Destination Europe – the enduring appeal of scenery, history and culture

Destination Europe – the enduring appeal of scenery, history and culture

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  • Positive growth in international arrivals across Europe (European Travel Commission)
  • 4 in 5 long-haul travellers from Brazil, Russia, China and the US head to Europe (Long-Haul Travel Sentiment Survey)
  • 4 of top 5 destinations by expenditure for Brits are within Europe (ONS)

“Everywhere you turn in Europe, history is waiting to speak to you. The continent just oozes with it.”

Dawn Cavanagh-Hobbs, of luxury fractional ownership holiday home company Appassionata, lived in the UK and the US before settling down in Italy. She feels passionate about promoting Europe’s unique charms.

“It’s not just the well-known monuments and famous landmarks,” she continues. “You can feel the depth of the ages in everything from tiny rural churches to ancient fortifications.”

This sense of history certainly pervades Appassionata’s latest holiday home, Casa Tre Archi (fractions available from £75,000), which features the curved turret wall of the town’s fortifications as part of its living room. Within the property, exposed brickwork blends beautifully with modern, bespoke lighting, creating a wonderfully ambient mix of old and new.

Nor is it just the appeal of history that is bringing so many visitors to Europe. Everything from London’s theatres to Portugal’s beaches serves to make Europe one of the world’s most varied and exciting holiday destinations.

Last year, 38.5 million UK residents set out to explore Europe on their holidays, according to the Travel Trends 2014 report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), spending some £24.4 billion – up 4.5% from 2013. The continent attracts extensive interest from locations that are further afield, as well as domestic travellers, with the Long-Haul Travel Sentiment Survey reporting that four in five Chinese, Russian, Brazilian and US citizens who were planning to travel long-haul this summer planned to make Europe their destination. Enjoying nature and scenic landscapes, visiting famous landmarks and enjoy historical and cultural heritage were all cited as reasons for Europe drawing their interest.

“Spain is definitely one of Europe’s highlights when it comes to combining stunning scenery with an interesting culture and great cuisine,” observes Martin Dell, Director of Spanish property portal, which lists more than 200,000 homes from 3,000 estate agents. “The country has some really rich variety: incredible architecture in Barcelona, a legendary flamenco scene in Seville, fabulous tapas and wine in Madrid… as well as beach and mountain scenery that will take your breath away.”

The European Travel Commission survey of travel trends in Europe showed 4% growth in international arrivals and overnight stays in Spain for the first five months of 2015, evidencing the effectiveness of its distinctive offering. Italy also showed positive growth (4%), as did the majority of European destinations.

Albania, just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, is one country enjoying the heightened demand. Traveller interest there has increased so significantly that the country is developing one of the Mediterranean’s most luxurious and desirable resorts at Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa. The resort masterplan has been created by world international architects Woods Bagot and will feature first class accommodation and leisure facilities with cutting edge design, using traditional and sustainable materials. All property will be built with a focus on exceptional quality and attention to detail, with everything that holidaymakers could wish for all on site, from shops and sports facilities during the day, to restaurants and a range of funky bars and clubs for when evening falls.

From a British perspective, four of the top five countries where holidaymakers are spending their money are within Europe: the ONS reported the top five countries by expenditure as being Spain, the US, France, Italy and Portugal.

“Portugal attracts visitors from across the world,” enthuses Chris White, Founding Director of boutique real estate agency Ideal Homes Portugal. Here in the Algarve we see visitors from the UK, Ireland, the US, China, Iceland… all over the place. Portugal’s wonderful scenery is a big draw – the beaches are just spectacular – and the reliable climate over the summer months means that holidaymakers are all but guaranteed sunshine every day during their visit.”

Chinese visitors in particular are increasingly falling for Portugal’s charms, including its ‘golden visa’ programme, which grants residency to those spending in excess of €500,000 on property. With luxury coastal villas in abundance along its 1,793 km long coastline, such as this four bedroom seafront villa with hot tub in Praia da Luz, which is on the market for €825,000, Portugal certainly has plenty to offer those looking to pick up a high end property with scenic views.

When it comes to investment, Berlin is also generating serious interest right now. The German capital’s buy-to-let market is booming. According to the JLL Residential City Profile Berlin – 2nd half-year 2014, the city saw almost €2 billion of investment in residential properties and portfolios in 2014, marking it out by far as the most popular German investment location so far as residential property is concerned.

Low owner-occupier levels, rising rents and low purchase costs are driving the interest, along with a cultural shift that is encouraging Germans to invest in property themselves, creating a viable exit strategy. Ray Withers, Chief Executive of Property Frontiers, which is offering high specification studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments for investment from just €109,600 at Stadtpark Steglitz in south western Berlin, comments,

“Germany is not just a fascinating country to visit, it’s also emerging as a really interesting investment destination. We’re experiencing heightened levels of interest in investment in Berlin from around the globe – the buy-to-let market there is really taking off.”

As well as booming investment, the positive start to 2015 for Europe when it comes to travel looks on track to continue for the rest of the year, according to traveller intelligence from Forward Keys. Based on bookings processed by travel agencies worldwide (both online and offline), that data shows an 8.3% increase in on-the-book reservations in mid-July for the rest of 2015, over the same period the year before. The appeal of Europe’s scenery, history and culture is here to stay.

For more information please contact:

Appassionata: +39 33154 13225 or 

Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa: +44 845 125 8600 or

Ideal Homes Portugal: 0800 133 7644, +351 289 513 434 or

Property Frontiers: +44 1865 202 700 or

Newly established tax haven beckons foreign investment in Europe’s ‘Golden Triangle’

Newly established tax haven beckons foreign investment in Europe’s ‘Golden Triangle’

  • 22 hectare tax-free economic zone established around port of Durrës, Albania, expected to generate millions of Euros in new investment
  • Albania ranks higher than Germany, the United States, and Eastern Europe & Central Asia in ‘Index of Transaction Transparency’ (Santander Trade)
  • Part of ‘Golden Triangle’, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa offers limited 25% discount to encourage investment

The announcement of a ground-breaking tax free zone being established by the Albanian government around the port city of Durrës marks an exciting new phase for the country, as it beckons more and more foreign investors to look to its shores. The Albanian Ministry of Economy is set to create a 22 hectare economic zone whereby businesses, both home-grown and overseas-founded, will be able to operate without having to pay tax.

The Durres zone will be established for a 35-year period and the move will also create new jobs and positively impact on both the regional and national economy. Paying special attention to logistic services, such as imports and exports, the loading of ships and the processing of products, this pioneering step looks set to open Albania’s doors to growing international interest, further building relations with neighbouring Italy and beyond, ensuring Balkan borders become increasingly transparent within Europe and further afield.

The regional tax haven that will be created by this new move is also a further step in establishing this part of the world as a growing economic powerhouse, as Peter Walshe, Marketing Director of Albania’s first high end resort, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa, explains,

“The founding of the new Durrës tax haven is certainly a very good thing for Albania’s industry in general terms as the city is the long-established gateway to the Balkans for sea-freight and, in turn, international investment. The economic zone will also further play into the notion of the country’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of which Lalzit Bay is a vital part alongside Durrës and the Albanian capital of Tirana.

“These three pillars of Albania’s economic miracle are driving the country forward: towards an already emerging bright future of financial strength, economic optimism and hopeful EU ascendancy.”

In line with this, Santander’s Trade arm has noted Albania as ranking higher than Germany (5.0), the United States (7.0), and Eastern Europe & Central Asia (7.0) in terms of its ‘Index of Transaction Transparency’, with a rating of 8.0, where ‘the greater the index, the more transparent the conditions of transactions’. This indicates that the country has overcome historic concerns and is now striving ahead in economic gains and practices, encouraging FDI and international focus.

As Albania’s very first luxury resort, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa is capitalising on this growing demand by offering excellent affordable investment opportunities for overseas and domestic buyers. With a wide range of property options available, from one and two bedroom apartments to three or four bedroom villas with private swimming pools, all of the highest quality and luxurious in design, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa is the ideal investment choice in a growing market.

The Resort also boasts a wide range of five-star amenities, such as a beach club, tennis courts, boutique shops and a range of carefully selected restaurants and bars, all set within ranging grounds where properties are built at low density.

As part of the market’s expanding encouragement of investment, the developer at Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa is currently offering up to 20% off of selected final apartments in Phase 1 of the project, meaning that a one or two bedroom apartment can be snapped up from as little as £39,000 until the offer ends on 31st May 2015.

For more information, contact Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa on +44 845 125 8600 or visit 

Albania broadens its horizons with new flight routes amidst tourism boom

Albania broadens its horizons with new flight routes amidst tourism boom

  • Albania witnesses 167% increase in foreign visitors arriving for holidays and day trips in Q3 2014 (INSTAT)
  • Host of new flight routes, linking Tirana with range of new European destinations
  • Albania 40.77% cheaper than Italy in Consumer Price Index (Numbeo ‘Cost of Living Index 2015’)

An eye-popping 167% increase in the number of foreign visitors arriving in Albania for holidays and day trips in Q3 2014 is yet another positive indictor of the bright future ahead for this Balkan nation. An impressive increase on figures from one year previous, according to the country’s national statistics office, INSTAT, visitor numbers from outside of the country now stand at 1,042,844, having been just 390,454 during the same period in 2013.

Alongside this, INSTAT’s ‘Quarterly Statistical Bulletin’ revealed more detail about where these tourists were coming from, with Western Europe seeing a 24.7% increase in visitors, and interestingly, East Asia and Pacific combined with the South Asian region seeing a mammoth 42.34% growth in the numbers visiting Albania in Q3 2014, compared to the third quarter of 2013.

Peter WalsheMarketing Director of Albania’s first high end resort, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa, comments,

“As recent figures have shown, Albania is looking to be one of the stand-out destinations for travel this year and as the country begins to fully recognise the potential of its tourism market, this is sure to be just the beginning. In line with this, we are certainly seeing a growing number of enquiries from people interested in buying property in the beautiful coastal region of Lalzit Bay, for both their own use and having recognised its investment potential. Albania is proving a popular choice for buyers in a wide range of nations.”

Within this context, it is easy to see why summer 2015 will see the launch of a host of new flight routes, linking Albania’s capital, Tirana, with even more key cities in Europe and beyond. A code-share deal between Czech Airlines and Travel Service, for example, will see new flights start between Prague and Tirana, and there will also be charter flights launched from Košice airport in Slovakia into Albanian capital. Alongside this, Kuwait investors are in talks about the potential launch of the new ‘Albanian Airways’ plane which will marry-up Tirana with European countries that are home to Albanian diaspora.

With this expansion extending into autumn too, Italy’s Air Vallée is also set to start scheduled flights between the Italian destinations of Rimini, Salerno, Bari and Pescara, flying into Tirana, making the Balkan country even more accessible to its neighbouring nation.

Looking ahead, and in line with Walshe’s comments, the World Bank are working on preparing their next Country Strategy for Albania for the next five years, with a considerable part of the focus being on coordinating and maximising growth in the tourism sector. Yet, it is not simply ease of accessibility that is drawing a growing number of visitors to Albanian shores. The country is becoming renowned as an incredibly affordable destination to visit, which given current economic conditions making many people more budget aware, ensures it is becoming the top choice for a growing flank of holidaymakers and investors alike.

Numbeo’s Consumer Price Index, part of their ‘Cost of Living Index 2015’, showed that Albania is some 40.77% cheaper than Italy which, given that it is just 45 miles across the Adriatic and boasts similarly stunning beaches and wonderful climate, ensures it is clear why it is drawing attention.

For those looking to capitalise on this growing popularity, Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa is offering a range of beautifully-designed properties as part of a five-star, beachfront resort. Boasting luxurious facilities and standout views of the stunning golden sand beaches and breathtaking Dajti mountain range, Lalzit Bay Resort is just 30 minutes from Durrës and features a beach club, range of top restaurants and bars, tennis courts and boutique shops.

Properties are built at low density and to the highest of standards and range from 1 or 2 bedroom apartments to 3 or 4 bedroom villas with private pools, inspired by California’s elegant and modern beachfront properties. Properties are priced from €35,000 to €360,000.

For more information contact Lalzit Bay Resort and Spa on +44 845 125 8600 or visit 

Best exchange rate for 8 years prompts Brits to snap up bargain second homes across Europe

Best exchange rate for 8 years prompts Brits to snap up bargain second homes across Europe

Albania Portugal Spain , , ,
  • GBP/EUR exchange rate reaches 1.34
  • Buyers of mid-price properties saving as much as £60k (
  • Brits eyeing up European property as far afield as Albania (Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa)

With the euro at an eight-year low against the pound, can we expect Brits to rush out and grab that bargain second home in the sun that they have dreamed of for so long, or have we become more cautious of the market’s fluctuations since the crash of 2008?

“Definitely the former,” says Martin Dell, Director of leading Spanish property portal “We’re seeing British buyers eyeing up cut-price properties across Spain in high numbers right now, as they can get so much more for their money than they could a few years ago. But what’s interesting is the number of buyers looking to snap up properties with heftier price tags too.”

Dell cites the example of a new build three bedroom villa with pool in Benijofar, Valencia, which is on the market for €335,000. At the current exchange rate, it will cost a British buyer £250,000, while back in 2009 it would have cost £310,000.

Such substantial savings are tempting many buyers to see now as the perfect time to invest in a second home, as Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director of Taylor Wimpey España, observes,

“With the exchange rate looking so favourable, it really is a case of the more you spend, the more you save at the moment. It certainly seems to have got British buyers moving once more when it comes to Spanish property. We are down to just three townhouses left at our Montesol development and two at Calpesol on the Costa Blanca.”

Nor is it just Spain that Brits are eyeing up for their bargain dream homes. Portugal is also attracting UK buyers in their droves right now as Chris White, founding director of boutique real estate agency Ideal Homes Portugal, explains,

“The best exchange rate since 2007 is certainly not something that many British buyers are going to pass up on and Portugal is the perfect place to get more bang for your buck. Even for buyers just looking for a good value apartment, rather than a substantial villa, the savings are impressive. Right now we have some luxury, two bedroom apartments in the most sought after area of Lagos, being sold off plan at €225,000. This equated to around £184,500 a year ago, but right now one would cost closer to £168,500.”

The exchange rate ripples are even being felt as far into Europe as Albania, where the country’s first high-end resort, Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa, is tempting savvy Brits to invest now before the exchange rate starts moving back the other way. Marketing Director Peter Walshe comments,

“Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa is already a great investment under normal circumstances, but with the current exchange rate it offers incredible value to British buyers. We’re expecting a very busy few weeks ahead until the rate begins to settle again!”

So will Brits be dashing out to purchase a cut price second home now that they can get so much more for their money? Absolutely, it seems.

For more information please contact:

Taylor Wimpey España: +44 8000 121 020 or Those residing outside of the UK should call 0034 971 70 69 72.

Lalzit Bay Resort & Spa: +44 845 125 8600 or

Ideal Homes Portugal: +44 800 133 7644 or +351 289 513 434 or