Vale do Lobo, a luxury resort situated on the stunning Algarve coast of Portugal, is known for its world-class golf courses and a tranquil escape for holidaymakers. But who is behind this iconic development, and how did it come to be one of the most sought-after destinations in the region? 

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The Early Days of Vale do Lobo

The story of Vale do Lobo begins in the early 1960s when the area was nothing more than a vast expanse of sandy soil and pine forests. The land, deemed unsuitable for agriculture or livestock, was often bequeathed to women upon the death of a landowner, as it was considered to be of little value. 

However, this perception was about to change drastically with the arrival of tourism in the Algarve. In 1962, Sir Richard Costain, a British entrepreneur, recognised the potential of the area and founded Vale do Lobo, the first resort along the Algarve coast. The opening of Faro Airport in 1965 further fueled the resort’s growth, making it easily accessible to international visitors.

The Birth of an Icon

The resort’s evolution continued with the construction of the Dona Filipa Hotel in 1968, named after Queen Philippa, the English-born wife of King João of Portugal. This luxury hotel, along with Sir Henry Cotton’s Ocean golf course, laid the foundation for Vale do Lobo’s success.

Throughout the 1970s, the resort expanded with the completion of the first complex of houses, known as an aldeamento, and the addition of a third 9-hole golf course. However, it was the arrival of Dutch entrepreneur Sander van Gelder in 1977 that truly propelled Vale do Lobo to new heights.

Check out our YouTube Video of our team walking through Aleamento’s townhouses:

The Van Gelder Era

Sander van Gelder, recognising the untapped potential of Vale do Lobo, purchased the development and embarked on an ambitious expansion project. Under his leadership, the resort grew to nearly 400 hectares, with the opening of the Roger Taylor Tennis Centre in 1980 and the completion of the Ocean and Royal Golf Courses by 1997.

By 1999, Vale do Lobo had become not only the largest luxury complex owned by a single company in the Algarve but also in the entire country. 

A New Chapter for Vale do Lobo

In 2006, Vale do Lobo entered a new era when a group of investors, including Portugal’s largest bank, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, acquired the resort. With Portuguese businessman Diogo Gaspar Ferreira at the helm as chief executive, the resort underwent a significant facelift, with €500 million invested in improvements, expansion, and development.

Today, Vale do Lobo welcomes around three-quarters of a million visitors annually and employs more than 200 staff members. The resort boasts one of the largest tennis facilities in Portugal and two exceptional 18-hole golf courses. 

Plans for further development, including additional villas and another luxury hotel, ensure that Vale do Lobo will continue to set the standard for luxury living in the Algarve.

Experience the Magic of Vale do Lobo with Algarve Villa Selection

From its humble beginnings as a stretch of seemingly worthless land to its current luxury status, Vale do Lobo has captivated the hearts of visitors from around the world.

For those seeking the ultimate Vale do Lobo experience, look no further than Algarve Villa Selection. Our handpicked portfolio of luxurious villa rentals in Vale do Lobo offers the perfect base from which to explore this iconic resort. 

Our dedicated team is committed to ensuring that your stay in Vale do Lobo is nothing short of extraordinary. With our in-depth knowledge of the resort and the surrounding area, we can help you make the most of your visit, whether you’re looking to perfect your swing on the golf course, indulge in a spa treatment, or simply unwind on the golden sands of the Algarve. 

Algarve Villa Selection has a range of properties across the Algarve to suit everyone. Visit our properties page to see our portfolio of Algarve Villas and apartments.