American Travel Up To Portugal In 2010: Amid Publicity, Value

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Given its location, Portugal is easy to get to, but it's also an authentic place, according to the Portuguese National Tourist Office. The Portuguese are known for being a warm and welcoming people, and they are proud of their land and its 800 years of history. An added bonus is that it has the mildest climate in Europe, really great beaches on the Atlantic and dozens of new hotels and inns.

Portugal has been in the news in recent weeks, and there is some good news there too. Blame it on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition being shot in Lisbon, or perhaps the city hosting J. Crew's recent catalog but Portugal is bucking the trend and attracting more Americans in 2010. The European Travel Commission is forecasting a 4.1 % increase in overall travel to Portugal in 2010 - the fourth best in the 39-nation group, a fraction behind Ireland and France (4.2 %). The American market is expected to rise 3% in 2010. The Institute bases these numbers on a report for Planning and Development. With the Euro holding at a $1.30, travel experts are seeing strong growth potential for Portugal in 2010. The U.S. has become the 8th biggest market of the European nation, and number 6 in terms of spending.

++Visitors are Up, and New Hotels are Opening

Last year, overall receipts from U.S. visitors to Portugal rose by +1.8%(and 2008 was a record year for Portuguese tourism) - the second best performing market for Portugal in terms of travel. To welcome them, some 29 new hotels (most with 4 or 5 stars) will open across Portugal in 2010 with 7,000 rooms, according to Cushman & Wakefield, as the nation steps up its investment in the tourism sector. The biggest growth will come in the south of the nation with 12 new hotels that will bring some 3,500 rooms online. The Hotel Radisson at the Autódromo de Portimão, and the Palmares Resort at Meia Praia will add 200 rooms and 450 bungalows. The CS Group will open, besides the four properties in the Herdade dos Salgados (Algarve) with 621 beds, three hotels in Lisbon and one in Porto.

The average hotel rate in Portugal fell by 15% (from 96 to 82 euros per night) in 2009, according to the Hotel Price Index (HPI) Hotels.com - making Portugal the 5th most affordable European destination. Lisbon's average nightly rate was 84 euros - a 15% drop.

++ Travelers ChoiceEuropean travelers have voted Lisbon out of the top 10 European cities as the best destination of the year. From tourism infrastructure, to quality of life, to experience, Lisbon beat out Prague, London, Berlin and others to take the title. The European Consumers Choice is a non-profit organization that each year rewards 25 products chosen by a jury and European consumers.

++ In the News and on the Beach

The 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition has been out for 3 months with Portugal as backdrop to some of the most beautiful women and bathing suits in the world. J. Crew, the nationally recognized retailer of women's, men's and children's apparel, made Portugal the theme of its spring catalogue. In Passport to Portugal, Lisbon co-stars with the chique clothes that make J. Crew a name in fashion. The city has played host to recent Nike commercial and car launches, not to mention major motion pictures such as A Lisbon Story, The Russia House and House of Spirits. The city with its photogenic neighborhoods, sweeping river vistas and many monuments makes a great backdrop. J. Crew said this of it on the web: "Bold color mixed with romantic decay… intimate neighborhoods with narrow winding corridors… grand town squares boasting elaborate mosaic pavements… lively sidewalk cafés... Our team spent five days in this charming city of Lisbon and its outskirts capturing both the understated beauty of each setting and the easygoing elegance of every look."

++ A Great Value

This is on top of media around the world calling Portugal a good travel value. Lisbon was rated as one of the most affordable places to stay in Europe according to trivago Hotel Price Index (tHPI) which is published monthly by the hotel price comparison site http://www.trivago.co.uk. With an average nightly rate of just 81 euros, Lisbon is less than half the cost to visit the most expensive cities in Europe.

British News of the World wrote that a cup of coffee, bottle of Heineken, can of Coke, bottle of mineral water, suntan lotion, insect repellent, 20 Marlboros, three-course meal for two with wine, a postcard and a stamp, Portugal came in as the best value euro destination with a total cost of $47.50 versus $79.85 in France.

++ New Hotels to Welcome New Guests

Vale D'Oliveiras Quinta Resort & SPA (Lagoa) Now Open

Set within 5 minutes of Carvoeiro, the new Vale d'Oliveira Quinta Resort & Spa is an exclusive Algarve five-star establishment with 22 guest-rooms, 2 suites and 80 one and two bedroom apartments, fully equipped with air-conditioning, a wood-burning fire, kitchenette, flat-screen TV with DVD player and a dining-room and terrace with views overlooking the resort's gardens and the mountain village of Monchique in the distance. With 20 acres of green areas, Vale d'Oliveiras offers a range of facilities featuring a spa with a steam bath and a selection of beauty and wellness treatments, along with two tennis courts, two outdoor swimming pools, a heated indoor pool, bar, Jacuzzi, sauna and gymnasium. Overlooking the pool, the Olive Tree restaurant has light menus and also offers gourmet cuisine, with many ingredients produced on the resort's organic farm. Prices are per night and a double room on BB basis is $102.

The Oitavos - bold New Hotel in Cascais opens in September

The new Oitavos hotel in Cascais will be a contemporary work of art in the design of the hotel. It will open in September, 2010. The Oitavos is just 20 minutes outside of Lisbon, near the city of Cascais. Inspired by the beauty of the Atlantic coast, The Oitavos has a bold design, sleek lines and elegantly simple interiors focus attention outwards - on the historical and natural elements of the grounds and the drama of the Atlantic Ocean. A stunning blue color palate will cool your senses, blending with the colors of the sea and the violets of the flowers dotted across the landscape. Contemporary sculpture and paintings by Portuguese artists will enrapture against the white canvas. The 142 guestrooms of The Oitavos, includes 16 suites, with at least 64 square meters, with the two deluxe suites double that size, all with a private balcony offering ocean, golf course and mountain views. In addition the hotel will offer: Restaurants and bars; Spa; Outdoor seawater swimming pool.

Vila Galé Coimbra Open

Coimbra (Centro) has a new 3-star hotel, the Vila Galé Coimbra, with 229 rooms and a meeting center. The hotel hopes to be split between business groups, and visitors to the historic university city. The 22-million euro hotel will open officially on April 17, 2010. The hotel is located in the centre of Coimbra's historic district, with a view of the Mondego River. There is a Satsanga Spa and an outdoor pool, and also, the new Versátil and Inevitável restaurants as well as the Euphoria Bar.

Four Views Baía Madeira opened April 2009

Snuggled in the hills surrounding the Bay of Funchal, the Four Views Baía Hotel offers the relaxing atmosphere of a quiet holiday with the convenience and night-life of a city resort. The hotel has installed modern décor in each of the 231 bedrooms and 30 apartments, and offers fine cuisine at the Bay View restaurant. Whether in your room or relaxing by the pool, guests will enjoy the views of the Atlantic, lush green hills and lovely white-washed homes of the Madeira hillsides.

Five-star Real Marina Hotel & Spa opens in Olhao on May 4, 2010

The newest five-star resort in the Algarve, Real Marina Hotel & Spa, will soon offer guests modern luxury in one of Portugal's most scenic locales. Situated where the Ria Formosa meets the Atlantic Ocean, this area is known for its stunning beaches, beautiful water and an important estuary teeming with wildlife. Real Marina Hotel & Spa has 144 guest rooms that include 12 suites. The hotel provides guests access to its marina so that the Algarve's most secluded beaches and barrier islands are just a boat ride away. If you prefer quiet relaxation to adventures on the water, there are plenty of opportunities for personal pampering at the Real Spa. Bringing the kids? No problem. The Realito Kids Club will keep them entertained while the parents get away for the afternoon.Located in Olhão at the heart of the Algarve, the Real Marina Hotel & Spa is close to golf courses, fine restaurants and other modern amenities. Located a few miles from the airport in Faro, Olhão and the Real Marina Hotel & Spa can easily be reached from a number of cities throughout Europe.

InterContinental Hotels to open three new properties

In 2010 the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), will open three new Portuguese properties offering some 600 rooms. And in 2011 look for two more openings. First up is the new Crowne Plaza Vilamoura (327 rooms + suites) followed by the Holiday Inn Figueira da Foz (158 rooms in July). By the end of the year, look for the new InterContinental Porto Palácio das Cardosas, with 109 rooms. For 2011 expect a Holiday Inn Express, in Porto, with 96 rooms, as well as one in Lisbon with 127 rooms. The Crowne Plaza Vilamoura Algarve, Beach, Golf and Conference Hotel is situated just next to the Casino and walking distance from the Marina. The Holiday Inn Figueira da Foz will have some 15 meeting rooms. The InterContinental Porto Palácio das Cardosas will be the first of this brand in Portugal. Set in a 250-year-old palace in the main square of Porto, and will feature a renovated historic Café Astória as well as a Spa.

The New Areias do Seixo Charme Hotel opens

The Areias do Seixo Charme Hotel, a new nigh-end inn that opened on April 16th, 2010, is located less than one hour from Lisbon and is a haven in nature. The inn offers 1 penthouse with 3 rooms, with a view for ocean and dunes, living room and kitchen, fireplace, mezzanine, 4 terraces, barbecue area and Jacuzzi; 2 Gold rooms, with ocean and dunes view, fireplace, deck terrace, courtyard and Jacuzzi; 8 Earth rooms, with ocean and dunes view, fireplace, deck terrace, some with Jacuzzi; and Villas with 3 rooms, ocean view, living room with fireplace, kitchen, mezzanine, terraces, barbecue area and outdoor heated swimming pool.

Martinhal Resort - Sagres - Algarve Region
Martinhal Resort was inaugurated officially on April 23rd, 2010 and is being touted as Portugal's first high-luxury family resort in the Algarve town of Sagres. Located on the rocky, southwestern point of Portugal, Sagres is where the first caravels were launched during the Age of Exploration. Today, the town boasts breathtaking views of the Atlantic, many of which can be seen from the Martinhal Resort's houses, cottages and luxury villas. The theme at this five-star resort is "Barefoot Luxury," and the staff continually aims to provide a relaxed, yet unparalleled experience. All rooms have private terraces with ocean views. The on-site restaurant, O Terraço, sits atop the pavilion and offers guests the option of enjoying a simple coffee or a full gourmet meal while overlooking the sea. The resort also features bars, another restaurant and a business center. http://www.martinhal.com/

The Yeatman Hotel & Wine Spa - Gaia - Porto & North of Portugal Region
Scheduled to open in June 2010 in the heart of historic Gaia, across the river from Porto, this 5-star Yeatman Hotel will offer 83 rooms each with a terrace and private garden offering great views of the historic centre of Porto that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. The hotel will also have a top restaurant, a Port bar & lounge and a spa tied to wines. This project comes from the 300-year-old family owned company The Fladgate Partnership, owners of the distinguished names of Taylor's, Croft and Fonseca Ports.

http://www.visitportugal.com

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