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Will Covid-19 lead to a redefinition of long-term residential tourism?

Google searches for ‘moving abroad’ have once again returned to the peak search figures of last year. The current Covid climate, for all its many challenges and downsides, has brought with it a greater sense of flexibility for the workplace, with less people now tied to an office or a single working location.

Working life will never be the same again, and the pandemic will almost certainly represent a step-change in working patterns - not just in the UK, but across the world. The orthodoxy of the 9-5 work day, which has its roots in the labour unions of the 1800s and started to become mainstream in the 1920s, is now being challenged like never before.

According to the Martinhal Family Hotels & Resort team, which is looking to redefine residential tourism with its new Martinhal Residences, the impact of living through a global pandemic is highly likely to ‘leave us with a reinforced and reinvented understanding of what matters most in life’.


Now is the time, it says, to reflect on lifestyles, where it is that we want to be based and raise our families, and how we want to work.

The Martinhal Residences are looking to offer this. The brainchild of the founders of the award-winning Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts, the residences are a brand new development of stylish apartments, aiming to combine luxury living and hotel abodes.

The new additions to the Martinhal brand are located in the ‘well-connected and highly desirable’ Park of Nations (Parque das Nações) district in Lisbon, which it describes as the Portuguese capital’s most modern and family-friendly neighbourhood. The area was created for the 1998 World Lisbon Exposition and offers a striking modern contrast to the historic centre of the Portuguese capital.

It is a modern area, full of open spaces and leisure opportunities, and is located in the northeastern part of the city, easily accessed by the Metro. It represented a major change in Lisbon’s fortunes and played a big part in its transformation to the tourist favourite it has today become, while also being an important milestone in Portugal’s development into a modern, 21st-century country.

The residences, set to be completed by early 2022, have proven popular worldwide, with properties sold to over 20 nationalities around the world.

In total, the new development will include 160 ‘bright, light and stylish’ apartments with terraces and balconies enjoying views of the river and neighbouring public park. Carefully detailed and ‘designed to the highest standards’, these studios, one, two, three and five-bedroom residences are aiming to be ‘best-in-their-class’. The luxury development will also include a select number of penthouse apartments and duplexes.

Additionally, the development will feature heated indoor and outdoor pools, a children’s playground, a gymnasium, a Martinhal Kids Club, a bistro-restaurant, a business centre and gardens. The development also enjoys ‘prime access’, with the international airport and central Lisbon just a few minutes away.

Why Portugal?

Portugal, with its stable and warm climate (with over 3,300 hours of sunshine a year), its relaxed pace of life and its underrated food and wine, has long been a firm favourite amongst British holidaymakers and second-home owners.

The country ranks as the third safest country in the world and has high quality healthcare, which is affordable and free for those who become residents.

Chitra Stern, one of the founders of Martinhal Family Hotels & Resorts, and the Martinhal Residences, said in her recent TED Talk about why Portugal is trending that ‘Portugal is an authentic country, it is modern and European, but still keeps its old-world charm about it”.

The introduction of Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident Regime (NHR) by the Portuguese government in 2009 has enabled those employed in Portugal (under a pre-defined list of professions in the scientific, technical and artistic sector) to benefit from reduced tax rates and some exemptions for the first ten years in the country.

Under the scheme, there is also a flat 10% tax on foreign pension income, a low rate to pay on pensions and significantly less than the usual Portuguese income tax rates – at 14.5% compared to 48%.

Martinhal says that the generous tax breaks through the NHR is just another one of the many reasons that Brits often choose Portugal for a residential move.

Martinhal’s one stop-shop to moving abroad

Google’s top search trends in relation to moving abroad are related to ‘moving abroad – where to start?’ or ‘how to searches’, but Martinhal insists it takes the hassle out of making that move abroad for families, with all-important facilities on site, including 24-hour reception and concierge, dry-cleaning and laundry services, IT support, maintenance support and more.

The Martinhal owners are also behind the founding team of a new ‘world-class international school’, which is launching in central Lisbon this September. The United Lisbon International School for students in Early Childhood (from 3 years) to grade 9 (14/15 years), is now open for registrations.

Martinhal says longer-term rentals and the possibility of splitting your time between different locations is also made easier as it can help owners to rent out their property for six months of the year if required.

Apartments are on sale now with prices starting from €300,000.   

Portugal remains a no-show on Britain’s exemption list

The Portuguese government and the country’s tourism sector, in particular in the popular holiday region of the Algarve, have been left furious regarding Portugal’s exclusion from the UK government’s quarantine-free exemption list.

Last Friday, the UK government announced a list of 59 countries and 14 British Overseas Territories where Brits will be able to go without having to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. Despite Portugal’s largely excellent handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with a low level of deaths and infections compared to other wealthier countries such as the UK, and despite Portugal being one of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations, the country did not appear on this list.

At present, determined diplomatic efforts are underway to try and force Downing Street to rethink, with everyone from the Portuguese Prime Minister to UK magazine the Spectator being left baffled by the decision.

As the Spectator outlined in a recent article: “Portugal has recorded an impressively low Covid-19 infection and death rate (with just 159 deaths per million people, compared to 652 in the UK), especially when compared to neighbouring Spain (607 deaths per million people). The impact of the pandemic could have been far more severe in a country where nearly one in three people are aged over 65, and which has the lowest number of intensive care beds per capita in all of Europe.”

However, a recent report suggests that Portuguese citizens living in England are returning from their home country after a holiday there without any checks or requests to quarantine.


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