Our secret: a family house opening its doors to tourism in an almost unknown land, facing the sea and in the heart of the Ria Formosa Nature Park, considered one of Portugal's seven wonders.
How would you describe Fazenda Nova in a nutshell?
Fazenda Nova is a small luxury boutique hotel in the Algarve in Portugal. This pretty bolthole is run very environmentally conscious and was created with lots of recycled materials, such as 30,000 reclaimed roof tiles. You’ll find a vinyl library, lots of reading spaces, a salt-water swimming pool, WiFi even in the garden, a honesty bar and a restaurant on site for hotel guests only.
What was your inspiration to open a small luxury hotel in the Algarve?
Our inspiration was a trip to Cape Town 12 years ago. We both had businesses and traveled a lot. We stayed in a guest house there to go whale watching on the Bay, and we walked in and it was an epiphany moment. They had a huge dining room with a glass wall and the kitchen behind it, where you could view all the meals being prepared. The suites made you feel at home. The doors opened into a garden with wonderful African furniture. We both sort of looked at each other and thought, ‘This is it. This is what we want to do.’
Please tell us a bit about the design of Fazenda Nova.
We’re surrounded by trees that have a wonderful texture on their barks and trunks. We’ve used different types of finishes throughout the project to reflect that idea. Every aspect has been thought out thoroughly, so if you’re in any part of the building, looking out a specific window or a view into the garden, the textures really make you feel comfortable.
But the building wouldn’t work if it didn’t have those wonderful historical architectural features. Those were what we fell in love with.
It took six years to finish the project, to restore the buildings, regenerate the land, and resource the materials and the furniture. For example, I had to find 30,000 reclaimed roof tiles. And they’re not easy to find. We also recycle a lot, so it took time to build the infrastructure for that, like for harvesting water. The whole process was very complicated.
How long would you recommend to stay to get a feeling of this part of Portugal?
I think you get it immediately. But to be able to totally enjoy it, I’d recommend a 5 or 7 day holiday. We’ve had people stay for three weeks, but if you’re here for 5 to 7 days, you’ll have a wonderful experience.
And to experience the beach life, restaurants and markets, a week is really necessary to do it justice.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running Fazenda Nova?
Our holiday guests get an experience they remember, and the testament to that is people returning often. That’s one of the biggest rewards.
What most people say is that the pictures don’t do us justice, and I like that. I want people to get more than they expect.