New Ecological Development Unveiled

Espiche Golf’s neighbouring resort Matos Brancos has been granted the alvará (licence) to start building their eco-boutique resort. The management team talked exclusively to Sophie Sadler to unveil their exciting plans. 

Matos Brancos can now be officially launched as the alvará was granted on 10 December 2021. With local estate agents reporting a shortage of properties on the market, the permission could not have been granted at a better time. Now property buyers and investors have a unique opportunity to invest in this new sustainable resort, just 10 minutes from Lagos in the western Algarve. 

With the jewel of the existing 18-hole sustainable golf course at its epicentre, the stunning site encompasses 164 hectares of ecological reserve with urban planning for just 110 beautifully designed properties. This means that after the current development, there can be no further building. What’s more, there is only one point of access to this site which will be manned by 24-hour security, making it a gated community and a unique haven of security and privacy. 

The concept has been meticulously designed by perfectionist Peter Thornton, with a heavy emphasis on sustainability. Originally from Brazil, he was able to use his Portuguese language skills to negotiate in Portugal. 

He confesses that he led a “colourful life” and was a self-confessed victim of the 1970s party scene in London. He worked with famous names such as The Clash and was in a band in France that had a number one hit. His artistic leanings led him from being a celebrity hairdresser at Gavin Hodges’ Gotama’s in the King’s Road to the likes of Marianne Faithful and Twiggy to being a signed artist to Polygram International; he also worked in lighting and special effects for the Royal Festival Ballet Company. Eventually, he left the party scene behind and became an interior designer in London with clients including the Rothschilds, before moving to Portugal 34 years ago. 

He tells me, “I am a dreamer and I am strong on visuals”, so much so that the first move will be to tear up the entire existing infrastructure and replace it with a stunning landscape at a cost of 5.5 million euros. It will incorporate planting along all access roads with permeable walking and running tracks on the inside side, protecting pedestrians from traffic. They will be the first resort in the area to have solar street lighting on all public roads. The track will be porous so that it does not work against the landscape but allows water to soak through it. 

Peter says, “I have a newfound passion for trying to be an environmentalist, although to some extent it is impossible. Humanity is currently lost; what we learn today will be wrong tomorrow, but you have to break an egg to make an omelette, so we are trying.” As a result, the resort is making every effort to make each property self-sufficient, emphasising solar power and re-use of water. 

“Designing houses to be sustainable is more problematic, but I believe it is very investable. People like to own something beautiful that doesn’t impact the planet. I am influenced by the sun in my design, to incorporate new water and energy-saving technologies. With so much light all year round, we need to take full advantage of that and recognise water is becoming scarcer. I am continually working to introduce new technologies on the golf course to make sure we minimise water usage and encourage the grass to absorb water more effectively. We need to use our resources more efficiently; then, these new habits will become the norm. The recycling of greywater is becoming more available, so we want to make these systems available to our buyers.” 

Peter is not an architect but spends hours sketching into the night and coming up with new designs and ideas. During the planning development stages, he worked with FAT “Future Architecture Thinking”, one of Portugal’s leading architectural firms. One hundred and twelve houses are to be built, all with private pools. There will be three different options, starting with the Gemini, which will have a built area of 200m2 on a plot of 510m2. The superior detached villas will range from 300 to 510 m2 on plots between 1200 to 2600m2. The starting price tag will be 700,000€.

The plans for the resort include a 99 room 4-star hotel with a spa built around a village square. Peter worked with architect Vitor Vilhena, Will Bourne and NB3d Design Studios on the stunning design, which aims to be very energy efficient. The main body of the hotel is a central spine that houses the lobby, lounge and restaurant areas, bar and terraces, five luxury suites, pools and spa. It also has space to host conferences and weddings. 

The other 94 suites are divided into individual units which nestle within the landscaped hotel complex. All units will be self-sufficient in energy. 

The future plans do not stop there. The adjoining 18-hectare valley of Varaza Grande has consent for nine 100m2 units which could be bought individually or by an investor as a rental investment. Another 27,000 m2 site has planning permission for 17 houses which are being designed as a retirement village of high-end sheltered housing. 

A private shuttle bus service will take residents to Burgau, Luz and Lagos. They also plan to install 360 solar panels to the existing clubhouse and Gecko restaurant to take it off the grid. 

Owners will also be invited to take up the offer of owner preference golf membership. The par 72 golf course was designed by South African Peter Sauerrman to complement the distinctive western Algarve landscape by embracing a sustainable and eco-friendly ethos. Peter designed the lakes, streams and indigenous planting scheme to enrich the local biodiversity while creating a unique golfing game and environment for golfers and is a dream to walk around even if you are not a golfer. 

Espiche Golf also bought the neighbouring vineyard from the Lopes family to ensure it was not acquired by an avocado farm. The resort has committed to running it as an organic operation and is hoping to find someone who will manage it to provide wine and organic vegetables for the new restaurant. 

The business brain beyond the scheme is South African Paul Langley, who tells me that he is looking for investors to buy off-plan or invest in the resort infrastructure and vineyard in this initial phase. Having resided on the golf course for many years, he has lived and breathed the project, which has become a labour of love. 

For those who live or visit the area, there is no doubt that Matos Brancos will be a welcome addition to the western Algarve. It offers a chance for investment in a sustainable and forward-thinking initiative that will be a welcome retreat for holidaymakers and residents for many years to come. 


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