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Portugal investment – Finnish group commits €30 million to scheme

Ombria Resort – a ‘world-leading luxury real estate development in the heart of the Algarve’ – recently announced that Pontos Group, a Finnish family office, will invest around €30 million into the construction of the Alcedo Villas, a set of 12 luxury detached villas.  

A development in the Eastern Algarve which prizes sustainability, Ombria Resort aims to create an ‘unparalleled’ luxury development that ‘perfectly integrates into the surrounding natural landscape'.

Situated on a plot close to The Viceroy Hotel at Ombria Resort, (which has been under construction since December 2019), the Alcedo Villas will be built on individual lots of 1,700 m2 to 3,300 m2.

The villas are set to have between 3-7 rooms, heated pools, lift, roof terrace, garage for three cars and large gardens overlooking the sprawling golf course of Ombria Resort.

They will be built individually to the taste of each client and delivered turnkey. These houses are purely residential and are sold in plan with an approved project, which allows each buyer flexibility to build a house where the interior design and finishes can be customised and adapted to their preferences. 

Construction of the first villa is set to start this summer, in line with coronavirus guidelines, and sits at the very top end of the market, with prices starting at €2,550,000 (furniture not included).

The design of the homes is the responsibility of the Portuguese architecture firm, PROMONTÓRIO, to make sure that each house retains its individuality whilst at the same time being integrated into one common concept. That is ‘a contemporary Portuguese house with traditional inspiration that matches the landscape’. The company also talks of creating a ‘simultaneous immersion between the architecture and nature at Ombria Resort’. 

Owners can either handle maintenance and the letting of their own homes independently, or hire maintenance and rental management from Ombria Resort, with all of these services provided through the hotel operator, Viceroy Hotels & Resorts. Villa owners will also be granted access and privileges to use the facilities of the Viceroy Hotel and the Ombria Resort golf course.

The €30 million investment into the construction of the Alcedo Villas is part of the €100 million that is being invested by 2022 by Pontos Group, in the first phase of the Ombria Resort development process. This first phase includes the five-star hotel Viceroy at Ombria Resort (with six restaurants, pools, spa, gym and kids’ club), 65 Viceroy Residences, a Conference Centre and an 18-hole golf course (already built and set to be open to the public at the same time as the hotel in early 2022).

Julio Delgado, chief executive of Ombria Resort, said: “This pandemic provides individuals with the opportunity to rethink the way we work and live. The Alcedo Villas are individual detached homes perched above a stream and with panoramic views of the surrounding natural landscape. The design maximises views, privacy and sun exposure for each villa. These are the perfect houses to those who want more work-life balance.” 

Until 2030, the Pontos Group is set to invest a total of €260 million over three phases. Once completed, Ombria Resort will consist of around 380 properties, some of which are tourist units (apartments, semi-detached and detached houses) and others residential (detached houses).

Ombria Resort is also looking to offer a wide range of leisure and entertainment facilities, such as an area for organic farming, beekeeping, an astronomical observatory, heated pools, paths/trails for nature walks, mountain biking and a beach club on one of the nearby beaches.

Priding itself on its sustainability and eco-credentials, the total construction density of the Ombria Resort is described as being ‘extremely low’ - at about 3.5%, which makes it one of Europe’s lowest-density construction projects.

Ombria Resort is spread over 150 hectares of ‘serene, secluded and natural landscape in the inner Algarve’. It sits just seven kilometres north of the charming working town of Loulé, with its Moorish-style daily market, castle dating back to the 2nd century and very Portuguese feel.

The resort, which is only a short drive from Faro Airport, is aiming to be a pioneer of a new generation of low-density construction resorts, in which sustainability, the environment and the support of local heritage are priorities.

It also regularly highlights its credentials as a sustainable development, with plans to contribute to the reduction of seasonality in the Algarve and the creation of new opportunities for the local population.

Pontos Group – a family-owned Finnish investment company – is the owner and developer of Ombria Resort. It invests in real estate development and digitalisation, growth companies and private equity funds in Finland and globally and also places a key focus on developing ‘cities and population centres in a way that is sustainable for people and the environment’.

The first development phase of Ombria Resort is set to complete in early 2022, with the aim of setting the bar as a new generation of low-density resort development where sustainability, the environment and support of the nature and local heritage lie at the heart of the resort.

Why is Portugal a good investment location?

We recently explored why Portugal was being deemed a safe haven by many for investment given the way it had dealt with the pandemic and its existing fundamentals and attractions.

While a recent spike in infections since lockdown was eased has led to some countries excluding Portugal from its safe destinations list, and means there is a chance that no air bridge agreement will be reached between the UK and Portugal this summer, the tourism sector and government in the country have taken significant steps to reduce risk, make Portugal Covid-safe and keep infection rates low.

Infections have gone up off the back of a number of illegally held parties in various locations across Portugal, but others argue that in many cases these are isolated incidents and that symptoms are either mild or not present at all in those testing positive.

It’s also still the case that Portugal, and the Algarve in particular, has been held up as an example of how to respond successfully to the pandemic.  

Portugal was recently the first country in Europe to receive the ‘Safe Travels’ seal from the World Travel & Tourism Council, and it ranked again as the third most peaceful country in the world in the 2020 Global Peace Index. 

On May 18, the country started reopening cultural facilities, restaurants, cafes, and shopping centres, albeit with health protocols and capacity restrictions implemented. Beaches, golf courses, marinas and car hire businesses are also open, operating with strict social distancing rules.

International flights to Faro started back from May 28 and more are set to resume in July and throughout the summer, while the land border with Spain will reopen on July 1. Currently, there are no quarantine requirements for those arriving in Portugal.

By the beginning of July, most of the Algarve hotels and resorts are set to be open with new hygiene protocols and procedures according to the “Clean & Safe” seal created by Turismo de Portugal to ensure safety for staff and guests.

While the country, like everywhere else in the world, is facing challenges as it eases out of lockdown – with rising cases in Lisbon prompting the return of some lockdown measures and the Volta a Portugal postponed due to coronavirus restrictions – it remains a strong investment choice for Brits because of the numerous tax incentives on offer, the long-standing alliance between the UK and Portugal (the longest of any in the world) and the major selling points it offers in terms of climate, cuisine, lifestyle and cost of living.

Tourism bosses in the country are also optimistic that an air-bridge between Britain and Portugal will be agreed so people can visit and holiday in the Algarve and elsewhere without having to quarantine upon their return.

Travel corridors set to open up

The government recently revealed that blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel will be relaxed in the UK from July 6, with holidaymakers and visitors expected to be allowed to travel to certain European countries without having to spend 14 days in quarantine when they return.

These countries are thought to include Spain, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Turkey, Germany and Norway - but not Portugal or Sweden. However, the full list of travel corridors with the UK hasn't yet been published and is likely to be flexible and ever-evolving in the coming months.

The new rules will give people 'the opportunity for a summer holiday abroad' while also boosting the UK economy, according to a government spokesman, but stressed that relaxation depended on risks staying low.

The travel corridors will work on the basis of a traffic light system, with countries classified as green, amber and red depending on the prevalence of coronavirus. The government has insisted that it 'wouldn't hesitate to put on the brakes' if the situation changes.

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