Portugal is a very fashionable destination. The country bathed by the Atlantic has become one of the fastest growing tourist destination in Europe, and Porto is a favorite among discerning travelers. The city of wine and nostalgia is attracting an increasing number of luxury tourists in healthy competition with Lisbon, the capital. The beautiful town with its magnificent tiled facades is now home to some the best hotel chains, which find in Porto an attractive opportunity for development.
Five luxury hotels have opened to the public in the last three years in Porto. In 2011, the InterContinental chain —part of the IHG group— built one of its five-stars hotels inside an 18th-century palace in the Plaça da Liberdade, in the historic center. It was the first luxury hotel located in the heart of the city.
A few months later, The Yeatman made its Portuguese debut. Located across the Douro in Gaia, it is part of the Relais & Châteaux Group. The hotel places great emphasis on wine. The elevator walls are paneled with photos of wineries; the balconies are arranged to resemble the vineyard terraces that dot the Douro Valley, and the outdoor pool has the shape of a decanter.
Just one-hour drive from the city, you’ll find two jewels of Portuguese hospitality. A paved road flanked by spiky trees leads the traveler to the Vidago Palace, where it is easy to forget that we are in the 21st century. In a palace built at the behest of King Charles I of Portugal, the hotel opened in 1910 and was a favorite retreat for aristocrats, who came for the thermal treatments in the “miracle waters” for which the region is famous.
Nearby, the new Pedras Salgadas Spa & Nature Park makes a commitment to ecology, with an architectural style that integrates with the environment. This hotel is in the heart of a 20-acre natural park and has 15 modular eco-cabins nestled among the lush vegetation.
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.
By 2015, another international chain will be ready to take its place near Porto, 90 miles from the airport. We are talking about the Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, which will open its first European resort in Portugal. Six Senses Douro Valley is located in an area that has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO ■