Portugal is known for its wealth of accommodation, with modern apartments and villas clustered around some of the best beaches in Europe along the southern Algarve coast. But not everyone is looking for a two bedroom apartment with shared pool, or a three/four bed villa with a few orange trees.
These days, a new breed of buyer is looking for something seriously unusual.
Chris White, founding director of boutique estate agency Ideal Homes Portugal, explains,
"While buyers of apartments and villas are still the bread and butter of Portugal's property market, we've noticed a growing trend in the Algarve for properties that have unusual features, or an exciting backstory - homes that break the mould so far as a 'normal' second home is concerned."
The Ideal Homes Portugal team has come across some fascinating examples over the past few years. In the pretty, cobbled streets of the eastern Algarve town of Tavira, the Convento da Bernardas is a restored 16th century convent that has been tastefully developed into a number of uniquely designed apartments. Original features abound, like the stunning exterior façade, while new additions like the two saltwater swimming pools add to the building's charms. In a nod to contemporary living, each apartment has its own entrance and private car parking space, while optical fibre systems, television and internet cabling has been installed throughout the building.
Beyond the urban delights of Tavira, up in the hills of the central Algarve, a restored windmill with two miller's cottages is another of the unusual properties that has delighted the Ideal Homes Portugal team. On the market for €159,000, the windmill still features the wheel mechanism and the grinding millstone, which has been turned into a table. Solar panels and generators provide electricity to this fascinating home, which is ripe for development as a tourism venture. The unique nature of the property means that the right buyer has the potential to turn it into anything from a yoga retreat to a star gazing haven.
Perhaps the most exciting of the Algarve's unusual offerings is the centuries-old Funcho Village. A truly unique business/investment opportunity, the lakeside village has stood empty since 1974, when the overthrowing of the Dictator Salazar meant that youngsters suddenly had the freedom to opt for a life beyond working the land. They abandoned the rural life in pursuit of the bright lights of the cities.
Now, the local authority of Silves is keen for Funcho Village to be transformed into an attractive rural tourism destination, with the national government having given permission for the creation of a hotel, log cabins, restaurants, water sports facilities, a dry ski slope and an observatory. The village is on the market for €4 million.
While an entire village in need of redevelopment isn't what every buyer is seeking, the Algarve also offers some delightful villas with unusual aspects, such as the seven bedroom luxury home in Sao Clemente that includes a 'magic garden.' Designed to capture the imagination and hearts of the property's owners, the garden features several varied living zones in a layout that promotes serenity and peace of mind. Those whose minds are already serene can simply enjoy the property's tennis court, heated pool, large terraces and hot tub.
"We are seeing more and more of homes for sale with unusual features," concludes Ideal Homes Portugal's Chris White. "Buyers want a home that is special and unique to them - 'one size fits all' has definitely had its day!"