This summer, forget about Ibiza, Mykonos or St Tropez – those in-the-know will be heading to a new European hot spot: Comporta, a buzzy sweep of shore on Portugal’s west coast. An hour’s drive south of Lisbon, this unspoilt, blustery stretch of beach has taken over from the Algarve as the Portuguese holiday destination of choice for the well-heeled and wealthy, and now it has the royal seal of approval too thanks to the news that Princess Eugenie, her husband Jack Brooksbank and their one-year-old son August will now be splitting their time between Comporta and London.
The move has been prompted by the fact that Jack has just landed a job at the exclusive CostaTerra Golf and Ocean Club there, which is owned by multimillionaire property tycoon Mike Meldman. A co-founder of Casamigos tequila, along with George Clooney and Cindy Crawford’s husband Rande Gerber, Meldman and Jack go way back – Jack has long been an ambassador for the brand and the royal couple even served it at their wedding. He’s now been brought on to work in marketing, sales and promotion for Meldman’s Discovery Land Company, which has been developing a highly sought after 722-acre beachfront plot in Comporta since 2019. Once complete the resort is set to have 300 homes, with prices starting from a cool £3.6million. Eugenie, Jack and their son are living at a property on site, which offers incredible views over the Atlantic as well as access to an 18-hole golf course, spa and equestrian centre.
It’s a great place to raise a young family. Mornings can be spent at surf school (everyone here has a board stashed in the back of their car), while keen horsewoman Eugenie can follow in Madonna’s footsteps by going riding along Pego beach – the Queen of Pop’s favourite stables, Cavalos na Areia, are just around the corner. Weekends will be spent at the Tulum-style Sublime Comporta Beach Club or the hippy-chic Princesa beach bar at Caparica, which is packed full of expats. “There are sunset parties every weekend and a really cool vibe during the day – it feels like Formentera,” says Lisbon-based Brit entrepreneur Ben Lambert. The founder of Checkfirst used to run in the same circles as Jack’s younger brother, Tom, in London, before he moved to the Portuguese capital three years ago for its thriving tech scene. He’s on the membership committee for Ninho, a soon-to-open community clubhouse in a former palace. “They’ll definitely hang out here when it launches.”
This isn’t the first time Eugenie has lived abroad – the princess lived in New York City for two years while working for the online auction site Paddle8, during which time she and Jack had a long-distance relationship. The pair met in 2010 while skiing in Verbier and Eugenie later said it was love at first sight. The couple dated for seven years before getting engaged and they tied the knot at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle on 14 October 2018. Their son, August, came along in February 2021. The Stowe-educated son of a chartered accountant and a company director, Jack was a key member of the Mahiki set alongside Harry and his close friend Guy Pelly, and even managed the exclusive nightclub at one point. Both the in-laws are big fans, with the Duke of York once declaring him an “absolutely outstanding young man”. While Eugenie remains extremely close to her older sister, Beatrice, and her mother, Sarah Ferguson, it’s thought that the move will help put a bit of distance between her and the scandals her father has recently been embroiled in. “The girls… how they’ve coped – honestly, I take my hat off to them,” said Ferguson in a recent interview. “Beatrice, Eugenie and I are called the tripod and we stay firm to speaking our truth.”
So far, Eugenie and Jack haven’t been spotted out and about much in Comporta. “They’ve kept a very low profile since arriving last month,” reveals one Lisbon-based friend of the couple. “I haven’t even seen them yet.” As the summer progresses, there’ll be plenty of invitations to al fresco suppers with their chic neighbours – the Casiraghis drop by in July and August to stay with Charlotte’s godmother, Countess Albina du Boisrouvray, while there are rumours that Clooney is planning to buy a plot on Meldman’s estate with his wife Amal and their four-year-old twins, Ella and Alexander. It’s thought that Eugenie will continue to work remotely as a director for the London art gallery Hauser & Wirth on a hybrid basis, and when in London the couple will be based at Ivy Cottage at Kensington Palace – where they first lived as newlyweds – after being turfed out of Frogmore Cottage when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex renewed their lease on the Windsor property last month.
Eugenie and Jack have happy memories of the two years they spent at the cosy three-bedroom cottage, which is filled with colourful artworks and situated a stone’s throw from Nottingham Cottage, where Harry and Meghan lived before they got married. The two couples are known to be thick as thieves, and Eugenie and Meghan were friends before she even met Harry. “We’re friends with them as a couple,” Meghan revealed in her interview with Oprah Winfrey. To date, Eugenie and Jack are the only royals to have visited Harry and Meghan in California – the cousins attended the Super Bowl together in February and all four of them were spotted out on a double date at a restaurant in Santa Barbara, laughing and joking together. Friends have noted that the couple’s new life in Comporta isn’t dissimilar to the outdoorsy lifestyle Harry and Meghan enjoy in Montecito.
For now, the young family are busy settling into their new home. Comporta is set to have one of its busiest summers on record, with Freddie Marquis, director at the Luxury Travel Book, who specialise in villa rentals there, revealing it’s become one of their most popular destinations. “All our villas are fully booked, with some going for as much as €30,000 per week,” says Marquis. “It’s a favourite with wealthy British families, who see it as Lisbon’s answer to the Hamptons.” The main draw? “The privacy – I’ve been going every summer for ten years and I’ve never seen paparazzi there,” says Kerstin Bognár, founder of The Niche Traveller. “You could be sitting at a table next to [Comporta regulars] Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni and no one would even notice. There’s nothing pretentious about Comporta, and that’s why they love it.”