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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2013 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Driving new custom

Tourism

Driving new custom


Set on 3.5km of coastline next to the Rio Formosa National Park, for 40 years Quinta do Lago golf resort has been the place to holiday on the Portugese Algarve. But even the best have to adapt in a recession, as Kath Hudson reports

Kath Hudson
The resort is next to the Formosa Estuary and the sea, in the Rio Formosa National Park
The recently-opened Conrad Algarve has an indoor and an outdoor pool
The Conrad Algarve is Hilton's second resort on the Portugese Algarve
The King Roof Garden Suite at the Conrad Algarve has an infinity pool with retractable roof
One of the resort's luxury residential properties – all have views of either the sea, the lake or the golf course

"Quinta previously had the luxury of running waiting lists for all its products, so it was ill-equipped when the market dropped,” says Quinta do Lago's CEO John Dwyer. “With the average age of [residential villa] owners being 73, we needed to make sure we were appealing to the younger generation as well.”

Golf has traditionally been the anchor of the Quinta do Lago resort, situated on the Portuguese Algarve. However golf has been dealt a double whammy recently. On the back of the UK recession – Britain is the Algarve’s biggest market – the Portuguese government hiked VAT on golf from 6 per cent to 23 per cent.

As a result of all of this, Dwyer has been steadily implemented changes since he was drafted in in 2007. The events programme has been souped up and there's been an investment in broadening the resort’s leisure base, with the addition of a gym and more investment in restaurants.

This year the resort's fish restaurant Casa do Lago had a facelift, and two more restaurants will open in 2013: a French bistro and an American-style restaurant with beef as the focus.

Building a community
A series of events are now regularly organised to create more of a community feel, including Party in the Park, when the immaculate driving range is transformed with bouncy castles, football games and music. Boat races on the lake and kitesurfing competitions are among this year’s highlights.

A concierge service is being launched for 2013 to provide a one stop shop for bookings, advice and other guest requests. As well as providing great customer care, this will help drive demand for its products, such as tennis lessons, yoga sessions and personal training.

Another of Dwyer’s priorities is to lengthen the season. “The whole game is driving up occupancy all year round. We make good money from food and beverage for seven months and then bleed for five months, so it’s about neutralising that bleed,” says Dwyer. “A sales person has been taken on to chase down the MICE market and has generated E1.7m-worth of potential business for 2013. We're investing and working on new products all the time.”

CONRAD ALGARVE
Another exciting development for Quinta in 2012 was the October launch of the Conrad Algarve, Hilton’s six star brand. This hotel will be the first, and only hotel in the resort to stay open all year round.

Service and attention to detail are the watchwords for the hotel. Each element of the hotel experience has been studied and honed. To improve the guest experience, for example, check-in can be completed in the car on the way from the airport.

“We're offering a very high level of service, attention to detail and will know each of our guests personally. It’s difficult, but achievable,” says Antoine Couve, Conrad’s cluster director of business development Algarve. “We want the Conrad Algarve to be a destination spa, destination hotel and destination restaurant.”

Facilities include an infinity pool, outside fires and double sunbeds. Restaurant Gustao offers a contemporary lifestyle dining experience from a three star Michelin chef. With a starting price of E4,234 per night, the rooftop garden suite definitely has the wow factor. It has an indoor swimming pool beneath a retractable roof, a bridge to a private 180sq m roof terrace, and a lift to the spa. Couve expects to sell it 60 days a year.

The breakdown of guests is expected to be 30 per cent from the UK, 15 per cent from Portugal, 15 per cent from Germany and the rest from France, Benelux, Italy and Scandinavia. Couve says that Conrad is keen to develop the niche markets of Russia, China, Brazil and previous Portuguese colonies such as Angola.

CONRAD SPA
The first in-house spa for Conrad, which will provide the blueprint for its spas going forward, the Conrad Spa Algarve continues the hotel’s focus on individual service.
On arrival, each guest is offered either a warm or an iced hand towel, as well as a spa mixology tea.

Intraceuticals and Aromatherapy Associates are the product lines being used and Aromatherapy Associates has been instrumental in the spa treatment menu, which is made up of five different categories.

The Conrad Algarve Signature Treatments, for example, are all luxurious and draw on local techniques, culture and surroundings.

The five treatment rooms each have a cabana, so guests can choose whether to have their treatment indoors or out. There's a sauna overlooking a garden, a chromotherapy steamroom with changing lights and scents, a sensory shower, an ice fountain, heated beds, a warm relaxation pool, a plunge pool and an infinity pool, as well as a relaxation room, gym and a hairdressing salon.

QUINTA DO LAGO REAL ESTATE
Property is an important element of Quinta do Lago’s business model: there are 1,200 properties owned, predominantly, as holiday homes. Owners have the option of entering their properties into the rental pool and around 40 per cent do this. This is a growth area, with rentals up 75 per cent on last year’s figures.

Maria Chapman, in charge of property and rentals, says owners can look at a minimum of 10 weeks rental a year, which is enough to cover property costs. Prices range from E1,800 a week for a two-bed apartment to E8,500 for a five-bed villa with pool.

The resort has also just launched the final tranche of 26 residential plots for sale, which overlook the San Lorenzo golf course.


QUINTA DO LAGO FACILITIES
- 3.5km beach
- Paul McGinley Golf Academy
- Portugal’s only tailor made golf fitting service
- Four hotels (individually managed)
- Three golf courses, with access to two more
- Tennis courts and Jim Stewart Academy
- Watersports centre for waterskiing, jet-skiing and fishing, as well as sailing and pedalos
- Equestrian centre
- Mountain bike trails
- Life Fitness gym, offering personal training and yoga and pilates at the villas Seven restaurants


Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 1

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