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“Adults-only” hotels gain popularity but face trouble with law

Though two establishments in Alvor and Albufeira were recently targeted by authorities for doing so, an increasing number of hotels in the Algarve are marketing themselves as for “adults only”, a niche hotel managers say is attracting a growing number of guests.

According to Lusa news agency, those who seek these hotels are mostly “foreign couples who want peaceful holidays without the screaming and antics of children”.

Lusa adds that this is a “common trend around the world” and that in the Algarve there are already 10 hotels that describe themselves as “child-less”, and which set different age limits for guests (12, 16 or 18).

But whether this is legal is now being debated.

ASAE, Portugal’s food and economic safety authority, and DECO, the national consumers’ watchdog, both defend that hotels cannot refuse anyone unless they cause “disturbances” or if parts of the hotel are “temporarily reserved”, citing the sector’s legal framework from 2008.

Algarve’s hotel association AHETA sees things differently, saying these hotels are “not breaking any laws”.

AHETA boss Elidérico Viegas told Lusa that “adults-only hotels” exist all over the world and any hotels that face trouble with authorities “should and can fight back”.

“There are hotels that make it their marketing strategy to not accept children and I do not believe that is a condemnable strategy,” he said.

Mário Frota, president of Portugal’s consumer rights association (APDC), also does not believe anything “illegal is going on”, considering it instead a way of “attracting certain guests”.

On its website, Portimão’s luxurious Bela Vista hotel says that reservations for children “are not recommended”. Manager Gonçalo Narciso says focusing on the adult market was the “right decision” as more and more people are seeking these kinds of hotels.

The Luna Alvor Bay hotel also markets itself as for “adults only”, as it says it “does not have the best conditions to welcome children” and wants to “guarantee a quality service and see guests returning again”.

Hotel manager Francisco Leote says most of its clients, “middle-aged foreigners”, like the hotel’s decision. They feel “more relaxed” and enjoy “more peace and quiet”.

With the Algarve expecting another record-breaking year in terms of tourism, it remains to be seen whether authorities will continue to clampdown on the growing number of “adults-only hotels” in the region.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]