It is a moment to celebrate: three of Europe’s most prestigious, best-loved resorts are marking notable anniversaries in 2022. It is 60 years since the establishment of Costa Smeralda on Sardinia’s northern coast, and Sotogrande in Andalusia, while Quinta do Lago, on the Algarve in southern Portugal, is 50. The heritage of all three resorts is based on a passion for perfection – and the simple desire to create exceptional homes for an international clientele.
What’s the secret of their continued appeal? There is the golden lifestyle they offer, and an inspired mix of superb facilities in a natural environment of outstanding beauty. Whether you opt for a Spanish, Portuguese or Italian backdrop, all three resorts provide a reviving escape from high-octane daily life. Do you crave a sophisticated setting for you and your family and friends to enjoy active days and sociable evenings? Somewhere with a proven legacy and a top-tier service culture? These three masterpieces, with their five-star emphasis on health and wellbeing, are the answer.
There is also the fact that if you have a home here and return often, these visits have the singular appeal of a “rehearsed pleasure” – a treat you come back for time and again. And moments you look forward to reliving whenever you contemplate a visit, from that early-morning dip in the sea to lunch at your favourite restaurant.
But for all the reliability of their promise, these iconic resorts have changed and evolved over the years. “They are characterised by their capacity to reinvent and modernise while staying true to the core values that first attracted residents,” says Jelena Cvjetkovic, a director in the Savills Global Residential team. “All three are in superb locations, thoughtfully embedded in the landscape with carefully regulated development – and all have benefited from visionary entrepreneurs.”
Costa Smeralda was virgin beachfront territory when a consortium led by the Aga Khan saw its potential. Today it is the most revered resort in Sardinia, with miles of white sand and rocky bays where an exclusive international community enjoys regattas at the yacht club in Porto Cervo while staying in elegant houses hidden amid the pines.
In Andalusia, southern Spain, American-Filipino businessman Joseph McMicking and his wife, Mercedes, had a vision for a new residential country club on the Mediterranean coast, with easy access to an airport. They found it all in 1,800 hectares of peaceful countryside at the western end of the Costa del Sol – and Sotogrande was born. Sixty years on, it remains an elite sporting resort. In 1997 the Ryder Cup was contested at Valderrama, one of three world-class golf courses in Sotogrande. It also has excellent facilities for tennis, padel, polo and watersports.
“I’ve sold property here for 23 years and buyers have become noticeably younger,” says James Stewart, managing director of the eponymous Savills associate in Sotogrande. “The international school is a key reason, but so is the level of investment – €150 million since 2014. That has meant a new five-star hotel, several new restaurants – making 45 in all – a renovated golf clubhouse and La Reserva, a superb 400-hectare country club with a man-made lagoon.”
Quinta do Lago, an 800-hectare resort beside the Ria Formosa Natural Park on the Algarve, was created by André Jordan and has stayed true to his original low-density blueprint. It has been owned since 1998 by Irish businessman Denis O’Brien, and the latest round of investment includes The Campus, a multisports training centre used by international teams.
“Quinta do Lago is beautifully maintained and secure, with outstanding facilities,” says Jamie Robinson, director of sales at Savills associate QP. “The latest architecture provides exceptional contemporary family homes and is another clear sign that Quinta do Lago is preparing for a new generation of owners to steer it through its next half-century.”
This trinity of resorts celebrating their anniversaries has captured the essence of successful holiday homes for half a century or more. Start the day with a workout at The Campus in Quinta do Lago, lounge beside Sotogrande’s magnificent “beach in the hills” or pull up a chair at a restaurant facing Porto Cervo’s marina, and you’ll be part of a like-minded community who understand the importance of living life well. Time to crack open the champagne, surely?
Pictures from top: yachts moored at Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda (Alamy); an aerial view of Quinta do Lago (Alamy); a glimpse of the sea from the Porto Cervo resort, Costa Smeralda (Alamy); a tournament at Santa Maria Polo Club, Sotogrande (Alamy); Punta dei Capriccioli beach, Sardinia (Alamy); nighttime dining and shopping at Quinta do Lago (Alamy);