How this Portuguese resort makes residential and hospitality work

Quinta do Lago, a large residential and leisure resort in the Algarve region of Portugal, is continuing to expand its multi-service business model as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The resort includes private homes, holiday rentals, hotel accommodation, retail, 13 bars and restaurants, three champion golf courses, a high-spec fitness and sports training centre and a full calendar of activities and events for residents and holiday-makers.

CEO Sean Moriarty explained the benefits of having such an extensive range of revenue streams. “We like to drive each individual revenue stream first of all from a P&L perspective as standalone so it’s self-sufficient. Then, we use each business as a cross-functional business to add greater value to our clients.”

“There’s no one else who can provide a villa for you to buy and for you to sell, that can look after your gardens, your security, your maintenance, manage your home and rent your home when you are away, all put into one company and led by one team.”

“We also provide you with your golf and sports campus membership and get you a great seat in your favourite restaurant. So what we’re doing is tailor-making your stay or your life here.”

The Quinta do Lago resort was bought in 1998 by Irish billionaire businessman Denis O’Brien for an undisclosed sum and is fully owned and operated by the same company, Sociedade do Golfe da Quinta do Lago, S.A.

O’Brien, who is estimated to be worth $3.2bn, started his working life as a hotel porter but made his fortune mostly in telecoms, infrastructure and property. The resort was reportedly put up for sale in 2015 with an asking price of €220m ($240m) but then taken off the market.

Moriarty said that having just one company providing all services resulted in increased average spend by guests and residents.

“The client only has to speak to one person, instead of a different company for this and a different company for that. Guests have a designated member of staff during their stay. It starts by phone usually prior to arrival and when our guests turn up, that member of staff will meet the guest, welcome them to the resort, bring them to the rental home, show them around, confirm their restaurant bookings, their sports campus membership, do everything they need. And then also we’ve got a virtual concierge which is very useful. You just use it on your preferred messaging app. Our average turnaround time for that is no more than six minutes.”

The digital concierge service, provided by Alliants, allows the Quinta do Lago team to view and manage resident and guest requests within a single platform. Algorithms generate automatic responses to frequently asked questions and a series of QR codes direct guests quickly to their chosen restaurant. Data on resident/guest requests and needs is leveraged to drive business strategy.

Additional technology has been developed in-house, including F&B training and upselling programmes, and inventory and stock management software.

Moriarty added: “The whole idea about a place like this is that customers feel totally relaxed, they unwind, they have fun. The only way they can feel truly relaxed is if the service is amazing. A couple of ways for the service to be amazing are knowledge and speed – those are the two key elements to deliver.”

Historically, Quinta do Lago has been known as a golf resort, having hosted the Portuguese Open several times. Golf remains a key revenue driver, but the opening of a €10m high-spec sports complex known as The Campus in 2018 has greatly expanded the resort’s activities and its reputation within professional sporting circles.

To date, the Campus has hosted training camps for a number of professional football teams including Sunderland, Millwall, Sporting Portugal, Glasgow Rangers and the Croatian National Team, with several returning more than once.

Moriarty commented: “The Campus has brought in a lot of activities that were never here before.” These include golf, tennis, dance, rugby and football holiday camps for children and young adults, which are often hosted by sporting celebrities like Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Redknapp and Brian O’Driscoll.

Living at the resort on a permanent basis has become increasingly popular, Moriarty observed: “When we moved here – this is our sixth year – we were the only family living here all year round with young kids going to school. Now, there are numerous families doing that. My kids have lots of friends to do triathlon training with, tennis training, golf camps. The main nationalities living in the resort are UK, Irish, Portuguese and German.”

Partly as a consequence of more permanent residents, the traditional seasonality of the resort is changing too, he added: “Our shoulder months are depleting all the time. October, November, January, February and March are now huge months so it’s an all-year round opportunity to rent your home.”

The real estate arm of Quinta do Lago has just announced a new tranche of 62 apartments and 27 villas for sale within a gated community. The properties range from 280 to 925 square metres per plot and prices start from $2.75m.

The publicity literature for the new properties says that they “create a residential and hospitality hybrid for those who do not want to choose between the comfort of a home and the services of a luxury hotel.”Additional services provided by Quinta do Lago include property management, daily cleaning and personalised concierge services.