Alvor estuary showing Quinta da Rocha
Alvor estuary showing Quinta da Rocha Photo: SOPOTNICKI/SHUTTERSTOCK

Alvor estuary tourism project opens for public consultation

A new public consultation period has opened for the latest tourist project to be carried out at Alvor’s Quinta da Rocha beauty spot.

It is called ‘Alvor Nature Living’ and will include a five-star rural hotel and nine country houses.

The project’s RECAPE (Report of Environmental Conformity of the Execution Project) is available for consultation online until Friday, January 27.

It is the latest attempt by developers to see development plans approved for Quinta da Rocha, a stunning estate set in the heart of the Alvor estuary.

The previous attempt was unsuccessful, with environmentalists providing fierce opposition and Portimão Council unanimously rejecting plans headed by businessman Aprígio Santos to build hotels and tourists complexes at the estate, with the jury in charge of evaluating the project saying the plans were “unacceptable” and lacked “credibility, clarity and seriousness”.

Ria de Alvor
Ria de Alvor
Photo: Inês Lopes/Open Media

This may help explain why the latest project has been so drastically changed.

Now being described as the “perfect symbiosis between natural landscape and built landscape”, the project has been named ‘Alvor Nature Living’ and is headed by Water View S.A., the current owner of the estate.

Perhaps the biggest selling point for the project – at least in the eyes of environmentalists who helped stop the previous development plans – is that it does not include any new construction.

Instead, the project will be based on the renovation of the existing buildings on the plot.

‘Alvor Nature Living’, which will represent an investment of around €6.5 million, will feature a 12-bedroom rural hotel, and nine country houses with a total of 64 beds.

According to the project’s RECAPE, “the buildings are dispersed throughout the property, grouped together in around 10 hubs, with a gross construction area of 3,238-square metres, distributed across a 199,168-hectare area.”

Alvor estuary tourism project opens for public consultation

The buildings will not be expanded and will instead be recovered or reused, the developers say.

Indeed, in most cases, the buildings which already exist and are in ruins will still “maintain the characteristic elements of the existing traditional architecture”.

Another key detail is that unlike the previous project presented by Aprígio Santos, who gained the public nickname of ‘eco-vandal’, this venture does not include the entirety of the estate’s 199,168 hectares, but only the “higher lands which are not part of wetland areas”.

In other words, the most environmentally-sensitive areas will remain untouched, according to the RECAPE.

However, the document also stresses that the estate is home to two species of protected plants: Thymus camphoratus, a type of flowering plant endemic to southwest Portugal, and Linaria algarviana, a species of plant native to the Algarve, which played a role in the rejection in 2020 of a project to build three hotels in Portimão.

Alvor estuary tourism project opens for public consultation

The RECAPE suggests that the developer should allow technicians from the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF) “or other entities with a technical capacity to carry out this task” to enter the estate in order to cut down or regularly prune larger scrubs or bushes, in order to help the Thymus camphoratus population stay healthy.

When it comes to the Linaria Algarviana, the document suggests using a mechanical scythe to clean around the areas where they grow without moving the soil around.

The full details can be found on the public consultation website

The project’s digital brochure, as well as further information about the plans, is available on the website of Fundo Vega, an investment fund which owns Water View S.A., the owner of the estate.

By Michael Bruxo
[email protected]