Madeira: Real fantasy island

It’s a buyer’s market, especially for investors looking abroad and now they have the chance to make their dream of a house in the sun a reality by buying a share of a property, an option on offer in Madeira, writes Majella O’Sullivan

Irish Independent, 20 February 2009


By Majella O’Sullivan
Friday February 20 2009

In these times of economic uncertainty, the prospect of leaving it all behind and escaping to your home in the sun is more attractive than ever before.

For those of us who still don’t have a place abroad to call home, there has probably never been a better time to start looking. They say it’s a buyer’s market and this is as much the case for overseas properties as it is for the domestic market.

Of course, there are always options when buying a property abroad that makes it a more realistic prospect for investors. Fractional ownership is a concept that’s grabbing the investor’s attention more than ever. This is when the buyer purchases a percentage share, say one quarter, of the property. The shares are sold to individual owners and each enjoys the privileges of owning it or sharing in the profits made. It also comes at a fraction of the cost of sole ownership.

Splash International is one of Ireland’s market leaders in the sale of luxurious overseas property. Established in 2004, it has already gained an unrivalled reputation for what the company says is its unique, personalised service where they will source the property, advise on legal requirements and even arrange financing.

Splash is now handling the sale of a luxurious development of apartments and villas at Palheiro Village on the island of Madeira. Better still, it even offers fractional ownership options so owning your own property on a beautiful island may not just be a pipe dream.

Palheiro Village

Palheiro Village is a development of 79 luxury freehold apartments and villas with spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean and the city of Funchal.

The village is located within the Palheiro Estate, which dates back over 200 years when the first Count of Carvalhal built a hunting lodge there in 1804. The estate was acquired by John Burden Blandy in 1885 and to this day remains in Blandy family ownership. The family has returned the original lodge to its former glory and now runs it as Casa Velha do Palheiro, a luxurious country house hotel.

The Palheiro Gardens surrounding the lodge are a botanist’s heaven, famous for the variety of plants that grow there, collected over a period of 180 years, and the beauty of its hillside setting.
Winding its way through the estate is Palheiro Golf, an 18-hole course complete with golf academy and elegant clubhouse. The course designer, Cabell Robinson, created a challenging course that incorporates the Madeiran hills, ridges and a deep valley set against the serene backdrop of the surroundings.

About Madeira

I visited the Palheiro Estate in early September when there were still plenty of golfers making their way around the course in pleasant sunshine. Being located out in the Atlantic,600 miles southwest of Lisbon, Madeira’s temperate climate makes it the ideal year-round holiday destination. Summers in Portugal are generally hot and dry but Madeira, enjoys warm summers with refreshing sea breezes and mild winters.

Madeira is also a walker’s paradise. The island is of volcanic origin and hilly. Its coast is steep and rocky with deep eroded lava gorges that run down to the sea. Ironically, this composition means it will never be a haven for sun worshippers who have to travel to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo for sandy beaches. There is little danger of the island being over-developed as up to 70pc of the area is protected.

The Madeirans cut watercourses in the rock as a way of carrying water from springs up to the mountainside to irrigate their land. Today these ‘levadas’ form a network of courses, some of which have been developed as walking routes.
There’s plenty to see and do even if walking isn’t to your liking. The island itself is steeped in history, some of which is right on the doorstep of the Casa Velha.

Water sport enthusiasts will not be disappointed either by all that’s on offer. Both Funchal, the capital, and nearby Camara de Lobes have a wide range of restaurants which offer local and international cuisine. The excellent House of Fish in Camara de Lobes and its sister restaurant the House of Meat, will even arrange collection from Palheiro Village and drop you home again after your meal. The restaurants offer some of the finest examples of local food including the Madeiran speciality of steak chargrilled on a stick which can be enjoyed in the bustling atmosphere of this seaside eatery.

Funchal has an array of cafes and bars any of which are perfect spots for people watching or even for sampling some of the local Madeira wine. The Blandy family also produce their own wine and I was certainly surprised by just how many varieties of Madeira wine there were.

Planning restrictions

Palheiro Village exclusivity is heightened by the fact that developments such as these are rare on the island as there are strict planning restrictions in Madeira.
Furthermore, the Blandy family, which manages the development, states that it is their mission to uphold all that the family and the estate name of Palheiro stand for. Given that the family is still resident on the estate and has a 124-year association with the island, this is hardly surprising.

Majella O’Sullivan

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