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.

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.

Western Algarve resort surfs up a treat away from the golf course!

Resorts in the central and western Algarve are famous for world-class golf, but head west and one resort is making a name around the world for another activity – surfing.

The 100-acre Martinhal Beach Resort in Sagres is the first 5-star surf destination in Portugal. Surrounded by the Costa Vicentina National Park, it has been recognized as a surf hot spot in Europe, even in the winter months thanks to the Algarve’s balmy year-round climate.

Sagres is becoming recognized as one of the best surf spots, offering both south and west-facing coastlines and providing fine surf conditions for all surfer levels, regardless of the swell and wind direction. There are 22 beaches within a 30-minute drive from the resort. For beginners, the best beaches are Castelejo, Amado, Carrapateira and Arrifana, while more experienced surfers can enjoy beaches at Ponta Ruiva, Cordoama and Vale Figueiras.

Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel offers surf adventures for all the family. Experienced surfer instructors provide surf lessons on a daily basis for different ages and skills, keeping everyone focused on catching the best wave. During the lessons, kids and adults will learn about surf safety information, ocean awareness and different surf techniques needed to stand on the board. All the necessary equipment is included.

The resort features a 37 bedroom 5-star hotel and a selection of more than 150 spacious 1 to 5 bedroom Villages, 4 heated pools, gym, Spa with Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, tennis courts, kids clubs, 3 restaurants and a family surf bar.

For residents or owners of property on the Algarve, learning to surf at Martinhal could make an exciting break away from the golf course.

Ryanair flying high with more flights and plans to become No.1 in Portugal

Holidaymakers and homeowners in Portugal may soon find themselves flying more frequently with low-cost airline Ryanair, after the carrier confirmed in June its ambition to become Portugal’s largest airline operator.

The bold plans were higlighted by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary at the same time as the carrier announced new winter routes, which will connect Lisbon with Bremen, Eindhoven, Milan and Rome, and Porto with Bremen and Brussels. Meanwhile the frequency of flights between Lisbon and both London and Brussels is expected to be boosted.

“We’re the second biggest [airline] in Lisbon and we’re already leading in Porto and Faro”, Michael O’Leary told the press, adding that over the next three or four years, “working together with ANA [the airports authority], we will be able to become the number one airline in Portugal”.

Meanwhile, there are no signs that Ryanair will resurrect its service between Lisbon and Faro – evidence suggests that travellers between the two cities are just as happy using the motorway.

In other Ryanair news that should benefit families travelling to Portugal, including those with property in the Algarve, the airline has launched its new Family Extra scheme. A spokesperson explained: “Families booking with Ryanair can now avail of discounted seating, baggage and insurance for children, a reduced infant fee and 5kg infant bag allowance, bottle warming and changing facilities on board, bring two free pieces of infant equipment, and can bring a car seat on board when they book a seat. And with our Fly & Save bonus, families who fly twice with Family Extra can enjoy 20 per cent off their third flight booking.”

Algarve to welcome global golfing industry for launch of new awards

The Algarve has been chosen to host the first ever World Golf Awards, an international event launched this year to celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism, world class courses and golf destinations.

The inaugural ceremony for the World Golf Awards will take place from November 14th-16th at the Conrad Algarve in Quinta do Lago, when the three-day sporting extravaganza will welcome industry leaders from around the globe.

Conrad Algarve is one of the most modern five-star hotels in the region and exemplifies all that Quinta do Lago stands for, from the world-class spa to the five restaurants and bars. Quinta do Lago is one of the most desirable places to own property in the Algarve.

The awards ceremony on Saturday November 15th will form the centre-piece of the Awards, when guests will be able to enjoy some of the world-class facilities on offer at Quinta do Lago. Everything from a chauffeur driven airport pick-up, to a full 18-holes of golf on both the Friday and Saturday will be included in the weekend package. Among the highlights will be 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.

Golf resorts, hotels, tour operators and destinations are currently being urged to submit nominations for the inaugural World Golf Awards, with voting set to open on June 20th.

Ahead of the event World Golf Awards, chief executive Chris Frost said: “What better location for us to host our inaugural Gala Ceremony than in the Algarve, one of the finest sports tourism destinations in the world, and what better location than the Conrad Algarve? Open for just over a year, the property has already established itself as an industry leader and it will be an honour for us to welcome our nominees to the hotel in November.”

Quinta do Lago Chief Executive John Dwyer also expressed his support for the event, saying: “It is a very exciting time at Quinta do Lago; significant recent investments have ensured the resort remains the freshest, most family-friendly venue on the Algarve. With a wide range of new packages designed to suit everybody’s requirements and a series of summer events to excite young and old, including the re-launch of our remodelled North Course, there’s never been a better time to visit the resort.”

Algarve named top holiday destination – and Vilamoura, Lagos and Albufeira rental hot spots

The Algarve has been ranked fifth best holiday destination for 2014 by a leading holiday rentals agency, which said the region’s unrivalled mix of natural beauty, hospitality, sun-kissed climate and fabulous beaches has cemented its favour as one of the Med’s foremost destinations for visitors from Britain and across Europe.

To help property-buyers looking for a lettable holiday home, the agency has highlighted three hot spots and property rentals in the Algarve.

One of the Algarve’s most prestigious and popular resorts, Vilamoura is perfect for golfers, families and couples. Beyond its two excellent beaches and stunning marina, Vilamoura offers sufficient entertainment, activities, shops, bars and restaurants to provide the perfect holiday. A fully-equipped private villa with pool (sleeps 8), just minutes away from the marina, beach and town, rents from £859 to £1,612 per week.

A former fishing port turned lively and popular resort, picturesque Albufeira is a charming blend of historic cobbled streets and traditional architecture and all of the attractions and facilities expected of a thoroughly modern and enjoyable family holiday resort. A family apartment (sleeps 6) on a popular resort complex with pools and entertainments a short distance from Albufeira’s shopping centre, restaurants and beaches, rents from £210 to £690 per week.

Within its sixteenth-century town walls, this historic and beautiful town is renowned for its restaurants, modern marina, fabulous beaches and vibrant nightlife. Suitable for holidaymakers of all ages, Lagos offers relaxation and plentiful entertainment for everyone. A luxury apartment (sleeps 4) with every modern amenity on a secure complex located minutes from the town centre, beaches, marina and one of the Algarve’s finest golf courses, rents from £340 to £695 per week.