The peaceful Portuguese beach town being taken over by wealthy Americans known as the ‘Hamptons of western Europe’
- Comporta, a spot known for its rice fields, is just over an hour’s drive from Lisbon
- But it has been jumped on by luxury developers with projects in the pipeline
- Swanky beach clubs have now started to replace affordable local hotspots
A sedate stretch of coastline in Portugal known for its rice fields has quickly become hot property among wealthy American investors and celebrities, earning it the nickname the ‘Hamptons of western Europe.’
Comporta, which is just over an hour’s drive west from Lisbon, is home to white sands, turquoise waters, and a small town complete with quaint whitewashed buildings and traditional cobblestone streets.
Thanks to its paradisiacal surrounds, the coastal spot has been jumped on by luxury developers and the projects cropping up have lured everyone from George Clooney and Madonna to Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank.
However, it’s reported that locals aren’t happy about the multimillion-dollar resorts and residential projects that are set for Comporta – with the community having already managed to quash one $121 million proposal from luxury hotel group Aman.
Comporta, which is just over an hour’s drive west from Lisbon, is home to white sands and turquoise waters
A website for JNCQUOI’s gated beach villa development says that this estate will become ‘one of the most exclusive destinations in Europe’
George Clooney and wife Amal are tipped to be in the running for a spot at the exclusive CostaTerra Golf and Ocean Club
Thanks to its paradisiacal surrounds, the coastal spot has been jumped on by luxury developers
Munich native Beata Baumgartner, who is renovating a three-bedroom property in the neighboring village of Carvalhal, told the FT.com that new jet-set crowd have outpriced locals, and now property and restaurants were pretty much unaffordable.
She explained: ‘Charging €18 ($19) for a bowl of fried calamari or €8 ($8) for a portion of rice is too much. The beach clubs have changed.
‘There are now €5 million ($5.4 million) villas in areas next to people living in poverty – my neighbors live in a one-room house and cook on a barbecue every evening.’
Continuing on the food theme, one of the newest restaurants to open in Comporta is Praia na Comporta.
The rustic-looking, ski-themed beach house built amid the sand dunes was designed by Philippe Starck, who is one of Comporta’s glitterati residents, but the bohemian vibes aren’t matched by bohemian prices.
Instead of a website, the venue lists its menu via Instagram.
Some of the high-priced dishes include king crab in a butter sauce for $86 (€80), a squid ink and scarlet shrimp rice dish for $41 (€38), and a 300g premium Japanese wagyu steak for $205 (€190).
Topping things off, there’s a dessert featuring chocolate cookie, caramel gateaux, pudding and macerated strawberries for $37 (€35).
The prices at Comporta’s new JNCQUOI beach club don’t come in cheap, with a lobster and truffle mayo hotdog priced a $42 (€39) and a crab cocktail starter for $48 (€45)
The JNCQUOI beach club is part of a wider residential development yet to be completed
Another new kid on the block this summer on Comporta’s scenic waterfront is the JNCQUOI beach club, which is part of a wider residential development yet to be completed.
The restaurant, which is described as the ‘perfect place to enjoy the best fresh fish and seafood cooked with authenticity and flavor,’ has a breezy feel with unfussy contemporary furnishings and high ceilings.
Complementing the restaurant, there is a cabana beach bar and daybeds, which give off an air of Ibiza or St Tropez.
Like Praia na Comporta, the prices at JNCQUOI don’t come in cheap, with a lobster and truffle mayo hotdog priced a $42 (€39), a crab cocktail starter for $48 (€45), and a scorpion fish with tartare sauce and French fries main at $81 (€75).
New York Times bestseller and travel site Air Mail deputy editor Michael Hainey paid a visit to Comporta this summer and checked out Praia na Comporta on the second night of its opening.
In a piece about the exclusive Portuguese enclave, his closing note was about the restaurant’s sky-high prices, and the shock he got when the check came and the two bottles of ‘a nice local wine’ suggested by the server came in at $378 (€350) a pop.
He mused: ‘Now, I’m not a hick. I live in New York. I know how the game is played. And I say from the top: shame on us for not asking up front how much the wine cost. Most of all, shame on us for trusting him.’
On consulting the server, Hainey was told: ‘You asked me to recommend something. That’s what I gave you.’
The writer concluded: ‘At once, I felt how the locals must feel. In the midst of a breathtaking stretch of beauty, you have to deal with some guy better suited for Nikki Beach.’
Complementing JNCQUOI’s restaurant, there is a cabana beach bar and daybeds, which give off an air of Ibiza or St Tropez
One of the newest restaurants to open in Comporta is Praia na Comporta. The rustic-looking ski-themed beach house amid the sand dunes was designed by Philippe Starck
The development of Comporta is set to continue, with many travel experts advising people to go now before it’s completely priced out.
Much of the area was purchased in the 1950s by the Espírito Santo family, the founders of what was once Portugal’s leading banking group, but over the decades they have been selling off swathes of land to developers.
A website for JNCQUOI’s gated beach villa development says that this estate will become ‘one of the most exclusive destinations in Europe’ once it is finished, where ‘the like-minded can connect.’
To ensure that the elite will feel just at home ‘space healer and energy balance consultant’ Alberto Amura has been hired to help with the project.
According to a description outlining his role, he will help ‘to facilitate and balance the flow of beneficial subtle living energies in an environment, towards creating a harmonious and auspicious ambience.’
The Atlantic Club is another swanky estate in the works with 21 plots, while George Clooney and his wife, Amal, are tipped to be in the running for a spot at the exclusive CostaTerra Golf and Ocean Club.
Clooney was said to have been in introduced to the investment opportunity by his fellow tequila tycoon, Mike Meldman.
The pair teamed up in 2013 to launch tequila firm Casamigos and sold it four years later for a reported $1 billion.
Meldman, the CEO of the Discovery Land Company, acquired the 722-acre plot in Comporta in 2019, with an initial $551 million investment.
The bohemian vibes at Praia na Comporta aren’t matched by bohemian prices. Instead of a website, the venue lists its menu via Instagram
Away from the crowds, the rice fields of Comporta can be seen in the distance
Having already overseen the building of 24 luxury residential golf communities around the world, he has now established the CostaTerra Golf and Ocean Club luxury resort community.
Some of the offerings include a wellness center, equestrian center, community village, 18-star golf course, 146 single-family homes and 29 residences belonging to the club.
The Clooneys will no doubt have been reassured by the green credentials claimed by the estate they plan on moving to.
According to the CostaTerra website it is a ‘flourishing community and thriving ecosystem grounded firmly in the values of sustainable development.’ It describes itself to potential buyers as ‘your family’s private European escape.’
However, it is understood that the Clooneys do not want one of the estate’s ‘off the shelf’ luxury villas, but intend to take over the design of their own property.
Property prices in Comporta have skyrocketed in line with its rise to fame, and London-based banker Dan Dalton – who purchased an unbuilt three-bedroom house in 2019 on the slick Spatia Comporta resort complex with his husband – told the FT.com: ‘The infrastructure has some way to go.
‘But new restaurants are opening and it’s gentrifying. Property prices have gone insane. Villas like ours are selling for three times what we paid for it.’
According to Vasco Cunha Mendes, of the developer Eurosuez, resale properties at Dalton’s development have sold for between $1.9 million and $2 million in recent times.
FT.com notes that records from the Residential Information System, which tracks property transactions across Portugal, reveal that the number of homes in Comporta increased from 27 in 2020 to 104 in 2022.
It also shows that the statistics back up Dalton’s claims with the average asking price for a new property in the area coming in at $2,887 per square meter in 2020, as opposed to $7,634 in 2022.
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