W Algarve, Albufeira, Portugal
W Algarve, Albufeira, Portugal

Owner: Marriott International
Hotel operator: W Hotels
Architecture and interior design: AB Concept
Furnishings: Custom made; Kettal
Photo credits: Brandon Barre

The Portuguese Algarve region is famous for its enviable Mediterranean climate, uncontaminated nature and wonderful wild beaches. These are the elements interpreted by the design firm AB Concept with rigor and warmth, to formulate the new W Algarve resort.

Owned by Marriott International and part of the W Hotels collection, the complex is composed of 134 rooms and 83 residences – not just a luxury destination, but also a reference point for local residents, open all year round. The angular profiles of the jagged rocky shoreline, the colors of crystal-clear water, the intense tones of a sunny climate have been blended by AB Concept with references to local crafts, creating an intimate, engaging image.

“Our projects explore the interaction of contrasting elements: crafts and industry, large scale and intimacy, overall impressions and small details. We like our interiors to express time and place, cultural nuances, local traditions. We use rich materials to engage people on a sensorial and emotional level. A language that goes beyond decoration and becomes function.”

Opposites attract, we might say, narrated with painstaking attention to detail in the interiors of W Algarve. The entrance is striking for its almost dazzling take on folklore. With cavernous installations formed by concentric glass panels set into metal, to create small alcoves. Reminders of Moorish jewelry and ocean waves. One wall is densely covered by crockery plates – an explosion of greens and blues – made by hand by Vista Alegre, a local company with almost 200 years of history.

In the bar, a ‘forest’ of suspension lamps in blown glass hangs above an onyx counter 20 meters in length, foreshadowing the neighborhood atmosphere of the Market Kitchen restaurant. Taking inspiration from local markets, for the counter and the shared table AB Concept has made use of the traditional motifs of Calçada Portuguesa, normally deployed for urban pavements. The addition of Azulejo tiles and shuttered windows, in typical style, is mixed with wood to obtain a convivial, vivacious setting.

The guestrooms also stand out for their contrasts. Natural shadings are combined with bright colors, in furnishings made to measure with great personality. Like the theatrical backlit headboards seamlessly following the length of the wall, the filigree lamps for the bedside units, mosaics made with authentic Algarve tiles, and the typical crochet motif on the glass panel that separates the bathroom from the bedroom.

The outdoor spaces have also gotten a special treatment: all the rooms offer balconies with breathtaking views of the gardens and the Atlantic, including the ten WOW suites with roof terraces. The outdoor furnishings by Kettal interpret the intentions of AB Concept perfectly, making use of the Cala woven chair by Doshi Levien, items by Patricia Urquiola (Maia, Vieques, Band, Mesh and Vimini), the large Bitta chair and Boma sofa by Rodolfo Dordoni, the iconic Basket designed by Nanna & Jørgen Ditzel, the Park Life series by Jasper Morrison.

Other zones welcome the Meteo umbrellas by Konstantin Grcic, the Mia lamps by Michel Charlot, the Zigzag decorative objects by Emiliana Design Studio, and the classicism of Net and Landscape, by Kettal Studio. The spa offers a sheltered outdoor relaxation zone, a sauna, a steam and jacuzzi area, with design characteristics borrowed from the local culture of fishing.