With gorgeous scenery and a rich cultural heritage, this small European country is soaring in popularity among American travelers. The spotlight is trained on the Douro wine region and the cool city of Lisbon. But even the beach-blessed Algarve region — which historically has been associated with mass-market tourism — is going luxe with a number of new resorts in the pipeline. First and foremost is the new Anantara, the first European resort for the Thailand-based brand renowned for glam properties in beautiful settings.
The Minor Hotel Group, Anantara’s parent company, acquired the Portuguese hospitality brand Tivoli Hotels & Resorts last February. The Tivoli portfolio currently encompasses 12 hotels in Portugal and two in Brazil. Dilip Rajakarier, CEO of Minor Hotel Group, has ambitious plans for the Tivoli brand, already launching large-scale renovation projects.
The timing for the Tivoli Lisboa’s makeover couldn’t be better. In the midst of a renaissance, Lisbon is on the rise as a tourist destination: thrilling nightlife, a lively art scene, and a rich history make for a winning combination in the Portuguese capital. It’s particularly appealing for Millennials and other travelers who crave authenticity. The new MAAT museum complex is getting lots of buzz, and a new cruise terminal is expected to open in July. Tip for first-time visitors: Take a ride on the vintage tram 28 to the atmospheric Alfama district and get lost in the steep alleyways on the way to the hilltop castle.
The Belém district is known for UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Jerónimos Monastery and the Torre de Belém, a magnificent fortress dating from the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Belém is the birthplace of the pastel de nata, the traditional Portuguese custard tart. Speaking of food, there are a host of eateries to sample Lisbon’s exciting culinary scene from Michelin-starred destinations such as Belcanto to the Palácio Chiado, a restored 18th-century palace now housing seven fun dining concepts.
A trip to Portugal isn’t complete without a stay in Sintra. Less than 20 miles west of Lisbon, it’s an otherworldly place: a mist-cloaked enclave in the hills above the Atlantic, lushly verdant because of a unique microclimate. This is where generations of aristocrats and royals would escape the summer heat, and their estates exhibit flamboyant architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sintra is incredibly popular because of its exotic gardens, such as the Parque de Monserrate, and the castles, like the Pena Palace, a mix of Moorish and Bavarian flourishes perched on a peak facing the ruins of a 9th-century Moorish castle.