Portugal crowned world’s best golf destination, adding to its property appeal

Portugal has been awarded the title of World’s Best Golf Destination at the first ever World Golf Awards, hosted in November at the Conrad Algarve.

A global initiative to recognise and celebrate excellence in the golf hospitality industry, the Awards also saw Quinta do Lago’s newly renovated North Course crowned Europe’s Best New Golf Course.

In the country specific category, Quinto do Lago’s South Course was named Portugal’s best golf course and Vidago Palace, in the north near Porto, as its best golf hotel. This collection of awards make Portugal especially appealing to anyone looking for a golf property somewhere sunny, and is encouraging for existing owners of Portuguese property.

Elsewhere, St Andrews Links – Old Course was recognised as the World’s Best Golf Course, while The Els Club Teluk Datai was awarded the honour of World’s Best New Golf Course.

The presentation of the awards, at a gala dinner hosted by renowned sports journalist Steve Rider, was the centrepiece of a three-day itinerary for the event, which saw guests enjoy some of the world-class facilities on offer at the famous Quinta do Lago Resort. Everything from a chauffeur driven airport pick-up, to a full 18-holes of golf on both the Friday and Saturday was on offer.

Among the highlights was a chance to play on the newly renovated Quinta do Lago North Course – a challenge for golfers of all standards set in a natural woodland setting of pine, gorse, heather and wild flowers.

Generating sustained media interest, Destination Golf Travel joined International New York Times, Bloomburg Businessweek, and CNBC in partnering with the event.

2014 hike in tourists to Portugal driven by British holidaymakers

The UK is spearheading a surge in tourist numbers to Portugal, proving that the Algarve remains a firm favourite with British holidaymakers, as well as owners of Portuguese property.

According to the president of the Portuguese Tourist Board, British visitors to Portugal grew by 15 per cent year-on-year between January and August 2014, reaching 142,000 visitors. Overall, foreign visitors for this period increased by 12 per cent year-on-year. It’s not only the Algarve that draws people to Portugal – Lisbon saw a 25 per cent rise in international visitors.

The Portuguese Tourist Board believes much of this growth is thanks to a shift in its marketing strategy, namely to move most of it on-line. Either way, it is good news for homeowners who let property in the Algarve – more interest in the regions should secure more holidaymakers who rent property.

This encouraging news signals a bumper year ahead for Portugal in terms of tourism, helped by no less than 600 new flights planned to the country throughout 2015. These include 350 new services from British Airways – mainly to the Algarve, Madeira and the north of Portugal – as well as easyJet, Norwegian, Flybe and Thomson.

Meanwhile, national carrier TAP Portugal announced at the recent World Travel Market exhibition that it is increasing the frequency of its Lisbon service from the UK next year. From summer 2015, TAP will operate 10 flights a week each from Manchester and London Gatwick to Lisbon.

TAP will also launch four new destinations in South and Central America, namely Manaus and Belém in Brazil, Bogota in Colombia and Panama City.

It’s tee time at Quinta do Lago’s stunning new golf course!

Big news amongst golfers in the Algarve this month is the opening of Quinta do Lago’s new North Course, on 7th October.

The course has been totally redesigned by renowned American architect Beau Welling, in collaboration with Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, with the revamp costing around €9.6million. It also reinforces why Quinta do Lago is one of the most desirable places to own property in the Algarve.

The new North Course has been redeveloped with the emphasis firmly on precision and strategy. While many modern-day developments tend to focus on length, Welling and McGinley were keen to design a golfing experience where accuracy and course management are the key factors, as well as make the course playable and fun for golfers of all abilities.

All greens, tees, bunkers, irrigation, drainage systems and cart paths have been rebuilt using the latest state-of-the-art technology, with multiple sets of tees introduced on each hole to accommodate players of all levels and a new all-encompassing short game area.

While the routing of the course has not changed, Quinta do Lago has addressed golf course strategy to make the par-72 layout significantly more playable for all golfers, while still being a challenging test for the better players.

McGinley said: “I’ve been coming to Quinta do Lago with my family for many years now and it keeps getting better and better. The new design will test golfers in many different ways and I believe this is a great addition to Europe’s leading destination.”

And John Dwyer, chief executive of Quinta do Lago, commented: “I think people will be blown away by the North Course. It is going to be very different but very playable and a real challenge, and it will be one that members and visitors will want to play again and again.”

International golf spotlight shines on the Algarve for Portugal Masters

With the Ryder Cup done and dusted, golf fans around the world can now switch their attention from Scotland to Portugal for the Portugal Masters, which takes place in the Algarve 9th-12th October.

The tournament will take place at the Oceanico Victoria Golf Course, an Arnold Palmer course in the resort of Vilamoura, close to Faro Airport and a popular place to own property in the Algarve.

The Oceanico Victoria, which covers around 90 hectares, is Portugal’s most recent golf course project in Portugal and described as one of the most sophisticated golf courses in Europe. Several lakes, occupying 13 hectares, provide mirrors of water and strategic reservoirs for irrigation.

The course has five or six tees per hole; wide, undulating fairways; extensive water hazards and cleverly positioned bunkers. In addition there is an exceptional driving range and a 2,500-square-metre putting. Oceanico Victoria was host to the PGA World Cup in 2005.

Property in Vilamoura is sought after, thanks to the area’s world-class golfing facilities, the resort’s marina with selection of bars and restaurants and its balmy year-round climate. The Portugal Masters will put the area in the global spotlight and showcase the best of Portugal’s golf facilities, as well as what’s available in the Portuguese real estate market.

At the Portugal Masters 2013, Scotland’s Scott Jamieson had spectators on a knife edge at the 18th when he came close to becoming the first player to score a sub-60 on the European Tour – unfortunately his chip stayed out.

The Algarve chosen as training ground for England’s future golf heroes!

Confirming the Algarve’s reputation as one of the best places in the world to play golf, England Golf, the governing body for all amateur golf in the UK, has announced that Quinta do Lago is to become the new winter training base for its national squads.

In a four-year partnership, the England Golf squads for men, ladies, boys and girls will stay at Quinta do Lago and have access to the resort’s South and North courses, the driving range and practice facilities, including the resort’s Paul McGinley Academy, and the new TaylorMade Fitting Center.

David Joy, chief executive of England Golf, said: “We are delighted to have Quinta do Lago as our partner. Their facilities are outstanding and having access to these during the winter period will bring real benefits to our performance programme and I am sure be appreciated by our squads.
“This relationship will make a great contribution to the identification and development of our most talented golfers and our ambition to achieve even more international success for English players.”

Quinta do Lago has become one of Europe’s most highly regarded golf and residential developments since opening in 1972. It is home to some of the most desirable property in Portugal, with luxury villas there attracting celebrity owner.

Since its creation, the resort has been at the forefront of golf in the Algarve with three 18-hole championship courses. This autumn the North Course will reopen as part of a €29million investment in the resort’s facilities.

John Dywer, chief executive at Quinta do Lago, commented: “Quinta do Lago is delighted to be partnering with England Golf on this new project and we’re looking forward to welcoming England’s new crop of stars to the resort over the next four years. We have undertaken a significant upgrade of our golf course and teaching facilities over the last five years and this new association is a ringing endorsement for all the hard work that has taken place to make the resort one of Europe’s top sports and leisure destinations.”

Portuguese property driving the UK’s second home market in 2014

Portugal is proving is to be one of the most popular overseas destinations with British second homebuyers in 2014, according to two recent independent indexes.

Property portals the Overseas Guides Company and the Move Channel have both seen huge surges in interest in property in the Algarve this summer, with Portugal’s popular coastline stealing the limelight from Spanish and French hot spots.

“After climbing into third place in July 2014 for the first time since November 2013, Portuguese property’s popularity climbed even higher last month [August],” said the Move Channel. “In real terms, enquiries surged 32 per cent from July to hit a nine-month high, enough to see Portugal overtake Spain and rise into second place.”

The Algarve and Lisbon continue to drive activity, said the Move Channel, but Portugal’s improvement was broad, as buyer interest spread across the country. Costa Verde led the increase with enquiries soaring 500 per cent month-on-month, followed by Braga (400 per cent), Porto (380 per cent), Costa de Prata (340 per cent), Aveiro (200 per cent), Guardia (100 per cent), Madeira (50 per cent), the Algarve (35 per cent) and Leiria (16 per cent). Only six regions in the country saw enquiries decline between July and August 2014.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Overseas Guides Company said that Portugal’s popularity notched up a hefty 60 per cent hike during the second quarter, compared with the first quarter of 2014, as well as a staggering 69 per cent increase when compared to the second quarter of 2013 – higher than any growth recorded by France or Spain.

“With the summer season upon us, the Pound staying strong and more confidence in the UK economy generally, I’d expect a surge in holidaymakers to make a return visit to their holiday resort to look at properties come the autumn,” said a spokesman for the portal.