houses immediately outside Quinta’s grounds remain about 15 per cent below pre-recession highs, prices of the resort’s most prestigious properties are now well in excess of pre-2008 levels. “A plot on Quinta would be at least double the price of one outside the resort,” says Rodrigues.