Five-star hotel bookings soar from influx of English
Hotel groups with units in the Algarve have seen bookings shoot up for the summer months of July and August.
Those chains that are benefiting most from bookings for the peak summer months of July to October are the Pestana and Vila Galé groups.
But the hotel chains that have been most benefiting since the UK gave the green light for tourists to visit Portugal without quarantine restrictions are the luxury ones such as the Tivoli which have 100% occupation rates and whose prices are even more expensive than last year according to ECO online news.
At the beginning of May, the British prime minister Boris Johnson announced that Portugal was on the United Kingdom’s ‘green list’ and that from 17 May the British could travel to Portugal. Gonçalo Rebelo de Almeida, CEO of the Vila Galé Group called it “good news” for the sector but admitted that booking initially got off to a slow start, despite two-digit growth.
“We went from a reality in which bookings were zero, to a situation in which we were getting daily bookings,” the Vila Galé Group told ECO.
However, despite the enthusiasm and euphoria that these bookings have elicited, Rebelo de Almeida prefers to retain more balanced expectations and take the longer view.
“The main impact will only be felt from mid-June onwards and that is when we will see a significant leap in the number of English tourists” adding that until then the panorama does not seem quite so positive.
From the nine Vila Galé hotels in the Algarve, only two are open, with another four expected to open from this month. The occupation rate is in the region of 15%.
Gonçalo Rebelo de Almeida says there has clearly been an energy in the market with June and July usually the months most sought after by British tourists who “normally stay a week”.
The Pestana Group’s CEO José Theotónio said that in April it only had one hotel open in the Algarve, but with the British government’s announcement, it opened another two and will reopen a further two in June. “The bookings being made now are from now up until August,” he said, adding that the number of bookings for May and now June were “significant”. “Before that we had nothing, but now we are beginning to see movement.”
The Pestana Group says it is now seeing a lot of demand for both September and October but while bookings for June are confirmed, those for September and October will only be confirmed if there are no surprises meaning another lockdown or a renewed quarantine.
Nevertheless, he says that the number of British coming to Portugal is only 10% of those who came in 2019. Then, Pestana welcomed 50,000 per day, now the hotel group is seeing just 5,000, calling it a “good sign but hardly an explosion”.
However, it is the luxury hotels which have a take-up rate of around 100% according to Jorge Beldade, regional director of operations for the Minor Hotels in statements made to ECO.
“We’ve also had demand for July, August and September, but at the same intensity for May and June.”
He gives the examples of the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, Tivoli Carvoeiro and Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort.
While three and four star hotels estimate bookings to only get back to 2019 levels by 2023 or 2024, the luxury sector is more optimistic.
“Our view is that this summer in our case will be better than the summer of 2020 and with the possibility that numbers will not be that far off those seen in 2019 if the situation continues as it is,” Jorge Beldade told ECO.