the Algarve: Europe newest meetings and events destination
A quick scan across the passenger profile aboard the aircraft
I was travelling on from London Gatwick to Faro and you
will think that all doting British parents and freelance
grannies were escaping from a plague in London to seek refuge
in the Algarve. This was my first visit to the region and
despite the company I was keeping, I was also heading the
same way but with a different mission. The Algarve is taking
business meetings and events very seriously indeed. The
destination has plans to compete with other European MICE
destinations in order to gain a fair slice of the business.
Trip in, and
I will not argue with anyone who tells me that this is a
popular family and an over 50s destination. However, the
scenery from the airport assured me that the Algarve will
live up to its reputation as a beach and golf destination;
I was immediately excited to see what it had to offer in
terms of business meetings and events.
As soon as I
got myself into a conversation with the locals, I quickly
worked out that the Algarvians cannot quite agree among
themselves about the number of days that the sun shines
yearly in the Algarve; but whatever the exact number of
days it was that the sun shines in the Algarve, I was not
going to let that hamper my mission. The fact is that Portugal’s
most popular and cosmopolitan region is going business meetings
and events crazy and I was there to explore what it had
to offer. One thing for sure is that although the Atlantic
may look inviting, its temperatures aren’t, so pack
some lightweight sweaters and scarves they would come in
has a wealth of natural and man-made attractions, from superb
beaches and dramatic scenery to some of the best golf courses
and marinas in Europe. The region's capital is the City
of Faro, and other main cities include Albufeira, Lagoa,
Lagos, Loulé, Olhão, Portimão, Quateita,
Silves, Tavira, and Vila Real de Santo António. Smaller
summer retreats are Vilamoura, Praia da Rocha, Armação
de Pêra, Alvor, Monto Gordo, Tavira and Sagres.
For the purpose
of my MICE adventure, I stayed in Vilamoura near the City
of Faro, explored the Algarve by sea while visiting Lagoa,
Lagos and Sagres.
City of Faro is the gateway to the Algarve. It
has about 200km of dramatic golden coastline, protected
natural parkland, and a whole host of historical, archaeological
and architectural gems together with some of the best recreational
facilities available in Western Europe
is an ideal holiday destination. If you like sunny beaches,
it has Praia Grande, Praia do Carvalho or Praia Nova. There
are also cultural tours to the Iglesia Matriz do Lagoa (a
historic Church) or the Convent of Nuestra Señora
on the other hand, is one of the most visited cities in
the Algarve and Portugal, due to its variety of tourist-friendly
beaches, bars, restaurants, and hotels, renowned for its
vibrant summer nightlife and parties. Historically, Lagos
is the centre of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, frequent
home of Henry the Navigator, historical shipyard and, at
one time, centre of the European slave trade. Lagos is also
home to some Algarve’s friendliest dolphins! Every
visitor must drop by to say hello to them.
is a small town located in the municipality of Vila do Bispo.
It has a surface of 34.28 km² and a population of about
2000 in habitants. The Portuguese Age of Discovery is located
at Sagres Point. Prince Henry the Navigator (1934-1460)
also lived and died in Sagres.
By the end of
my visit, I think it would be fair to say that the Algarve
has a predominantly Mediterranean climate, influenced by
the Atlantic Ocean. Spring arrives early, long hot summers
are tempered by cooling sea breezes, autumn lingers late
into the year and even in winter, and sunny days are the
norm rather than the exception.
please bear in mind that it does actually rain in the Algarve
and it rained throughout my stay during late September.
The good thing is that I was not visiting the Algarve to
assess its climate but to see how MICE gurus can benefit
from their facilities and services and I must say that was
pretty successful. Here are some choices to consider:
Newest Meetings and Events Destination
A business meetings professional arrives in the Algarve,
a region most famous for its golf and beaches with a different
mission from its fame…
Lyssiemay Annoh explores the facilities it has on offer
for its latest aims.
A selection of Meetings and Events Destinations
in the Algarve
While we have visited and seen their events facilities as
adequate, events organisers are advised to agree the level
of customer service they expect for their specific events
as these may vary and do not come as standard.
Pestana Vila Sol Golf and Resort Hotel*****
The very spacious Pestana Vila Sol hotel is situated only
5 minutes from Vilamoura, one of the noblest areas in the
Algarve. It has ample facilities and it is set within 20
minutes driving distance from the Faro International Airport
and 10 minutes from the elegant Marina de Vilamoura and
the famous Vilamoura casino. The resort is home to the world-renowned
27-hole golf course was ingeniously designed by British
architect Donald Steel in order to preserve the local vegetation
and topographic features.
and Events Features:
480m2 Ballroom (divisible into 6 private rooms, with natural
light and 5 meter height ceiling)
5 smaller meetings rooms
500m2 covered terrace
189 large rooms comprising of 10 classic rooms, 37 superior
rooms, 24 classic garden rooms, 69 superior garden rooms,
45 garden suites, 3 Vila Sol suites and one very adequate
The hotel has
adequate meetings and events space and facilities to cater
for most activities whatever the style, ranging from banqueting
through to conferences and product launches.
Nevertheless, I was particularly mesmerized by the exquisite
private events space at the Club House with its drop down
glass doors allowing nature to marry with the room. The
particular events space with add a touch of glamour to exclusive
events such as corporate dinners, weddings and other deluxe
of the hotel are spectacular with an outdoor and indoor
swimming pool. There is a small gym/fitness centre. Internet
access is however not free in the rooms.
luxurious 18th Century Pousada de Estoi
more intimate and quaint, from the Pestana Hotels management;
the luxurious 18th Century Pousada de Estoi could be ideal.
Located 10 km from Faro, Estoi is a small village situated
between São Brás de Alportel and Faro.
There is a story
behind the picturesque Pousada de Faro, Palácio de
Estoi which adds to its charm of hosting special events.
As it goes, the Palace which once belonged to José
Francisco da Silva, Viscount of Estoi was opened in 1909.
It was later purchased by the Town Hall of Faro in 1977
and in 1987, it was considered a property of public Interest.
Home to a health club where guests can enjoy a Turkish bath,
sauna, tropical showers and heated indoor pool with a whirlpool,
the Pousada is designed to offer guests an environment of
high quality in the most incandescent area of the country.
Each room is spacious and equipped with modern facilities
like LCD TV, internet and satellite TV. The rooms on the
higher level have their own private balconies from where
you can see the Faro city and the ocean.
Facilities for meetings and Events
The biggest room can host up to 200 persons in theatre style
and wedding organizers would be delighted to know that the
Palácio de Estoi has its own private chapel. The
property also hosts lunches, dinners and wedding breakfasts
on its terrace and poolside.
Brand New Conrad Algarve
Tel: + 351 289 350 762
There is a brand
new Conrad Hotel & Resort in the Algarve designed for
the savvy and sophisticated traveller.
extremely proud of this landmark resort, where the Conrad
brand’s signature style and service standards have
been combined to create an exceptional guest experience”
- John T A Vanderslice, Global Head of Luxury and Lifestyle
brands for Hilton Worldwide
Set in the Ria
Formasa National Park, the hotel also offers event organizers
natural surroundings, innovative facilities and flawless
service, with the versatility of a ballroom and meeting
rooms to accommodate a range of different event set-ups.
The Conrad Algarve’s event spaces are dynamic and
flexible, making them ideal for hosting a memorable event.
The hotel will
appoint a personal meeting host to ensure that your event
runs smoothly and provide catering services in the gardens
or in the pool area and terraces if you desire. A customized
menu will be tailored for you and your particular event.
There is a private
parking area, with 128 parking spaces, available to all
hotel guests and visitors.
and Events facilities available:
• Panoramic view and private access to the lush gardens.
• Natural daylight and comfortably accommodates up
to 300 guests. I
• Flexible and adaptable to individual events, it
can be split into two rooms.
Oliveira room, the largest single space after the Ballroom
• Total area of 120 m2, can be transformed into 3
meeting rooms all with natural light and modern design
rooms come equipped with state-of-the art audio visual technology
and are flexible and adaptable. They are large enough to
host a major launch, suitable for intimate meetings too.
Other areas of the hotel, including the pleasant, extensive
grounds, can be effortlessly transformed for your event,
from social to business spaces, and back again.
The hotel offers
a collection of suites, the pinnacle being the Roof Garden
Suite. The Roof Garden Suite features, amongst many other
luxurious features, a plunge pool in the lounge, as well
as direct private access to the spa and your own private
host also ideal for exclusive events.
Unspoilt Quinta da Lago, renowned for its internationally
famous golf courses, and fine dining restaurants, many of
which have been awarded Michelin stars. There are charming
shopping arcades, with the finest in international designer
wear, and many unique pieces by local craftsmen and designers.
The area has golden sandy beaches and a short distance away
from the Ria Formosa Park. The wildlife reserve is home
to a range of bird species; some of them endangered, and
is one of the natural wonders of Portugal.
154 equally-spaced guestrooms; all of which feature bright
and airy balconies, a separate bath and rain shower, and
seductive views of the destination and the natural beauty
of the surrounding area.
and beach shuttle services are available at the hotel.
Collection - Victoria
The imposing 5 Star Tivoli Hotel Victoria is the newest
hotel addition to the Vilamoura area of the Algarve. Set
within a prime location overlooking the sweep of the championship
golf course also named Victoria; this luxury hotel has 280
rooms and suites, five restaurants and bars, and a special
Spa for treatments and general relaxation.
and Events Facilities:
Total 900m2 of 8 rooms equipped with latest technology
Reception facilities for groups
Direct access for coaches
Exclusive area for secretarial services
Support for large scale events
WiFi in public areas and meeting rooms
Business Centre with free ADSL line
Digital signposting to guide delegates
Overlooking the fairways of the Victoria Golf Course, approximately
3 km north of Vila moura Marina and 20 km from Faro International
Banyan Tree Gallery
Valet Parking Service
Underground parking for 173 vehicles
24 Hour Medical Assistance
Quinta dos Vales offers a unique rustic venue with vineyards
spread over 30 hectares.
Located in Estômbar, within driving distance to the
beach, concerts, exhibitions and some of the best golf courses,
it makes an ideal location for any team building or team
fun event which includes wine-tasting.
They offer "The
4 Seasons" where private executive meetings can be
held or the Sala de Prova for conference use and meetings
may range from a single day event to a five day event with
Farmhouses available for overnight accommodation for guests.
More about Quintos
dos Vales in our Food and Drink section
If you opt for
Sagres, you would be delighted with its unspoilt rural location.
Sagres is part of a dramatic coastline once explored by
Christopher Columbus and Henry the Navigator, two key players
in the Age of Discovery. Henry’s legacy encompasses
a maritime school out on the promontory of this rugged shore,
lined with whitewashed houses, hilltop villages and sleepy
fishing towns. The beachy backdrop makes it heaven of the
watersports variety; some of Europe’s best surf washes
up on these sands. The rest of the Algarve is more developed,
but this remote corner has a national park to protect it
– the Costa Vincentina runs up the West Coast and
not much gets in its way. In Sagres itself, the Moors left
their mark and there’s lots of architecture to admire.
places of interest in Sagres:
– Baleeira Hotel – Vila de Sagres
Design hotel Memmo Baleeira has two meeting rooms Memmo
Scape room and Memmo Land Room with capacities of 130 and
140 persons respectively. Both rooms have natural light
and wireless broadband internet and overlook the ocean.
The hotel describes
itself as the place where comfort lies in the small details
and the sea fades into the horizon.
105 standard rooms
33 Memmo Suites
5 Duplex Suites
1 junior suite
3 treatment and massage rooms
Heated indoor pool
The Martinhal Beach Resort
Sagres’ finest luxury family resort is also opening
its doors to the MICE business. Martinhal has the advantage
of being cleverly positioned overlooking the Martinhal beach.
Close to the historic town of Sagres, it is also set within
the protected natural park. It is primarily a luxury family
resort with a hotel, apartments, villas and luxury mansions
for anyone who needs the extra space.
is in its 38-bedrom five star hotel, all with sea views
that it intends to host business and leisure events. It
is anticipated that guests or delegates will occupy all
the 38 rooms and use the beautifully appointed lounge and
restaurant space with fabulous sea views to host their events.
is of the view that the Martinhal Beach Resort and hotel
would be ideal for weddings, corporate retreats and small
functions involving leisure activities.
Autódromo International Algarve – Tel: +351
927 244 694
For very large outdoor or fun and thrill events, the Kartódromo
international Algarve in Lagos is your answer. Boasting
the best karting circuit in Europe, they can host car launches
and offer corporate events such as driving experience, hot
laps, track days and races.
from around the web
to get to Faro
about The Algarve and Portuguese wine history