Algarve to fill up for festive season
Photo: GROUND PICTURE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Algarve to fill up for festive season

Hotels and resorts almost fully booked for Christmas and New Year

Nothing seems to be putting a damper on the Algarve’s expectations for a fully booked festive season. Hotels and resorts across the region are reporting excellent booking levels, with some “completely” or “almost completely” booked out for Christmas and the New Year.

“People are anxious to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve in freedom, which we hope will translate into booking levels at least matching those of 2019,” Hélder Martins, president of the Algarve hotel association (AHETA), told the Resident this week.

British, Dutch and Spanish tourists are expected to be among the region’s main foreign visitors during the festive season, said Martins, adding that Portuguese holidaymakers are also expected to flock south to enjoy the region’s famous New Year’s parties.

AHETA has carried out a survey among its members to establish the number of bookings already made for the upcoming festive season, the results of which are due to be revealed some time next week.

Algarve tourism chief João Fernandes told Dinheiro Vivo last weekend that bookings are due to reach 80%, but that the tendency is for bookings to be made “at the last minute”.

The Resident also contacted several hotels and resorts in the Algarve, all of which expressed confidence that Christmas and New Year’s Eve bookings will live up to their high expectations.

Vila Vita Parc resort in Porches is “practically completely booked” for the festive season, with British and German tourists accounting for most of the bookings, followed by the Swiss, Dutch and Portuguese markets.

“When compared to previous year, we have noticed more confidence in the behaviour of clients when planning their holidays, with bookings being made much sooner,” Rita do Brito Gonçalves, PR & Communications Manager for Vila Vita Parc, told the Resident.

Albufeira New Year’s Eve party
Albufeira New Year’s Eve party

“This is the opposite of what happened last year, due to the unpredictability that existed over possible short-term changes regarding preventive measures in place at the time, which affected travel,” the spokesperson said.

For Vila Vita Parc, the festive season is a time which, “albeit being calmer” than the busy summer season, still represents a “peak period” for the resort, “not only in terms of occupation but also the Christmas and New Year festivities” that are being planned.

Also expecting a busy Christmas and New Year is JJW Hotels & Resorts, whose portfolio in the Algarve includes Penina Hotel & Golf Resort in Portimão and Dona Filipa Hotel in Vale do Lobo, Almancil.

“Occupancy levels for the festive season are way above the usual,” said Amílcar Gonçalves, Regional Head of Sales and Marketing for JJW Hotels & Resorts.

Portuguese holidaymakers are accounting for most of the bookings and, in their case, these are being made in advance, which is “uncommon” for the national market.

“With a confirmed occupation of around 80% so far, we are hoping for a full house for Christmas and New Year,” Gonçalves added.

The situation is similar at the Tivoli Carvoeiro hotel, which is also attracting significant interest from holidaymakers looking to enjoy a winter getaway in the Algarve.

João Jesus, general manager of the Tivoli Carvoeiro, told the Resident that their Christmas and New Year bookings are looking very healthy, higher in fact than at this time in 2019. But there is still some availability.

Albufeira Mayor José Carlos Rolo promoting the borough’s events in Lisbon
Albufeira Mayor José Carlos Rolo promoting the borough’s events in Lisbon

The Algarve has it all!

There will be no shortage of festive fun in the Algarve, which once again boasts a long list of Christmas events and New Year’s Eve parties.

Most boroughs have already announced their Christmas programmes. Lagos and Loulé are among those with the most extensive lists of events announced so far.

There will also be the usual markets and fairs, and nativity scene displays, with the Algarve boasting some of the most impressive that you can find in Portugal. Vila Real de Santo António is once again unveiling Portugal’s largest nativity scene at the local cultural centre, while Castro Marim is due to unveil a new version of its famous salt nativity scene (see page 56).

The Algarve is also home to one of Portugal’s top destinations to spend New Year’s Eve – Albufeira.

The town has a three-day entertainment programme planned to celebrate the occasion, headlined by ‘Albufeira Carpe Nox 2023’, the New Year’s Eve party due to be held at Praça dos Pescadores.

The party will feature a performance by the so-called ‘Father of Portuguese Rock’ Rui Veloso, who will take the stage alongside Tatanka, vocalist of popular Portuguese band The Black Mamba (which represented Portugal at the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest).

Also on the agenda is a skydiving choreography with pyrotechnics, which the council says will be the first of its kind in Europe.

Albufeira Mayor José Carlos Rolo even travelled to Lisbon last week to promote the event.

“Bringing together the best of Portuguese music, such as Rui Veloso, with a more contemporary artist such as Tatanka, whilst also preparing an unprecedented fireworks show in Europe is the confirmation that we will offer an unforgettable New Year’s Eve,” the mayor said at Palácio do Governador in Lisbon.

By Michael Bruxo
michael.bruxo@portugalresident.com