Luxury resort awaits new stars

Following recent reports in the Portuguese press claiming that the Vale do Lobo resort has been incorrectly classifying itself as a five-star resort, the complex has removed all signs of any star rating from its entrance. The move came as the Portuguese Tourism Board (DGT), which is responsible for awarding star ratings to the country’s hotels and tourist attractions, confirmed that it has only ever awarded two stars to the apartments in the Vale do Lobo complex.

According to Caroline Cunha from the Vale do Lobo Public Relations department, this is because the DGT has not yet visited the apartments. “If an apartment has not been inspected by the DGT, it gives it a standard two-star rate,” she explained, adding that Vale do Lobo is currently waiting for the organisation to visit.

The Resident reporter George Fletcher also spoke to Sander van Gelder, chairman of the Vale do Lobo group of companies, to clarify the situation. “We were originally awarded five stars by the DGT,” Mr van Gelder explained. “The law changed in 1997 and this meant that resorts like Vale do Lobo and Quinta do Lago did not fit into the relevant categories any more, so we had to withdraw ourselves and remove the five stars from all the literature that featured our logo. Vale do Lobo consists of 400 hectares of land and we have had 700,000 visitors. That means millions of stars had to be removed from many things. Unfortunately, some sharp eyes have discovered a few.”

According to press reports, until very recently, the few that remained to be spotted by sharp eyes included five stars displayed over the entrance to the resort. We asked Mr van Gelder if he could guarantee that nothing remained there to suggest that Vale do Lobo is officially classified as a five-star resort. “I cannot guarantee that,” he replied. “As far as we know, there are not any; there were some which we recently removed.” And it appears that the delay, from 1997, in removing any remaining stars was down to a wait for planning permission. “We have to get approval from the authorities to do any kind of refurbishment to the entrance of the resort,” Mr van Gelder confirmed.

When The Resident visited the resort, several days after the Portuguese press report was published, the entire entrance sign had been removed and work was already underway to build a new display board.

Meanwhile, Mr van Gelder remains confident that, despite his lack of five-star display, visitors to Vale do Lobo will recognise the quality of the resort. “We recently received an award and were announced gold winner of the best luxury development at the prestigious Homes Overseas Awards in London, which was sponsored by The Daily Telegraph newspaper and British Airways. There is no question about the quality of our resort.”