History Palacio


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. Andreas Augustin
The history of Palácio Estoril mixes reality with fiction: The Hotel went through a world war and a national revolution; it was also the stage of notable events in golden eras and it also served as a refuge for most European leaders in periods of crisis; it lodged spies and was as well the chosen venue for shooting films – like the famous Agent 007, James Bond movie, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. Nowadays it is one of the most sought after venues in Portugal for filming advertisement sceneries, for fashion publishing enterprises and big-star interviews. ******* The Hotel Palácio, standing in majestic splendour facing acres of manicured gardens that stretch to the Atlantic Ocean, is the result of one man’s dream and perseverance. Fausto Figueiredo saw in Estoril, Portugal, the possibility to create a jewel by the sea. Before the First World War, Fausto Figueiredo envisioned hundreds of people strolling through the marble corridors and down mosaic sidewalks to the ocean as he gazed out over scrub, pines and sandy hills. Without the determination of that man, Estoril would still be just that. However, it was to be 1930 – the height of the American depression – before those dreams materialised. By then, the Hotel Palácio had been built, as had the Casino and the acres of garden. And, at the time when the World was wondering about the availability of money to support a luxury resort, the Hotel Palácio threw open its doors. Pageboys were standing at attention in immaculate uniforms, the reception desk had been polished to a high gloss, and magnificent menus had been planned for the dining room, lighted with massive crystal chandeliers. Where were the guests? Had it been a dream that could not materialise in that troubled time? Miraculously, the first guest drove up – The Crown Prince of Japan and his bride on their honeymoon. The next guest to register was the French Ambassador. And, from that first moment, those marble corridors of the Palácio Hotel enclosed a way of life, which was to become the most elegant in Europe, always known for elegance. The Hotel Palácio achieved the ultimate. It was known as “home” for visiting royalty when the court would go on a vacation. The heady success continued throughout the thirties and when rumbles of trouble and war were being heard throughout Europe, people started to wend their way south to a haven they had known in happier times. As each country was invaded, royal families moved to Estoril to find a sanctuary from the holocaust, which was destroying lives and homes. Many of the royal families used the Hotel as their temporary home while villas were being built, or purchased, so they could set up a way of life in spit of the great losses they had suffered. Several of the families have stayed on. Ex-king Umberto of Italy was one of the leaders, as in Don Juan de Bourbon, the father of the King of Spain. The war took its toll, however, in spite of Portugal’s maintaining neutrality. The Hotel Palácio, and the Casino, which had also been built by Fausto Figueiredo, became the centre of activity for both the allies and the enemy. If walls could talk, the room you sleep in today could tell a story of intrigue and espionage. In spite of all this, the Hotel Palácio remained aloof in its quite elegance and although people were sleeping in halls – anywhere they could find that might provide a bit of privacy – the woman still dressed for dinner and jewels glittered in the reflected light of the shining crystal prisms. At times, when people had escaped destruction with a case of jewels and the clothes on their back, diamonds and rubies and gold were accepted instead of money. At the end of World War II, many people returned to their countries, but the Hotel Palácio remained as a haven in their memories. Travel started again and they came back to visit. Because of the royal families in residence, the Hotel continued to be headquarters for royal and titled visitors. It is the same today. When the Princess of Spain was married, the bridal dinner was given in the main dining room. The Italian Princess held her reception in the Hotel. People from all over the world sought out reservations and the Hotel Palácio continued its reign as one of the most elegant and important hotels in Europe. In 1951, the man who had envisioned this playground of the western world died. Fausto Figueiredo will never be forgotten. Estoril and the Hotel Palácio stand as a tribute to his memory ********** The book of honour, the picture albums, and the guests records of the Hotel Palácio are valuable testimonies and proof: such as queen Vitoria Eugenia of Spain, all the Spanish royal family, princess Grace and prince Rainier of Monaco, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Graham Greene, Joan Baez and Madeleine Albright are but just a few of the hundreds of the famous guests who had chosen the Palácio in Estoril. The Hotel’s historical highlights were the wedding festivities of princess Maria Gabriela de Saboia in 1955, and that of the Spanish princess Pilar – the king’s daughter, in 1967. The Palace was designed at the beginning of the XX century by the French architect Henry Martinet, copying other European fashionable places like Biarritz. The Palácio of Estoril has not aged, managing to keep up through the century and always with the mastery of the greatest and the best. Now, in 2008, whoever visits the salons and the terrace and walks around the garden that surrounds the swimming pool, and whoever is lodged in one of the magnificent rooms, that faces the sunset in the Cascais bay would believe that beauty and quality are everlasting and therefore are forever imprinted in the minds of the eye of the beholder. The Palácio Estoril continues to be preserved with professionalism by its current owners and to be fondly esteemed by its guests who in successive generations do not abandon it and keep on coming
ESTORIL PALÁCIO – HOTEL & GOLF Famous Guests STATE AND DIGNITARY PERSONALITIES EARL OF CAVAN - British Field Marshal PRINCE ARTHUR OF CONNAUGHT – Member of the Royal English Family J. J. PADEREWSKI – President of the Polish Republic and famous Music Composer INDIRA NEHRU PRINCESS EUGENIA – Greece PRINCE DOMINIQUE RADZIWILL MANNERHEIM – President of Republic of Finland QUEEN VICTORIA EUGENIA – Spain PRINCE AMIR SAUD – Prince of Saudi Arabia R. L. CONOLLY – Chief Admiral of American Fleet KING CAROL – Romany KING LÉOPOLD – Belgium PRINCE ALI KHAN PAUL REYNAUD – President of the French Government PRINCE OF ETHIOPIA MARQUIS AND MARQUESS OF VILAVERDE – Son-in-law and Daughter of General Franco GENERAL GRUENTHER – NATO Commander ADMIRAL GLOVE – NATO Navy Commander GENERAL RIDGWAY – NATO Commander ROBERT MARJOLIN – O.E.C.E. General Secretary ANTOINE PINAY – President of French Government LORD ISMAY – NATO General Secretary KING SIMEON II – Bulgaria QUEEN JOANA – Bulgaria PRINCESS OF TORLONIA HEDWIGE, Princess of Bourbon DUCHESS OF SAVOIA AOSTA PRINCE ALEXANDRE – Yugoslavia PRINCESS MARIA PIA DI SAVOIA COUNT AND COUNTESS OF BARCELONA QUEEN FREDERICA – Greece PRINCE HENRI – Denmark PIERRE MENDÈS-FRANCE – President of French Government DR. JOSEPH LUNS – NATO General Secretary WILLY BRANDT – German Politician FELIPE GOZALEZ – Spanish Prime-Minister MÁRIO SOARES – Portuguese Prime-Minister LEONEL BRIZOLA – Rio de Janeiro Governor FRANÇOIS MITERRAND – President of French Republic BETTINO CRAXI – Italian Politician CARLOS ANDRES PEREZ – Former President of Venezuela QUEEN INGRID – Denmark LORD & LADY CARRINGTON – NATO General Secretary PRINCE OF SAVOIA PRINCE BIN BANDAR FAISAL – Saudi Arabia BENJAMIM NETANYAHU – Israel Prime-Minister PROF. MARCELO CAETANO – Portuguese Prime Minister AMÉRICO TOMAZ – President of Portuguese Republic PRINCE MANSOUR ABDERLAZIZ – Saudi Arabia PRINCESS IRA DE FÜRSTENBERG PRINCESS ALEXANDRA – Bulgaria PRINCE FAYSAL BEY – Tunisia JACQUES SANTER – Former Prime-Minister of Luxembourg FERNANDO HENRIQUE CARDOSO – Former President of Brasil KING CONSTANTINE AND QUEEN ANNE-MARIE – Greece KING HARALD V – Norway PRINCESS ANNE – England PRINCE FREDERIK – Denmark PRINCE EDWARD – Earl of Wessex, England WRITERS, JOURNALISTS AND MUSICIANS ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY – French Writer IAN LANCASTER FLEMING – English Writer KENNETH MURRAY – Writer JEAN VAN ROSENSTOCK – Pianist JOHN F. CHAPMAN – American Editor DR. JÚLIO DANTAS – Portuguese Theatre Author RENÉ PÉLISSIER – French Poet DR. GUSTAVO BARROSO – Writer and President of Brazilian Academy TEMPLE FIELDING – American Tourist Writer ANDRÉ KOSTELANETZ – Famous Band Master A.M. CONAN DOYLE – English Writer CHRISTINE GARNIER – French Writer and Journalist IBRAIN SUED – Brazilian Journalist AUGUSTO ALGUERÓ – Spanish Composer and Pianist JEAN PROUVOST – Proprietor of French “Paris Soir” MAURÍCIO DE SOUSA – Brazilian Cartoonist and Author of “Mónica” and “Cebolinha” GILBERT O’SULLIVAN - Musician FILM AND THEATRE CELEBRITIES AND INTERNATIONAL DANCERS AND SINGERS FRANCIS DAY – Film Actress HENRY GARAT – Film Actor TOMAZ ALCAIDE – Portuguese Singer JEAN SARMENT – French Actor CLAIRE PICCARD – French Actress PAOLA NEGRI – Italian Actress EDWARD ROBINSON – American Film Actor MARIKA ROKK – German Film Actress J. BERTINI – Famous Soundless Cinema Star TYRONE POWER – American Film Actor LINDA CHRISTIAN – American Film Actress RITA HAYWORTH – Princess and Film Actress H. WILCOK – Film Actor CECIL SOREL – Famous French Theatre Personality JAMES FITZPATRICK – Film Producer JACQUELINE FRANÇOIS – French Artist ROBERTO ROSSELINI – Italian Film Actor CORINE CALVET – French Actress JOSÉ FERRER – American Film Actor BENIAMINI GIGLI – Famous Italian Opera Singer ROSEMARY CLOONEY – Film Actress RAY MILLAND – Film Actor YVONNE FOURNEAUX – French Film Actress DINAH SHORE – Radio, Cinema and Television Celebrity IMA SUMAC – Film Actress and Singer LINE RENAUD – French Singer KATINA RANIERI – Italian Singer RICHARD TODD – Film Actor ED SULLIVAN – Actor and Writer MAURICE CHEVALIER – Famous French Singer CURT JURGENS – German Film Actor FERNANDEL – French Film Actor ANA MARIA PIERANGELI – Italian Film Actress GIUSEPPE DI STEFANO – Italian Opera Singer BEATRIZ COSTA – Popular Portuguese Cinema and Theatre Star CHARLES TRENET – French Singer CARMEN SEVILLA – Spanish Actress ROBERT MORLEY – English Actor VAN JOHNSON – American Film Actor GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA – Italian Film Actress ORSON WELLES – Famous Film Personality MAUREEN O’HARA – American Film Actress MELANIE – American Singer JOAN BAEZ – American Singer MARGOT FONTEYN – Famous Prima Ballerina ROBERT WAGNER – American Film Actor CHARLES AZNAVOUR AMÁLIA RODRIGUES – Portuguese Fado Singer ROY DISNEY – Vice-President of Walt Disney CHRIS DE BURGH – English Singer MANOEL DE OLIVEIRA – Portuguese Film Producer DIANA ROSS – American Singer BRYAN FERRY - Singer TONY BENNETT – Singer PEDRO ABRUHNOSA – Portuguese Composer and Singer GAL COSTA – Brazilian Singer MICHAEL BOLTON – American Singer and Musician LIONEL RICHIE – American Singer FÁ-FÁ DE BELÉM – Brazilian Singer ZUCCHERO – Italian Singer PEDRO ALMODÓVAR – Spanish Film Producer WORLD FAMOUS SPORTSMEN JUAN MANUEL FANGIO – Car Racing World Champion DR. A. ALECKHINE – Russian Chess Champion JACKIE STEWART – Car Racing World Champion MANOLO SANTANA – Spanish Tennis Champion EUSÉBIO – Portuguese Famous Football Player MATS WILANDER – Swedish Tennis Player JOÃO MOURA – Portuguese Horse-Riding Bullfighter NOHA – French Tennis Champion JOSÉ HIGUERAS – Spanish Tennis Champion RICARDO PATRESSE – Formule 1 ELIO DE ANGELIS – Formule 1 IVAN LENDL – Tennis Player VICTOR PECCI – Tennis Player ZICO – Brazilian Football Player ALAIN PROST – Formule 1 World Champion JOÃO HAVELANGE – FIFA President FIGO – Portuguese Football Player NOTAH BEGAY III – American Golf Champion ROSA MOTA – Portuguese Athletics Olympic Champion
Pinto, the legendary concierge, has been quotes in a story by Howard Whitman (this text is from 1974!). "He told us about his “champagne news service.” Even before the outcome of a battle – at Tobruk, at St. Malo, or in the Ardennes – was known to the world, Pinto knew. “It was all in who ordered the champagne,” he explained. “Champagne parties at the Hotel do Parque meant there had been a victory for the Germans. If they ordered champagne at the Palacio, we knew the British and Americans had won.” Planting of false information was a part of every secret agent’s modus operandi. Pinto developed the “decibel test” to deal with this. “When a group of Germans gathered in the bar and spoke in loud voices you could be sure that what they said was unreliable,” he recounted. “They wanted to be overheard. It was when they sat around quietly and spoke softly that the real information was passed back and forth. “The same in the lobby. When a German came up to me and “confided” something, I knew he was figuring that it wouldn’t be long before a British agent would come along and ask what he had told me.” As a concierge – even though his hotel was a base for Nazi agents – it was Pinto’s duty to be neutral, just as his country, Portugal, was during the war. He had to decline, with, as he put it, “the utmost politeness,” when a professorial, distinguished-looking visitor asked him for a list of the hotel guests “to see if any of my friends are here.” Instantly recognising the man as a British agent, Pinto made the customary excuses about the confidentiality of the hotel register and then added with a wink, “Have you tried the Palacio?” An American CIA man, who had been with the cloak-and-dagger Office of Strategic Services during the war, returned to Estoril not long ago and told friends of his unsuccessful efforts to “get to” Pinto. “We knew he had it all. If we could ever have got him to talk it would have been worth the work of a dozen agents. But the man was a sphinx. I suspect he knew more about us than we knew about him.” Pinto would be the last to deny this. “I could always tell from my experience what anybody in the hotel was up to,” he said. The emphasis on experience was his way of hinting at the “concierge network” – the waiters, chambermaids, busboys, pages, porters and bartenders, each of whom had his own bits and pieces of information. Put these gleanings together and you got a revealing mosaic of every guest. As an example, Pinto told us of two Germans, a man and a woman, who stayed at the Hotel do Parque for several months during the war. He knew (a) that they were not man and wife though they posed as such and occupied the same room, (b) that they did not work for the German DNB news agency as they professed, and (c) that when they went to the Casino it was not to gamble but to place calls to Switzerland, which they did regularly. “As far as I was concerned, their DNB stood for “Do not believe,”” Pinto quipped. “They were calling Zurich to pass information – and they must have had plenty of information to pass since they spent over 130,000 escudos (that would be over $600 at today’s rates) on phone calls alone.” They knew better than to telephone from the hotel. When the Parque was torn down after the war, dozens of bugging devices and gobs of wire were found in the walls. “The agents knew all about it,” Pinto said. “One agent from Berlin would end all his conversations with, “Goodbye Hans” (or Fritz or Kurt, as the case might be) and then he would add, “Goodbye also to my British friends wherever you are.”” Occasionally an agent disappeared. One could never be sure whether he had been kidnapped (as many were) or had gone off on a vinho verde binge or simply decided that spying was bad for the nervous system and slipped away for a quiet life in Nazare with a fisherman’s dark-eyed daughter. When a room was mysteriously vacated, Pinto’s porters would simply collect all the belongings and leave them, packaged and labelled, in a storeroom. Some were never collected and ended up as Red Cross bundles. One misty morning the British disembarked an agent from a submarine off the windswept beaches of Guincho, five miles up the coast from Estoril. He paddled his way noiselessly ashore in a rubber boat, only to be met by fisherman who said, “Welcome to Portugal”, and offered him a cup of warm rum. The agent spoke perfect German carried a suit of clothes made in Hamburg together with other luggage and false papers in a watertight bag. He checked in at Pinto’s Hotel do Parque, hoping to mix with the other German operatives there. He entered his room quite sure that his gambit had worked perfectly, and, weary from the submarine voyage, went to lie down on the bed. When he turned back the coverlet he found, to his consternation, a Union Jack and an Eton old school tie. Flowers in a room were always suspecting. One agent made it a point to pour a pitcher of water over the flowers in a vase on his dresser just before using the telephone or entertaining a visitor. This was just enough too short-out the listening device concealed among the blooms. To Pinto the game of spy and counter-spy was a fascinating charade, to be observed but never to become involved in. Neutrality was, as he put it, “the best life insurance.” But he could not avoid emotional involvement with the refugees who poured into Estoril, especially the children. “The children could not understand. Their eyes told me,” he said. “We had several families from Hungary, men who had been wealthy manufacturers had let them go on condition they gave up their factories. The children kept wanting to go home. They could not understand when their mothers said, “Not yet. Not yet.”” Pinto’s eyes moistened when he told of the children of an English family who were sent to Estoril safety during the blitz. “They were put on a plane to go home after the blitz was over. It was the same plane, which carried Leslie Howard, the actor. German fighters attacked it and shot it down – all were killed.” What an irony it was that Estoril, the prime intelligence source in Europe, had passed on the wrong information. An agent had flashed word to the Luftwaffe that Winston Churchill would be on that airplane. “Of course, I’m glad it wasn’t Churchill,” said Pinto. “But poor Mr. Howard – and my children.” Today Estoril shows scant traces of its wartime role. The overgrown field where the Hotel do Parque once stood is being surveyed and staked for a new hotel. The Palacio, where we stayed, is frequented by a new generation of “Allied” and “Axis” citizens who splash together in the pool and zestfully partake of Chef Sidonio’s incomparable clams Bulhao Pato, washed down with good, white Casal Mendes wine. When we entered our room, there were flowers on the dresser, but concealed within them we found, not a tiny microphone, but a card of greeting from the manager, who could pass for a movie star, Manuel Quintas. The only plotting which was going on in an adjacent room, we surmised, was how to approach the eighth green at the Clube de Golf to catch the slight roll to the left."

• 1958 – “Dois dias no Paraíso”, portuguese movie, producer Arhur Duarte
• 1968 – Agent 007 “On her Majesty’s Secret Service”, with George Lazenby
• 2008 - “Sans Arme, ni Haine, ni Violence”, french movie, producer Jean-Paul Rouve

129 Rooms
32 Suites
Suites benefit from large adjoining living rooms and enjoy magnificent panoramic views. All rooms are tastefully decorated and furnished with all the luxuries of a five star hotel, whilst the majority benefit from garden and sea views
Overlooking the beautiful Casino gardens and the sea
Grill Restaurant Four Seasons, elegant dining, outstanding charcoal specialities Bar Estoril, overlooking the poolside gardens Poolside Snack Bar, daily during the summer, light snacks & drinks
Casino, Pool, Dinner at the Four Seasons Grill under maître d'hotel Duarte Lavazinio.
Swimming pool, sauna, massage, intern. championship golf course (Estoril Golf, one of Portugal’s oldest and most emblematic courses) with 18 and 9 holes, 16 tennis courts, watersporsts,
The Hotel features a total of 9 purpose-built and fully equipped rooms that can be adapted according to your specific requirements and feature the most modern technology (up to 500 people). In addtion, the Hotel’s beautiful gardens and terrace facilities provide excellent surroundings for hosting large groups.
smart casual
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Our Select Member Hotel

Country: Portugal
City: Estoril
Opening date: 1930s

Note from the Host

General Manager Francisco Correa Barros


Rua Particular
2769-504 Portugal, Estoril

Tel: +351-21-464 80 00
Fax: +351-21-464 48 67

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