As Quinta do Lago celebrates its 50th anniversary, a new reality has emerged in super-prime real estate on the resort
The last few years have seen Quinta do Lago mature as a destination for private real estate investment to a level that few would have thought possible here in the Algarve. Just a few years ago, the most expensive properties were changing hands for around €10 million, but today there is a new trend of super high-end properties that can reach values of €20 million or more. These are properties that very rarely find their way onto the market, and when they do come up for sale, they tend to be very discreetly marketed.
Such villas tend to have a build area of at least 1,000m2, six or seven bedrooms, indoor and outdoor pools and all other bells and whistles associated with the world’s most luxurious modern homes. They are built with no expense spared and valuations have now reached and even surpassed €20,000 per square metre. These are the highest real estate prices ever recorded in Portugal but they do not seem expensive when compared to some of the other prime locations in southern Europe.
Those in the market for these properties still, therefore, see Quinta do Lago’s most expensive real estate as a good investment. I started researching this article following a chat with an estate agent in the western Algarve who recently had a client fly in from some far-flung corner of the world to view a villa priced at around €10 million. The client had never set foot in the Algarve before but had set his mind on buying a very special family home here. He was suitably impressed with what he saw but did not feel that the west Algarve was right for his family, so the agent decided to show him Quinta do Lago. He fell in love with the resort but quickly realised that his original budget of €10 million was not going to buy what he wanted, so he decided to double it and eventually found what he was looking for.
It was this unlikely but true story that found me sitting in the Quinta do Lago boardroom chatting with CEO Sean Moriarty to try and understand just how the resort has reached such lofty heights and what we can expect moving forward.
“The owners and buyers of these properties are very private people,” says Sean. “Everything is built around trust and relationships, and I sometimes have people approaching me personally as the CEO. This could be an owner saying that if we have the right person looking to buy they may consider selling or a very serious buyer, someone who has been visiting Quinta for many years and has long had their eye on a specific property that is not even for sale, and we can be looking at properties worth upwards of €30 million in some cases but the owners are simply not interested in selling.”
Sean goes on to explain how the current reality relates to the original masterplan developed 50 years ago. “For many years, there was talk of what Quinta do Lago was going to be and now of what it has become and what it is going to continue to be, and there is a widely invested belief in this. We are on the Ria Formosa, it is low density, but it is also about year-on-year investment by the owners. This is not only in the golf courses but, every year, millions have been pumped into improving and updating Quinta do Lago. If we look around Europe, many of the resorts in great locations were taken over by hedge funds or had problems with banks. It is this on-going investment that has brought the market up here.”
I asked Sean about the resort’s buyer markets and he confirms that the UK is still the strongest, followed by Ireland. But, like elsewhere in the Algarve, it is becoming more international, with Holland and Germany being strong portion and the USA fast emerging as an important new market. And as for the age of buyers, he confirms that, these days, 80% are aged between 45 and 50, so a far younger demographic than in the past, and many of these buyers are looking for the most expensive properties.
These people are typically attracted by the healthy lifestyle offered by Quinta do Lago, and Sean has no doubts about the importance The Campus plays in this. “This has been the biggest game-changer for us when it comes to real estate and a destination driver within itself. We regularly have football teams visit from around the world and these are people who would never have otherwise heard of Quinta do Lago,” says Sean.
There is no doubt that the facilities offered at The Campus, which include padel and tennis courts, cycling, swimming and fitness training, are a big attraction that has also contributed to the increase in demand for high-end holiday rentals, with some villas in Quinta do Lago renting for over €40,000 per week in the peak season.
These properties that command the highest prices, be they for rental or sale, are invariably custom-designed homes for clients who have either purchased an older villa and demolished it or acquired one of the few remaining virgin plots on the estate. To find out what these clients at the top-end of the market are looking for, I spoke with two of the leading architects who have been commissioned for some of these projects.
According to architect João Cabrita, his clients’ wishlists have been evolving over the years. “People are looking for a lifestyle that is ever more immersive with nature,” he says. “And with all of the technology that is now available for smart homes and sustainable living.” His clients want their properties to include the likes of spas, gyms, home media rooms and bars, and he says that, more than ever, privacy is a major consideration: “Quinta do Lago by nature is a private resort for private people, and privacy goes hand-in-hand with security. We are developing some projects in front-line locations and we always endeavour to find the right balance between privacy and visibility.”
For German architect Jutta Hoehn, sustainability is at the forefront of most new projects she is creating. One in particular is a standout design on a lakefront plot in the Monte Golfe area, which is a totally zero-emissions house with a bio-solar roof and everything recyclable. Like most of the new high-end builds, this is around 800m2 of construction, including 400m2 of basement area plus covered terraces, bringing the total area up to around 1,000m2. This is in keeping with planning regulations that allow for a footprint of 20% of the plot.
Jutta also points out the importance of working with Portuguese manufacturers and craftsmen as much as possible. “Some things we need to import, such as the highest quality stone from Italy,” she says, “but we have great people working here in Portugal and great products.” She speaks fondly of a young engineering company in Porto that has devised a system for home elevators that work magnetically without a shaft on the roof and with no cables, something that can actually add to the architectural appeal of a property and which she is using on all of her new projects giving access to the roof terrace.
Quinta do Lago is now more attractive for real estate investment than ever before
The work of these and other architects, the confidence of the private investors behind the projects and the on-going commitment of the master developer combine to make Quinta do Lago more attractive as a destination for real estate investment than ever before.
None of this, however, would have happened without the vision of André Jordan, who I asked to write a few words for us:
“Standing on the hilltop which is today the site of the restaurants Casa Velha and Bovino and looking at the ocean, the dunes and the Ria Formosa on the left, and on the right, the rolling pinewoods ideal for a golf course and in front below was a depression on the ground in which I saw the possibility of creating a lake… I did not imagine that 50 years on it would become one of the most prominent and loved resorts in Portugal and the world. Our style of elegant simplicity, informality, discretion and quality is a matter of pride and also gratitude to the present owners and management, the clients and generations of men and women that have served the company and the community well, and the local and national authorities for their support.”