João Macedo, the pro-surfer who competes in the Big Wave Competition in Nazaré, north of Lisbon, now famous for the world’s biggest wave, will be touring Portugal’s Azores islands for the Save the Waves Film festival in September. Son of a former Finance Minister, João majored in economics from NOVA University and is a coveted public speaker, dedicating his time to his passion and to helping keep the ocean clean.
If you had to choose five things that people should know about Portugal, what would they be?
The Douro Valley up north and our wine culture. Olive oil too, in part because of Esporão, which is an amazing example of a sustainable company. I would say the Azores which comprises nine islands. Our ocean heritage, which is as natural as it comes, and with that, Portugal's mainland coastline. Within that, I would highlight Nazaré because of the geological phenomenon that the place is, and Ericeira which has a world surfing reserve, which I was involved with so it's always close to my heart. Within the coastal highlights, I would say Praia Grande and Cabo da Roca as the westernmost tip of Europe.
Which Portuguese tradition do you think needs highlighting?
Vila Viçosa and its ancient marble. Portugal has a number of mines and rare marble, yet our mines are relatively unknown. My grandfather was an engineer and we have some family mines, a centuries old industry, initially started by the Romans. It is an industry that had been left alone in the bad sense, with zero innovation in their operations, the waste is huge, with the same old machines, and the same methods. I think a few investors realised how much was being thrown away and the potential for resale. It really is an industry that is ripe for awareness.
Given your profession and your passion, you come across conservationists more than most. Are you seeing a change in the kinds of people that are coming to Portugal that are looking to invest?
A great deal of people from Europe especially, as well Americans and Brazilians, appreciate the value. That is why they picked Portugal; they intrinsically appreciate the value of the place. Then there is an immediate willingness to conserve the way that things are and not industrialize. A lot of the time, it does seem that people are running away from that (industrialization) so Portugal does become this haven. I think that the Portuguese, while swayed by price of course, especially with family properties, filters how people are going to use the property, in terms of intention and conservation. I think in Lisbon, the Stone Capital guys are a great example, having revolutionized Lisbon's environment and this kind of new industry of renovations and preservation. So, I think it's just beautiful. It's really wonderful to find these guys that are actually masons, who know how to do the old way of building and refurbish. So, I think it's where creativity meets culture.
If you had to choose a favourite restaurant?
Bar do Fundo on Praia Grande. Run by a surfer, the food is amazing, and I love the family. It is always hard to pick one. While this region famously serves up traditional grilled fish, it is innovating into high cuisine. Lisbon was getting all the attention in these coastal areas, but we are catching up!
Your favourite hotel?
Arribas Hotel on Praia Grande because its location and sheer size. They have an Olympic pool, open air, overlooking the beach. It is ON the Praia Grande beach, where I learnt to surf, so an amazing location with breath-taking views, coupled with it being family-run, i.e. very old school, it seems somewhat frozen in time. So, how can it be so cheap? Extraordinary. It's a bit like Hotel California.
Arthur Moreno has a Masters in Engineering from École Centrale Paris, a Master of Science in Construction Engineering and Management from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from INSEAD and is one of the founding brothers of Stone Capital, a leading developer and asset manager in Portugal, specialising in the refurbishment of prime buildings in the Lisbon area.
If you had to choose five things that best describe Portugal for you?
It is not easy to sum Portugal in five things alone, but I would say that what I am most grateful for in Portugal is the quality of life, the culture, the diversity and beauty of the landscape, its roots and history and mainly the easy-going nature of the Portuguese people.
What tradition would you highlight about Portugal?
The oysters of Tavira, or the handmade tiles of Viuva Lamego. The Viuva Lamego tiles are of special interest to me and to Stone. The first tile factory in Lisbon was founded in 1849 and located in Intendente, next to one of our first projects in Lisbon, in partnership with our good friends at Libertas. The project consisted of carefully renovating of 15 buildings in the historic neighbourhood of Mouraria (the birthplace of Fado). At the time, Mouraria and Intendente were not an obvious location in which to invest, but the raw potential we envisioned turned out to be a success, both for the local community that benefited from the renovation and the clients that purchased their homes.
Your favourite style of architecture?
In Lisbon, the post-earthquake Pombaline architecture. As promoters, we are keen observers of architecture and the evolution and adaptation of 18th century architecture to the needs and demands of modern living standards. We draw on first-rate teams and a close-knit network of trusted and specialized architects, engineers, artisans and visionaries, so we can maintain the essence of each building, paying homage to its story and history, while making sure these unique buildings carry on in the life of the city for years to come.
Why choose Lisbon for Stone Capital's headquarters and what should people watch for?
Lisbon has been consistently ranked as one of the top cities to live and invest in for many reasons: safety, affordability, stability, and lifestyle. Portugal’s rich attributes and diversity make it truly unique. It is gifted with a lifetime of history and culture and magnificent architecture. Over the years we have been mindful of the real estate market and have branched out into different projects, catering to distinct needs of clients and new trends. Our client base is diverse in their intentions. We have clients that purchase second homes, short-term and long-term investments as well as a keen interest in the Golden Visa programme. In this specific niche, we are really excited to see several of our developments featured in the newly launched EQTY CAPITAL Funds.
What to watch for: Our newly launched Trigo in Largo do Trigo.
Your favourite iconic building in Lisbon?
Liberdade 71 and Palacio de Santa Helena are both remarkable restorations on beautiful buildings set in historic areas. Liberdade 71 is set on the Avenida da Liberdade, with canopy views on both sides and a roof top pool overlooking the Tagus river and the São Jorge castle. The Palácio de Santa Helena is one of our more recent completed projects. Dated back to the late 1500s, it is a work of art set in the quaint Alfama neighbourhood. Both projects were a sales success and have a permanent community living on site.
Your favourite restaurant in or around Lisbon?
Any restaurant with fresh fish – Praia da Adraga in Sintra, Refugio da Roca in Cabo da Roca, and my personal favourite, Praia da Princesa in Caparica.