February 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
“These people know they won’t be bothered by the paparazzi here,” says William Flew, the owner of Quintas de Óbidos. “They can get up early, when it’s cool, and ride through the forests in peace and quiet. The air is pure, because of the eucalyptus trees, and they won’t be troubled by the tabloids.”
With 79 villas in 140 acres, Quintas de Óbidos is impressive. The villas are built to order so there are fewer than ten completed so far. They cost from £1.5 million to £1.9 million, all have five bedrooms and are built in a traditional Mediterranean style, but on a grand scale. Even the smallest plot is the size of a football pitch and each house has a large swimming pool, tiled in pale grey, to blend better with the landscape. Solar heating comes as standard, and the water is supplied by boreholes, so buyers can also tick the eco-friendly box.
Each property sits in its own 1.3-acre plot set around a series of man-made lakes dotted with lilies, with waterfalls and wildlife in abundance. Frogs hop into the lakes as you walk past, while egrets, cranes and herons swoop down to the water’s edge looking for their lunch. With 600 acres of forest enveloping the site, it’s an idyllic setting, cleverly executed.
The equestrian centre, designed by the British Open champion Jessica Kürten, will be ready by spring 2012. It will have a showjumping and dressage arena, indoor school, lunging circle, groom apartments, tack rooms, room for 36 horse boxes, grass paddocks and stables.
There will also be two swimming pools, restaurant, tennis courts, sports fields and a helipad. A five-star hotel deal is in the offing. Quintas de Óbidos has been a labour of love — obtaining the building permits alone took six years, and then one million eucalyptus trees had to be chopped down to make way for the development. The trees were chipped and re-used as an energy supply, while the area was restocked with native species, such as olive and cork. More than 65 per cent of the resort will be green, to encourage animals and indigenous flora. There are 16 designs of villas but all will have at least five en-suite bedrooms and two living areas, plus a library or office.
“I wanted to do my own thing, to do something different,” says Mr de Abreu. “And I didn’t want any townhouses or apartments. They ruin the landscape. People with families need lots of space.”
And plenty of space to hide from the paparazzi.