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Madeira Whines About Pace Of Progress

May 19, 2009Article by Ray Withers

If Madeira was seaside rock instead of volcanic, the writing all the way through would say ‘Little England’
The top-of-the-market island destination is polite and upper middle class compared to the more common cousins of Majorca, Ibiza and The Canary Islands and attracts a more mature Madeira property investor.So much so, high tea is still served at Reid’s Palace Hotel, which is a shrine to portraits of the English through and those of the island’s eponymous Blandy family hang.

The first Blandy in Madeira was John Blandy who arrived during the Napoleonic Wars with the British Garrison in 1807, and returned to Madeira in 1811 where he established himself as a wine shipper.
The family still is hands on in Madeira with tourism, media and building businesses as well as making the Madeira wine.When you step off the plane in Madeira, you’re stepping back in to a time where restaurants still insist on men wearing ties and the town has a village feel of times past when everyone knows each other – and their business.

Madeira real estate prices have fallen 20% in the past year, say estate agents, and tourism has been hit by a sliding pound and the credit crunch.Most holiday homes are relatively inexpensive due to the fall in prices. They are grouped on the volcanic hills near Funchal, where half of Madeira’s 240,000 population live.
Property in Funchal, like a three-bedroom villa, built forties, costs about €250,000, or up to €400,000 in the heart of the town.

Further out but only 45 minutes away by motorway – prices are much lower but views are equally fabulous.
If you are looking for a pied-a-terre, Funchal apartments are less than €100,000.The grandest new development, Palheiro Village – built on Blandy land – is priced from €325,000 to over €1 million.
Development is growing. Although the locals are a bit NIMBY – not in my backyard – about the move in to the 21st century.Two new golf courses are underway with completion dates in 2011 and the Azularia holiday home village is due to be finished in 2012.

The locals are feeling the pinch from tourism growth– no more so than at Funchal harbour where more moorings for posh yachts are being grabbed for bigger yachts and cruise liners to bring in more holidaymaker cash.The locals aren’t about to embrace a brave new world; they are actively campaigning to stop modern monstrosities like high-rise apartments and a cable car through the Rabacal valley world heritage site.

Planners refuse permission for any new hotels below a four-star status to keep up standards, old boy, and to stop the dreadful working class hordes ravage the island with stag and hen parties.
But the tide of tourism is relentless with up to 10 liners a day docking during the cruising season and EasyJet flying in daily from two UK airports.

Author

Ray Withers

Ray has over 17 years’ experience in the international property market and bought his own first international property investment back in 2002. Aside from running Property Frontiers, Ray has been involved in residential, hotel, student and commercial property investment and development in both the UK and overseas and co-wrote "Where to Buy Property Abroad - An Investor's Guide". As Founder and Trustee of the Frontiers Foundation, Ray is directly involved with many of its projects to ensure they have a direct and tangible impact in individual communities across the globe. He is passionate about property, travelling, scouting out new opportunities and finding time to spend with his young family.
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