Tamir Kobrin is one of the most lively and creative hoteliers in the business – and that says a lot. He was perfectly happy doing Anantara things in Sri Lanka when Anantara’s big-boss (the equally characterful Bill Heinecke, the American-born Thai citizen now g) asked him to pack everything and head for Portugal’s Algarve. Heinecke wanted one of the Tivoli hotels that he had bought, via Minor International, from Espirito Santo. When Mr Heinecke asks no-one says no, so last March Tamir Kobrin and his wife Kathrine Hinds-Kobrin headed for Portugal, and on April 1st, 2017, says the gal, unveiled what is now the Anantara Vilamoura Algarve luxury resort.
Vilamoura, now US-owned, is a 2,500-acre complex with over 5,000 homes, and stunning golf, and several hotels. This one, built at a cost of €87 million, has 280 rooms, and architect-designers Promontorio exhibited a degree of massive-scale severity that I tend to associate with the entire Iberian peninsula. But already the Kobrins have added masses of elements of tender loving care, and a definite sense of place. Tamir Kobrin wants guests, 60% of whom come from the UK, to know they are in Portugal. He is working with the TASA philanthropic body to bring in local handcrafts, things like bedrooms’ rush mats that might have been made by an octogenarian in a little village in the mountains. I love the way chair-backs at guest relations, in the lobby, are a reminder of Portuguese tiles.
I was in #250, on the top floor of the main block – this is a horizontal hotel, no more than three floors, snaking through several right angled turns. My big terrace, which looked down over the Arnold Palmer-designed Victoria Golf Course, had Dedon-like seating, by Kettal, based in Barcelona. Inside, in the dining room, someone had laid out a table of welcome items that highlighted the best of Portugal, with cheeses, fruits, a bottle of Port and another of Douro win. Particularly from a golfer’s viewpoint, it was really thoughtful to have a pair of Bresser binoculars, and a colourful rush beach bag obviously made by one of those villagers. Uniquely in my experience, too, I had a plastic-lined brown fabric bag, embroidered in yellow with the words ‘bathing suit’.
Tamir Kobrin wants the best, throughout, for this luxury hotel (he knows every detail is important to Bill Heinecke as this is the Minor group’s first management in Europe). He has brought in the London-based Worldwide-Kids, a kind of global nanny service, to run the kids’ club. And of course while everyone says how much they love ‘little ones’, there are also times when even parents want to get away from them. One of the pools, therefore, is adult-only, and to signify which pool is which, he has themed the child-free pool Veuve Clicquot. A prominent ice bucket is actually all that is needed, and it reminds me once again that this bubbly brand’s signifier colour is surely the most easily recognisable. When Mandarin Oriental Munich did its first summer rooftop popup bar a few years ago it was the orange features that instantly stood out. Read on, tomorrow.. NOW TOUR MY SUITE, BELOW