It’s an ambitious plan to do away with the frustrating reality of the Algarve’s ‘low season’ when hotels close, staff are laid off and parts of the region take on the appearance of a ghost town.
The rural Ombria resort – a project that wrestled bureaucracy for years before getting the green lights it needed – is setting its sights not just on the wealthy, but the ‘money’s no option’ glitterati: the pop world of jet-setting stars and their entourages of video film-makers and social media promoters.
In interview with Dinheiro Vivo this weekend, Ombria’s CEO Julio Delgado said the overriding concept is “to offer the kind of originality that doesn’t exist in southern Europe”.
Part of this centres on the construction of a professional recording studio – the idea being “to attract stars of the music world” to the oft sleepy barrocal region and transform it into a Portuguese Abbey Road, the iconic recording studios in London that ‘shot to world fame’ after The Beatles recorded their album of the same name there.
“Beyond the studio we’ll have an astronomical observatory and we want to organise artistic residencies with workshops hosted by artist from all over the world, aimed as much at clients of the resort as local inhabitants”, Ombria’s CEO told the online financial news site.
A veteran when it comes to launching international resorts, Delgado has already seen to it that Ombria has reached out to various local entities – including the board at Faro Airport and Portugal’s association of tourism – to “align strategies in a way never done before in Portugal”.
It’s an interview full of positivity at a time when the ambitious resort has suffered something of a setback in its timetable.
Ombria was due to officially open its doors by the end of this year. That now has “slipped” somewhat due to bureaucracy.
Says DV, the new forecast is for the project’s first buildings to start construction early this summer and be ready by mid to end 2021.
The entirety of what is a €260 million investment has a completion date of 10 to 15 years, “depending on the rhythm of sales”, adds the site – laying out once again the ‘first phase’ plan for a 5-star Viceroy hotel with golf course, conference centre, spa and restaurants, along with 65 touristic apartments to be run by the hotel but available to owners for 10 weeks of every year.
The overall project extends to 350 homes for ‘touristic use’ (ie available to owners for limited numbers of weeks) and 31 residential homes.
Feelers have already gone out to test enthusiasm since Ombria’s ‘soft launch’ last year, and Delgado believes everyone has had “a good surprise”.
He tells DV that the resort has received 1200 manifestations of interest from 20 different nationalities.
Contrary to nearby the ‘Golden triangle’ complexes of Quinta do Lago and Vale do Lobo, Ombria will not be overridingly British when it comes to its owner-investors, or indeed clientele.
“By its nature, which is closely connected to the environment and open to local communities and culture, we are planning to focus of markets like Scandinavia and Central Europe”, explains Delgado.
And with the Viceroy brand the resort hopes to attract visitors that “don’t often come to the Algarve” – “people from north America, Canada and the Middle East”.
In other words, the threat of Brexit – however Britain’s exit from the European Union manifests itself – is expected to be minimal.