Thinking of moving to the Algarve? Just do it!
Portugal’s Algarve is as good if not better than California say successful business owners and professionals who now work and live in Portugal’s sunshine region, with the warm climate, excellent health care and leisure facilities offering a better, more healthy lifestyle.
Speaking at a second webinar in the Algarve Series ‘Planning your Healthcare Strategies alongside Wellness, Sports and Leisure Activities’ organised by the Irish Portuguese Business Network (IPBN) on Thursday, invited speakers João Richard Costa, Director of Marketing & Sales at Ombria Resort, Chitra Stern, CEO, Martinhal Group, Michael Stock, Manager, Quinta dos Vales winery and Dr. Paulo Sousa, Clinical Director of HPA private hospital group all agreed that the infrastructure and living conditions were all in place for an enviable lifestyle that would equal anything found in the United States coastal sunshine states.
In terms of healthcare provision, Dr. Paulo Sousa explained how the HPA group, which has two main hospitals in the Algarve, had kept clinical units working at 100% capacity and with no waiting lists throughout the Covid pandemic, conducting around 60,000 emergency appointments and 10,000 surgeries in 2020.
“The Algarve has been very protected throughout the crisis, and up until January we were one of the regions in Europe which had the lowest levels of Covid infection, and so we have been able to accept patients from Lisbon for non-Covid cases,” he said.
Dr. Sousa explained that the HPA group has agreements with most national and international health insurers and is one of the main reference hospitals for BUPA in Portugal as well as being accredited as a ‘green’ hospital in terms of environmental concerns.
Carolyn McKeown, committee member and director of Shebang PR and a IPBN Algarve member, attests that the service and treatment in the Algarve is “second to none” after having surgery in Ireland and treatment and followup in Portugal, explaining that it was “not a problem” for NHS doctors in Ireland to work with private doctors in Portugal.
“It’s so easy in the Algarve and especially when you are sick, all that stress which you don’t need is removed,” she said.
Best lifestyle quality
Regarding the Algarve lifestyle being propitious for recovery after surgery, Dr. Sousa said that the region was sunny much of the year which has been beneficial for many patients with severe diseases, particularly cancer patients who do six-month chemotherapy programmes in their own countries and recover in the winter months in the Algarve, or can do the treatment protocols which are standard in their own countries in Portugal where they can lead “a very healthy life”.
“I think we have a very good combination in the Algarve between the good weather and pure air, although the UV levels are high, and so people must be sensible in the sun and have protection,” he advised, adding that the beaches are clean and the water and effluent systems are excellent, which is all positive for general health.
Carolyn McKeown pointed out that the array of fresh produce and fish was amazing which meant you could come off the beach, head to the market and buy fresh produce daily without having to be in a supermarket with a weekly meal planner, as is so often the case in northern clime countries.
Chitra Stern, CEO of the Martinhal Group of luxury family resorts, hotels and branded residences, said her experience with HPA was excellent “It has a network of clinics throughout the Algarve for primary care. There are also private insurance brokers such as Medal while private health insurance is quite affordable in Portugal.”
João Richard Costa, Director of Marketing & Sales, Ombria Resort, said the lifestyle in the Algarve was “by far the best” compared to the countries and places he had lived in before.
“I think the quality of life in the Algarve is a conjunction of factors such as the security, infrastructure, the climate and the fact that it is a low-density populated area,” he says.
And continues, “We have noticed a lot of people in the past year or so have decided to come and live in the Algarve, particularly people who already had homes in the region and decided to spend lockdown there,” pointing out that people have been doing a lot more outdoors activities like hiking and biking with bike shops “selling out”.
Costa informed that at Ombria they would be opening a new golf course in 2022 which will be “the only golf course opened over the past 10 years, and which will also be one of the most environmentally certified courses to have ever been designed and constructed in Portugal.”
Michael Stock of Quinta dos Vales Wine Estate, who has built up a successful wine tourism experience business with winemaking, wine and art exhibitions and honeymoon holidays at Estombar, said his father had chosen the Algarve to start the family business because of the “all-round lifestyle package”.
“It’s not just the wine you can make there, but the sort of life you can have. I went to school in Germany, university in England and to date I have found nothing comparable.”
At Quinta dos Vales, Michael Stock has a unique business model. “With wine and art we do marketing and are quite well known and a cultural reference point in the Algarve with 30,000 visitors per year. With all the wine tourism, we have kept the company alive and profitable.”
Finally, Chitra Stern of Martinhal said the Portuguese are super friendly, accepting of other nationalities, races and cultures, and simply adore children. “They value children so much that having kids is a huge icebreaker since they are so interested in your family,” adding that the international schools provision was excellent.
“I would say that kids growing up here are more confident and school bullying is immediately quelled. I would also add that my children have had a fantastic time growing up here in Portugal, so if you’re thinking of moving, I would say just do it!”