Interview with Magdalena Osmola, Marketing & Communications Director at Vale do Lobo

Who are Vale de Lobo's target audience and how will it adapt in the coming years to cater for new cultural and behavioural trends?

Due to the complexity and scale of the project, Vale do Lobo audiences cover a wide array of different profiles. This can range from a typical golfer travelling in a group of friends (with a slightly limited spending budget) up to ultra-high net worth individuals looking at purchasing one of the last available oceanfront plots and/or luxury villas. Our offer is very diverse and thanks to that we are able to cater for various tastes. Traditionally, the resort has become a synonym of premium living – focused strongly on golf, beach and family. This is still extremely relevant, especially relating to our facilities, indisputably stunning location, security and seamless access. However, with the notion of luxury evolving, we need to additionally recognize different needs and cater for ever changing client expectations. This is a topic very close to my heart as I have been providing commentary on recent cultural and behavioural trends across travel focused conferences. What I like to refer to as ‘new luxury’ is a concept where people right now start looking for much more than just expensive ‘things’ and purchases (butler services, champagne, caviar, designer clothes, sports cars etc.) … the new concept of luxury goes far beyond that and represents in the first place pursuit of happiness, constant journey towards self-optimisation, health, inner peace, self-actualization, need for community-feel and common purpose.

At Vale do Lobo we recognize the need of providing the right offer and solutions to always stay one step ahead of the curve. New set of identity characteristics certainly matches the ‘new luxury’ and new consumer trends which strongly affect current buying patterns.

A few of those key themes which we are already putting emphasis on include:

  • LOCATION/NATURE – We benefit from direct access to 2km of sandy beach with a focus on being in touch with nature, ocean, fauna and flora. We are bringing to life the newest and hottest trends such as ‘Nature as Medicine’. We are taking full advantage of our beautiful location offering more outdoor programmes and marketing these to new audiences more creatively. Recent reports show that 90pc of time being spent indoors with around 55pc of the global population living in urban areas, leading to the rapid rise of the ‘nature economy’. However, it is important to emphasize the notion of ‘hideaway’ and ‘top getaway spot’ as opposed to ‘a place where celebrities go to’ – it is a place where guests (including celebrities) can simply rest, relax and ‘enjoy missing out’. It is about disconnecting from some of the daily routine and stressful lifestyles. We want to promote local walking trails, the unquestionable beauty of Vale do Lobo, its sunsets and sunrises, its proximity to natural reserves and the emotions which nature evokes in all of us.

  • COMMUNITY-FEEL – This is one of the most vibrant trends in hospitality nowadays. This centres around creating common area and space for people bound by a purpose/cause. Community-feel is certainly our resort’s huge competitive advantage. Our owners love the lifestyle and vibe here, they form hobby groups, they bond and build friendships for life. This was clearly demonstrated at our recent Summer Party where more than 500 people gathered until the early hours in the morning. We have many multi-generational families amongst the resort members, and many with truly distinct stories who cherish community living.

  • WELLBEING/ACTIVE LIVING – A holistic trend which should not only be associated with medicine, spas and health centres. This incorporates all that Vale do Lobo has to offer in relation to lifestyle. Wellbeing is promoted as the ultimate way to achieve happiness for the guests/residents. This is the strongest motivational force in current market and consumer decision making processes. This notion also includes experiences – authentic and local. We should remember that more traditional areas of tourism activities such as golf are indeed very strongly linked with the concept of wellbeing. Golf is the ultimate leisure activity bringing health benefits - exercise and being outside - together with the social aspect. Other sports such as tennis, walking and cycling offer the same ‘wellbeing’ benefits. In 2020 we have planned for several wellbeing focused workshops and courses to be provided to our owners and visitors ranging from mindful movement, to meditation, to breathwork, to qi gong. But even more to come!

  • SPORTS – There is a growing market for sports which form a big part of the active-living concept. At Vale do Lobo we already offer golf, tennis, padel, running and cycling but we are also looking forward to introducing many new angles. We want to promote sport for fun and sport as a purpose – we have ideal conditions for organizing hugely popular endurance races at the resort such as triathlons, duathlons and obstacle races.

  • TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCES – We are currently working on bringing out the essence of the Vale do Lobo experience. We are focusing on ‘experiences’ which to enhance the lives of guests/property owners on the journey of self-actualization. It is about facilitating and guiding – to become the best versions of themselves. It is about framing the current offer within the idea of enhancement. For example, we are introducing new workshops within the concept of eating local, conscious-living, sustainability, meditation, mindfulness, running clubs, tennis courses, talks and seminars within themes such as graceful-aging and stress reduction. All of the above represent key ingredients for a truly fulfilling life.

How closely do you work with other firms across region and would the local tourism sector benefit from greater cooperation?

We work with many different local and regional providers including ground services, local authorities and operators to name a few. Strong cooperation is key to the success of the region. I always emphasize that we are not in a business of selling real estate or rooms but selling and promoting the ‘destination’. This can only be done when joining forces with the rest of the industry. Algarve has everything in order to become a hub for wellbeing. It benefits from a stunning natural location with amongst the best air quality in Europe. It is perfect for active living and sports such as paddle-boarding, surfing, sailing, golf, tennis, cycling and walking. The Algarve is also considered very spiritual with endless workshops and classes from pranayama meditation to reiki healing to guided meditative walks or even activate breathwork sessions. There are many centres and teachers who chose Algarve as their permanent residence due to amazing weather and likeminded people. It further benefits from fresh, organic and sustainably sourced food. However, I still see a lot of disconnect in the way that travel businesses operate in the region. There is a lot of ‘trying to understand’ new concepts but sometimes lack of good implementation. Things are too often done ‘as usual’. There needs to be a better understanding of the wellbeing concept as a much wider term. Specifically, Food & Beverage areas in many establishments still needs a lot of work. It is not only about providing healthy options and catering for dietary requirements or organizing detox workshops, staff members must also be well informed and make guests feel comfortable about choices they are making. Algarve is synonymous with healthy food. In fact, what can be healthier than freshly grilled fish and organic vegetables?

Who would you encourage to attend the 2019 Algarve Tourism Conference and why is the event beneficial for your business and the wider region?

This conference is for everyone from across the tourism sector – from individual hotels, restaurants or experience providers right up to regional DMCs or governmental organisations. I think it is important to have a good selection of public and private companies. And participants should not be only limited to marketing area – even more so, we need to see sales and operational side of businesses moving towards the new trends and applying these in future strategies.