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The two most exclusive resorts in Europe

The exclusive resorts of Sotogrande and Quinta do Lago continue to command some of Europe’s highest property prices

golf views in Quinta do lago

What are the origins of these resorts?

James Stewart Sotogrande was founded in 1962 by Joseph McMicking, whose idea it was to create an exclusive resort by the Mediterranean. He commissioned the golf course architect Robert Trent Jones to design the Real Club de Golf Sotogrande in 1964, and a polo club was developed in 1965. In those early years, the climate and golf appealed to retired people from the UK and northern Europe. But a lot of property was also bought by wealthy Spanish families. Those houses have been passed down the generations so there are still many Spanish here, particularly in August.

Kerstin Buechner Quinta do Lago was the vision of property developer André Jordan, whose dream was to create a luxury, low-density golfing resort in the Algarve. The initial phase of development between 1972 and 1974 created apartments, a riding centre, tennis club and, of course, an excellent golf course.


How has the resort kept up with the changing lifestyle of its residents?

KB With three award-winning courses, golf remains a core attraction and an area of significant investment in Quinta do Lago. Improvements include renovation of the North Course and the driving range and a state-of-the-art golf academy. New to the resort is The Campus, a world-class multi-sports complex that caters for families through to elite athletes.

JS The sporting and lifestyle facilities of Sotogrande are a huge appeal. There are three championship golf courses, the masterpiece being Valderrama, which hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup. The marina opened in 1989 along with a hotel and beachfront apartments, and there is also a tennis academy. More investment in 2014 led to the La Reserva Club, a 600-hectare luxury country club with inland beach, spa and wellbeing facilities.



Why do people love being at these resorts?

JS In the early days, people came for the weather and golf, but Sotogrande now offers so much more. Covering around 5,000 acres, it is extremely low density. Along with the service and amenities, there are miles of walks and rides in beautiful countryside. There is also a real sense of community.

KB Quinta do Lago allows you to live an active outdoor lifestyle all year round, all within the privacy and security of the Ria Formosa nature reserve. Buyers can choose from large individual villas with pools, or townhouses or apartments, many with lovely views.


How has the property offering changed during the past few years?

KB One of the secrets to Quinta do Lago’s success is that it keeps reinventing itself. As properties age, they are redeveloped with new designs and building materials. One example is the latest new development, Reserva, which is next to the Ria Formosa park, just a short walk from the beach. It is the area’s largest new residential development in more than a decade.

JS Many early properties in Sotogrande were of a Moroccan contemporary style, and these have become fashionable again. Some of the later houses are being radically refurbished – particularly those by the sea and in the older areas of the resort. Most exciting are the community-within-a-community developments such as El Mirador and The Seven – light, spacious contemporary designs in beautiful positions. El Mirador has achieved the highest prices ever here.


Why is there such enduring appeal?

JS The sense of community is a major factor. Retired people make up a smaller proportion in Sotogrande these days – families are starting to base themselves here year round knowing they can work in a beautiful environment and the kids can go to a great international school.

KB There is still high demand from British buyers, but increasing demand from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany because Faro airport is so easy to reach. Quinta was once viewed as a golf resort for retired wealthy people, but now over 50% of new buyers are in their early 50s or younger. Buyers typically spend between €4 million and €6.5 million on a detached villa with pool. These are wealthy individuals who, thanks to modern technology, are spending extended periods of the year here.


Resort life

Luxurious villas close to beaches and world-class lifestyle facilities


A contemporary five-bedroom home close to Sotogrande Costa’s golf course. Bedrooms have access to the pool or garden, while the main space is open plan and built to a high specification and finish by ARK.


Quinta do Lago

This exceptional property has a cutting-edge design and fairway views. There are six bedroom suites, a cinema, sauna, wine cellar and three-car garage, plus an additional apartment.