Lifestyle & Resorts – Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo, Vilamoura
When you purchase a property in the Algarve – be it a “lock up and leave” apartment or a luxurious villa to enjoy all year round – you are buying more than bricks and mortar. You are buying the enviable lifestyle that makes the Algarve the destination of choice for the most discerning of globe-trotters.
Many people who buy properties in the region come here first of all as holiday-makers, either relaxing on the silky-soft sand beaches or enjoying the challenges of some of the world-class gold courses. That first taste of the laid-back lifestyle, the fabulous food and award-winning Portuguese wines, when sampled under the warmth of the year-round sunshine, invariably brings people back for more … and more.
The delightful discovery they make when they have made the move and settled here is that it is just as wonderful to live here as it is to holiday here!
For beach-lovers, the choice is an endless as the beaches themselves. From the dunes and islands in the Eastern Algarve to the rocky coves and sweeping bays in the west, with the landmark redstone cliffs along the way, there is always space to stretch out and soak up the sun.
For golf-lovers, there are more than 40 9- and 18-hole courses to play, spread across the Algarve. It’s hard to believe that the first ever golf course in the Algarve was designed by Sir Henry Cotton in 1966. That was the Championship Course at Penina in the west, and since then many world-class golf architects have made their mark in the region.
For lovers of food and wine – the Algarve is your oyster! The region’s extensive menu features five Michelin star restaurants and scores of beach-side eateries where fresh fish, plain grilled with a simple side salad is the choice of the day. You can enjoy international cuisine too – the best of real Greek, Italian and French cooking alongside Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese and more.
Portugal’s wine-making tradition dates back to Roman times and the country is proud to have retained many of its indigenous grape varieties at a time when other, bigger, wine-producing countries jumped onto the mass market bandwagon of Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz and Chardonnay. The new generations of wine-makers are taking full advantage of these native varieties to produce top-quality wines – even in the Algarve.
And for nature lovers – there is so much to explore and enjoy. The Ria Formosa is a UNESCO bird sanctuary: taking a gentle boat ride through the shallow waters reveals an amazing array of land- and water birds at close range. The sheer beauty of the countryside, just a few miles inland from the coast, is a photographer’s delight. Little hamlets with clusters of whitewashed cottages, doors and windows bordered in traditional blue paint (to keep the devil away); orchards of almond trees with their delicate white and pink blossom that heralds the first signs of Spring; the cork oaks, whose acorns feed the livestock and whose bark is stripped every nine years to produce such a valuable crop. Away from the immaculate golf greens and manicured lawns of the resorts, you can enjoy Nature at its natural best and still capture a glimpse of that old way of life.
But the Algarve also enjoys all the mod cons including high-tech, sophisticated communications systems so that you can keep in touch or do a full day’s work while sitting on the terrace of your villa in the sun. And as Faro International Airport is less than three hours’ flying time from most European airports – it is easy to enjoy long weekends, or to commute on a regular basis if need be.
QUINTA DO LAGO
Extending over some 800 acres and embracing the Ria Formosa UNESCO Bird Sanctuary, Quinta do Lago is one of Europe’s most exclusive resorts. From its inception in the early 1970s, the focus has always been on quality and protection of the environment. Today the level and type of construction is controlled by the officially-approved General Plan which limits density to just 8%.
You have a variety of properties to choose from – practical apartments or townhouses, ideal for holidays or for rentals; and villas in all shapes, sizes and styles! You might like the more traditional architecture that draws on Portuguese manor houses. Or perhaps you prefer more contemporary styling? Or even a home that has been designed to be environmentally-friendly? You’ll find something of everything in Quinta do Lago, all set within landscaped gardens and public areas. Security, property management and concierge services all help to make your life easier and provide you with peace of mind.
Quinta do Lago and its golf courses regularly win international awards. The Golfer Travel Awards 2015 named it Portugal’s Best Golf Resort, while the World Golf Awards of 2014 named the North Course Europe’s Best New Golf Course and the South Course picked up the prize as Portugal’s Best Golf Course.
The beaches are beautiful, reached by the iconic wooden bridge across the crystal-clear waters of the Ria Formosa. And at the end of that bridge is where you’ll find Gigi’s, the fresh fish restaurant so loved by residents and celebrity visitors alike. Casa do Lago enjoys fabulous views across the lakes that give the resort its name, while on higher ground Casa do Lago occupies the old original farmhouse. And there are plenty of other eateries in and around Quinta do Lago too – some within Quinta Shopping and Buganvilia Plaza, others nestling in the surrounding countryside.
Quinta Shopping is the meeting place for Quinta do Lago – a beautiful plaza-style mall with fashionable designer boutiques surrounding coffee shops, restaurants – and even pubs – for all tastes.
VALE DO LOBO
It was Sir Richard Costain who first saw the potential of the area now known as Vale do Lobo and in 1962 began to develop the cliff-top resort that now ranks among the most luxurious anywhere in Europe. Vale do Lobo now defines itself as “the largest luxury resort of its kind in Portugal operated by the same company” – and who are we to argue with such a precise definition?
Golf has been at the heart of Vale do Lobo since those early days and the famous Royal and Ocean courses are as popular as ever, providing technical challenges and stunning views for players of all standards, including the most famous hole of all where the player has to hit across a crevice in the landmark redstone cliffs.
The Vale do Lobo Tennis Centre regularly hosts high-profile events attracting top names from the international rankings. The playing and coaching facilities there are very popular with visitors and residents alike.
Overlooking the ocean, the main square at Vale do Lobo known as the Praça, is home to a variety of shops and restaurants and is the focus of the resort’s well-known nightlife, especially in the summer season.
Properties within Vale do Lobo range from modern apartments and townhouses to older-style homes as well as up-to-the-minute contemporary architecture in individually-designed luxury villas for those who are drawn by the location, the facilities and the support services such as security, property management and concierge services.
Just a stone’s throw west of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, alongside the traditional old fishing village of Quarteira, is Vilamoura, almost a small town in its own right. Its strategic location made it the ideal location for a marina and it was in 1974 that João Miereles started work to create the original marina. Today it is the largest marina in Portugal, with some 1000 berths and a host of modern technical support services for boats and crew alike.
The marina is at the heart of Vilamoura, and all around it are the sports and leisure facilities that make it such a popular destination. Shops and designer boutiques, bars and restaurants jostle around the the promenade. The international casino, complete with gaming tables, is a few mintues’ stroll from the marina, as are a cluster of hotels, the cinema and some nightclubs that ensure there is always something happening!
Vilamoura boats five top-quality golf courses, owned and run by Oceanico Group, providing variety and different challenges to players of all standards. The Victoria Course, designed by Arnold Palmer, has hosted the Portugal Open, while the Old Course is affectionately known as the “Grande Dame”.
Like Quinta do Lago, Vilamoura is proud of its environmental policy and the Nature Reserve allows visitors to view a variety of birds and wildlife in their natural habitat.
There has long been an equestrian centre in Vilamoura and nowadays it is home to regular international events, attracting top riders and horses from around the globe for jumping and dressage competitions.
Properties in Vilamoura range from the older-style original apartments, townhouses and villas to their more modern counterparts. You can enjoy ocean views from an apartment in the marina, or choose a larger luxury villa inland. With its own International School as well as a full range of shops, services and medical facilities. Vilamoura is a popular choice for families looking for their dream home in the sun.