So Chris and Alastair, where were you
living when you decided to move to Portugal?
Chris: I lived between London and
Munich in a hectic investment banking job. On my regular weekend surf trips to
Portugal, I started following the opportunities in the hospitality and real
estate markets and eventually invested in my first hotel venture here in
Alastair: Also London. I grew up there
and part of me will always love it. But can’t imagine choosing to move back
there any time soon!
That was a couple of years before
moving to Portugal became so trendy. What was your moving process like back
Alastair: It’s funny, because at the
time I actually thought I was behind the curve! Which seems crazy in hindsight,
but I guess it’s a universal feeling. I think for both of us, the initial decision
to move was probably more romantic than rational, and as such we underestimated
the headaches in store. We both managed the process ourselves, which taught us
a lot about how this country works and how mostly the answer was: ‘let’s just
go to the beach!’
Sounds like you had some similar
experiences. Did you know each other before Portugal or how did you meet?
Chris: We met while playing tennis at
one of my hotels OUTPOST – Casa das Arribas in Sintra. I remember sitting with
Alastair long after dark on the tennis court discussing our joy and excitement
about our new lives here, but also the frustrations…
So, would you say the
positive still outweighed the struggles in the first few years?
The lifestyle here is fantastic and the opportunities are endless. Despite the
administrative teething issues, I dove straight into buying my first renovation
project with two architect friends from London. It was just so obvious that the
city’s housing stock, although charming, needed some serious design-led TLC and
having worked as a developer in London, I immediately knew I wanted to put
those skills to work here, which ultimately led to me co-founding a
design+development firm, FAWpartners.com. These days we take on a range of
projects, from whole building restorations to bespoke work for friends and
private clients. That said, I obviously couldn’t resist the allure of the surf
and nightlife, which was of course a big factor in my decision to move here in
the first place. So in the early days I was definitely burning the candle at
How about your
businesses in Portugal,Chris?
Chris: It started with
the boutique hotel Casa Mae in Lagos, which we opened in 2016 just when tourism
started booming. I then invested in a technical clothing brand and moved it
from Austria to Portugal. More recently I founded the hospitality brand OUTPOST
which develops and operates unique hotel locations in the Sintra region and is
Wow, you’ve both been
busy! And then you thought it would be a good idea to start another business,
how did that come about?
Alastair: At first,
the idea of founding a relocation services company was almost a joke. We both
had so many friends moving here that helping them had started to become a full
time job. Very quickly we realised that the joke was in fact a great idea,
given that we were uniquely placed to offer advice and construct a team that
Chris: They say that
the best businesses solve problems their founders faced themselves. That is
certainly the case with LandingPad. Although we were both ultimately successful
in our moves to Portugal, the process would have been much easier with the help
of a team of competent professionals.
So what services does LandingPad
Chris: Each and every client has a
different starting point. That’s why we don’t work with standardised packages and
instead offer a bespoke service. Most of our clients require some combination
of basic relocation stuff like visa processing and tax structuring, and real
estate or investment advice. We’re also set-up to answer lifestyle questions
such as school and restaurant recommendations.
Alastair: Having been through all
this ourselves, we understand that on top of the hassle of filling in forms and
standing in lines, a major cause of stress was the nagging doubt that perhaps
we weren’t even standing in the rightline either! It was this lack of
certainty, born of an opaque bureaucratic system, that we wished we could have
avoided. Clear communication with our clients is a cornerstone of our
Sounds like a lot of
Alastair: Fortunately it’s not all us
doing it. We have an amazing team.
Chris: It’s a service business and
everything depends on our people. Our team is based in Lisbon, Caparica and
Viseu, headed up by our amazing COO Paulo, who has the perfect combination of a
Portuguese background refined by 15 years of living in Germany.
What kind of people are moving to
Portugal, and what is the profile of the clients you attract?
Chris: Our idea is to help ‘people like
us’ in the broadest sense. Most of our clients are professionals and
entrepreneurs previously based in one of the major global cities, at a point in
their careers where they want to focus on quality of life and a healthy
Alastair: Increasingly we see both
young artists from Berlin as well as high-net-worth individuals making the same
decision to move here.
What makes LandingPad different from
other relocation services companies?
Chris: We obviously did not invent this
service. But we feel that many of the large international service providers are
not well-equipped for the Portuguese peculiarities. And our local competitors
are mainly focussing on the basic easy-to-standardise services. In contrast,
LandingPad wants to offer a solution that addresses the situation of each and
every client, and includes a very broad range of services like property search,
investment advice and mortgage consultancy. We can draw on our broad range of
experience, expertise and relationships as founders.
Ah, so you’re also in the property
game. What trends and opportunities do you currently see in the market?
Alastair: Yes, of course. We’re
actually a licensed broker as well as developers in our own right. As for the
state of the Portuguese real estate market, it’s obviously been on a tear in
recent years. However, unlike in previous booms, this one isn’t driven by
excessive bank lending, but rather on sound fundamentals and the structural
shifts like the rise of remote work and staycations. The downside is that there
is more competition than ever for property in prime locations, and of course a
significant variation in the quality of available assets. It is still perfectly
possible to find good deals of all kinds, whether you want a newly built
penthouse or a charming fixer-upper, but finding those deals increasingly takes
experience and expertise to stay ahead of the competition.
What kind of properties do your clients
Chris: A wide range, from one bedroom
investment apartments in the heart of Lisbon, to family sized penthouses in
Cascais, to villas in Sintra and beyond. The one consistent theme is quality of
design and finishings, with a certain Portuguese x-factor unique to each
Alastair: One of our big discoveries
was that many of our clients struggled to find high-quality temporary
accommodation for their first few months while they figured out the lay of the
land. So we started building a portfolio of furnished properties, suitable for
our clients’ picky tastes. The design and development is overseen by my
architecture practice, FAW Partners, underpinned by Chris’s extensive
hospitality experience. Our landingPADs (www.landingpad.pt), as we call them, are available for our clients for as long as they