Where is Troia Resort?
We are 45 minutes south of Lisbon and the international airport. It is a fantastic location. We are on a peninsula by the city of Setúbal, next to Comporta, surrounded by beautiful beaches. On one side we are facing west onto the ocean with a 15km long white sandy beach and on the other side we have the River Sado, Estuary, which has bottlenose dolphins and Roman ruins. And we are also by a natural park, which has walking and bicycle trails, so all the elements around us make it a very special place.
When did the property development start?
The resort was developed 2005-8. We built some apartments and some town houses, which we call beach houses as they are close to the beach, and we also have some villas and plots to sell. The properties start at €234,000 and go up to €1.5 million for a villa, so we have a variety of property to offer all types of clients.
This has been an important year for us as we reached 400 property sales since the start of the development, so that was quite a milestone for us. We are doing well and have recovered from the global economic crisis. The outlook for the future is now very positive.
So how did you recover from the downturn? Did you change your approach?
We had already built 450 properties before the crisis. The resort’s owner is Sonae, one of the largest companies in Portugal and this was very important to us especially during 2009-2012. Those were the worst years, but we had a strong and stable shareholder supporting us. They believed in the quality of the destination and the quality of the golf course and that meant we shouldn’t reduce our prices. So, yes, we struggled for a number of years but then, in 2013, we started selling again and are now doing very well.
Where are the buyers coming from – and did the buyers change as a result of the economic downturn?
Today 54% of residents are Portuguese. In total we have 30 different nationalities; we have clients from Europe, the United States, Africa, the Middle East, Asia so we have a diversity of clients.
Are your Portuguese clients resident or are the properties second homes?
The majority of our clients are from the Lisbon area, so they use these houses as their second homes. It is very close to Lisbon so they can decide on a Friday if they want to come to Troia Resort and that is one of the advantages we have.
We also have quite a few clients who are investors. Of the 400 properties we have sold, approximately a third are second homes, a third are homes that are used by the owners but also rented out and another third are pure investors and they focus on the income from rentals that we generate here at the resort.
What properties are you marketing now?
We have around 80 built properties for sale now and then we are looking at the other areas we have to develop and thinking about what is the right type of product for the market and clients. For the moment we are focused on selling the properties we have and managing properties for more than 400 owners.
What’s working for you?
We have to look at it from a client perspective. Everyone in Portugal knows Troia and people like the place; they know the quality of the beaches and the environment and they like the place.
While many international buyers know the Algarve, which is a great destination, Troia is very different and totally unique. Fewer international buyers know Troia Resort, but when they come here they are totally surprised and fall in love with the place. So getting people here is really important.
How do you do that?
We have a special package that allows prospective clients to visit and stay in one of the hotels. We also present them with one of the many activities and experiences, so they can spend a couple of days and appreciate everything we have here. They can see the dolphins, visit the city of Setúbal as it has one of the top 10 fish markets in the world or see the Roman ruins. There are also very high quality wines in the region, so there is a lot to see and experience.
How do you make buyers aware of Troia Resort in the first instance?
Advertising in international publications such as the Financial Times has been one of the best ways for clients to see us. They then get in contact with us, we invite them to visit and of course we look to sell them a property during their visit. But the last thing we show them are the properties because quite often they have already fallen in love with the place by then.
Is the golf course important in terms of selling property?
It depends on the client and their focus. We have clients who really appreciate having a golf course close to their property and we have other clients who don’t play but who want to learn or value being close to a golf course. Of course, then there are those that don’t play. So we have different types of clients but, yes, the golf is important.
Has joining the European Tour Properties network been of benefit to you?
Yes, it has been a fantastic experience for us. We were very pleased to have hosted the European Tour Properties Invitational this year and attracted the most number of teams that have ever played in this event. That was very good for us.
European Tour Properties was something we were missing from a promotional perspective. We needed an international brand and sponsor and I think the quality of the golf and the European Tour brand has created an outstanding mix. Whenever we go abroad to talk about Troia Resort, we now always talk about European Tour Properties, as it adds credibility to both the golf and property, and that’s been very good for us.