Exclusive: “Mark Warner pulls out of Praia da Luz” - the real story

Exclusive: “Mark Warner pulls out of Praia da Luz” – the real story

News that holiday company Mark Warner has pulled out of Praia da Luz’s Ocean Club resort has been doing the rounds of mainstream media – particularly in UK – and been angled to suggest that the holiday resort has somehow been further stigmatised by the legacy of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, we are told, what has happened promises to bring a whole new wave of business both to the Ocean Club and the village of Luz.

Portugal Resident got wind of the story before Christmas when internet forums began speculating that “the curse of the McCanns has finally done it to Praia da Luz”.

They were reacting to the announcement online by The Vacation Company website which said: “We regret to inform you that Mark Warner no longer have a contract with the Ocean Club and therefore this property has been removed from their Summer 2015 programme with immediate effect.”

But as Ocean Club manager Donna Hill told us, they were reacting without knowing the facts.

Mark Warner’s owners, Mark Chitty and Andrew Searle, had simply decided to offer the Ocean Club exclusively to travel company Thomas Cook.

Chitty and Searle’s holiday company has pulled out of Portugal – not because of any fall-off in business over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann but because Thomas Cook has offered them “a very good deal”, said Ms Hill.

“We’re all excited about it,” she added. “This is actually a golden opportunity for the Ocean Club as now everyone staying here will come from the same operator and we will be able to offer the same services for all our guests.

“This didn’t happen before as we had some people staying on the resort that came through Mark Warner and others that didn’t.

“It made organising activities extremely difficult, whereas now we’ll be able to put things on for everyone equally.

“We are all looking forward to it – and we’re hoping for an excellent 2015 season!”

In fact, despite the Madeleine “legacy” which still sees periodic moments of media chaos as police return to the Algarve to initiate new inquiries, business in Luz has been steadily growing with locals last year reporting a very good summer all round.

“It’s what everyone wants,” explained one shopkeeper. “We all just want to get on with our lives and our businesses and forget the bad press attached to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.”

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]