Once a tacky expat haven, Portugal’s south coast is now drawing a luxury party crowd
Words Lady Charlotte
Abandon your images of sweaty expats, happy hours and wifebeater-clad beer guts: the Algarve is having a renaissance. Portugal’s south coast has often been relegated as the cheap option for a quick European jaunt in the sun, with value promoted over luxury. But that’s all changing, and much of it is due to the newest and hippest joint in town – Blanco Beach Club.
The brainchild of investor Maximillian White, Blanco Beach Club is a high-octane day club and entertainment venue in Portimão. The lavish club is designed to blend nostalgia with modernity to provide the ultimate beachside hangout. The design theme is organic European living, with reclaimed wood and natural fabrics adding an earthy vibe to the private jacuzzis, fire pits and custom-designed cabanas. But with lavish oceans views, multiple bespoke bars, a 20 meter pool and a 5-star fusion restaurant, this is a distinctly lavish take on ‘getting back to nature’. And after a couple of months of so-called British summer, it was impossible to resist.
My partner and I arrived in a heat wave. Be careful what you ask for. Thankfully air conditioned transport was waiting at the airport to whisk us off to the luxury boutique Bela Vista Hotel & Spa for a late lunch, before the Grand Opening of Blanco Beach later that night. Sitting on the deck by the pool, we grazed on langoustine, clams and fish of the day in champagne sauce – all washed down with Espresso Martinis and more champagne. London? Sorry, where?
After a quick spruce-up back at our hotel, Villas D’Agua, we headed to the opening night of Blanco Beach, where famed rapper Tyga was set to whip the crowd into a party mood. The club is decked like a pier (this is a no stiletto zone) and with clean lines, white interiors, and beds and seats scattered with cushions in the club’s signature colours of aqua blue and grey. Minimalist Eurochic at its finest.
White believes that the Algarve coast will be the next hotspot for summer jet setters
After taking our VIP seat by the stage we got stuck straight into the Dom Perignon – well, when amongst rappers – and got the chance to chat with White. With his knowledge of market trends in Europe in both real estate and hospitality, White believes that the Algarve coast will be the next hotspot for summer jet setters – hence his investment in Blanco Beach, which he hopes to set the standard for a new breed of luxury in Portugal. Come midnight, Tyga hit the stage with a posse of floozies and gold-laced sparkling wine, and the club exploded into a frenzy. Somewhere around 2am (or maybe 3? Maybe 4?) we headed back to catch some sleep.
Waking up at Villas D’Agua was a blissful and quiet experience, the perfect place to recharge before another night of partying. Heading to Portimão early, we were treated to an amazing massage at the Organic Spa, a new spa/bar concept in the Marina area created by world-renowned aesthetician Jorge Martins. With treatments ranging from plastic surgery to rather less extreme massages and facials, it’s just the spot to treat your hangover and prep for another night on the tiles. The fully licensed restaurant and bar offers both hair of the dog – “Anti Aging Gin” – and healthy vegetarian quiches and sandwiches. Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, we headed back to Blanco Beach, which is conveniently located just round the corner. Back in the club we were plied with Veuve, Espresso Martinis and G&T’s as well as some delightful finger food from the kitchen including sushi, ceviche and deep fried prawns. Once the sun had gone down it was time for Richy Ahmed, who played mostly house music, a welcome contrast to the previous night.
Champagne, fusion food, rappers, DJs and a great expanse of azure ocean? It’s hardly rocket science
This place is serious about music. One of our most memorable nights involved a set from Roger Sanchez. Despite a career spanning almost three decades and numerous accolades and awards, he’s an incredibly humble and personable man, who mixes house, hip-hop and crowd-pleasing tunes with consummate skill. The Bianco Beach Resident DJs are no slouch either, creating live mash-ups to get the crowd jumping like a mooch pit from the 90’s. Millennials and old timers were both equally happy on the dance floor – no mean feat to pull off.
After five days of non-stop partying it was time to head home – probably a good thing for my liver. I was left with my expectations thoroughly overturned. Having spent decent stints in Ibiza, Miami and other classic club destinations, I’m in no doubt that the Algarve is set to be the next big party thing. Champagne, fusion food, rappers, DJs and a great expanse of azure ocean? It’s hardly rocket science.