The first phase of Verdelago opens on Tuesday, July 4

Luxury Algarve resort points to ‘future in hotel recruitment’: workers’ villages

Idea makes sense, agrees hoteliers association boss

Castro Marim’s almost open luxury resort Verdelago continues to ‘break the mould’ by appreciating that the only way to assure the best choice of staff is to give them somewhere to live, rent free.

It is such a simple idea, one wonders how the industry has survived so long without embracing it.

But now, due to the perennial difficulties of maintaining staff, it looks like other operators are ‘cottoning on’ to the thinking.

Says SIC Notícias today “hotels want to construct resorts to accommodate workers”, and are clearly keenly watching how the Verdelago initiative pans out.

As Verdelago director general Paulo Monteiro explains, there is no point offering ‘higher wages’ so that staff can rent suitable accommodation: the housing crisis in Portugal is such that even with higher wages, they won’t find it.

Investing in decent accommodation for workers enables the business to recruit from outside the Algarve, and, with luck, they will be able to retain staff at the same time.

Right now, according to SIC, Verdelago has put a million euros into this project, buying up and refurbishing an old aparthotel. As the project progresses, there is a plan to create a ‘hotel workers’ resort’ in nearby Altura, in an investment of around €8 million. Considering the money going into this top-end touristic venture, the outlay represents ‘small change’ and would, when completed, provide accommodation for up to 500 staff, says SIC.

Hélder Martins, president of AHETA (the Algarve’s hoteliers association) admits that while the region “doesn’t have ‘capacity for accommodation’ for hotel workers“, the sector cannot recruit from abroad, as it has been hoping to do for some time.

He cites the recruitment of hotel workers from countries like Cabo Verde (where the holiday season is during Portugal’s winter, which technically enables them to be available to work in Portugal in the summer, only they cannot afford to). This new approach to recruitment from abroad would neatly sort this problem out.

What isn’t really spelt out is the changing face of quality tourism – seeking foreign workers to work in the Algarve, enticed by accommodation that local sector professionals are not generally offered.

This could be why Hélder Martins also mentioned AHETA’s ambitions to increase wages generally in the sector by imposing “obligatory tipping” and requesting tax relief on salaries.

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