Post-Covid, what kind of house is a family in Quinta do Lago looking for?
Matias: The way we live in our houses/villas/homes has changed. The formal dining room doesn’t exist anymore. Nowadays, a proper, formal enclosed dining area is not a necessity for people. Dining has moved outside, in the Algarve at least. Where previously the main features of the house were the formal dining area and sitting room, those areas are being removed, and they are becoming more bedrooms, or a snug, or an office.
The house has to meet a demand if you need to live-in. The social areas and the areas where the family lives and works need to be separate. There should be a family study room, for homeschooling, and a home office - but this is not just a desk in a room, it needs to be a very functional and well-designed space that supports productivity and mental health. We have to make spaces that are productive, it’s very important to people - even in holiday homes now!
Previously, these would be optional “extras”, but now they are prime areas for the house. Everyone is asking for a “proper office”. They need the conditions, the proper lighting, windows, so you don’t feel you’re working in the spare room or in the pantry!
Integrated with the tech, of course, but the architecture is very important for these spaces. Previously, you might have worked in your dining room because it was only every so often, but now this is a requirement to have a dedicated space that is quiet and well-designed for productivity with a good connection to the outside.
Proper natural lighting is also required, with dimensions that can be pleasant and productive for video conferences or meetings. The conditions that we would give to a high-level city office, corner office with a huge window, you want the same conditions inside the house, but without the office ‘taking over’ the main part of the home. That is a challenge. How to make those spaces stand out, without taking over the house.
More and more people are less worried about basement cinema and games rooms, but they want a snug room next to the kitchen, where they can play and be sociable together. Otherwise, you are always feeling ‘socially distanced’, so we need these shared spaces for families.
But then, of course, there has to be separate rooms for work and the kids will have a study, replacing a ground floor bedroom, near to the main part of the family home. This area needs to be easy access, but we don’t want it to be the main focus of the ground floor. It’s not the main feature, but it is an essential feature. We will need to fit more rooms into the house than previously.
What about home gyms, has anything changed? Are people now building in-home golf simulators or rock-climbing walls as they try to bring their outdoor activities home?
Matias: I would say the demand is for more state-of-the-art technology. Peloton bikes, webcams and TVs. We will see a continued growth in bringing the personal trainer to people’s homes.
A really interesting new concept is bespoke perfume for the home. It is something that is becoming more and more important in hotels, big chains. Wherever you go worldwide, when you enter this hotel chain in New York or in Paris, it’s the same smell. It’s an essential sense, of course, so the hotel is not just looking great, but it’s also smelling great and it’s recognisable every time you enter.
Everyone goes every week to buy their scented candles and aromas, but with this, the smell is custom-made, a perfume for the house. Quinta should develop their own one, I think. The smell of the sea, or golf course, or a custom smell for a house. I think it’s very nice.
How is the garden being used in 2021?
Matias: Extending the indoors to the outdoors, the garden is a really important part of the family home - especially in the Algarve. You want to be comfortable, design unique outdoor kitchen space, with the fire pit and lounge areas used for relaxing, or an area with a waterfall feature. Maybe an outdoor gym with a yoga deck, or a cinema room in the open air, landscaped to be separated so you can go to these parts for a certain activity or purpose.
You could have an area for exercise and go there with your personal trainer and workout outside. Having the connection from the inside to the outside, with your lawn extending to green golf views makes your house more open. Being connected to the nature is what a house in Quinta do Lago provides.
Where is property investment in the Algarve going?
We also checked in with Sean Moriarty, chief executive of Quinta do Lago – a low-rise, low density and ecologically-driven resort – for his thoughts on where investment in Portugal might go for the rest of this year, and whether Brexit is having any impact.
With potentially ongoing travel restrictions making it difficult for people to visit Portugal in person right now, will this affect the second home market in the Algarve?
“We are seeing an increasing trend in property transactions – both in resales and plots. People are looking for a low-density location surrounded by nature, which is exactly what Quinta do Lago offers,” Moriarty insists.
“We are also hopeful that Portugal will be on the UK's green list come May 17, so restrictions should lift and enable potential buyers the chance to visit us in person. We are also positive that with the advance of the vaccination rollout, the situation will only continue to improve.”
As for Brexit, and whether it’s had any material impact on investment in the Algarve so far, Moriarty says: “Truthfully, we have not felt any impact at all. We feel that interest from the UK market is only getting stronger.”