JOSE AFONSO WAS BORN IN 1934. HE IS WORKING AT THE HOTEL PALACIO (1930) IN ESTORIL, THE ELEGANT SUBURB OF LISBON, SINCE 1951!
George, the driver, picks me up at Lisbon airport. Having arrived from Madeira, the Portuguese island in the Atlantic ocean, I prefer the airy atmosphere of the posh seaside resort of Estoril to the city of Lisbon. The Palacio at Estroil is the right (and only) place to go. After all it was maybe here that Ian Flemming was eventually inspired for his James Bond saga.
Estoril, during and after World War II, was the European hub for master spies. “If you want to know about the spying, you must walk in the footsteps of Pinto”, somebody at Reid's Hotel on Madeira had told me. Pinto has spent 38 years as a concierge: from 1935 to 1939 at Reid’s Hotel in Madeira until war broke out and Reid’s closed for the duration, then to the Hotel do Parque during the war years, and, after the Parque was torn down, to the Palacio where he remained until his temporary retirement to deal with a health problem last year.
I enjoy a warm welcome by the doorman Jose Afonso, who works here since 1951. The kind general manager Francisco Correa Barros gives me a history lesson on the hotel's past. Dinner at the Four Seasons with its charming charcoal set-up is an experience, later I pay a visit to the Casino and enjoy a night-yup at the bar, The next morning a quick tour of Lisbon (I take a tram, the stop is 2 minutes from the hotel) and enjoy the scenic ride along the coast right into the centre of the old city.
I have come across various Pinto stories and memories. Please read them under Legendary Stories on this page, then come here yourself and enjoy the hotel.