Drowning tragedy unfairly harms Algarve’s image

news: Drowning tragedy unfairly harms Algarve’s image

A BRITISH millionaire recently drowned at the Castelejo beach, in the Vila do Bispo borough on the Costa Vicentina, while attempting to save his son who had been swept out by strong currents.

However, the version of the incident reported in the majority of the UK’s national press last weekend, and by a Portuguese newspaper earlier this week, told that the tragedy took place on the beach in front of the Algarve’s luxury Vila Lara resort and spa in Porches (Lagoa), reports The Resident’s Caroline Cunha.

After a source contacted us with news of the incident, The Resident spoke to Jorge Tito, general manager of the Sofitel Vila Lara Hotel, about the tragic event that was believed had taken place at the resort. It was then that we discovered that the facts had been consistently reported incorrectly, a situation that has not only caused unnecessary distress for the grieving family, but great damage to the reputation of the Vila Lara resort, which was unconnected to the incident.

The confusion seems to have arisen due to the fact that Hugo Rutland was staying at the Vila Lara resort with his wife Claire and their three children. However, the tragedy took place not at the resort’s beach, but at Castelejo beach on the Costa Vicentina, when the family chose to travel there for a day of surfing and sunbathing, together with some friends who were also staying at the Vila Lara resort.

Red flag

The incident took place when 44-year-old Hugo Rutland and his 13-year-old son, Archie, were caught in rough seas while body boarding at Castelejo beach, which is popular with professional surfers. Witnesses claim the red flag was flying on the day of the family’s visit. Archie Rutland survived thanks to his father’s efforts, a man who is said to have been a strong swimmer and keen marathon runner, but it is thought Hugo Rutland may have gone under after an attack of cramp.

Strong currents in Lagoa waters?

It is unknown where the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper obtained their information, but a journalist wrote: “Hugo Rutland and 13-year-old Archie were surfing at the Portuguese resort of Vila Lara when they were battered by huge waves.” Meanwhile, The Times newspaper went further, writing: “Hugo Rutland, 44, and his son Archie were surfing near the resort of Vila Lara in the Algarve, an area known for its strong currents, when they were caught by rapidly rising seas.”

Clients panic after reading newspaper reports

Due to the reports that appeared in the UK media, Jorge Tito and his staff have been inundated with telephone calls from worried clients due to stay at the resort in the coming weeks, as well as tour operators demanding to know if the beach is dangerous for swimmers.

Sadly, apparently very few newspapers have contacted the Vila Lara resort to check their facts before running their reports, and the hotel’s management is extremely concerned about the unfavourable publicity the resort is receiving as a result of what they describe as false stories.

Vila Lara’s general manager and his assistant Inês Cortes provided The Resident with all the information available concerning the incident: “Mr Rutland and his family travelled to the Castelejo beach on the Costa Vicentina, together with three or four other families. All we know is that Mr Rutland and his eldest son were in the water when something went wrong. As far as we are aware, Mr Rutland was already unconscious when he was brought ashore. He received medical attention at the beach and was then transferred to the Barlavento Hospital in Portimão where all attempts to resuscitate him failed.”

A big mistake

The hotel manager spoke about the reaction of the friends and family when they returned to the Vila Lara resort following the tragedy. “Friends of the Rutland family, who had been at the beach that day, told us that there had been a red flag up at the Castelejo beach and that they had all made a big mistake by ignoring it and entering the water. They were clearly devastated.”

Jorge Tito told The Resident that Hugo Rutland’s mother flew out to the Algarve immediately following her son’s death and also that the children were cared for by the couple’s friends who were staying at the resort.

Inês Cortes confirmed that the British Embassy and British Consulate assisted the bereaved family and that the couple’s insurance company was also involved in making the necessary arrangements. The funeral was due to take place close to the family’s home in Wiltshire on Thursday, September 1.

Popular figure

Hugo Rutland’s death has apparently sent shockwaves through the City of London’s financial sector, where he was an extremely popular figure. A futures trader, he was reportedly also a director of the Tri-Mex cargo protection group in Belgravia.