Keeping Cool in Comporta with Luís Borges
Join model and influencer Luís Borges for some rest and recuperation in Portugal’s hippest beach town.
“The first thing I do when I get to Comporta is to find an element of water – either a pool or the ocean – to swim in. Once I’ve cooled myself down, I get out and talk to the locals to find out all about the coolest places and if there are any hidden gems that I don’t already know about.”
When Luís Borges rolls up on the Portuguese Riviera, he doesn’t make a shy arrival. With his tall stature, signature hairdo and colourful H&M looks, he’s instantly recognised – and quickly greeted as a local hero. The housekeeper at the hotel, the waiter at lunch, tweens on the beach, and even old folks living in the sleepy old fishing town want to talk to him – and take one, or five, selfies.
“I have no problem at all with people coming up to talk to me – it’s really great actually! I have to remind myself that it’s not normal, and to stay humble. You never know how long things last,” he says after having leant in for a picture with a lady in her 50s.
Luís Borges started his modelling career nine years ago, after his sister sent photos of him to a Portuguese agency. He moved to Lisbon, and as most successful models do, he began travelling for shoots and shows around Europe and the world. He ended up falling in love – with a man 21 years his senior, who he eventually got married to and adopted children with. Gay marriage, a big age difference and adoption sparked some controversy in Portugal and made Luís – already one of the country’s most famous models – into a nationwide celebrity.
Now, more than seven years later, Luís is single and has relocated to New York: “I love New York, and I love the chaos of big cities – but I love escaping them even more,” he says, happy to be back home. “I love Portugal in the summer and it’s really important for me to come here, spend time with the family, rest and recharge.”
He has one foot in Portugal and one in America, and when he’s back home, Comporta, which is just an hour south of Lisbon, is the perfect weekend getaway. Because it’s so easy to reach – and yeah, unbelievably beautiful – the beach resort has become known as the destination of choice for Portugal’s rich and famous. “The beaches are incomparable to anywhere else. It’s perfect to come here with the kids, or just by myself,” says Luís.
Although exclusive hotels and private villas have popped up behind the sand dunes, Comporta is not an expensive place to vacation. It has little in common with Saint Tropez, Marbella, and other European luxury destinations. The sand beaches stretch empty for tens of kilometres, the water is refreshingly clean – but a little cold – and there seem to be more storks than people on the long pin-straight country roads and narrow town streets.
Summer is when I can get into trouble, go on adventures and always have someone to hang out with
WHAT’S YOUR DREAM VACATION?
“For once I would like to go on vacation by myself. To me vacation is to rest, sleep in and do exactly what I want when I want to do it. I would love to go to a remote island resort with perfect beaches. Believe me, I love Comporta, but I would love to go somewhere that’s really isolated,” says Luís.
Although it’s the height of summer and he’s back home for some R&R, Luís still keeps up his daily routines; working out every morning, keeping his skin and hair in check and Face Timing with his kids whenever he gets the chance.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT SUMMER?
“Everything! First of all, I hate cold weather, but more importantly I love the spontaneity that comes with the season. Summer is when I can get into trouble, go on adventures and always have someone to hang out with because people are always down to do stuff this time of year. I also love to wear less clothes [laughs].”
WHAT WILL YOU WEAR THIS SUMMER?
“Lots of shirts, printed short sleeved ones, and white denims. I have a very colourful wardrobe with a lot of special, and pretty weird, stuff in it. I normally buy things that other people don’t want, so sales are perfect for me because all the off-beat colourful stuff usually leaves the rack last. Aside from that I’ll be wearing a lot of soft and light fabrics to avoid sweating.”
When Luís is in Comporta he spends his time on the beach. “I have no problem with crowded beaches,” he says in a pair of jungle print H&M swim shorts and a white embroidered tank top, resting securely on the isolated Praia de Galé – ranked one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches.
WHAT KIND OF SWIMWEAR ARE YOU INTO?
“I should probably be wearing speedos to avoid tan lines, but I always opt for a good pair of shorts. Are you surprised that I want them to be colourful and printed too? I try to make my beach look more interesting by adding some good accessories, sunglasses obviously, as well as bracelets.”
DO YOU HAVE A SIGNATURE STYLE?
“Yes – but it’s hard to pin down! It’s eclectic and varies from day to day. I want to show my personality with what I wear, so my signature style is very colourful with lots of fun stuff.”
DO YOU HAVE A BEAUTY SECRET?
“I don’t have any secrets! I do a facemask once or twice a week, I hydrate a lot and put on moisturiser morning and night.”
WHAT ABOUT YOUR HAIR?
“Ha ha, I usually just shampoo it once a week. Sometimes I do a hair mask and sometimes I put oil on the ends. I like when I get some dreadlocks!”
HAS MODELLING AFFECTED HOW YOU LOOK AT YOURSELF?
“Yes and no. It can put a lot of pressure on you but I think I’ve found a good balance – I try to eat healthy and work out but most of all feel comfortable with how I look.”
From the isolated beach stretch Praia de Galé, we go to the northern tip of the Comporta peninsula [officially Herdade da Comporta], which has plenty of restaurants, golf courses, pools, packed beaches and expensive boats docked in the harbour.
WHAT DO YOU PREFER – POOL OR OCEAN?
“The ocean, it makes me feel free.”
BACKPACKING OR RESORT?
“Backpacking! I’ve always wanted to explore Asia together with my two best friends. If not, I would want to go to Guinea-Bissau in Africa, where two of my kids are from.”
BIG CITIES OR REMOTE BEACH TOWNS?
“Both! love the chaos of big cities, but I love escaping them even more. That’s why I live in New York.”
LUIS BORGES’ GUIDE TO COMPORTA
HOW TO GET HERE
The fastest way from Lisbon is to drive south and take a ferry from Setúbal. If you’re driving the whole way it’ll take a little over one hour.
WHERE TO BEACH
“Praia de Galé, hands down! I can’t see where it ends or starts, the cliff formations are stunning and there are hardly any people around. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal and probably all of Europe.”
WHAT TO PACK?
“I bring lots of stuff when I travel. My essentials are sunscreen, sunglasses, swimwear and my camera. Aside from that I want fun shirts, comfortable linen trousers, flip-flops, sandals and sneakers.”
WHERE TO EAT
“I love sea food, and we have so much of it in Portugal. There is a delicacy called caracóis, which is snails, that I always crave in the summer! There are some really nice spots in Comporta [the town], one of my favourites is a small local restaurant named Sao Joao. On Comporta Beach there’s an awesome juice bar with hammocks and lounge chairs named Mosquito bar, and next to it is the restaurant Comporta Café.”
WHERE TO PONDER
“On the beach – obviously! As much as I love being on the beach with my kids or friends, I love being by myself to take time and enjoy that place and moment. I ponder about my kids and myself – what I’ve accomplished and what I can change.”
WHERE TO DANCE?
“If you’re in good company you can dance wherever you want. But Comporta is not a party place – it’s a beach town.”
Click here to see what went down last week when Alisa Ueno explored the Japanese beach town Kamakura and the beaches of Shōnan in Japan.
PHOTOGRAPHER Emma Svensson
STYLING Ellen Pålsson Norberg
HAIR AND MAKEUP Veronica Lindqvist | MIKAS Looks