Forum Algarve promises surprises for 20th anniversary celebrations

Faro’s Forum Algarve shopping centre is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and promises “many surprises” throughout the year.

The shopping centre was inaugurated on March 13, 2001 and has come a long way since then.

As Forum Algarve’s manager Sérgio Santos told Barlavento newspaper, “this was never just another shopping centre. It was a concept that aimed to fit in with the region.

“It was designed so that its architecture respected Algarvian traits: from the walls, to the ‘coreto’ (bandstand), the arches, the scissor roof truss…”

But above all else, the shopping centre’s management has tried to make Forum Algarve a “space for all Algarvians”.

“We have hosted events, concerts and other landmark occasions. Even now during such difficult times, Forum Algarve continues to maintain the magic of its central square, its fountain, and its open-air structure, which allows people to look at it as a meeting point,” said Santos.

A defining moment in the shopping centre’s history was the decision to open the Algarve’s first ice rink in 2005.

“Forum Algarve has always tried to bring something innovative to the region,” said the manager, stressing how money raised at the ice rink has helped “reforest Serra do Caldeirão and improve the Algarve University Hospital Centre’s (CHUA) paediatric A&E department”.

The shopping centre has also partnered with the Association of Forest Producers of the Algarve Barlavento (ASPAFLOBAL) to help reforest Monchique after its devastating 2018 wildfire.

“Throughout its history, Forum Algarve has been very much connected to its community,” Santos said, adding that these initiatives show just how passionate they are about supporting the local community.

“The most recent example was the Orange Weekend. It was a voucher campaign that allowed our customers to enjoy free classes at several sports clubs around the region. We also partnered with spas and the region’s Centre of Living Science,” he said.

Sérgio Santos guaranteed that the campaign will return for another edition, with the goal being to support local businesses in the Algarve and ensure that clients enjoy “many benefits” when they choose to shop at Forum Algarve.

“That way we can put the spotlight on other institutions which are also struggling due to the crisis and can reach new clients. The next campaign will help even more businesses,” he said.

“We have an obligation to all our stakeholders and there is a very important aspect of our management that is the contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of our community,” Santos added.

Forum Algarve has also partnered with the University of the Algarve and offer a scholarship to a top secondary school student, “no matter what municipality they are from”, by paying the university fees for the first year at Universidade do Algarve (Ualg).

The shopping centre’s achievements have been recognised several times through awards.

“I highlight three: in 2002, we received an International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) Merit Award for our unique and innovative design and our connection to the region and its surrounding area. In 2019, we also received an award for our marketing practices in an international contest, thanks to our free bus linking the shopping centre, the airport and downtown Faro,” said Sérgio Santos, who is proud to see the shopping centre recognised internationally.

Lastly, Forum Algarve has always received Portugal’s ‘Cinco Estrelas’ award – providing five-star status to beaches, monuments, private companies, culinary delicacies and even natural heritage – two years in a row.

Despite the shopping centre’s success story, the goal for the future is to continue to improve.

“We have to adjust to the needs of the market,” Santos said, explaining that he wants Forum Algarve to remain a dynamic force in the region and remain a place that is “much more than just a shopping centre”.

“We want Forum Algarve to be a leisure space for everyone, including visitors, workers, suppliers and clients,” he said.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has limited what the shopping centre will be able to do to celebrate its 20th anniversary, it still has some surprises up its sleeve.

“Throughout 2021, these 20 years will be celebrated with a number of initiatives that in some way will state that Forum Algarve belongs to everyone and belongs to the Algarve. The Orange Weekend will return, and we might have some more surprises,” he said.

Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.