The luxury travel market is increasingly focused on tailor-made experiences rather than just the fact if you pay more, you can hope for a more enhanced experience. Hence, it is no surprise the luxury villa market has been booming in southern Europe in recent years, as travellers look for more space and a home-from-home escape. We visited The LUX MARE villas recently in a prime location in the city of Lagos in southern Portugal with jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic Ocean.
When their Norwegian owners, Egil & Birgitte Greve were looking to build their 2 state-of-the-art villas that embraced the minimalist Nordic design philosophy with the warmth of the Portuguese lifestyle, they went to the most famous local architect in town, Mário Martins. His exploration of shapes and the use of natural light has led to countless masterpieces created in The Algarve, but The LUX MARE Villas (Casa L and Casa M) is arguably his best work so far. The harmonious balance of green and blue is a soothing experience from the well-landscaped gardens of Casa M to their showpiece 22.5 metres heated infinity pool that kisses the Algarvan skyline.
During our visit, we stayed at Casa M which can host up to 12 guests with two king-sized rooms and four twin rooms. There are six bathrooms and one separate toilet, so there should never be any need for queuing. Almost all the rooms have floor-to-ceiling glass and looking onto the pool and garden area. They offer complimentary Molton Brown toiletries and luxury bathrobe and slippers.
Apart from picking a local architect and using local wood and other materials to construct the villas, the owners have sought to use local designers where possible from the cutlery and crockery that are from Vista Alegre and all branded linens are also from Portugal.
In the basement area, is a high-tech cinema room with a reclinable sofa, a pool table and selected Technogym equipment. And if that isn’t enough, guests have access to the AXN Gym situated within the renowned 5- star Cascade Wellness & Lifestyle Resort nearby.
The kitchen is decked out with high-end Gaggenau home appliances including a coffee machine that wouldn’t look out-of-place in a posh coffee house. Of course, you can cook yourself with numerous well-stocked supermarkets nearby and a fish market in town that is the envy of the region or you can treat yourself to a private chef who works regularly with the villa, The Chef Affairs who can prepare dishes like local favourites such as grilled giant king prawns and beef fillet tournedos with mushrooms and Porto wine sauce. There is also a whole range of options in town from Japanese ramen bars to Tasca Jota which champions local Portuguese ingredients from the region, with some of the team having trained with the likes of Gordon Ramsay in London.
If you are wondering what activities you might be able to partake in, they have an in-house concierge service that can cater to all your needs from yoga on the pool terrace to a sunset massage gazing into the Atlantic Ocean. For the more adventurous, there are hot-air balloon rides, go-karting, horse riding or kayaking that can be arranged. You can hire a sunseeker yacht to admire the stunning coastline or to go fishing. And you are also only minutes away from the world-famous Ponta da Piedade, stunning rock formations that give The Twelve Apostles a run for their money. The Algarvan wine scene has been picking up in recent years and about a half an hour drive away is the popular, Quinta dos Vales winery with some very accessible wines to taste as well as stunning art installations to admire. You can even buy your plot of land to grow your grapes and bottle your wine.
Next time, you are visiting Europe and looking for some Iberian sunshine, make sure you check out The LUX MARE villas.