Until the late twentieth century, the Troia peninsula was occupied by apartment towers that stained gray their kilometers of coast. Neither endless cement towers nor crowded beaches. The Troia peninsula, about 50 kilometers south of Lisbon, is committed to sustainable tourism, nature and exclusivity to become a small paradise that begins to attract international attention. Located in a privileged place, in the Sado Estuary Reserve, until the end of the 20th century the oasis of nature of this peninsula was occupied by tall towers of apartments that stained gray their miles of coast.
But in 1997, the largest Portuguese business group, Sonae, decided to end the tourist model of “popular” capitalism in Troia and to focus on a more sustainable vision that exploited the natural charm of the location. Part of the ugly cement towers were demolished in 2005, giving rise to a new chapter in the history of Troia, where Sonae invested 400 million euros to obtain 65% of the peninsula. Following in the footsteps of Sonae, the Portuguese hotel group Pestana and the Rosp group of Sandra Ortega, the daughter of the Spanish businessman Amancio Ortega, also invested in Troia and at the end of 2015 bought part of its property for 50 million euros from Sonae.
The Sonae project, which is part of the Troia Resort, has around 15,300 beds, including the portion now owned by Rosp, of which some 8,300 are already built. “Being optimistic, in five years time we will probably see a large part built. Between five and ten years I believe it is a reasonable period, if economic conditions continue, to end the project, “the director general of Tróia Resort, João Madeira told EFE. The complex, which opened in 2008, includes hotels, apartments, lodges and building plots, properties that started to go on sale at the end of last year and of which more than 400 units had already been sold in June.
Madeira explains that 65% was sold to Portuguese and the rest to foreigners of 29 nationalities, among which the Spanish stand out as the main European market. Clients are divided into similar parts among those who buy apartments for their own use, those who rent them and those who make mixed use. “The Spaniards that we have normally use their home as a second residence, do not rent it,” according to Madeira, who believes that the destination “is not yet known at all by the Spaniards,” although it has gained recognition in that market in the last year. Foreign clients who fill Troia hotels and buy their apartments do not stop growing – when they opened they represented only 15% of the total, but already reach 40% – and that is why Sonae is concentrating its efforts in international markets, such as the French or the Scandinavian.
The qualities of Troia thus begin to be known beyond the Portuguese borders, where not only the 15 kilometers of uncultivated beaches of the peninsula but also its natural surroundings are promoted in a reserve and next to the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park. In fact, the density of construction throughout the tourist development area is very low, only 6% of the more than 1,000 hectares of the peninsula. The proximity to Lisbon, with its airport and its cultural offer, and tourist attractions that are less than an hour and a half by car, such as Comporta, the wine growing of Setúbal or even the city of Évora, are other spells who seek to attract more tourists to Troia.
To combat seasonality, Sonae also bets on sports facilities and has just inaugurated the José Mourinho Sports Center, with which it hopes to attract football teams in the offseason, a center that is sponsored by the famous Portuguese coach, who also bought a property in Troia. “It’s a very important element. It serves to attract international clients and also to work seasonality, one of the themes that still affects Troia and any destination in which the main attraction is the sun and the sea, “said Madeira. The Pestana group completes the tourist offer of the peninsula with its own project, the Pestana Troia Eco-Resort & Residences, with close to 955 beds provided and more than 50% of its space dedicated to the nature reserve. Although not many of Sandra Ortega’s plans in Troy are known, it is known that she has in mind a luxury complex that maintains the low density of construction followed by Sonae and Pestana.