Sean Moriarty – CEO of Quinta Do Lago

The Algarve is famed for its scenic beaches, natural beauty, and delicious cuisine. Its coastline offers diverse accommodations, from quaint B&Bs to boutique hotels and secluded resorts. Quinta do Lago, a longstanding resort for over 50 years, continually elevates its hospitality. Situated within the captivating Ria Formosa Natural Park, it epitomizes luxury and charm.


Can you share with us your journey and experiences at the luxury resort over the past 7 years? How has the resort evolved during your tenure?

When I joined the Quinta do Lago team, my brief was to rejuvenate the resort and help transform its image from a traditional golfing resort to a sustainable, luxury lifestyle destination, with a focus on health and wellbeing. We were striving to become a destination for all ages with a focus on culinary excellence and real estate developments in keeping with the original master plan. This also involved bringing in a wider compass of activities, including cycling, triathlons, tennis, and pilates. The development of ‘The Campus’ further helped us achieve this goal, meaning the resort had a central hub for elite performance, as well as everyday fitness activities.

A significant part of this regeneration was the full opening of our multi-sports centre, The Campus, in 2018. Since opening, The Campus has completely repositioned the resort’s lifestyle and reputation to Europe’s premier sporting destination for training, recovery, and rehabilitation. We now regularly host high-profile athletes and have welcomed over 1,000 sporting professionals – whilst maintaining a welcoming and relaxed feel that embraces all sporting abilities. In 2023, we also opened two new indoor padel courts at The Campus and later this year we are launching a new Reformative Pilates studio.

We also have 14 restaurants and bars that all have their own identity; from our laid-back sports bar, Dano’s, to the lakeside restaurant Casa do Lago, and the newly renovated Casa Velha serves traditional Portuguese cuisine, so there is something for all guests. The choice and high quality of these venues provide a unique dining experience and I’ve witnessed Quinta do Lago become a real foodie destination in the past 7 years as we open new culinary venues. This most recently included the launch of UMAMI, the resort’s first restaurant to offer Asian-style cuisine, and our relaxed cafe KOKO is undergoing a big revamp later this year.


What inspired you to become involved in the hospitality industry, particularly in managing a luxury resort in the Algarve?

I began my career working on a farm and cheese factory in County Tipperary, Ireland. This provided a very humbling start to my professional life, and I later moved into the food and hospitality industry where I worked for 20 years before moving to Quinta do Lago in 2016 as Chief Executive Officer. Having previously held senior positions with brands such as Quinnsworth, (now Tesco), Dairygold, and TOPAZ (Ireland’s biggest forecourt retailer – later acquired by Circle K), I understood the passion owners have for the business, as TOPAZ owner also owned Quinta do Lago. After working with such large companies and being successful in their rebranding concept development over the years, I decided it was time to venture further into the hospitality industry and I knew Quinta do Lago would be the perfect place to do this, as such a well-developed luxury destination, it was an easy decision, particularly when you factor in the Algarve’s climate and lifestyle.

Over the years, what significant changes or developments have you witnessed in the luxury resort industry, especially in the context of Algarve?

I think it’s interesting to look back at Quinta do Lago’s history here, the resort began with a vision of a destination of quality of life. The resort dates back to 1971, when the resort’s founder André Jordan created the masterplan for a low-density residential area, inspired by the natural landscape of the land – which we still uphold today. At the time, Quinta do Lago was just one single, crumbling farmhouse, but it has since become a true sanctuary for outdoor living and a family lifestyle.

Now over 50 years on, we are one of the few tourist destinations in the world that have maintained this commitment to preserving the natural environment and we’re very proud to offer residents and guests a unique, exceptional experience of quality of life. We are managing this whilst continually developing new products and growing our offering.

In a wider context, I think we are one of the only resorts that is leading the way in developing its wellness, sport, food and overall lifestyle offerings whilst continually nurturing our natural surroundings and looking after our loyal residents and guests. In the context of the Algarve in particular, a destination renowned for its world-class golf courses, we have transformed our image and are now seen as much more than just golf, but an authentic lifestyle destination.


How does your resort differentiate itself in the comvpetitive luxury travel market? What unique features or experiences does it offer to its guests?

Quinta do Lago has always been a leader in luxury, and can be described as an exclusive, modern, lifestyle destination that is ideal for families, couples and groups of friends of all ages. We encourage outdoor living and have an incredibly strong fitness and wellness offering across golf, tennis, cycling, birdwatching and more – all designed with sustainability in mind.

Our services include our award-winning golf courses and our multi-sports hub, The Campus, which I mentioned earlier; these facilities allow guests to train and play at the highest standard, whilst also offering amateurs the welcoming atmosphere they need to take up a new sport and learn from high-quality, experienced instructors.

We also have 14 restaurants and bars all offering a new style of cuisine, our boutique hotel, The Magnolia Hotel and a variety of exquisite rental properties.

Finally, our real estate arm offers the most experienced, expert insight – we are launching some exciting new projects this year including our final virgin plot development that follows significant demand and exciting, new opportunities for buyers. The Algarve region has undergone considerable transformation over the past few decades. How has the resort adapted to these changes while maintaining its essence and charm?

In the 7 years that I have been here, I have witnessed the Algarve’s remarkable transformation and have carefully guided Quinta do Lago to ensure that we embrace the waves of change whilst remaining true to our core values. Our approach has always been anchored in sustainable practices and respect for the environment, recognizing that our unique offering is rooted in the beauty and tranquility of our natural surroundings. We have made a conscious effort to adopt eco-friendly practices and protect our local wildlife.

As modern guests’ preferences continue to evolve, we have broadened our offerings to include top-of-the-range wellness facilities, outdoor adventure activities and culinary experiences centered around local cuisine and produce. This shift not only caters to current trends but also reinforces our commitment to quality service and exclusivity. In the face of development, our commitment to following our master plan has been crucial. We are proud to have remained a low-density and low-rise resort within the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

We have ensured that any expansion or new architectural design stays in harmony with our longstanding vision, respecting our surroundings and preserving the elegance and essence of our resort. I’m proud to say that we have evolved gracefully whilst retaining our unique charm; demonstrating how innovation is the recipe to success when combined with true authenticity.

Family plays a significant role in many luxury travel experiences. Can you tell us how your resort caters to families and creates memorable experiences for them?

Our entire resort model lends itself to families and encourages them to spend quality time together and create authentic memorable experiences. This is carefully curated with guests in mind who do not have young families, ensuring that they too can still enjoy the peaceful surroundings of our resort.

We have a brilliant array of villa rentals available throughout Quinta do Lago; with varying amenities and locations across the resort, guests always find the perfect option to suit their family’s needs. Guests booking through our concierge service, Clube da Quinta, also receive expert advice on everything we offer, as well as exclusive benefits. Alongside access to The Campus, the beach and all of our restaurants and facilities, Clube da Quinta can also arrange private in-villa dining experiences, and exclusive local tours and manage all relevant holiday bookings. Starting with The Magnolia Hotel, our hotel features 7 one-of-a-kind cottages, perfect for families and features a heated outdoor pool, a colourful in-house restaurant, cinema, gymnasium and spa. By staying here, we make sure that everything is accessible, and we also offer regular special ‘Kids Stay & Eat For Free’ packages during peak periods. This means that when booking accommodation, children get free accommodation and meals, a fun welcome gift and sumptuous daily buffet breakfasts. Nestled in the quietest part of the hotel grounds, amongst the pine groves, the cottages are a perfect place to relax.

The Magnolia provides access to everything the resort has to offer which includes regular celebrity sports camps for kids, mini golf, activities at The Lake, family entertainment including themed brunches, dive-in movie nights and our renowned ‘Picnics in the Park’. We also have our villa rental arm which equally lends itself well to families and ultimately it is our laid-back atmosphere which curates the most memorable experiences – parents can unwind at Quinta alongside their kids knowing they are safe, fully looked after and, most importantly, well entertained.


As a CEO of a luxury resort, what are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Although it was a terrible time for the travel and hospitality industry, the pandemic was an incredibly rewarding time for me – I was so proud of the way our team pulled together. Even throughout lockdowns and social distancing restrictions, we ensured that we pivoted to make our model relevant – and looked after our team members and residents who remained on the resort. We also maximised the opportunity to invest in areas of the resort whilst it was quiet and renovated our seafood restaurant, Casa do Lago and signature golf course, the South Course.

One of the day-to-day front, it is always a joy to hear guests are returning to the resort or glowing feedback on our latest developments however, the most fulfilling aspect for me is always working with such an exceptional team. Our workforce is organised into relevant task forces each responsible for different aspects of the resort such as food and beverage, sustainability, golf, sport, and hospitality.

This structure gives each team complete autonomy to develop and refine their specific domain – fuelling the team’s passion as they then shape the resort’s future. This hands-on involvement enables them to identify new opportunities, address challenges and pinpoint areas for investment and growth.


How do you ensure that guests receive exceptional service and attention to detail?

I favour a very flat structure which means I am involved from the top right through to the bottom. Quinta do Lago has always delivered excellence, we wouldn’t accept anything less, and I find that this framework enables us to deliver the best quality of service so that our guests can enjoy experiences of the very best quality. This encourages speed and clarity within the network, enables people to speak up and illuminates waste in communication so we address issues quickly and tackle them head-on. I’m very proud to say I have always had an exceptional team here at the resort, we put the needs and satisfaction of our guests above all else – but we’re big into involvement in empowerment too.


Balancing work and family life can be challenging, especially in the hospitality industry. How do you manage to maintain a healthy balance between your professional responsibilities and spending quality time with your family?

Balancing work with family life in the hospitality industry does indeed pose its unique challenges. No day is ever the same, so we’ve learnt to be flexible and make the most of the time we have together.

One of the practices we’ve adopted is ensuring that we always carve out dedicated time for family activities – no matter how busy we all are with varying responsibilities. Whether it’s a quiet evening at home, a stroll through the Ria Formosa or playing a quick round of golf, we value this time together. I also make it a point to involve my family in my work life (to a certain extent) and encourage them and experience the resort as much as they can.

In essence, achieving a healthy work-life balance in the hospitality industry is about setting clear boundaries, effective planning, and maintaining open lines of communication with your loved ones. It’s about quality over quantity and making sure that the moments we do have are meaningful and enriching for all of us.

What are some of the key initiatives or projects that the resort has undertaken to promote sustainability and environmental conservation?

Sustainability is a big focus for me and the team at Quinta do Lago and something which is not traditionally easy for a large and well-established golfing resort like ours. Over the past five years, we have been developing new initiatives to ensure we are working towards sustainability and managing our carbon footprint.

Through the redesign of our South Golf Course and working closely with the Golf Environment Organisation, our resort has launched a multi-tiered strategy to foster nature, conserve resources and support the community. As part of this initiative, Quinta do Lago has made vast eco-improvements including installing a state-of-the-art irrigation system, nurturing current nature trails, and cultivating their farm-to-table offering working with head chefs and gardeners of the resort’s own Q Farm.  We have also teamed up with the local Wildlife Research and Rehabilitation Centre (RIAS) to help repopulate native species and return rehabilitated animals to the wild – as well as protect its natural landscapes. We are fortunate to be surrounded by the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve which is made up of 18,000 hectares of tidal marshes protected by a 60 km long system of sand-dune islands that separate the land from the ocean – and we recognize the importance of looking after it.


Looking ahead, what exciting developments or plans does the resort have in store for the future? 

We are continuing to elevate our entire offering and I know I touched on a few new developments that are taking place this year. Ultimately, we aim to continually improve all our products ranging from golf and sport, to real estate and the culinary side of things too. There are some exciting new launches taking place later this year. I’m looking forward to unveiling our new cafe KOKO, our Reformer Pilates Studio and our completely revamped Q Boutique shop. Furthermore, there are some really exciting real estate developments taking place throughout 2024 including the launch of our final virgin plot site, North Grove, and a new collection of apartments, residences and villas that will join the development of Victory Village.


How do you envision the luxury travel landscape evolving in the Algarve in the years to come?

I believe that in the next five years, the luxury travel industry will pivot significantly towards wellness-focused luxury, personalized guest experiences, and additional tech advancements. Quinta do Lago is leading this shift, placing a strong emphasis on wellness amenities and services tailored to enhance physical, mental and emotional health.

We are committed to providing our guests with an array of wellness options. Our culinary philosophy is centered around nourishment and balance; offering menus crafted from fresh, health-conscious ingredients, designed not only to delight the palate but also to energize and revitalize the body. Embracing digital advancements are also key to our development strategy, enabling us to offer personalized wellness journeys and seamless interaction, that means every aspect of our guests’ stay contributes to their overall well-being.