The words “cool”, “modern,” and “golf resort” are not often used in successive conjunction, but developers in Spain and Portugal are creating contemporary golf residences with both design and lifestyle appeal.
In America, golf has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years: the real-estate market collapse, an oversupply of golf courses and waning interest in the game. The property markets in Spain and Portugal were also heavily impacted by the recession, (in Spain prices dropped 40 percent from their peak, and similar dips occurred in Portugal) but leading golf resorts have bounced back quicker than the overall markets.
In Spain, the flight to quality has meant that while time-shares and large golf developments in the south continue to struggle, there is still a drive for high-end golf villas on the Costa Brava, a coastal region of northeastern Spain known for its moderate climate, unspoiled beaches, and medieval villages.
The PGA Catalunya Resort in Costa Brava, which offers contemporary properties located along two 18-hole golf courses has recorded steady sales since launching in 2011, and 2015 was no exception, says Tom Maidment, a partner at Lucas Fox Costa Brava. “With property prices at a seven- to eight-year low, a weak Euro attracting buyers from outside the Eurozone and increased activity from national buyers, there was a good level of sales activity in the region,” he says.
Designed in collaboration with architecture studios in Spain and the U.K., the contemporary golf apartments, townhouses, and villas are positioned overlooking the fairways with glass walls and cantilevered volumes offering views of the course.The three-bedroom townhouses start at $795,000 and feature 3,000 square feet of living space over two levels with access to communal gardens and a swimming pool. The villas are larger, ranging up to 4,300 square feet on a half-acre plot with prices starting at $1,175,000.
Golf is certainly a draw for many investors, especially as PGA Catalunya Resort continues to gain traction on the international stage. The resort has twice been voted the best new golf resort in Europe and hosted the European Tour’s Spanish Open in 2014. It is also bidding to bring The 2022 Ryder Cup to Spain. But Maidment says the sales success is about more than the fairways.
“Most buyers on the PGA de Catalunya resort are making a lifestyle investment and buying a second home,” he says. “They are attracted by the tranquility, attractive surroundings, security, and the sense of community.” The resort’s location 25 minutes from the beach and 37 minutes from Barcelona via the new high-speed rail link is also a draw.
In neighboring Portugal, properties along the Algarve’s Atlantic coast have also proven resilient. In particular at Quinta do Lago, Catalunya’s sister golf resort, where outdated Moorish mansions are being replaced by contemporary showpieces. The resort has four championship courses on its 2,000-acre estate as well as a Paul McGinley Golf Academy. The resort’s older properties are modeled on traditional quinta Portuguese farmhouses, but increasingly the trend is toward contemporary design.
San Lorenzo North, the latest portion of land to be developed, is typical of the new-look Quinta do Lago. The homes feature flat roofs, large windows, multilevel outdoor spaces, swimming pools, and landscaping features such as bonsai olive trees. Villas range in size, but some have up to five bedrooms and include a home spa, gym, and games room with prices breaching the $9 million mark.
“The Portuguese property market certainly felt the global financial crisis, however, at Quinta do Lago we were lucky to not see much of a change in demand or a drop in prices,” says sales director Jamie Robinson. Over the past two years, sales have been particularly strong, he says, boosted by new non-habitual tax regime and investment incentives programs, which have brought in buyers from new markets, including France, Sweden, and South Africa.
In addition to golf, buyers are drawn to the lifestyle and scenic surrounds––Algarve is known for its stunning beaches, and the coastal location is bounded by the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve and by the Atlantic Ocean. “Quinta enjoys over 310 days of sunshine per year and is also one of Europe’s number one holiday destinations,” Robinson says. “All of the plots have amazing views over the golf course and down to the ocean.”