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Vila Real de Santo António council plans mega-resort at Monte Gordo

vrsa2The president of the Algarve Tourism Board, Desidério Silva, said today in Lisbon that tour operators have to work throughout the year to combat seasonality, referring to the need to strengthen the supply of tourists between October and May.

"We want a sustainable region for six months; we want a sustainable region throughout the year," said Desidério Silva, explaining that he is working with the government to "find a solution that minimises the impact of seasonality."

Everyone is at the Lisbon Tourist Fair at the moment, vying for sound bites and column inches, Silva among them who picked on the old chestnut of ‘seasonality’ to demonstrate that he is doing something about this most elusive of concepts.

Silva now is blaming a fall in demand on tour operators, who in turn blame tourists for not wanting to go to the Algarve during the winter months.

Silva said "we need to find a balance" and operators have a responsibility to "meet the level of demand" of tourists and demanded that "hotels have to open earlier and close later."

"We will work on sporting events, cultural events and will also seek to recover our roots and our traditions," said Silva, adding that the Algarve will continue to provide a diverse offering while convincing no one that he has a grip on the subject.

The president of the Algarve’s tourist board had another go at TAP, stating that the service provided by the airline at Faro airport "is clearly a shame."

But the tourism boss had one ace up his sleeve, a children’s book in Portuguese called ‘Algarve, quem és tu?’ (Algarve, who are you?) which will be made available to youngsters with "suggestions for tours, trivia and fun activities to do as a family in each of the Algarve’s municipalities." How this will fill the seasonal tourism gap remains to be explained.

Vila Real de Santo António council had bigger projects in mind at the Fair when launching a €200 million investment opportunity for major new tourist facilities.

The area along the sea front in Monte Gordo could be transformed with the construction of six new hotels and the almost total redevelopment of the area.

According to the VRSA mayor, speaking as if the project already is underway, "the operation is the largest tourism project ever undertaken in the county and includes the construction of four hotels, which will bring the area about 1,500 new beds."

"New accommodation alone is expected to bring an investment of €185 million, which shows a strong tourism strategy and will create dozens of jobs," says Luís Gomes, the council’s mayor.

The redevelopment of VRSA’s Guadiana Hotel will begin later this month and "also this year the construction of the Hotel Vila Real de Santo Antonio and Sports Complex will start."

Next, there are three smaller hotel units being created in the historic centre of VRSA in Baixa Pombalina.

There are big plans for Monte Gordo with "the largest urban redevelopment operation ever performed along the sea front with the creation of a large promenade with green spaces plus leisure areas for commerce, shops and restaurants."

The project will begin in September 2016 and "aims to meet the objectives set out in the Coastal Zone Management Plan (POOC) Vilamoura - VRSA."

The total cost of the contract for the redevelopment of the beach front, which will join the new hotel, is €15 million.

In addition to an almost unregonisable Monte Gordo, there is to be a new zone called ‘Cacela Beach.’

This worrying concept 'unifies' Manta Rota beaches, Lota and Cacela Velha/Fabrica, giving a new identity to this unique coastal strip located at the beginning of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Although each beach will keep its unique identity, the new brand is to assert Cacela beaches as "a unique place, familiar and natural."

These are, according to VRSA council, "attributes that have earned these beaches the title of best in the world by specialist magazines and is one of the reasons for the UNESCO application"

All the council now needs are investors who share its view of the future that Monte Gordo should become an even larger and swankier mass tourism destination. 

The council is dreaming of the income from property taxes but whether VRSA/Monte Gordo is the right place for a tourist development of this scale remains to be seen. The investors will decide.


Design for new waterfront

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0 #6 Zai barendse 2017-04-18 09:13
What about the existing front beach, is it going to be protected ? Does the plan include huge high building in front of the existing ones? Not fair if that's the case, and what about protecting he environment and its beautiful pine trees. Agree with development providing they are not going to change it into another cement jungle , rather utilize what they already have and upgrade it , make an attractive water front with interesting walkways, gardens, coffee shops and restaurants , shops for trading at an affordable rent , and family activities . Weather is good and lots of scope for improvement.
+1 #5 Nollie Hallensleben 2017-04-12 20:02
What a pity it would be to ruin this really beautiful and relaxed area just for the dream of great money! Don't destroy the freedom of the diversity Monte Gordo now has.
+2 #4 Pat martin 2016-11-05 19:47
What about the bars on the beach that have been there for years, will they have to shut their doors and their livelihoods. Monte gordo does not need huge hotels etc they can't fill the ones they have. Monte gordo attracts people of later years, not sure this change will be welcomed
+5 #3 Jim Jackson 2016-10-11 13:05
What about the poor people who own apartments in what is known as the front line who have a sea view and paid for that. If the new developement goes ahead all they will see is the back of a four storey building.
I have come to Monte Gordo for over thirty years and I like it as it is. Do think turning it into another Villamoura is a good idea I don't think the hotel rooms in Villamoura are full during the winter so why turn it into another one
+5 #2 Verjinie 2016-03-05 11:34
Does this overwhelming scheme require the destruction of 'protected' (and protecting) pine-woods, which provide Winter walking and cycling?
+4 #1 Peter Booker 2016-03-04 08:30
You are right Ed that the investors will decide. They will have to be persuaded that the availability of more hotel beds is what is required to encourage lots of extra visitors.

As you say, no one has actually grasped this particular concept. What is the attraction of a winter beach in the Algarve? Or anywhere else in the Algarve in winter?

Encouraging moves would include sorting out the water and sewage disposal facilities (and the smell over Olhão); to upgrade the 125 and reduce the tolls on the Via Rápida. And then to publicise the attractions of nature and the pure air of this region.

But these items require joined up thinking. It is easier just to build more hotels.

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