David and Samantha Cameron know how to pick a winning holiday destination. Once again this summer, the Prime Minister and his wife chose Portugal's southern coast, the Algarve, to get away from it all. The region has more than 150 sandy beaches, 30 golf courses and attractive marinas, all within easy reach of a well served international airport at Faro.
There are overbuilt areas — Albufeira will never win a beauty contest, while the golfing resort of Vilamoura recently announced a £700 million expansion plan focusing on property and marinas. Yet the joy of the Algarve is the variety that it offers, from world-class resorts close to Faro to value-busting apartments in the west.
WEST IS BEST FOR BARGAINS
Oceanico Group was a major property developer on the Algarve pre-recession and today it remains the single largest golf operator, with seven courses. Through Savills, it is selling projects in the western Algarve, all completed and operational, priced from £91,000.
Amendoeira Golf Resort close to Portimão, 35 minutes from Faro airport, has 240 fully furnished apartments, townhouses and villas priced from £168,500 for a two-bedroom, 1,292 sq ft apartment. Four- and five bedroom villas lining one of three golf courses range from £596,500 to £884,000. This Moorish-style, dusty pink resort was launched off-plan in 2008 with prices almost 50 per cent higher than today.
"The Algarve property market fell 40 per cent on average after 2008 and as a company, we concentrated on completing our resorts and running them as rental properties," says Peter Statham of Oceanico. "Now Europe is recovering and Portugal has a positive tax situation for buyers. We've seen prices rise by five to 10 per cent over the past three years and in the past month sold 40 units at Amendoeira to buyers from northern Europe."
Close to the attractive marina and restaurants of Lagos, Oceanico's beachfront Belmar resort is more compact, with 189 studios, apartments and townhouses, many with generous roof terraces. Current rental returns in this popular resort can reach 8.3 per cent net of all running costs. Studios of 430 sq ft start from £91,000, with one bedroom apartments from £112,250 and two-bedroom properties from £140,500. Facilities include an Elemis spa, five pools and a restaurant.
PRIME CENTRAL ALGARVE
The Golden Triangle centred on the prime golfing resort of Quinta do Lago has very different property prices. Quinta do Lago is only three miles long and one mile wide, yet prices can rival the south of France, says Alison Buechner Hojbjerg of Quinta Properties. "Quinta do Lago is not Portugal," she adds. "In the recession sales slowed, but prices didn't fall significantly and today they are higher than ever."
At the entrance to Quinta do Lago, The Keys shows what is available at the top of the market. It has 72 newly completed top-quality apartments and villas set around a man-made lake.
These homes come with high price tags — three-bedroom apartments over 5,382 sq ft with palatial roof terraces and swimming pools are £1,768,000.
"Demand for top-quality rentals in Quinta do Lago easily exceeds supply," says Robert Brand, of Golden Triangle Properties. "Weekly rents range from £4,200 to £17,500, with a growing demand for serviced living."
Savills: savills.com/oceanico (020 7016 3740)
Quinta Properties: quintaproperty.com
The Keys: thekeysatquinta.com (+351 289 007 853)
Golden Triangle Properties: goldentriangleproperties.com