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PROMOTION

LONGEVITY WELLNESS RESORT MONCHIQUE in a nutshell

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•Exclusive Eco-Friendly Resort •Unique Wellness approach with LONGEVITY Anti-Ageing Spa •Exclusive Partnership with La Clinique de Paris/ Dr. Claude Chauchard •Outdoor and Indoor Pools •Driving Range and Reduced Green Fees •Close to Golf and Beaches •Great Mountain and Coastal Views

ONGEVITY is delighted to announce that LONGEVITY WELLNESS RESORT MONCHIQUE has won the highest award in the Best Development category for Portugal, a five star badge by the highly prestigious CNBC Europe & Africa Property Awards (www. propertyawards.net). Organized in partnership with CNBC – the European leader in economic and financial information – and receiving hundreds of annual entries in all its different categories, the International Property Awards’ objective is to encourage excellence in the property industry worldwide, promoting an international standard of superior quality for the increasingly well informed and demanding global public. LONGEVITY WELLNESS RESORT MONCHIQUE is envisaged to become a unique resort in the Algarve due to its many distinctive features such as being located in a protected natural reserve with low construction density, near thermal waters, surrounded by hills with a superb coastal view, with Senior-Friendly features built in, and presenting a broad range of infrastructures and services.

•Great ROI Figures (Condo-Hotel model) •5% Rental Guarantee over the first 3 years •Prices from 200.000 Euros •Flexible Usage Scheme •Member of Interval International Network •Up to 80% Financing

One of the on-site facilities not to be missed is the first Longevity Anti-Ageing Spa offering a wide range of state-of-the-art services covering comprehensive diagnosis, repair and anti-ageing consultation and treatments in an exclusive partnership for Portugal with La Clinique de Paris/Dr. Claude Chauchard (www.lcdpi.net). Dr. Claude Chauchard is one of the world's top specialists in Preventive Medicine and AntiAgeing with over 30 years experience. He is the founder of the International Institute for Preventive Anti-Ageing Medicine and author of twelve books in the field of ageing process (over one million copies sold). According to Preventive Medicine, people should take medical advice when they are not sick, to find out about their health capital and maintain good health instead of focusing on the random distribution of diseases. Dr. Chauchard’s investigation can be summed up in one sentence: Live Longer, Live Better!

Sales Office: Monchique, Algarve - PORTUGAL | Phone: +351 289 315 270 | Mobile: +351 961 371 889 | lwrm@longevity.pt | www.longevitywellnessresort.com

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VISTA IBÉRICA Published bi-monthly by Vista Ibérica Publicações Lda, Portugal’s leading publisher of foreign language magazines. Publishers: Peter Daughtrey and Len Port Urb. Lagoa Sol, Lt 1-B, 8400-415 Lagoa. Portugal Tel.: +351 282 340660 • Fax: +351 282 343088 e-mail: info@vistaiberica.com website: www.vistaiberica.com Dep. Legal nº 127573/98. Instituto da Comunicação Social, reg. nº 221520 Publication nº 121521 Lisgráfica - Impressão e Artes Gráficas S.A. Casal de Sta. Leopoldina, 2730-053 Barcarena Distributed in the Algarve by VASP UK and Ireland Trade Distribution through Diamond Magazine Distribution Ltd., Rye Wharf Road, Rye • East Sussex TN31 7TE. Tel. +44 (0) 1797 225 229 Editor: Len Port Advertisement Sales Director: David Thursfield - 917 717 548 david@vistaiberica.com Advertisement enquiries: Vivienne Chinque - 916 164 302 (east of Albufeira & Spain) John Hill - 912 264 944 (Albufeira and west) Head of Production Christiane Hinrichs

Production Team Bianca Luig • Rui Candeias Financial Director: Rui Oliveira Accounts Manager: Vládia Hissa Administration: Louisa Fernandes The whole of the text and all of the photographs and illustrations in this publication are protected by copyright. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly forbidden. While every effort has been made to maintain integrity and check for accuracy, the publishers and distributors cannot be held responsible for any problems, inconvenience, loss, injury or legal proceedings of any kind arising from information, advice or advertisements contained herein.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY VISTA IBÉRICA

The magazine golf tourists continually use throughout their holidays.

The monthly magazine read by more foreign residents than any other local publication.

Free area magazines for tourists. Over a million readers annually.

Good reasons for optimisim in testing times


No one in the Algarve has been dismissing the gravity of the global financial situation or the knock-on effect it could have on the local property market and economy. At the same time, the focus of conversation here has not been on imminent “catastrophe”, “meltdown”, “the abyss”, or “Armageddon”. On the contrary, as we report in this issue, the Portuguese Government as well as business leaders have been emphasising the positives and getting on with the job rather than following the example of sections of the overseas media and wallowing in doom and gloom.

The refreshing optimism in and about Portugal in recent months has been supported by a statement from the International Monetary Fund confirming that Portugal’s financial system is “healthy and well supervised.” Rather than battening down the hatches as elsewhere, two more absolutely splendid golf resorts have been inaugurated in the Algarve since out last issue, and a world-class motor racing complex, one of the most ambitious and innovative private projects ever undertaken in the region, has just been completed right on schedule and to widespread acclaim.

As indicated in our Update section and also in the Viewpoint feature in this issue, there are sound reasons for believing that, through thick and thin, the Algarve will remain one of the foremost regions in Europe for property investment. It is true that we are not living in ordinary times. But then, as we keep reminding our readers, the Algarve is not an ordinary place. Len Port Editor len@vistaiberica.com www.vistaiberica.com

Parque da Floresta


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Inthisissue 10

46

24

28 38

50

46 50 56

56

UPDATE

Recent news and talking points in Portugal

VIEWPOINT

How is the financial crisis being felt here?

TOWN FOCUS

Albufeira, a fast-changing municipality

AREA FOCUS

Loulé, São Brás, Estoi and Santa Bárbara

GOLF PROPERTY

Castro Marim Golfe and Country Club

REFURBISHMENT

Turning a small hotel into a large home

SWIMMING POOLS

Proper maintenance for health and safety


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62 66 68 74

86 88

90

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Solar is an efficient way of saving money

FACT FILE

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Useful info about buying and living here

HOTELS

A selection of the best right across the region

PROPERTY LISTINGS

A wide choice of villas, townhouses and apartments

CLASSIFIEDS

More properties on offer, including private sales

DIRECTORY OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS DIRECTORY OF PROPERTY SERVICES

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UPDATE

Autodrome on fast track to success

With the spectacular launch on 2nd November of the ambitious and innovative Algarve Motor Park, tourism in the region is seen as entering previously uncharted territory with enormous potential. The €200 million private initiative comprises four different but complementary elements. The first is a circuit of the highest order to accommodate the fastest racing cars and motorbikes in the world. It is supported by all the safety, spectator and media facilities necessary for hosting top-class events

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such as the 2nd November final round of the World Superbike Championship. The second element is a technological park right next to the circuit that will be available to leading automotive and other companies for testing, research and development programmes. A karting track, suitable for competitive or ordinary pleasure use, forms part of a multifaceted sports complex. Further to all this is a tourist complex with a 200-room hotel and 160 apartments. They will provide short or long-term accommodation to

the many people, tourists as well as professionals, expected to use or visit the park. Marketing of the apartments is being handled by an Irish company, Harte Holdings, based in Cork. The Algarve Motor Park (Autódromo Internacional do Algarve) is being lauded as “historic” by the Portimão municipal council within whose area it is located, but it is expected to provide considerable direct and indirect economical benefits and to promote tourism over a very much wider area.


Ministers seek to calm financial fears As the financial turmoil escalated, Portugal’s Prime Minister, José Sócrates, went on television to assure the nation that deposits in Portuguese banks were safe and backed by state guarantees. Portugal’s Finance Minister, Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, said there were no signs whatsoever that the ongoing turbulence in

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international financial markets would spill over into Portugal. He said the authorities were continuing to monitor international and domestic events closely, but that the Portuguese financial system was proving very resilient. The Government is sticking to its plans to reduce the budget deficit to 1.5% of GDP next

year, from a 2.2% gap this year A report from the International Monetary Fund in October described the Portuguese financial system as “healthy and well supervised.” It praised the government’s efforts to simplify bureaucracy, as well as the robust state of the country’s exports.


New golf resorts inaugurated Two splendid new golf resorts, each associated with outstanding players turned course architects, were officially opened in October. Quinta doVale, located on a magnificent elevated site overlooking the Guadiana river that forms the natural border between the Algarve and the Spanish province of Andalusia, was designed by Seve Ballesteros. He modestly described it as “a challenging layout in a unique natural environment.” Nick Faldo and Christy O’Connor Jr are the architects behind the new Amendoeira

capital of the region. First phase construction (240 villas and apartments) is due to be completed by next April. By then, another 118 villas and 36 apartments should have started. All will be in a village-like arrangement rather than spread out around the fairways as in many other courses. Laranjal is surrounded by mature trees and shrubs rather than houses. Quinta do Lago, however, offers quality apartments and townhouses as well as sumptuous villas and is firmly established at the top end of the Algarve property market.

Amendoeira

Amendoeira Golf Resort, which is being developed by the Oceânico Group in a peaceful rural setting in the central Algarve. Yet another excellent course opened for play in October: the new 18-hole Laranjal layout nicely complements the North and South courses at Quinta do Lago. A marina is planned for down by the river at the bottom of Quinta do Vale. Up on the high ground with lovely panoramic views will be more than 60 luxury villas, ranging architecturally from colonial mansion in style to a more typical Mediterranean look. The architectural style of the homes over in the Amendoeira Resort is very much Moorish, in keeping with the history of the nearest town, Silves, once the Moorish 14

Quinta do Vale


British buyers are still very interested in buying properties abroad, according to Currencies Direct, one of Europe’s foreign exchange specialist, based in the City of London. After analyzing the number of foreign exchange transactions made by Britons in the first half of 2008, the company has found that Portugal is beginning to threaten the USA’s usual third spot in the league table. Britons are now considering safer options than the high-risk, quick-return emerging markets regions of 2007. Mark O’Sullivan, director of dealing at Currencies Direct, said: “Investors are now looking to established markets, whose appeal will remain consistent amongst expats and holidaymakers, guaranteeing a rental market for as long as Britons can afford to holiday abroad.” O’Sullivan thinks this might change. “When it comes to nurturing the steady growth of its property market, Portugal is learning from Spain’s mistakes and, as a result, has much stricter planning regulations in place. “This has ensured that new-build properties are coming on to the market steadily and that Portugal is not suffering from any of the planning irregularities its neighbour has endured in recent times.” Spain remains top of the Britons buying abroad table, followed by France, USA, Portugal, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Cyprus, Canada and New Zealand.

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Foto: Bianca Luig

Portugal increasingly popular for Britons buying abroad


Foto: Bianca Luig

Investors look to Portugal for quality

When it comes to buying a holiday home, “Portugal is synonymous with quality and British and Irish non-residents view the country as a good and solid investment,” said Simon Perks, Deputy General Manager of the London Branch of the Santander Totta bank during a recent visit to the Algarve. Residential property buyers are still looking for the quality and lifestyle provided by the exclusive brand of the Algarve, added Mr Perks. “Portugal presents itself as an exclusive country for property investors and our clients do like that.” He was here for meetings with local business partners as an expert for the 18

expanding non-resident market segment of Santander Totta. The London branch of the bank has been operating for 25 years, with the last 20 strongly focused on non-resident investors looking for properties abroad. While Santander Totta offer loans all over Portugal, 90% of their business is based in the Algarve. “When buying in Portugal,” said Mr Perks, “our British and Irish clients make their choice of quality of life. They know where and why to buy here after visiting the country several times on holidays.” Santander Totta had a “spectacular” year for mortgages for properties in Portugal in 2007. It has been tougher this year but the bank

is still offering a continuing service to borrowers, Mr Perks told a meeting that included representatives from leading Algarve developers, real estate agents, financial advisers, mortgage brokers and other property and finance related business men and women. Those attending the meeting were remarkably upbeat and positive about the future, indicating that the credit crunch was a ‘blip’ that occurs every now and then and would probably last around 18 months. Meanwhile, everyone should keep a presence in the marketplace and be ready for the turnaround when it comes.


Survey findings on second home buyers A survey focusing on the residential tourism market conducted this summer by the Lisbon-based travel and tourism consultancy ILM-THR concluded that 26% of those questioned at Faro Airport and in the central and eastern parts of the Algarve were staying in their own holiday accommodation. While the largest number (38%) were staying in hotels, 18% were renting accommodation and 14% were staying with family or friends. The survey concluded that 82% of owners did not consider purchasing their second home in parts of Portugal other than the Algarve, though 20% thought about Spain and 18% considered France, Italy and Greece. Just over 40% used savings to purchase their property. Of potential owners, 45% said they intended to rent out their property here. The majority (65%) indicated that their purchasing budget

was between €115,000 and €515,000. Nearly half (47%) indicated they would finance the purchase from savings. A mix of savings and credit would be used by about 16% of potential buyers. About 16% said they would need a mortgage. ILM-THR’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Coutts, said the voluminous findings and conclusions of the survey were the result of more than 4,000 questionnaires, targeting residential property owners and potential owners, carried out in June and July by well-trained interviewers seeking accurate and reliable responses. He presented the main results at a seminar on residential tourism in the Algarve organised by ILM-THR and the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. Ian Yeoman, Associate Professor of the University of Auckland, who calls himself the world’s only professional crystal ball gazer or ‘futurologist’ specialising in travel and tourism,

told those attending the seminar: “Tourism is robust in recession. The UK consumer still desires a holiday and will allocate a budget for this.” While we are living in what Prof. Yeoman described as an unpredictable world with volatile financial markets and changing consumer behaviour, the co-founder and director of the Oceânico Group, Gerry Fagan, emphasised the Algarve’s special appeal to second home buyers and holidaymakers from countries in Europe only two and a half hours flight time away. He called for greater joint efforts to promote the Algarve region abroad in these increasingly difficult and competitive times and urged the Portuguese Government and municipal councils to make it a more attractive place to invest by speeding up project planning applications.

State joins Microsoft in massive project The Portuguese Government together with Microsoft are pioneering an innovative scheme in which laptop computers are being mass produced for school children at a cost of just €50 each. Half a million of the ultra-cheap ´Magellan’ computers are to be turned out to boost education in Portuguese schools. The laptops are complemented by a software package called ‘Magellan Learning Suite’ specially devised by Microsoft. It includes Windows XP and Office in addition to development applications, free email and instant messaging. Exports to Latin American and African countries are envisaged. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has signed an agreement to buy a million Magellan laptops for Venezuelan schools. “This is a unique, amazing and wonderful programme on a global scale,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the launch 20

of the package. “It’s a great example to show how the private and public sectors can work together to create new opportunities.” Ballmer continued: “This is an important step forward for Portugal’s high-tech industry.” Portuguese Socialist Prime Minister José Sócrates has made boosting poor education standards and technology at schools a priority

of his government. The government hopes the Magellan project, named after the 16th century Portuguese explorer, will raise computer access at schools from five students per computer at present to two students per computer by 2010.


Foto: Bianca Luig

Offshore waves start producing electricity

The world’s first commercial power plant converting the energy of sea waves into electricity is now in operation off the coast of northwest Portugal. Three articulated steel cylinders moored to the seabed three miles offshore, each about the length of a nuclear submarine, are generating a total of 2.25 megawatts, enough to supply electricity to 1,500 households. The project is expected to be expanded nearly ten-fold over the next few years. “The future of wave energy starts today,” said Portugal’s Economy Minister, Manuel Pinho, at the launch ceremony. He spoke of this country’s determination to be a world leader in renewables. “We are among the top five in the world, and we are just in the beginning of the process. Renewable energy is the source of energy for the future and we think this can create an industrial revolution and a lot of opportunities for jobs and research. We want to be ahead of the curve,” said Pinho.

Private Eye on privacy According to Private Eye magazine, a legal firm wrote to editors in May last year warning them that to reveal the location of a house that had been recently purchased by the footballer Steven Gerrard and his partner Alex would breach their right to privacy under the human rights act. Private Eye went on to note that in September this year OK! Magazine featured a “WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Alex and Steven Gerrard exclusively invite OK! to their secret Portuguese mansion.” 21


Top investigators move premises WIS International, the leading business intelligence and investigation company in Portugal, has moved into a new office in Faro. The company has been operating in Portugal for over 16 years specialising in such areas as corporate risk and pre-litigation enquiries. It also has offices in Lisbon and in London and operates throughout Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Angola and the United Kingdom. Its debt collection department collects in 130 countries. WIS International also represents a number of well known trademarks in relation to counterfeit and piracy matters. Roy Whitehouse, the company’s CEO, said at the launch of its new premises: “We outgrew our office space in Boliqueime and

after a long search we found this office in Gambelas, opposite the Algarve University. “We had the office professionally designed by Mark Jones and it was set up in a manner which allowed us to reduce our paper consumption by 80 percent. Each work station was customised to suit the needs of the employees by concentrating on how they work individually and as part of a group. “By doing so, we’ve increased our productivity by 25 percent. A carefully thought-out design of the work space is well worth the effort in terms of overall cost savings and gained efficiency.” The full range of services provided for private and commercial client can be viewed on www.wis-intl.com

Irish property company opens office Irish property company Connolly Duignan Lynskey, which is based in Galway, has opened a new office in the Algarve “to accommodate the ongoing Irish love-affair with Portuguese property, as well as serving the steady demand from buyers from the UK and all over Europe.” All-Ireland hurlers Joe Connolly, Michael Duignan and Michael Lynskey launched their first joint venture last year with Palmyra, an exclusive development of luxury homes at the Vila Sol Spa and Golf Resort. 22

Working in conjunction with E3 Property, an international property investment company focused on development and renovation projects, Connolly, Duignan, Lynskey now have more developments planned in the area. Adriano Carapeto is the general manager in the new office in Bouganvilia Plaza, Quinta do Lago. He is a qualified lawyer with a degree from the State University of Lisbon and much experience in all aspects of the Portuguese property market.

Portugal rejects gay marriage Portugal’s Parliament voted by a large majority against proposals to allow same-sex marriages. Both the governing Socialist Party and the main opposition Social Democratic Party opposed legalising gay and lesbian marriages. The proposals came from two minor opposition parties, the Left Bloc and the Green Party, which argued that the Portuguese Constitution grants equal rights for all and protection against discrimination. But the Green Party collected only 17 votes in the 230-seat legislature, and the Left Bloc won the support of just 11 members of parliament in this predominately Roman Catholic country. The centre-left Socialist Party overcame strong opposition from the Catholic church to legalise abortion last year, saying it was part of the Portugal’s process of modernization. However, it insisted a change in the marriage law to recognise same-sex couples required a national debate. The Socialist Party said in a statement: “A change of this depth and complexity should be made only after a considered discussion and after broad support has built up for it in Portuguese society, inside and outside political parties, so that a clear and unequivocal political undertaking can be given.” An opinion poll published in the daily newspaper Jornal de Noticias on the day of the vote said 53 percent of those Portuguese who expressed an opinion opposed gay marriage and 42 percent supported it.


This year’s CNBC award winners The Longevity Wellness Resort Monchique was named Best Development in Portugal in this year’s CNBC Property Awards. The Best Real Estate Agency award was won by Sadler’s in Association with Knight Frank. Oceânico won two major Portugal awards: the Amendoeira Golf Resort was named Best Golf Development and Oceânico Prestige was Best Property. Other top Portugal winners were Tavira Bay (Best Architecture – Multiple Units) and Paraiso Sol da Rocha (Best PropertyMarketing). The award for the Best Real Estate Agency Website went to www.exclusivealgarvevillas.com. The judging panel for the 2008 awards was chaired for the ninth year by the British MP Eric Pickles. The judges included Editor-in-Chief of International Homes, Helen Shields, property writers and experts in the field of property, design and construction.

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VIEWPOINT

Problems, but the property

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market remains sound

Richard Mills, a leading estate agent, reflects on how the financial turmoil is being felt in the Algarve. t is important to remember that residing in the Algarve can be akin to living in a bubble. Many momentous events seem to pass us by and we carry on without a care in the world. However, even here, all normal topics of conversation have been swamped in recent months by developments in the global credit crunch. The financial crisis has filtered down and we too are feeling the effects. There has been much confusion about exactly what the credit crunch is. In very simple terms, it is a reluctance of the banks to lend money. The reasons behind the reluctance, or inability, of the banks to continue lending is a long and complicated one, but financial institutions have had to adjust their attitudes to risk and reduce their lending accordingly. What seems like a fairly basic issue has had the effect of a tidal wave.

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The mortgage market in the Algarve has always been very conservative, with risky products such as self-certification mortgages very hard to come by. Mortgages for anything close to 90% of the value of a property are never easy to organise. Mortgages have been granted here mainly on the basis of ability to pay, rather than complicated (and frankly nonsensical) calculations involving multiples of gross salaries and such like. Although it is fair to say that banks here are now more cautious than they were this time last year, they are certainly more flexible than when I applied for my first mortgage six years ago. The current problem is more a lack of confidence on the part of potential purchasers, coupled with the natural human tendency to wait and see what everyone else is doing and then follow suit. Whilst there is

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some logic in this, it never worked very well as a life-plan for lemmings. In the Algarve marketplace we are generally dealing with the luxury purchase of a second home rather than an essential home. There is a market for primary habitation here but it is simply not a large part of our business. Ultimately, when someone desires something but has the ability to wait in the belief that the benefits of waiting outweigh the disadvantages, that person will hold on unless something tips the balance in favour of taking action immediately. This limbo period is a simplified explanation of how the property market is currently behaving in the Algarve. It is no secret that the Algarve is, generally, not a cheap destination. We have excellent and improving infrastructures, a wonderful cultural entertainment programme, countless local events and, of course, the weather, the beaches and the golf venues. All of this, coupled with high demand, has resulted in property here appreciating steadily, with an average increase of 7% a year over the last 25 years or so. With the credit crunch, there were fears in some quarters that the market would crash, property prices would come tumbling down and many people would be facing negative equity. But that’s not quite what has happened. Yes, many properties have been reduced in price, but only because the vendors are being more realistic and less speculative, or as a result of the owner’s desire/need to sell within a given time frame, or because there is over supply of certain types of property.

Properties that are in plentiful supply, especially holiday apartments, are suffering much more in the current market than those that are hard to find. Unique, well located, well constructed quality properties are still in demand. There are undoubtedly fewer buyers out there now than before, but the vendors remain optimistic and there are historical and logical reasons for this. The Algarve property market has always been slow, with properties sometimes taking months or years to sell. The fact that the present international problems will slow the whole process down further is not a great shock to many people: they never expected to sell their house quickly anyway. Many vendors here either live permanently in the house they are selling or occupy it as a second home. Either way it is available to them whilst it is on the market. We are also seeing more owners now deciding to rent their properties to mitigate ongoing expenses. Long-term rentals are always in demand and rentals during the peak periods, which are not just restricted to the summer months, have always produced a good income. Should I buy in the Algarve now or wait? This is a question on many clients’ lips. The answer depends very much on your personal situation. If you are looking for a particular property and you have funds in place or the capacity to take a mortgage, then keep looking and buy whilst the market is not booming. If you need a very high level of finance, before you even start looking at property talk to a mortgage broker or a local bank to see if you

can obtain a mortgage at this troubled time. If you want a holiday property or rental investment and you are flexible about the type and location, then look around and find yourself a good deal. Another frequent question: Does the Algarve remain a good option for investment and as a holiday destination? Unlike many of the emerging regions, particularly those in Eastern Europe, the Algarve has had lots of experience as a holiday destination. We have established international and national transport links and a high flow of visitors. Many of the ‘new’ destinations have seen phenomenal increases in the value of property, but this has been quickly followed by enormous drops in property value as the market has weakened. As less people want to travel to these destinations, many airlines are reducing the number of flights or canceling routes entirely, making affordable travel difficult. These are problems that the Algarve does not have. With the Portuguese Government and the regional tourist board aiming to promote the Algarve as a year-round destination, its appeal is widening. The region has benefited over the last decades from a massive influx of investment, and the income this has created for local authorities is being used not just for physical improvements, but also for funding cultural events and entertainment. We have a region which has an existing reputation and market, a constant drive for quality and a controlled development plan. Add all this to the natural environment we are blessed with and you have to conclude that there are not many better destinations such a short, direct flight away from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the other European countries. When you look at the growth in the Algarve property market, the average increase is about 7% per year. This is not a headline-making increase, particularly when new, cheaper destinations have claimed 40% in a year. But it has proved to be a steady and sustainable increase. In these turbulent times, it is surely better to be the tortoise than the hare. Richard Mills is managing director of Azul Properties based in Loulé. www.azul-properties.com www.algarve-commercial.com (00351) 289 422871

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TOWN FOCUS

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Albufeira Huge numbers of tourists flock there, others steer well clear of the Algarve’s fastest changing municipality. What’s it really like?

he amount of development that has taken place in recent years has been enormous and yet more hotels and apartment blocks are being constructed almost wherever you look. But there are other signs of the changing times in Albufeira. New pedestrian squares and streets have been created, parking is easier than it used to be and the flow of traffic is more fluent than in most towns of its size. It looks clean and tidy, new drainage and other civic projects are underway and, would you believe it, the steps connecting Fishermen’s Beach to the cliff-top knoll at its eastern end have been replaced by escalators. The remote fishing village where Cliff Richard and the Shadows bought holiday homes in the 60s is simply unrecognisable now. The original cluster of little whitewashed houses

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around Fishermen’s Beach has been totally eclipsed by a profusion of urban modernisation and expansion that now extends all the way eastward to Olhos d’Água, westward to Praia da Galé and northwards almost to the village of Ferreiras. About the only thing that the Albufeiras of yesteryear and today have in common is fresh white paint. It has evolved into the Algarve’s largest and most popular tourist destination because of its lovely beach-side location almost exactly midway along the south coast and because its citizens work hard at making visitors welcome. Although still very much a Portuguese town, its economy and culture have been greatly influenced by other Europeans, both visitors and residents. Its cosmopolitan dimension is one of its great charms.

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Locals will quietly tell you it’s a great place to be at any time of the year, except August. Of course, that’s precisely when most outsiders go there. In August, with schools out all over Europe and many businesses in the Portuguese cities to the north closed for summer holidays, Albufeira becomes all but overwhelmed. Hotels and holiday apartments are full. The beaches are packed by day, the bars and restaurants by night.

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For the rest of the year, life goes on at a remarkably even pace, with residents and fewer numbers of visitors enjoying the full range of shopping, banking, health, dining out and other facilities one would expect in any modern town, plus plenty of well organised cultural, entertainment and sporting activities. By day and by night, the buzz is in the commercial heart of Albufeira along the main road

through town, in the old part of town around Praça da República and Fishermen’s Beach, and in the vicinity of the mildly infamous ‘Strip’ in Aréias de São João. Outside of these central zones, but still within one or two kilometres, a broad arc of residential suburbia is largely overlooked by casual visitors to Albufeira. Areas such as Caliços and Brejos are typical of the quiet, unassuming side of the town. Plenty of apartments and townhouses can be bought close to the town centre, but there is far greater choice in the surrounding suburbs. Prices vary enormously depending on age, condition, size and location but, roughly speaking, apartments start at €120,000 and semidetached villas at €350,000. For a prospecting buyer, though, casually perusing what’s on offer can be bewildering. Danish-born Bente Santos of Remax Albufeira, whose office is right in the middle of town, has a nugget of good advice: “Before you go looking, be clear about what you want.” Wishy-washiness wastes everyones’ time. Top of the list of questions: what is the maximum


amount the client is prepared to spend? Before going to an agent, buyers also need to consider location priorities. For example, how important is proximity to the beach or a sea view? What age and type of property is preferable? What special facilities - such as elevator, garden, garage, pool -

are essential? With this sort of initial information an agent can start zeroing in on the dream home without ado. “The more precise the client is, the quicker we can get to the point,” says Bente. “The more clients help us, the more we can help them.”

A client with a budget ceiling of €170,000 who wants an apartment in the centre of town with two bedrooms, a garage and a view, could be happy in the 10-year-old, three-storey block pictured on page 30.. It houses at least six different nationalities of contented owners.


Five to ten-year-old townhouses in rather more secluded Caliços are available for about €200,000, though they may need some refurbishment. Another €100,000 would buy a bigger and brand new townhouse in the same area. At São Raphael, 3km west of the town centre, condominium apartments with two or three bedrooms like the those pictured above are selling for €247,000. If the wish-list runs to four bedrooms in a modern detached villa, the Brejos property with a garden and pool pictured bottom on page 32 is going for €740,000. The clincher may be that not only is it within a couple of kilometres of the beach, it is situated next to a new golf academy. There is an incredible variety of property, ranging from studio flats to mansions, all along the coastal stretch from Montechoro and Praia d’Oura out past Balaia and Santa Eulália towards Olhos d’Água and Vilamoura. Pictured on the left is a delightful fivebedroomed property with a total area of 6,500m² at Branqueira. It is on the market for €1,395,000. There are plenty more in the Albufeira area in the million or more price range. 34


Over on the other side, modern additions to the property market include contemporary apartments in the new marina complex and the explosion of hotel and holiday home construction at Salgados. The marina, pictured here, has been slow to take off despite – or because of – its colourful aspect. Far from being over-crowded, it is possible to stroll along the waterfront during much of the year and encounter almost no one else at all. It won’t remain like that for ever. Although the marina was perhaps a little ahead of its time, developers obviously believe its time will come, hence the massive rash of new development on the hillside behind. Albufeira started to very slowly spread in the 1960s. The spread has been rapidly gathering pace ever since and, like it or loathe it, because of its popularity there is no end in sight. For more information: btsantos@remax.pt www.remax.pt/btsantos Mobile 961356469

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AREA FOCUS

Inland from the ‘Golden Triangle’

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What draws foreign buyers inland to the foothills around Loulé and São Brás de Alportel, Santa Barbára de Nexe and Estoi, rather than stay on the coast?

omparable property in the countryside north of the ‘Golden Triangle’ resorts is far cheaper and gives a sense of far greater independence, say those who prefer the most rustic lifestyle. A house of similar size and quality probably costs half as much inland, maybe less. And the size of the plot could be double, maybe more. Add to this the fact that owners of large individual homes in the countryside like to do their own thing devoid of condominium commitments and it is easy to see why they don’t envy those who live in the cosseted coastal communities. No one is knocking the undoubted financial and physical security and all the other very real benefits of owning a property in a first-class private estate such as Quinta do Lago or Vale do Lobo. It’s just that some people are not attracted by ‘exclusivity’ and for them the pros of the countryside outweigh the cons. They can still go to the beach, play the excellent golf courses, visit the top brand name shops and eat in the best restaurants.... it just takes a bit longer to get there: around about 15 minutes from Loulé, less from Santa Barbára. That said, there are plenty of better than adquate shops and restaurants in Loulé, one of the Algarve‘s largest market towns. With a population of about 12,000 and while proudly displaying vestiges of its medieval heritage,

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Santa Barbara de Nexe

Loulé is always bustling commercially and culturally. The biggest crowds from outside come for the annual religious processions, Carnival celebrations and summer music festivals, but it is not a particular tourist-orientated place. As resident foreigners often put it, compared with the coastal resorts “it’s real”. São Brás it is a smaller, less busy version of Loulé. Estoi, only a few minutes from the A22 motorway turnoff to São Brás just north of Faro, is famed for its paláçio (see accompanymg story), and nearby Roman ruins. What attracts home buyers to the area is its ethnic authenticity, its tranquillity and panoramic views, plus its close proximity to Faro airport. The dry stone walls and the groves of olive, fig, almond and carob trees still clearly show that these rolling hills used to be intensively farmed, but there is little intensity of any kind there now. Owning an apartment in town with all amenities virtually on the doorstep means there is no real need for a car. Fairly new apartments in Loulé start at about €120,000. A four bedroom penthouse with big terraces and grand views over the town can be bought for €220,000. 40

What most home buyers in this area are after, though, is a detached house with plenty of space and privacy within about five or ten minutes drive of town. “Loulé is as strong as ever, and the town

itself is expanding in a controlled manner. It is a very popular choice for a primary residence,” says Richard Mills of Azul Properties based in Loulé. “São Brás and its surroundings remain popular, and prices there are consistently lower than Loulé and its suburbs. With the new Faro - São Brás road soon to start, it is likely that this improved transport link will make this area more desirable. Santa Bárbara remains a premium area because of excellent views and a certain prestige reputation.” While there is plenty of choice, the property market here is not brimming over with bargains. Don’t waste your time, for example, tramping around fields looking for a charming cottage, in need only of a little tender love and care, going for a song. You can pick up a patch of land with a small ruin for €20,000 or a couple of acres with a big ruin for €200,000, but before agreeing to anything be sure to thoroughly check out what size and style of rebuilding the local municipal council will permit. Eduarda Morgan in the Loulé office of Manor Park Properties gets a lot of enquiries for


LoulĂŠ market


Grand restoration in historic Estoi

The palácio in Estoi, a country mansion dating from 1780, is currently being totally refurbished and is due to open its doors as a ‘pousada’ hotel next spring. It will have three special suites and 61 bedrooms in a magnificent building surrounded by restored ornamental gardens as well as traditional farmland. It will bring the number of pousadas in the eastern Algarve to three. The others are in São Brás de Alportel and Tavira. There is a further pousada at Sagres in the extreme southwest of the region. Estoi palácio was built in baroque style by Francisco José Pereira do Carvalhal e Vasconcelos, an Algarvian gentleman who lived in the royal court of Queluz in Sintra, near Lisbon. He had an architect within the court draw plans for the Estoi project based on Queluz palace. His sons inherited the palácio but when they died leaving no descendants the proper-

ty deteriorated. It was bought in 1895 by a local man, José Francisco da Silva, later ennobled as the Viscount of Estoi by Carlos I, Portugal’s penultimate monarch. Having had it restored and embellished in Grand Belle Époque fashion, the Viscount held a lavish inauguration party there in 1909. The Ministry of Culture declared the pálacio a building of national importance in 1975 but its upkeep was too great a burden on the family who owned it and so it was sold to the local municipality in 1987. Although the building itself remained closed to the public, the extensive gardens attracted many visitors and will do so again when the current renovation work, started in April 2007, is completed and the pálacio opens as a pousada next year. The President of Estoi council, José Paula Brito, says the villagers are proud of their pálacio and are looking forward to welcoming more tourists in future. 43


Sรฃo Brรกs

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already built three-bedroom villas priced between €250,000 and €400,000, but they are not many available. Most good villas with a pool and a view in this area are in the €500,000 to €800,000 bracket, she says, and some really high quality houses are well above the million mark. In the present financial climate, vendors are having to keep their prices reasonable if they are to have any real hope of selling. Those who are really keen to sell are removing negotiating margins. “In some cases asking prices have come down by as much as 20%

this year,” says José Martins of the Sun Coast real estate agency in Santa Bárbara. Plots with approved new building projects for 250 to 350m² are available within a 3km to 4km radius of Loulé from about €150,000 rising to €450,000, but José says there is a growing shortage and prices seem sure to eventually rise because of tightening planning regulations. Adds Richard Mills: “Looking to the future, with the limited development possibilities that exist, I expect to see many more renovation and refurbishment

projects, which make the most of older properties in excellent locations that are otherwise no longer available. “As an example of this, we have a quinta on the edge of São Brás consisting of a maim house and four annexes, in need of refurbishment, set in 10.000m2 of land with fabulous sea views, for €560.000. For more information Richard Mills 289 422 871 Eduarda Morgan 289 422 866 José Martins 289 999 487 45


GOLF PROPERTY

Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club

Here in the up and coming Eastern Algarve it’s still possible to buy a detached villa for the price you might pay for an apartment in the more densely populated central area of the region. Sue Spencer reports his gem of a family-friendly resort features high-quality, low-density, housing against a magnificent backdrop of mountain, river and ocean views. The splendid clubhouse serves high quality food at great value prices. There’s often live entertainment as well as special social events. The leisure facilities take some beating and include 27 hole memorable holes of golf. For golf addicts, there are also several other quality golf courses nearby, including the Seve Ballesteros designed course of Quinta do Vale and the Jack Nichlaus designed course of Monte Rei, as well as Benamor, Quinta de Cima and Quinta da Ria near Tavira. But it’s the location that makes Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club a bit special. Every property enjoys open views, many of which feature the beautiful Guadiana river and

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the bridge that links Portugal with Spain. This proximity to the border and the Spanish town of Ayamonte provides property owners with an alternative and vibrant culture right on their doorstep. Easy access is another attraction. The resort is just five minutes from the A22 motorway that runs the length of the Algarve. Faro airport is just half an hour’s drive away in Portugal and Seville airport in Spain is less than an hour’s drive. The resort has several attractive property options to choose from, listed here with starting prices. Village houses • Two-bedroom detached stand alone villas €315,000 • Three-bedroom detached stand alone villas – €330,000

Linked villas • Three-bedroom detached linked villas – €700,000 Individual plots for self build • From 2,000 square metres – €850,000 • 2,640 square metres – €900,000 • 2,720 square metres – €925,000 Special investment packages with guaranteed rental return start at €615.000

Village houses are great value The ‘Aldeamento Turistica’ village houses comprise 30 three-bedroom detached villas and 31 two-bedroom detached villas. Due for completion by autumn 2009, they are all being built


to a high specification with ensuite bathrooms, double-glazing, bathroom underfloor heating, pre-installation air conditioning and mosquito netting throughout. The village houses have an attractive living room with open fire and a modern open-plan kitchen. There’s also a separate downstairs cloakroom and toilet, entrance hall, storeroom and terrace. Upstairs is the master bedroom with en suite bathroom, separate toilet and terrace. A choice of furnishing packages is available if required. These detached villas represent amazing value at between €315,000 and €350,000 for a two-bedroom property comprising a total area of 101 square metres. For between €330,000 and €400,000 you can buy a three-bedroom property comprising a total area of 113 square metres. The Village houses are situated near an

attractive communal area that is also currently being built. This will have an outdoor tropical pool, with separate children’s area that will be heated in the cooler months, as well as a café and attractive terrace with comfortable seating. The properties also have easy access to the clubhouse with its gym, restaurants and bar.

Linked villas selling fast The new nine-hole Grouse course, with its beautiful lakes and attractive open scenery, provides the views for many of the thirty-five linked villas that are currently being built in the second phase of construction at Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club.

The hugely popular design of the spacious three-bedroom, all en suite, linked villas has been repeated for phase two, with just a few changes made to the finishings to reflect recent design trends. All properties are front line and prices start at €700,000 depending on location. For that you get a massive amount for your money, including: • 220 square metres of living space, plus the pool area terrace with your own pool and hot and cold water shower • Built-in barbecue with adjoining sink for easy washing up • Pre-installation of air conditioning • Large open fire • Hidden sliding patio doors that recess into the walls so that the living room and terrace can become one • Underfloor heating in all bathrooms 47


bettered. The linked villas offer the very highest quality at a price you would pay for a much lower specification property elsewhere.

Individual plots available

• Telephone and TV point on covered part of terrace • Granite kitchen work surfaces • Upstairs master suite with large en suite bathroom with Jacuzzi bath and separate shower • Master suite has hallway, walk in wardrobe large outdoor terrace • Separate downstairs cloakroom with toilet and hallway One of the reasons the design of the linked villas is so popular is that they are ideal for property owners wishing to accommodate guests, whilst retaining a certain amount of privacy for themselves. The upstairs master 48

suite has its own private terrace for owners to retreat to when they want their own space. Attention to detail is another factor. Everything has been thought of to make life easy for the holiday home owner, like the fact that there is just one door at the front of the property for easy security. By the kitchen is a small yard with storage for golf clubs or bikes. The refuse bins are situated in a special cupboard that can be emptied from the street. And the washing machine and tumble dryer are kept out of earshot in a separate utility area. For a home that’s easy to live in, easy to accommodate guests and easy to rent out, Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club is confident that the design of their linked villas cannot be

If you’re looking for a piece of land with far reaching ocean, river, golf course or mountain views, Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club could have the answer. There are still two plots available for sale from phase one. For €900,000 you can buy a plot of 2,640 square metres and for €925,000 you can buy a plot of 2,720 square metres, both with fantastic views. Once these two remaining large plots are sold, the plots from phase two will be released. Prices for these smaller plots start at €850,000. The advantage of buying land here is that you can have a dream home individually tailored to suit your lifestyle in a location that is unique in the Algarve. What makes the site special is the surrounding nature reserve, unobstructed views and the Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club policy of low density housing. You can design the property yourself, employ your own architect, or use the Castro Marim Golfe & Country Club planning services. It’s up to you. For more information: Tel. (00351) 281 510340 www.castromartimgolfe.com


SWIMMING POOLS

Water care In our last edition we discussed the basic types of swimming pool constructions. The next important considerations at the planning stage are how the pool is to be equipped and maintained.

aving decided on the type of construction, size and shape of pool you want and obtained quotes from reputable specialists, let the company of your choice get on with everything, including the electrics, filter, pipes and plumbing, pump and pump house. If your budget allows it, go for an automatic water level control system, underwater lights on a timer switch, a shower and a heat pump. The latter is the most efficient way to warm the water in a pool. It’s a

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luxury that may cost about €6,000 installed but, of course, it will allow you to extend the comfortable swimming season well beyond the high-summer months. With a heat pump, a pool cover is essential. It will significantly help retain water temperatures and lessen the work of the heat pump when the pool is not in use during the cooler months. Covers can be ordered for any shape of pool, including freeforms, but the simpler the shape the easier to put on and remove.

The reasonably young and ablebodied may be happy enough with a manually operated cover. The elderly or infirmed should consider an electrically operated one, but that may cost upwards of €10,000. Incidentally, the elderly and infirmed – whether family or guests – should be considered along with steps, ladders and railings at the construction stage. When a new pool is almost finished, up and running – if not before - it’s time to start think about cleaning and maintenance procedures. A pool cannot be left to its own devises. The water needs to be checked often and its chemistry adjusted as necessary. The object of 56

this is not just to keep the pool looking clean and welcoming, but to ensure the water is properly sanitized and free from bacteria and other potential health hazards. The easiest maintenance option is to employ the services of a professional pool cleaner. This may be the only option for non-resident home owners, especially those renting to holidaymakers. Rental pools must be spic and span at all times while guests are in residence. A good pool cleaner will ensure that. Reputable professionals are generally reliable and their charges are reasonable. But if you live here most or all of the year round, do you really need one?


You don’t have to be a DIY whiz to maintain your own pool. Much of it is routine. Sometimes it’s a bit challenging. Once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s a bit like dancing. It is all about rhythm, the right steps and good timing. But it’s not like the fandango or jiving. It’s more like a gentle waltz, though the tempo varies with the seasons - and don’t rule out the possibility of a few stumbles. The basic tools of the pool cleaning trade are a long pole easily fastened to either a net for surface scooping, a brush for clearing algae off the pool walls or a vacuum head for sucking up debris that has settled on the bottom.

Pool water needs to be treated with chemicals and run for several hours a day through a sand filter. The chemical most often used is chlorine. Keeping the chlorine content at an optimum level will kill bacteria and break down sun oils, bathers’ sweat and most of the other unmentionables that find their way into pools. It will also discourage algae, though higher concentrations or a proprietary algaecide may be needed from time to time to prevent or eliminate algae. Chlorine will only work efficiently in water with the right pH level. Sometimes taken for granted by amateur pool cleaners, the pH level is actually the single most

important element in pool chemistry. The water should be neither too acidic nor too alkaline. The right balance is crucial to everything else. Best of all is a slightly alkaline pH of 7.4 to 7.6. This will ensure optimum efficiency of the chlorine without causing corrosion within the pool system or discomfort to the eyes of swimmers. Whatever the source, the water must be regularly tested and its pH adjusted as necessary by adding either soda ash (sodium chlorinate) to raise the level, or hydrochloric acid to reduce it. All the materials are readily available in Algarve DIY stores and sold with obvious titles such as pH+ and pH-.

Once adjusted correctly, the pH level tends to stay even for much longer periods than the chlorine level. The chlorine level naturally diminishes over a period of days or weeks, all the more quickly the hotter the weather and the warmer the water. The simplest test kits involve putting a few drops of phenol red, a water-soluble dye, into a small water sample and checking the pH level by colour comparison. Such checking is all the more necessary after large doses of chlorine have been added to the pool, or after the water level has been significantly topped up from normal sources or heavy rains. 57


A few drops of a reagent called OTO (orthotolidine) will similarly test the level of chlorine and indicate if more should be added to the pool. Inexperienced owner-cleaners will quickly get the hang of it and soon be able to gauge whether to test once a fortnight or twice a week and how much chlorine to add. Much of this depends on the season and simply whether the pool looks right or not. Chlorine is sold in liquid, powder, granulated and tablet form. Liquid chlorine is cheapest, goes to work instantly but quickly dissipates. In certain situations it’s the perfect quick fix. Granules are much preferable to powdered chlorine, which is liable to blow in your face or bleach your clothes on breezy days. Tablets are the most convenient of all once you’re into the groove with the rhythm right. Granules and tablets of chlorine comes in handy 5kg pots, but the price per kilo drops for 25kg and 50kg tubs, which will last a long time. Go for granules with 90% rather than 55% strength (they cost about the same) and for tablets offering three, four or even five-in-one benefits, which may cost a bit more. Chlorine is relatively inexpen60

sive and easy to use but it is not without its problems. The main one is that it is liable to react to certain organic substances, notably bathers’ body fluids, and form chemical compounds called chloramines. These give off the strong smell of chlorine that used to be, and perhaps still is, associated with crowded public baths. Chloramines are bad news not only because of their smell; they cause eye and skin irritation; they are also poor sanitizers and cause the pool water to go cloudy or green. The antidote to chloramines is to ‘shock’ the pool with a big overdose of chlorine, preferably of the liquid variety, or a proprietary oxidising agent. Although it may sound a bit dramatic, super-chlorinating or ‘shocking’ is a routine way of banishing chloramines and bringing a pool back to chemical correctness, especially after days of heavy use during the summer months. Of the alternatives to chlorine, bromine tablets are easy to handle, less vulnerable to high pH and high temperatures, but more expensive and there are certain health risks. ‘Active Oxygen’ Persulphate, particularly popular among Germans for some reason, goes to work on bacteria and body fluids but is not nearly so good as chlorine at tackling algae. It is also relatively expensive. Copper and silver are powerful cleansers and can be added to your pool with an inoniser. It is attached to your pipe work and runs on electricity, but the electrodes fairly quickly erode and have to be replaced at considerable cost. Copper and silver plus a dash of aluminium, zinc and gold can now be plonked straight into your pool from a bottle. It is a so-called ‘revolutionary’ product said to be far less troublesome and longer lasting than chlorine, but many


professional cleaners remain to be convinced. Which brings us back to chlorine, but a means of sanitizing the pool by using an electrolysis system that indirectly provides chlorine by breaking down salt. Salt water chlorinators, as they are called, are cheap-to-run recycling systems. The initial cost is €1,500 or more for the equipment. The chlorinator cells wear out every five years or so and have to be replaced at about €500 a go. But the growing number people in the Algarve who provide and use salt swear by their ease of installation, operation and maintenance. Most of all they enthuse about the softness of the water produced by chlorinators. Connoisseurs of quality water get hooked because the levels of chlorine are too low to affect eyes or hair and the salt content is only about 0.3% compared with the 3.0% of seawater.

Some pH and chlorine testing tips

• The pH needs regular checking and adjusting whether the source of your pool water is municipal mains or a private bore-hole. • Full-strength (90%) granules add acid to the water and may account for low pH readings, as may heavy rainfalls. • Add chlorine to the pool after the sun goes down to give it maximum time to mix and go to work on sanitizing the water without being depleted by the sun.

• OTO reagent will indicate the total amount of chlorine in the water. It measures the level of useless ‘combined’ chlorine as well as the hard-working active ‘free’ chlorine. This can be confusing because the former may be far too high and the later far too low. • Never use the same tube for both chlorine and pH tests. The OTO reagent is strongly acidic. Any trace of it in a pH test will give a false low reading.

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SAVING ENERGY

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Switch to solar ‘it’s mad not to’ At a time of soaring oil and gas prices it has become easy and economical in sourthern Portugal to tap into solar energy in both active and passive ways.

he abundance of sunshine is one of the most attractive features of living in Portugal. The sun is a wonderful source of comfort and enjoyment. It is also a readily available provider of energy that is both fathomless and free. With more year-round sunshine than almost anywhere else in Europe, and with domestic solar technology now far more efficient and affordable than ever amid soaring conventional energy costs, it makes complete sense to take full advantage of the sun. Or as energy-saving proponent Donald Balfour puts it: “it’s mad not to.” For new homes, a solar-powered hot water system to supply the kitchen and bathrooms is not just an option, it’s a legal requirement. You won’t get planning permission without it. Meanwhile, aside from lower CO² levels benefiting the planet, owners of all types of home - old or new - stand to gain from solar water heating because it has become so economical, says Colin Reid, technical director of the Enova Group, a leading Algarve supplier of a broad range of eco-friendly solutions. An average house needs between two and six square metres of thermal panels placed in a tilted, south-facing position on the roof or in the garden. The water is heated in copper tubing and stored at a minimum temperature of 60ºC in a tank of between 150 and 300 litres. There are three basic types of system. The thermo-siphon type is the simplest and cheapest,

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but the tank has to be positioned at the top of the panels, which some people consider a bit of an eye-sore if it is sitting on the roof. The alternative has an electric pump feeding the hot water from the panels to an indoor tank from where it can reach the taps quicker and with less wastage. Apartment developers install a third version involving a central tank which distributes the heated water to individual subsidiary tanks. All three types have a thermostatically controlled back-up connection which only kicks in when the water falls below a minimum temperature. The back-up will probably be needed during dull periods in winter but the sun will supply as much as 85% of a home’s yearround kitchen and bathroom requirements, says John Woodhams, managing director of SACL, one of the oldest and largest companies dealing with solar heating systems in the Algarve. Any reputable specialist company in the Algarve will be happy to send a representative to survey a home site, advise on the most approprate equipment and give a quote. For a standard domestic system, expect to pay between €3,000 to €5,000, including 12% rather than 20% IVA. Energy savings should allow a family of five to recoup the initial outlay in four to five years, depending on usage. Active solar systems can be designed to go well beyond heating water for the kitchen and bathrooms. If solar is used for underfloor heating it can cut fuel costs by about 70% to 75% a year, 63


says John. “The initial cost of the equipment: €14,000 - €15,000. Annual savings: €3,000. Payback: four to five years. That’s at today’s prices, but gas and oil costs are bound to keep going up.” An increasing number of his clients are converting their existing underfloor system from gas or oil-fuelled to solar powered, keeping the gas connection merely as a back-up. Underfloor heating is attractive because the water needs to be heated to only 45ºC compared with the 75ºC required in radiators. For swimming pools, however, solar is a bit more problematic - especially in homes used only for holiday rentals or part-time occupation - because of the sheer volume of water and the far greater spread of panels needed.

Solar photovoltaic

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are something else. They use the energy from the sun, not to heat water but to directly generate electricity. Small ones are being used to power such things as traffic lights. A large enough set of PV panels connected to a battery storage system could make a house self-sufficient in electricity. For the present, though, the best PV option for home owners is to generate electricity which, having been converted by an adapter from DC to

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AC, is automatically fed under licence into the national grid. It is still early days and not many owners have yet signed up, but the company Energias de Portugal (EDP) is encouraging this by guaranteeing to buy electricity at a far higher rate than they sell it back. The buying price is currently 65 cents per kW hour. The cost of electricity to consumers is only eleven cents in the daytime, six cents at night. The largest PV system that can be installed for the best return is 50% of the contracted EDP supply, up to a maximum of 3.7 kW. The downside is that 30m² of panels are needed and the cost is near enough €23,000 with a payback time of about seven years. Still, the lifespan of a PV system is reckoned to be about 25 years, according to Enova. So owners are generating good money as well as electricity. And help is at hand in doing this. The main banks in Portugal are providing finance for PV systems. “The initial outlay is covered by the bank and the money generated used to pay off the loan. At the end of the loan period, normally ten years, the system is yours as is the money generated thereafter,” says Colin Reid.

Passive solar

Many newcomers to the Algarve under-estimate our winters. It is then that encouraging

passive solar energy is most useful. Even in December, January and February, when outside temperatures may be cool, the sun’s rays can provide direct warmth inside the home at no cost. Sun that is allowed to stream in through large, strategically placed windows and sliding glass doors will be naturally stored and later radiated if it falls on areas of thermal mass in the form of concrete, stone or tile floors and walls. The need for central or underfloor heating, stoves or open fires will thus be reduced. Conversely, there needs to be some means of blocking direct sunlight bearing in on areas of heat-storing thermal mass in summer. Awnings, over-hanging vegetation, blinds or other forms of shade should be employed do the job, otherwise electric fans or air-conditioning units will be working overtime. Electrochromic windows are among the most technically advanced sun blocks currently on offer. So-called ‘switchable glazing’ automatically controls the amount of light and solar energy that can pass through a window by changing it from transparent to tinted at the flick or a switch or in response to sunlight or temperature sensors. Quality overall insulation is key in all of this. In the good old days, Algarve folks wore clothes that kept them well covered up all-year-round. They applied roughly the same principle to their homes. Town houses and country cottages were


kept cool in summer and warm in winter by keeping hot or cold outside temperatures at bay with small windows and massively thick walls. In recent decades, a great many houses have been build with empty cavity walls and other fundamental insulation shortcomings. Owners need not despair: all sorts of state-of-the-art materials and methods are at hand locally to make amends. From January 1 next year, all properties sold or leased will require an official certificate showing their energy efficiency rating based on a number of factors, including solar energy use and the quality of insulation. Until now, only new buildings had to be certified. About 2,000 technicians are now gearing up to inspect and certify the 200,000 or so homes of all kinds that are put on the market in Portugal each year.

State solar

While official pressure is being imposed on developers, builders and individual house owners to ‘go green’, the Portuguese Government is enthusiastically leading the way. It is among the most progressive governments in Europe on green issues in general and renewable energy sources in particular. Portugal now holds 18th place for environmental performance in a global list of 149 countries, according to the 2008 Environmental Performance Index published by the World Economic Forum. In the European Union context, Portugal is in 11th place ahead of countries like Italy, Denmark, Spain and Holland. It scores higher than the European average in five of the six categories analysed, namely environmental quality, air pollution, water, natural resources and climate change. By 2007, renewable energy sources represented 40.7% of the total electricity consumed in Portugal, so this country has already exceeded the European 2010 target of 39%. This information was published on the same day that the European Commission placed Portugal among the Top 5 countries for its ambitious policies and renewable energies targets for the 2020. Portugal’s intentions in this field are clear: it wants to develop a renewables industry to rival Denmark and Japan. Without oil, coal or gas of its

own, the government is placing great emphasis on increasing energy supplies from solar, wind and wave sources. It has been a fundamental pillar of the present Government’s energy policy from the outset. In less than three years, Portugal has trebled its hydro-power capacity, quadrupled its wind power, and is investing hugely in a pioneering wave project. Perhaps most dramatically of all, is the way in which Portugal is forging ahead with solar energy. The world’s largest solar photovoltaic farm is about to be commissioned near the town of Moura just north of the Algarve. It has 2,520 giant panels, each the size of a house, set on abandoned state-

owned land covering an area almost twice the size of London’s Hyde Park. Twice the size of any other similar project in the world, it is expected to supply enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. So in this relatively small and in some ways less sophisticated European country, solar energy is very high on the agenda - not only for the government and big business, but for ordinary individual householders, more and more of whom are coming to realise that solar pays for itself and even makes money. For more information: www.sacl.net Tel. 282 314 191 www.enova-group.com Tel. 282 960 969

‘Flower of the Sun’ on the sea

An Irish-Portuguese couple, Róisin O’Hagan and Luis Lourenço have launched Portugal’s first solar-powered boat, Alvor Flor do Sol (Alvor Flower of the Sun). It was designed and built in Faro and will take holidaymakers on cruises in the Alvor and Portimão estuaries and along the coast. The 12-metre craft runs on a small electric motor fed by a bank of batteries that store the solar energy collected by 12 panels on the roof of the vessel. With a dozen passengers spared the noise of a diesel engine, the Alvor Flor do Sol, can cruise along solely on solar energy at a speed of six knots for eight hours at a time.

For more information: WWW. 65


FACT FILE

Buying in Portugal

Agents and lawyers Purchasing property is a straightforward process provided you stick to the letter of the law and are advised or represented only by competent and reputable specialists

are paid by the buyer,, as are land registry and notary costs. You can give your lawyer or

behalf, but closely follow that the proper steps are being taken without any undue delay.

who are fluent in a language you

Searches

understand.

Have a promissory contract

anyone else specific power of attorney to sign documents on your

Deal with estate agents who

Contract

It will come in the form of a card, which you will need for payment of rates.

drawn up (contrato promessa de

Tax document

compra e venda) to be signed by you and the seller. It should include

Obtain the official tax document

all the terms and conditions of sale.

(caderneta predial) relating to the

You will normally have to pay the

property from the seller and check

seller a deposit of 10% of the full

that the description of the property

purchase price at this stage. The

(numbers of rooms, area of house,

contract is signed in front of a

area of land, etc.) is the same as in

notary. It is legally binding on both

the land registry.

buyer and seller. If the buyer

are government licensed (mediador

Having chosen a property,

autorizado). Every licensed agent

have your representative search the

must display their licence in their

local land registry

(conser-

defaults he forfeits the deposit. If

office and quote their AMI number

vatória do registo predial) to check

the seller defaults he has to pay the

on all advertising.

that the seller (vendedor) has clear

Usage licence

It is important, too, that you do

title of ownership, that no one else

not let your estate agent handle

has rights over it, that it is exactly

Obtain a copy of the usage

legal matters if he is

described and that it is free of

licence (licença de utilização) from

charges or mortgages. Photostat

the local town hall (câmara munic-

doing the

same for the seller. Deal only with lawyers who are fully qualified, advogados or solici-

extracts from the land registry are

ipal). For residential property you

valid for a limited period only.

will need a habitation licence

buyer double the deposit.

Transfer tax (IMT) IMT, as transfer tax is now

tadores, who come with a high rec-

(licença de habitação). Check that

known

ommendation from someone who

the description on the habitation

payable on a sliding scale of 2%-

has used them. Never use a lawyer who is acting for the seller. Taxes are based on the value of the

property being bought. So

are legal fees. Taxes and legal fees

66

(formerly

SISA),

is

Fiscal number

licence is totally in accordance with

8% on all properties valued at

what you are buying. Non-residen-

more than €81,600. There is a flat

Apply for a fiscal number (número de contribuinte) at your local tax office (finanças).

tial licences need to stipulate the

rate of 6% for properties above

appropriate commercial or industri-

€510,000 and a flat rate of 5% for

al use the property is being put to.

rural land.


FACT FILE

Medical and health Residents who contribute to the state social security scheme are entitled to free treatment at the state district hospitals in Faro, Portimão and Lagos, or at any of the local health centres (centros de saúde), which deal with less serious cases. Many foreign residents take out private health insurance cover with one or other of the internationally-known compa-

nies specialising in this field. This gives them affordable access to foreign (English, German and Dutch-speaking) GP's and specialists practising in the Algarve. It also facilitates treatment at private hospitals or clinics in Portugal, which are staffed and equipped to give more personalised service than state institutions can provide.

Education

Education in all Portuguese state schools is free. Young children are generally very adaptable and responsive to new situations and learning a foreign language. The difficulty comes if parents have opted for the Portuguese system at primary level, but wish to switch to English when the children move up to secondary. There are five licensed English-language schools in the Algarve. Three offer both primary and secondary schooling. The other two are specifically one or the other. The English-language schools, east to west: The São Lourenço School -Almancil Colégio Internacional de Vilamoura - Quintinhas, Vilamoura International School of the Algarve - Porches, Lagoa Barlavento English Primary School - Ferrel, Espiche Vale Verde International (Secondary) School - Burgau, Lagos.

All of these schools follow the English SATS in primary, and shadow the English National Curriculum leading up to IGCSE to end secondary schooling. São Lourenço and the International School at Porches also have well-established Sixth Forms offering A levels. Safeguards that prospective parents should look for:  is the school registered with the local authorities and has it been granted a valid, current licence by the Portuguese Ministry of Education to operate at either primary or secondary level?  is the school a member of the Council for International Schools or European Council for International Schools?

Documents Non-Portuguese who wish to be permanent residents in Portugal must, by law, apply for a residence permit (residência) through an office of the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras. There are two such offices in the Algarve: Faro and Portimão. Most EU citizens have automatic entitlement but that does not mean they can ignore the bureaucratic process of applying for and periodically renewing permits. An identity card (bilhete de Identidade) used to be a legal requirement for all permanent residents in Portugal. It is no longer so for foreign residents. A valid passport is sufficient. The easiest personal document to obtain is a fiscal card. It will give you a número de contribuinte, a number which you will frequently need to quote during financial transactions. These cards are issued by local tax offices (finanças). Imported vehicles are subject to tax and must be re-registered and equipped with Portuguese number plates. A valid driver's licence issued in any EU country is legally acceptable in Portugal. NonEU nationals driving Portuguese registered vehicles must swop their foreign driving licence for a

Portuguese carta de condução, but most do not have to undergo a driving test in this country. As well as lawyers, there are knowlegeable and experienced individuals and small companies who specialise in helping foreigners obtain documents. 67


HOTELGUIDE

Where to stay when you next visit the Algarve Many visitors fall in love with the Algarve and plan a return visit, whether for a short break and a longer relaxed holiday. Others decide to buy a holiday or permanent home and may need to return several times to view and finalise legal details. the following summary of some of the Algarve’s best hotels and resorts will make it easy to source reservations. HOTEL VILA GALÉ TAVIRA **** Right in the middle of beautiful Tavira. Recent purpose built hotel. Outdoor and indoor pools. Health club with massage and antistress therapy. Gym. Turkish bath. Jacuzzi. Two restaurants. Entertainment. Conference and banquet facilites.

RIA PARK RESORT HOTEL & SPA **** Between Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo in the Ria Formosa nature reserve. Spa including gym and Jacuzzi. Indoor and outdoor pools. Restaurant. Bar. Conference and meeting rooms. Banqueting facilities.

HOTEL VILA GALÉ ALBACORA **** A 'character' hotel converted from an old fisherman's community close to Tavira town. Most rooms have beautiful views. Outdoor and indoor pools. Jacuzzi. Gym. Turkish bath. Two restaurants. Kids Club. Boat to ferry you to Tavira Island beach.

RIA PARK GARDEN HOTEL **** In the Ria Formosa nature reserve close to Quinta do Lago and Vale de Lobo. Some rooms have sea views. Two outdoor pools. Tennis. Football pitch. Turkish bath. Jacuzzi. Restaurant. Bar.

POUSADA DE TAVIRA Elegantly converted from the old Convento da Graça in Tavira old town. Air conditioned 36 rooms and 6 special suites. Two outdoor pools and exceptional regional restaurant specializing in seafood and fish.

PINUS RIA *** With a prime location in Almancil and many sports facilities. Getting to the Quintas shopping centre and the famous Garrão Beach is easy with the hotel’s free shuttle service. Outdoor swimming pool. Fitness centre. Tennis courts. Health club facilities.

Tel.: (+351) 281.329.900 Fax: (+351) 281.329.950 www.vilagale.pt

Tel.: (+351) 281.380.800 Fax: (+351) 281.380.850 www.vilagale.pt

Tel.: (+351) 281.329.040 Central reservations (+351) 213.300.548 www.pousadas.pt

VILA MONTE A unique country resort with verdant gardens close to Olhão. Three-hole pitch and putt golf course, driving range, putting green. Resident pro. Individually themed rooms or suites. Superb restaurant.

Tel: (+351) 289.790.790 Fax: (+351) 289.790.799 www.vilamonte.com

GOLF DOMIZIL COLINA VERDE **** A very attractive inland resort with its own 9-hole golf course. Beautiful grounds. Swimming pool. Restaurant, popular with residents as well as guests for its interesting touch with local dishes.

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Tel: (+35) 289 790 110 Fax: (+351) 289 791 245 email: info@golfcolinaverde.com

Tel (+351) 289 359 800 Fax (+351) 289 359 888 www.riaparkhotels.com

Tel: (+351) 289 359 821 Fax: (+351) 289 359 889 www.riaparkgardenhotel.com

Tel.: + (351) 289 359 160 Fax: + (351) 289 359 169

QUINTA JACINTINA ESTALAGEM ***** A stunning 'boutique hotel' between Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago. An exquisite blend of 5 Star luxury and home comforts. Landscaped gardens. Outdoor pool. Gym. Home cinema. Hair salon. Beauty treatment room.

Tel: (+351) 289 350 090 Fax: (+351) 289 350 099 www.algarvehotel.co.uk

FORMOSA PARK HOTEL **** The same management look after this and the Pinheiros Altos golf and resort. Close to Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo. Suites. Special hotel area on Anção beach (200 metres). Outdoor pool. Restaurant. Snack bar.

Tel: (+351) 289 352 800 Fax: (+351) 289 352 821 www.formosapark-hotel.com


LE MERIDIEN DONA FILIPA ***** Inside Vale do Lobo close to the beach. San Lorenzo golf course is part of the same group, as is the Penina hotel. Outdoor pool. 3 floodlit tennis courts. Restaurants. Bars.

HILTON VILAMOURA ***** Vilamouras newest hotel, spectacular and luxurious. Indoor & outdoor pools, kids club. Algarvian biggest spa with a Balinese theme, gym, indoor golf practice area, restaurant, bars.

Tel: (+351) 289 357 200 Fax: (+351) 289 357 201 www.lemeridien.hotels.com

Tel: (+351) 289 304 000 Fax: (+351) 289 304 005 www.hilton com/worlwideresorts

Tel: (+351) 289 320 320 Fax: (+351) 289 300 591 www.vilasol.pt

Tel: (+351) 289 303 303 Fax: (+351) 289 303 345 www.tivolimarinotel.com

VILA SOL SPA & GOLF RESORT ***** Close to Vilamoura. The hotel overlooks the championship golf course. Fully equipped business centre, meeting and large banqueting rooms. Restaurants. English pub. Café. Spa. Pool.

DOM PEDRO GOLF **** In Vilamoura centre, a short walk from the beach and marina. Pool. Floodlit tennis courts. Sauna. Jacuzzi. Beauty salon. Massage. Restaurants. Bar. Tel: (+351) 289 300 700 Fax: (+351) 289 300 701 www.dompedro-hotels.com

DOM PEDRO MARINA **** Like its sister hotel (above) this is in the middle of Vilamoura close to the beach and marina. Restaurants. Bars. Tennis. Beauty salon. Sauna. Jacuzzi. Massage. Pool. Tel: (+351) 289 381 000 Fax: (+351) 289 381 001 www.dompedro-hotels.com

VILA GALÉ AMPALIUS **** Central, with short walk to beach and marina. Ideally situated to experience Vilamoura. Indoor and outdoor pools. Tennis. Putting green. Spa. Kids' club. Restaurant. Bar. Tel: (+351) 289 303 900 Fax: (+351) 289 303 950 www.vilagale.pt

QUINTA JACINTINA ESTALAGEM

TIVOLI MARINOTEL ***** Situated on a corner of Vilamoura marina, with stunning views from rooms overlooking the marina or beach. Indoor and outdoor pools. Health club. Sauna. Gym. Massage. Restaurants. Bar. Floodlit tennis courts. Kids' beach club.

SHERATON HOTEL & RESORT ***** With 9-hole golf course in sensational cliff-top position overlooking Falesia beach, between Vilamoura and Albufeira. 'Pirata' kids' village. Pools. Beach club. Water sports. 5 floodlit tennis courts. Squash. Health club. Sauna. Jacuzzi. Gym. Beauty treatments. Restaurants. Bar. Tel: (+351) 289 501 100 Fax: (+351) 289 501 950 www.luxurycollection.com/algarve

ALPINUS **** A modern suite hotel close to Falesia beach, between Vilamoura and Albufeira. All suites fully equipped with kitchens, sat. TV, CD players, air-con etc. Pool. Restaurant. Bar. Watersports on beach.

Tel: (+351) 289 008 900 Fax: (+351) 289 008 950 alpinus@lunahotels.com

GRANDE REAL SANTA EULALIA ***** Wonderful views, direct access to Stª Eulalia beach. A mix of hotel rooms & suites, other suites around the grounds. 4 pools (1 sea water). 5 restaurants. 6 bars. Gym. Large Thalasso spa. 2 tennis courts. Kids' club.

Tel: (+351) 289 598 000 Fax: (+351) 289 598 001 www.hotelsreal.com

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VILA MONTE BALAIA GOLF RESORT On the eastern side of Albufeira, with a delightful 9-hole golf course and high quality rental accommodation spread around the estate. Restaurant. Bar. Tel: (+351) 289 570 200 Fax: (+351) 289 501 265 www.balaiagolfvillage.com

HOTEL REAL BELLAVISTA **** In Albufeira, with city hotel atmosphere and luxury resort facilities. Includes accommodation for disabled. Outdoor and indoor pools. Complete spa. Health club. Gym. Garage. Conference and banqueting. Tel: (+351) 289 540 060 Fax: (+351) 289 540 061 www.hotelsreal.com

VILA JOYA The Algarve's most long-established and famous boutique hotel, with direct access to Galé beach through lush gardens. Includes the area's only 2-star Michelin restaurant (non-residents welcome). Beautiful 'Ayurredic' spa with hydrotherapy, massage and sauna. Tel: (+351) 289 591 795 Fax: (+351) 289 591 201 www.vilajoya.com

Tel.: + (351) 282 320 123 • Tel.: + (351) 289 320 000 Fax: + (351) 282 320 077 www.vilalararesort.com

VILA VITA PARC ***** Cliff-top resort west of Armação de Pera. Stunning tropical gardens and traditional design. Accommodation in hotel or grounds. Pools. Tennis. 9-hole pitch & putt. Driving range. Health, beauty and therapeutic treatments. Kids' and teens' club. Restaurants. Bars. Tel: (+351) 282 310 100 Fax: (+351) 282 315 333 www.vilavita.com

SOFITEL VILALARA THALASSA ***** One of the Algarve's most respected luxury resorts with a worldfamous Thalasso therapy centre. 5 pools (2 sea water). Treatments fro health, beauty and well-being. Tennis. Restaurants (inc. diet & gourmet). Bars.

Tel: (+351) 282 320 000 Fax: (+351) 282 320 077 www.sofitelvilalara.com

GARBE HOTEL **** In the centre of Armação de Pêra, perched directly over the golden cliffs and beach. Extensively remodeled in recent years. Pool. Beauty salon. Tennis and horse riding nearby. Watersports. Restaurant. Bar.

SUITES ALBA RESORT & SPA Next to Albandeira beach, on the most unspoiled, scenic stretches of coastline with walks, cliffs, and beaches. Suites with 1 or 2 bedrooms. Pool. Kids' club. Spa with wide range of treatments. Pool. Restaurant.

VILA GALÉ NAUTICO **** Just across the road from Armação de Pera beach and a short walk from town centre. Outdoor and indoor pools. Gym. Turkish baths. Jacuzzi. Kids' club. Restaurant. Bar.

VALE DE REI SUITE RESORT **** A few minutes' drive from one of the beautiful beaches, Praia da Marinha, Benagil village and beach. Hotel or garden suites or rooms. 2 pools. Tennis. Beauty spa with sauna. Jacuzzi. Steam room. Restaurant. Bar.

Tel: (+351) 282 320 260 Fax: (+351) 282 315 187 www.hotelgarbe.com

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SOFITEL THALASSA VILALARA ***** Set in a magnificient tropical garden covering 10ha, with direct access to the beach.5 pools (3 of seawater) 1 heated all year round. 3 restaurants (1 low-calories restaurant, 1 gastronomic, 1 grill). 3 bars, Thalassotherapy center. Spa. Beauty parior

Tel: (+351) 282 310 000 Fax: (+351) 282 310 060 www.vilagale.pt

Tel: (+351) 282 380 700 Fax: (+351) 282 353 027 www.albaresort.com

Tel: (+351) 282 380 120 Fax: (+351) 282 380 129 www.valedelrei.com


SUITE HOTEL MARINA CLUB **** A recently opened aparthotel on Lagos marina, close to Meia Praia beach and a short walk into historic Lagos. Pool. Health club. Sauna. Jacuzzi. Café. Regata Bar.

ROMANTICA HOTEL VIVENDA MIRANDA

COLINA DE MOUROS*** Silves only hotel, just a few minutes walk to the town centre. Dramatic views of the ancient castle. 57 airconditioned rooms. Adult and childrens pools. Restaurant and pool snackbar. Parking.

Tel: (+351) 282 790 600 Fax: (+351) 282 790 601 www.marinaclub.pt

TIVOLI LAGOS **** In Lagos, within a few minutes' walk of the centre and marina. Outdoor and indoor pools. Health club. Beach club on Meia Praia beach. Tennis. Water sports. Restaurants. Bars.

Tel: (+351) 282 440 420 Fax: (+351) 282 440 426

TIVOLI ALMANSOR **** Fronting on to its own beautiful bay and beach. Short walk from Carvoeiro centre. Outdoor and indoor pools. Health club. Jacuzzi. Sauna. Turkish bath. Fitness room. Floodlit tennis courts. Scuba diving centre.

Tel: (+351) 282 790 079 Fax: (+351) 282 790 345 www.tivolihotels.com

ROMANTICA HOTEL VIVENDA MIRANDA **** In Porto de Mos, 2kms west of Lagos. An exceptional small (19 suites, 7 rooms) hotel set in beautiful, lush gardens with stunning coastal views. Heated pool. Beauty centre. Sauna. Turkish bath. Famous restaurant.

Tel: (+351) 282 351 100 Fax: (+351) 282 351 345 www.tivolihotels.com

CASABELA HOTEL **** Jaw-dropping views west down the coastline. Quiet position just outside Ferragudo. Direct access to beach. Pool. Tennis court. Gardens between beach and hotel. Restaurant. Snack bar. Bar.

Tel: (+351) 282 763 222 Fax: (+351) 282 760 342 www.vivendamiranda.com

BELA VISTA HOTEL **** Set a little back on a hill overlooking Praia da Luz. Heated pool. Sauna. Gym. Tennis. Restaurant. Bar.

Tel: (+351) 282 490 650 Fax: (+351) 282 461 581 www.hotel-casabela.de

HOTEL ALGARVE CASINO Includes a colourful casino and views over the still, blue ocean and golden sand of Praia da Rocha beach. 2swimming pools. 3 restaurants. lush gardens and the beach on your doorstep. Children’s playground. Water sports. 208 rooms. Sauna. Turkish bath. Hairdresser. Jacuzzi

Tel: (+351) 282 788 655 Fax: (+351) 282 788 656 www.belavistadaluz.com

VILA LUZ APARTHOTEL**** Just 100 metres from the sea and 5 minutes walk to Praia da Luz beach. Adult and childrens pool, snackbar, lounge, snooker and underground garage.

Avenida Tomás Cabreira - Praia da Rocha 8500-802 Portimão

Tel: (+351) 282 771 110 Fax: (+35) 282 771 119 www.vila-luz.com

PESTANA ALVOR PRAIA ***** Perched over a delightful beach with cliffs and rocks (Três Irmãos), and a long duned beach at the side (Alvor). Outdoor and indoor pool. Health spa. Kids's club. 7 tennis courts. Large conference centre.

LUZ BAY CLUB HOTEL**** Luz Bay Club Hotel offers an atmosphere of tranquility and wellness. Restaurant. Bar. 2 exterior outside swimming pools for adults and 1 seperate swimming pool for children. tennis court. Sauna. Squash. turkish bath.

Tel: (+351) 282 400 900 Fax: (+351) 282 400 999 www.pestana.com

IBEROTEL**** Not far from the beautiful long Alvor beach and colourful riverside village. Restaurant with bar. Shop. Heated indoor pool (in Winter). Gym. Sauna. Steam bath. Jacuzzi. Table tennis. Billiards. Seperated outdoor pool for children.

Tel: (+351) 282 789 640 E-mail:reservations@maisturismo.pt

POUSADA SAGRES The Algarve's most westerly hotel at Sagres, where Henry the Navigator had his famous navigational school. Outdoor pool. Tennis courts. Restaurant. Bar.

Tel:(+351) 282 400 525 Fax:(+351) 282 400 528

LE MERIDIEN PENINA ***** The Algarve's famous original golf hotel with Henry Cotton's magnificent 18-hole course, plus 2 more 9-holes. Pool. 5 floodlit tennis courts. Beach club on Alvor beach. Waterports. Kids' club. Health club. Restaurants. Bars. Tel: (+351) 282 420 200 Fax: (+351) 282 420 300 www.lemeridien-hotels.com

Tel: (+351) 282 620 240 Fax: (+351) 282 624 225 www.pousadas.pt

ALBACORA

71


FACT FILE

Why buy property in the Algarve The allure of the Algarve is timeless. Despite new fashionable property hotspots, it continues to offer the safest and most attractive conditions for those wishing to buy in the sun.

72


he climate is one of the healthiest and most pleasant in the world, comparable to California. There is sufficient seasonal variation to make the weather anything but boring, but winters are never too cold and the summers never too hot. The skies are predominantly blue all year round. The Algarve has managed to retain its timeless ‘old world’ charm and traditional values even though it is an integral part of an ambitious, forward-looking nation, and tourism is its major economic activity. Tourism has brought considerable prosperity to the Algarve and contributed significantly to the overall economic strength of a stable democracy with a moderate, centrist government within the European Union. The nation's constitution and well-founded legal system give foreign buyers and property owners the same fundamental rights and protection as those enjoyed by Portuguese citizens. New legislation has even abolished inheritance tax for family members and tax on house purchases has been slashed. Air links and telecommunication facilities are excellent. Faro and Lisbon international air-

T

ports, satellite television, cellular telephones, fax machines, computer modems and the internet mean you can be as globally in touch as you want to be. While you personally may be stepping into relatively unknown territory by buying property in Portugal, plenty of foreigners have done it before you. There is a well-established procedure and there is no shortage of sound advice available on all aspects of setting up home in the Algarve (see examples elsewhere in this magazine). It is both a place to relax and do little or, if you prefer it, indulge your every active recreational interest, much of it outdoors in the clean, fresh air. The environment is much less spoilt and polluted than in other European countries. Growing popular awareness, backed by EU directives incorporated into Portuguese law, should ensure it stays that way. The region is best known for its spectacular coastline, including scores of glorious beaches. Less known, but equally attractive, is its hinterland of vineyards, olive, almond, carob and fig trees, rising to rolling hills and the plains of the province of Alentejo beyond.

In the spring, from as early as Christmas until the end of May, the countryside is in full sparkling bloom beneath exhilarating azure skies. It is a very different scene to the grey gloom that pervades northern Europe early in the year. From a few kilometres inland, the Algarve is covered with evergreen trees and shrubs and so the countryside remains remarkably lush even in the height of summer. Language is generally not a problem and, anyway, you will enjoy picking up at least a smattering of Portuguese. You can get by in English, so long as you understand the Portuguese all-purpose expression that sums up any and all of life's minor travails: não faz mal - ‘it doesn't matter’. The cost of living is considerably less than in the UK and other European destinations. Inexpensive restaurant bills and the absurdly low price of wines and spirits make dining out the norm, rather than the exception, for most foreign residents here. The only things completely missing here that you may find in sunny places such as Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Florida or the Carribean are hurricanes, sweltering summers, pollution or high crime rates.

73


Property listings The next pages offer an unrivalled selection of property around the Algarve, from west to east.

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LAGOS, LUZ & WEST

• The A2 motorway runs well beyond Lagos, giving easy access from Faro airport and all other parts of the Algarve, and to the spectacular west coast. • The delightful town of Lagos is the main urban centre in the area. Beyond it lie the coastal villages of Praia da Luz , Burgau and Salema. • The golden sandy beaches north of Sagres remain unspoilt with Aljezur becoming an increasingly popular town, well worth a visit.

CARVOEIRO, SILVES & FERRAGUDO PORTIMÃO & ALVOR AREA • Portimão is the Algarve’s second largest town after Faro and second largest fishing port after Olhão. It is a bustling business and shopping centre on the west bank of the Arade river. • Praia da Rocha is a popular beachside suburb of Portimão. The beach is vast and overlooked by a long promenade lined with holiday apartnent blocks, hotels, restaurants, bars and shops. • To the west, the fishing village of Alvor has seen a considerable amount of residential and holiday development all around it, but the village proper has retain much of its charm . • Inland to the north lies the town of Monchique, and the Serra de Monchique range of hills where the air is cooler and the lifestyle relaxed and rural.

• The village of Carvoeiro sits next to a little bay and is a self-catering holiday mecca in the summer months. The outskirts of the village have been widely developed, mostly with attractive individial villas. • Development is gathering momentum around the ‘unspoilt’ village of Ferragudo on the east bank of the Arade, near the mouth of the river. • Silves, the capital of the Algarve in medieval times, is steeped in Moorish history.


FARO, OLHÃO, TAVIRA & EAST

VILAMOURA AREA

ALBUFEIRA & GALÉ • Albufeira has long been the unofficial ‘tourist capital’ of the Algarve. The town has expanded widely, both to the east and west, from the old town centre. A new marina has added another dimension to this vibrant and cosmopolitan resort • Galé is one of the several beautiful beaches in the vicinity of Albufeira with nearb homes for sale.

• Vilamoura is reputed to be one of Europe’s largest private develoopments. In adduition to its thousands of permanent residents, it attract large numbers of holidaymakers throughout the year. •The Algarve biggest concentration of golf courses is located here. The most recently built of the five excellent 18-hole courses is the Oceânico Victoria, which hosted the 2005 Golf World Cup. • Vilamoura’s wide range of facilities include the region’s biggest marina, top hotels and plenty of restaurants and nightlife, including a casino. • • The drive to Faro airport is just 20 minutes, to the Spanish border 40 minutes and Lisbon is just over two hour’s drive away. • Property is now available on the new Arnold Palmer golf course.

LOULÉ & ALMANCIL

• Loulé is the Algarve’s largest inland market town. It is the administrative centre for Almancil and the region’s most exclusive coastal resorts of Quinta do Lago, Vale do Lobo and Vilamoura. •Almancil is a centre of commerce serving the nearby luxury resorts, the hub of the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ where property prices are the region’s highest. •No area favoured by foreign investors has quicker or easier access to Faro airport.

•Faro, the regional capital of the Algarve, is a small but busy provincial city. Although there are some interesting sights of historic al interest, few foregn residents or visitors see much of the city apart from the international airport on the outskirts. •Olhão, the region’s biggest fishing port, is one of the main towns on the edge of the Ria Formosa nature reserve. The shallow lagoon waters, sandbanks and islands are a refuge for many species of wading birds and wildfowl. •At the western end of the Ria Formosa, Tavira is one of the Algarve’s most picturesque and delightful towns. Vila Real dº Santo António and Castro Marim are the region’s two most easterly towns, situated next to the estuary of the River Guadiana that forms the border with the Spanish province of Andalucia. •Until recently, the eastern Algarve had seen little residential or tourist development of interest to foreigners. That has changed fairly dramatically over the last couple of years.

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Lagos

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79


Albufeira

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Albufeira

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Castro Marim

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Tavira

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CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING


Can’t find the property you want? maybe we can help

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DELIVERED TO YOUR DOOR Subscribe now to receive this magazine every two months 1108


REAL ESTATE AGENCY DIRECTORY

To advertise contact

Vivienne Chinque 916 164 302

(East of Albufeira & Spain)

John Hill 912 264 944

(Albufeira and West)

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REAL ESTATE AGENCY DIRECTORY

89


LAW

GARDENS

AIR CONDITIONING

PROPERTY SERVICES DIRECTORY

Be Seen, Be Here...

To advertise contact

90

Email david@vistaiberica.com

PAINTING

Tel 282 340 660 or 917 717 548

KITCHENS

DENTIST

ARCHITECTURE

DAV I D T H U R S F I E L D


DAV I D T H U R S F I E L D

Email david@vistaiberica.com

Be Seen, Be Here... SURVEYING

To advertise contact

DAV I D T H U R S F I E L D

Email david@vistaiberica.com

Tel 282 340 660 or 917 717 548

Photos: Bianca Luig

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

REMOVALS

Tel 282 340 660 or 917 717 548

WATER

To advertise contact

WINES & SPIRITS

Be Seen, Be Here...

PICTURES & FRAMING SERVICE

PROPERTY SERVICES DIRECTORY

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