ADRIAN LILLYWHITE M/D CAPE VERDE PROPERTY - TRIP TO SAL -APRIL/MAY 2010
Another trip to Cape Verde from MD Adrian Lillywhite - April/May 2010.
Here we go again....I haven't been down to Sal for a few months so was well overdue a visit. We have been so busy here in the office in the UK, and Ann and Alex have been doing fabulous work looking after clients in our Cape Verde Property office in Sal it didn't seem quite such a priority to visit.
How wrong could I have been? as when I arrived in Sal it just became obvious that I should be taking far more advantage of having such a wonderful job, and being able to get free business trips to these sunny and warm islands. A fabulous perk!!! Of course I knew it would be really hard graft for a week and I would be working 99% of the time I was away from the UK....Ha! I discussed with the boss what hours I should do and he agreed with me that a couple of hours work a day would be plenty, with weekends off of course, and nice business lunches......oooh I am the boss....that's sorted then....
Tom, 24, my eldest son came with me this time. He had never been before, and I thought it would be a good idea for him to see the reality of Sal, since he has been helping out at a few property shows and could now speak with confidence. He could also give an unbiased view of the islands which I always find interesting.
After a very full 5 hour 40 minute flight from Birmingham we arrived in Sal, and managed to buy our 25 euro visas and escape the Thomson holidaymakers in around 30 minutes. Not too bad. I had heard of a few flights where there had been delays getting through passport control. Luckily for us not this time. Steve Johnson, the husband of Ann who manages our Sal office, came to pick us up in the Cape Verde Property Ford Ranger, along with his son Dan who hadn't seen his dad for ages and was also visiting for a week. Then a short 15 minute drive from the airport to Santa Maria.
After a quick stop off to get changed into shorts and T shirts in our Leme Bedje apartment where we would be staying, Tom and I took all the usual office stationary and print cartridges the short walk (ok we drove) to the office. This time we also bought down several new company shirts with logos to freshen up the troops. Some items fade in Cape Verde because of the bright sunshine, sand and sea and this can happen to clothes in time, so these new company shirts will certainly look the part. Almost 365 days of sunshine a year, average temperatures of over 26C and very little rainfall have very few negatives, however fading shirts could be classed as one (another is making sure a follically challenged head doesn't get burned).
So Tom, Alex, Ann and I all trooped down to Papayas (or the Sunset Bar as it might be known as now) for 'Happy Hour' and a sundowner or two. As beautiful as ever. Amazing sunset (see the photo below), and excellent fish supper. This is the life. I love work trips.
So for the next couple of days I had a look around the various developments. First stop Vila Verde. I can't stress enough the importance of Vila Verde. It will have a major impact on Sal in the future and I was very pleased to see how Tecnicil, in normal Cape Verdean fashion, had slowly buy surely plodded on building through the recession and have actually come up with a stunning development. The irrigation system is working fabulously and the greenery is spreading rapidly throughout the site. The pools are operative in several communities and some of the apartments have now been used by owners. I met a guy called Kevin who was staying in an apartment onsite and he was raving about Vila Verde. I suppose having the whole resort pretty much to yourself would be a surreal experience, particularly at night, and he absolutely loved it. The communal areas are a major asset to Vila Verde and when the resort is properly open I can picture the covered walkways, piazzas, stages, coffee bars, restaurants and shops all providing Sal with a new asset which will be extremely important to the island. And the quality of the apartments in general is excellent. I appreciate there have been delays however I really believe it will be worth waiting for.
Then to the Melia Tortuga Beach Resort and Spa, between Vila Verde and Ponta Preta Beach. I visited the frontline 4 bed villas and the 3 bed two floor villas and for the first time saw them furnished. The quality is excellent. The location is excellent. The furniture is excellent. All the villas were completed and the first phase of apartments is due to be completed by June. After the delays of Vila Verde it is strange that the main complaint about Tortuga is that it is actually being built on time, however quite understandably in these challenging times some people are finding it tough to pay the final payments. Nothing in life is easy at the moment however The Resort Group have certainly come up with a tremendous development. Having the Sol Melia Group on the island will be a major benefit to Cape Verde.
Not a great deal has happened on the Melia Dunas Beach Resort yet, except land flattening and a few buildings for the heavy machinery, however I am told the first major works will begin in June and it will be full steam ahead from then. Dunas will be a major tourist attraction for Sal with tremendous facilities in a couple of years time.
Paradise Beach is certainly moving forwards now at last. It will be interesting to see how it progresses over the next few months.
Not too much going on at Cotton Bay at the moment. The developers seem to be still in a waiting game. I am told that a driving range is planned very shortly and new financial partners are almost in place. Of course we all want to see it move forwards as quickly as possible both for the investors and also for the general need for golf and a large marina on the island. In fact every time I visit I notice the growing array of boats, both for private use and also for fishing and whale watching trips. I didn’t have time to go on one of the whale watching trips, however I was speaking to a family who had recently been on the whale watching power boat ‘King Boa’ with Captain ‘karaoke’ Bob and had seen a newly born baby humpback whale and its mother really close up. Very special and one of the lesser known attractions of Cape Verde.
Back to Santa Maria and Tom and I took a few cooling dips in the amazing sea outside Leme Bedje on Praia Antonio de Souza and also the main beach in front of the Morabeza Hotel with it's almost unbelievably turquoise water. I just had to take Tom for a very important 'business' lunch at the Morabeza Beach Club. Amazing. I spoke to a few investors who had been pretty much most places in the world and they assured me they had never seen anything quite like Santa Maria Beach. I heard the words 'paradise on earth' flying around. Ok, Sal is a bit like the moon however get to the beach and there are not many better places on earth to have a chicken club sandwich and a glass of lager........
In Santa Maria the beach front areas are certainly coming into shape. Porto Antigo 1 has been around a few years and the little 'harbour beach' is always a treat and Papayas ( or the Sunset Bar ) is still one of the best places to sit and take in the Cape Verdean sunshine and sunsets. Porto Antigo 2 is finished and flourishing. The gardens are superb and there were plenty of people relaxing around the pool soaking up the sun, or walking the few yards to take a dip in the sea.
Leme Bedje, where I was staying, was a hive of activity (with builders). The massive pool area and terraces were almost complete and blocks D and E were 95% finished. I would say in the next month these will be finished. Then we hope they will crack on with the frontline Block G. Soon the greenery and plants will go in and Leme Bedje will really start to take shape. If anyone is interested in a frontline apartment then these will be well worth a look. Soon Leme Bedje will be real competition for Porto Antigo.
The SalinaSea Aparthotel was also building frantically and being in such a good beachfront location will always benefit investors in the future. This is now a SIPPable development, like the Melia Dunas Beach Resort.
Saturday was Labour Day. Yes folks, only Cape Verde could have a public holiday called Labour Day on a Saturday! There were all night parties going on, and a festival back in the town with music, food stalls and lots of happy locals partying on into the early hours. A tremendous atmosphere which Tom really appreciated (possibly more than the ageing old chap he was with).
Sunday morning at 11.30 AM was the most important business appointment of the week which I couldn't possibly miss. Ok, it was Chelsea V Liverpool at the Turtle Shack. Come on you Blues. Lots of disappointed Man United Fans. Shame. Then a nice Sunday lunch, swim and sunbathe.....wonderful. Later to Happy Hour at the Morabeza and then Blu Bar for pizza and a pint or 3. It's such a shame to have to come back home.....
There's no doubt that times have been tough in the past 18 months, however I really got the feeling that Sal was ready to take off again. Most of the developments were finally starting to either get their finances together, or were actually really starting to take shape. Santa Maria had new bars, restaurants and new plans for roads and infrastructures. OK, it is certainly not the finished article however EVERYONE I spoke to during the week I was there thought it was fabulous, including Tom who loved it. They could see the potential. All positive comments about Sal from everyone one I saw. A few negatives about the world and several about the UK government. I am sure as long as we have patience the southern areas of Sal will really turn into a superb all year long holiday and residential tourism destination. There are also some tremendous property bargains around at the moment, both from developers who are willing to do deals or purchasers who are finding it tough to complete on off plan properties.
It really is a great time to buy in Cape Verde (but I would say that wouldn't I........)
Then back to Brum, and the 90 minute drive back to Windsor. Hopefully back to CV very soon.
We are currently helping run a campaign to help promote NON Thomson flights to Sal. Thomson currently have the monopoly on direct flights from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester, however 2 new airlines have said they want to fly from the UK to Sal from November, so if you want to support this then just email me on email@example.com and we can put your emails to the airlines.
And of course if you want info on any properties in Cape Verde I would be very happy to oblige!
ALL THE VARIOUS PROPERTIES MENTIONED CAN BE FOUND ON THIS WEBSITE.
Melia Tortuga Beach Resort
Melia Dunas Beach Resort
Porto Antigo 1 ( Just 1 example)
Porto Antigo 2 ( Just 1 example)