Portugal Untapped Gem

written by | Posted on November 12th, 2012

Here’s a rundown of new hotel offerings:

Porto & the North

Absoluto Design Hotel—Opened February 2012, this 12-room hotel is located in a traditional house in Viana do Castelo’s historic center.

Agua Hotels Douro Scala—Opened June 2012, this 43-room property is located on the banks of the Douro River in Mesao Frio.

B&B Hotel Porto Centro—This newly refurbished century-old cinema offers 125 rooms in the center of Porto.

Carmo’s Boutique Hotel—Opened March 2012 in Ponte de Lima, this property offers 12 prestige suites and three luxury suites.

Casa dos Guindais—This 18th century house is located in the historic center of Porto and features five separate studio apartments.

Design & Wine Hotel—Opened May 2012, this newly refurbished, 18th century manor offers 18 rooms and five suites and is located in Caminha, an ancient fortress city.

Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira—Opened March 2012, this 90-room property is located in Porto’s city-center.

Hotel Eurostars Rio Douro Hotel and Spa—Opened February 2012, this 42-room property is located on the left bank of the Douro River.

InterContinental Porto Palacio das Cardosas—Opened July 2011, this renovated palace with 105 rooms marked the first entry of the InterContinental brand in Portugal.

The Yeatman—This 82-room and -suite hotel in Porto overlooks the Douro River and historic center.

Lisbon Region

Fontecruz Lisbon—Opened March 2012 on the Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon, this property offers 72 rooms.

LX Boutique Hotel—Opened May 2012, this 16-room property in Lisbon is near Cais do Sodre.

Mercy Hotel—This is the newest five-star hotel in Lisbon, with 47 rooms including two panoramic suites.

Myriad by SANA Hotels—Opened September 2012, this 176-room and 10-suite property offers stunning views over the Tegus River.

Palacio Ramalhete Hotel—Opened October 2011, this property is a converted 18th century mansion with 12 accommodations in Lisbon.

Pousada de Cascais—Opened March 2012 with 108 rooms and 18 suites, this luxury hotel is set within the walls of a historic fortress, the 16th century Citadel of Cascais, in the center of Cascais.

Alentejo Region

Alentejo Marmoris Hotel & Spa—Set to open February 2013, with 46 rooms.
Rossio Hotel—Opened June 2012 in Portalegre with 15 rooms, two suites and one jr. suite.

Algarve Region

Conrad Algarve—Opened October 2012, this property, built to resemble an 18th century palace, is located in Quinta do Lago.

Hotel Bela Vista—Completely renovated in July 2011, this historical property offers 38 rooms and is located right on Praia da Rocha.

For more information on new hotels in Portugal, visit insideportugaltravel.com and click on
“News & Ideas.”

getting there

TAP Portugal offers direct flights from Miami and New York to Lisbon and then on to various cities within the country.

The Escapade
Vacations
Experience

According to Neomie Menahem, managing director, Escapade Vacations, the tour operator’s top-selling Portugal itinerary is the Romantic Luxury Journey that includes two cities: two nights in Porto and three nights in Lisbon, traveling from one city to the other by train. “So our journey,” she says, “starts in the north and ends in the central region, Lisbon. From there, clients can travel down to the Algarve region for a few days of sun and fun.
We also offer the beautiful islands of Madeira and the Azores, and specialized tours such as Jewish heritage tours and pilgrimage tours to Fatima. Not all tour operators offer such comprehensive packages to Portugal and the islands.”

Escapade Vacations’ itineraries, she emphasizes, are
“suggested itineraries with a day tour in each city, allowing the traveler time to explore on their own the city and the surrounding region. Nothing is set in stone. We offer basic city packages that have suggested sites, which
gives the agent and client an idea of how to put together
their itinerary.”

She urges travel agents to sell Portugal now, because “the prices are right. Portugal offers value for money—much more reasonable than some other Western European
destinations. The people are warm and welcoming, and once clients visit Portugal, they fall in love with the country.”

(800) 356-2405;
escapadevacations.com

contact information

TAP Portugal: flytap.com

Turismo de Portugal: visitportugal.com

tour operator intel

Various tour operators were asked their impressions about Portugal as a hot European destination for 2013 and what makes their product unique in the marketplace.

Collette Vacations

“Portugal is a top destination for 2013, since travelers are now uncovering that for such a small country it is filled with diverse landscapes, rich medieval history, fine wines and cuisine, and the most hospitable people—all while delivering an inexpensive product offering to Western Europe. Collette tours to Portugal focus on multiple-night stays that allows for leisurely paced sightseeing, enriching cultural and dining experiences, and even regional wines served at every dinner.

“One of our new tours, the 12-day Discover Portugal’s Treasures, under our small group traveling brand Explorations (maximum of 28 passengers), includes 10 nights of superior accommodations in Portugal’s famous historic lodgings known as pousadas. Travelers spend three nights in the Portuguese Riviera in a 15th century oceanview fortress, and three nights in Porto. In addition, travelers follow the contours of the Douro River.”

—Manny Paulo, v.p. of worldwide contracting and product manager for Portugal

(800) 340-5158; collettevacations.com

Insight Vacations

“Portugal is the Western European country with some of the fewest Americans traveling to it, so it is an untapped gem. We received an overwhelming request for Portugal from both agents and past clients—it was our number one requested stand-alone destination.

“Among our unique key points are a visit to the pilgrimage center of Fatima; accommodations in five-star hotels such as the M’ar De Ar Aqueducto, a magnificent 16th century construction; two nights in Algarve; two nights in Porto; visits to Tomar to follow the story of the mysterious Knights Templar and to Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

—Marc Kazlauskas, president

(888) 680-1241; insightvacations.com or insightvacations.com/us/user/log-in

Globus family of brands

“The region of Spain and Portugal have seen strong growth for us over the past couple of years. Its combination of climate, culture and cuisine is hard to beat, and it’s been a good value relative to some other European destinations. As an example, our Cosmos’ Jewels of Spain and Portugal starts at just $969 pp for nine nights—a great value. And unique to the Globus family is our range of vacations to the region; between Globus and Cosmos, we have five diverse itineraries that combine Portugal with Spain.”

—Steve Born, v.p. of marketing
(866) 755-8581; globusjourneys.com

Sintra is one of the country’s must-see destinations and included in Tauck itineraries

Tauck

“Portugal can be a great destination for travelers who may have already visited some of the more classic destinations in Europe, such as Rome, Paris or London. In some ways it’s a bit more off-the-beaten-path, less ‘discovered,’ so it can really surprise travelers with some amazing experiences. Tauck’s Spain and Portugal itinerary explores Lisbon, but unlike most tours in the region, it also visits Sintra where our guests tour the 14th century Royal Palace, the seaside village of Cascais, and Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

—Kathy Georgette, Europe product manager

(800) 788-7885; tauck.com

Trafalgar USA

“We predict 2013 will be an excellent year of growth for this wonderful destination, not something we can predict for many other countries. For several years now we’ve seen certain parts of Europe attracting a higher rate of visitors, Portugal being one of those destinations. Why? First and foremost, Portugal represents excellent value. Trafalgar’s Best of Portugal vacation delivers transportation, accommodations, sightseeing and meals together with our unique insider experiences for only $165 per day.

“Beyond value, I believe the interest lies in the unique cultural experiences, where a wonderful variety of World Heritage Sites complement the spectacular Algarve coastline, stunning mountains and beautiful medieval cities. Food and wine from Portugal are also becoming more widely popular—any vacation to Portugal should include a visit to the beautiful Douro and, of course, a tasting of the ‘port’ of Portugal!

“Finally I think that the warm welcome that the Portuguese extend to travelers has developed great feelings of warmth and fondness for the destination that have since propelled Portugal up the list of desirable destinations.”

—Paul Wiseman, president

(800) 854-0103; trafalgar.com or trafalgaragent.com