With its award-winning marina, five golf courses, luxurious hotels and countless activities, Vilamoura is the heart of the region
Vilamoura has it all! It is a fact. Considered the largest private resort in Europe with around 1,700 hectares of land, it boasts an award-winning marina, stunning beaches, five internationally renowned golf courses that attract golfers year-round and a wide range of luxury hotels, villas and apartments.
This all-inclusive resort, just 25 minutes away from Faro International Airport, is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the beating heart of the region’s tourist activity.
“If by ‘heart’ you mean the best location, the largest cohesively planned area dedicated to tourism and leisure and a place bustling with possibilities, then yes, for sure,” exclaims Pedro Reimão, board member of Vilamoura World, the master developer who manages the marina, beaches, and grounds of the resort.
“More and more people moving to Vilamoura come in search of the marina and the golf courses, but also more than that. They seek community spirit, a year-round bustling scene with restaurants, beach bars, and social events. There is also more interest in sports such as sailing, running, walking, cycling, more holistic wellbeing and reconnecting with nature.”
For Pedro Reimão, “Vilamoura is an exceptional destination in the Algarve to visit, live and invest in. You have a worldwide top-class marina surrounded by restaurants, bars, hotels, shops and even a casino, but also carefully landscaped public areas, a nature park, a 2km beachfront, several sports centres and the largest concentration of golf courses in the Algarve. An exceptional all-year-round experience where no days are alike.”
The resort’s five lush golf courses have established themselves as major attractions, one of which, the Victoria Course, has been the host venue of the Portugal Masters since 2007. If you are not a sailor or a golfer, there are plenty of other events to look forward to: Vilamoura’s unique riding centre hosts annual show jumping competitions such as the Vilamoura Champions Tour; the Tennis Academy organises several tennis and paddle championships; and other social events, such as concerts and exhibitions, are hosted at the marina.
This incredible mix of attractions appeals to a varied audience. “From retired couples looking to settle in one of the safest and best places to live in Europe, through younger families with kids hoping to get the best available education and resort lifestyle, and right to digital nomads working on worldwide projects from the most relaxing, yet accessible destination,” says Reimão, who, on top of the usual traditional markets – UK, Ireland and Portugal – has noticed an increased interest from the US and the rest of Europe. “They all come looking for that unusual mix unique to Vilamoura, and we are building the experiences, hotel accommodation and real estate products to keep them coming and own a property in Vilamoura.”
Whatever your budget, if you are looking to stay, rent or buy in Vilamoura, you will be spoiled for choice. The accommodation on offer ranges from rental apartments and luxury villas to five-star hotels with a view of the marina, manicured gardens or a golf course.
For short stays, the Hilton Vilamoura As Cascatas, located next to The Old Course, is the ideal destination for golfers and business tourists, as it boasts a 1,000sqm conference centre. It is a versatile hotel, which “also has the largest and best-equipped spa in Portugal, which attracts the health and wellness segment”, says general manager Mário Custódio.
“Vilamoura is in itself a very complete destination”, he says, adding that “throughout its almost 60 years of existence, Vilamoura has been adapting to [visitors’ and residents’] needs and growing according to demand”.
Down by the marina, the Domes Lake Resort Algarve’s primary focus are families with children of all ages. “Our Kiepos Kids Club is a very strong asset for us, as is our sand pool, unique in the region, together with a year-round heated outdoor pool,” admits general manager João Jesus. But Domes Lake is also looking to attract another type of clientele.
On top of its excellent and varied gastronomic offer, the hotel will soon “have a great novelty, a new pool for adults”, explains João Jesus. “We want to offer a differentiated service for adult customers only”, featuring a wellness area, an outdoor gym and a dining area.
When first moving to the region, to get a feel for it, the best option is to rent. Private International Real Estate, a leading rental agency in the area, reveals that the majority of its clients essentially come to the region for its tax benefits and the ease of obtaining residence visas. Of course, “the climate, the security and the fact that the Portuguese are affable and welcoming people” also play a big part in their decision, says Sílvia Pereira, CEO of the agency.
Families with children look for “detached villas with ample indoor and outdoor spaces, pool and garden, preferably with sea views or surrounded by nature, and close to international schools”, she points out. Whilst retirees wanting to make the most of the tax regimes “look for more central apartments, close to the golf courses and beaches”. The region being so popular, Sílvia admits that “currently, the demand for real estate is greater than the supply, which has led to a considerable increase in rents”.
Once you have decided to settle in one of Europe’s most prestigious and appreciated tourist destinations, you will be looking to buy. According to Cristina Santos, managing partner of the Engel & Volkers Vilamoura, Albufeira and Carvoeiro agencies, Vilamoura is “known for its excellent infrastructures and has always maintained an urbanistically organised growth”. She also believes that significant residential and tourist growth is expected in the coming years “as we continue to see a massive demand for the resort”.
“Vilamoura is also seeing significant investment in second homes and primary residences by national and international buyers. This investment is sought by people in the prime of their active life, some of them with professions that allow them to work remotely, such as digital nomads, but also by people who are of pre-retirement age or even already retired”, explains Cristina, who believes that “investing in Vilamoura is investing in quality of life”.
Most of Engel & Völkers Vilamoura’s purchasing clients are looking for “new builds in well-located developments that offer high-standard construction and finishes, efficient layouts with good surfaces, both apartments and semi-detached villas, never forgetting the importance of generous outdoor spaces. Whether they are new or used properties, the quality of the condominiums is also an important requirement”, said Cristina Santos.
Many of Engel & Völkers Vilamoura’s clients look for well-located detached villas with extensive gardens offering privacy. “There is demand for new housing, but also for used housing for custom rehabilitation. And a few still look for plots of land to build detached houses,” Cristina Santos adds.
As for the future of Vilamoura, it is bright. As sustainability becomes a growing concern for residents and new buyers, so is does too for Vilamoura World. “Our commitment to sustainability linked with the marina, Real Estate and the Vilamoura destination is also a big draw,” says Pedro Reimão. Vilamoura’s Renewable Energy Community will feature 60,000sqm of photovoltaic panels by 2035, providing electricity to 15,000 families in the resort. “This is something that people value and support – being increasingly serious about how we care for our immediate environment.”
Vilamoura World has several new projects in the pipeline that will be revealed in the upcoming months and years. On top of Vilamoura Parque, a real estate project that is already about 60% sold, it is launching two new projects soon: Natura Village and The Nine.
Pedro Reimão also reveals they are already looking into developing new community amenities and facilities throughout the destination, “such as a high-performance sports centre and a renovated nature park with new walking and running paths. Building a real sense of community is key with the right mix of social events and experiences. Everything contributing to creating an extraordinary location to visit, invest and ultimately live in”.
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