Historic, classic, and unforgettable; Three words I would use to describe the hotels discovered in Portugal. February 24th through March 2nd, I went on a FAM trip with Tempovip DMC Portugal exploring Lisbon down to Algarve. Tempo VIP and their team saw to our trip transfers, drivers, sightseeing as well as guides. Each experience was professional and recommended – keep them at top of mind for your Portugal clients. The trip unveiled five unforgettable luxury stays I want to introduce you to today.
We started off the FAM trip strong with lunch at Valverde Boutique Hotel in Libson. Valverde Hotel sits in one of the most upscale parts of Libson, on Avenida da Liberdad. The area is quiet, a little way from the river off an infamous shopping boulevard reminiscent of the Champs-Élysées in Paris. From the outside the hotel resembles a brownstone and upon entering it is hard to believe you are in the middle of Libson. An interior courtyard with a waterfall and pool feels like a breath of fresh air in the middle of any major city. The hotel does not feel huge but features several room and suite options with varying views overlooking the Rua de São José, Avenida da Liberdad, patio, rooftops, and even the São George Castle. Contemporary furniture, modern art, antiques, and varying unique fabrics make the hotel feel like a residence that exudes discreet luxury. We ate lunch at the “Sítio Valverde” Restaurant/Bar which features Portuguese cuisine executed by the female chef, Carla Sousa. The dining experience felt as though we were eating in someone’s living room contributing to the homely, cozy feeling felt throughout the hotel.
The next property transports us into a livelier part of town bustling with shopping, dining, and nightlife. The Verride Palace of Santa Catarina is a renovated historic Palace with rivaling views of the Tagus River and old town. There are only nineteen rooms and suites offered, tastefully decorated using authentic Portuguese décor and the smallest details accounted for. I highly recommend booking the suites for clients as these were the real gems. Tasteful, chic common spaces are available for lounging, but the prime seating area has to be on the hotel’s top floor. On the rooftop sits a pool as well as the hotel’s restaurant and bar, SUBA. SUBA serves classic Portuguese food and perfectly encapsulates the friendliness and warmth of the Portuguese people in a sophisticated and elegant way.
The following day we stopped at Tivoli Palácio de Seteais for a site visit and lunch in route to Alentejo. Perched on a hillside, the architecture and atmosphere of this luxury hotel transport you back to the elegance and romance of the eighteenth century. Now housing thirty rooms, the palace dates back to 1787 as a home to the former Dutch Consul in Portugal. The hotel is just minutes away from Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a perfect location for exploring the city when not strolling through the hotel’s mazes and grounds (they even have a lemon grove!) There are thirty spacious rooms and suites decorated with magnificent paintings and frescoes almost as beautiful as the views outside. We ate lunch at the Seteais Restaurant surrounded by views of the Sintra mountains and beyond elegant decor – there were outside guests there as well to give you an idea of the atmosphere.
The most incredible property sits just two and a half hours south of Libson. When you start to realize you really are in the middle of nowhere, Herdade da Malhadinha Nova Country House & Spa appears in all its glory. The property is owned by the Soares family who, with an undying passion for nature and sustainability, transformed ruins into a self-sustaining farm, winery, country house, and spa in 2009. The family lives on the property and is extremely hands-on. You can feel the passion behind everything that happens here – a complete labor of love. We arrived in the middle of the night, almost completely blinded by the lack of light pollution. Upon waking, I opened my windows to the most stunning winery and orange trees – the property is beyond relaxing and beautiful. The hotel sits three miles from the closest town, which is very small, but has made its own community by giving back over a hundred new jobs and building their employees’ homes in nearby towns. The property is very organic and grows much of what is used in their dining options. They have a famous Michelin starred chef from Germany that oversees their kitchen and his wife is their pastry chef! There are six spacious housing units that combine contemporary design with rural inspiration, evident in locally inspired décor from the Alentejo plains. The surrounding area was reminiscent of the African plains. Guests could participate in horseback and ATV riding, farm tours, wine tastings, and more. Our group went on an ATV ride followed by a picnic lunch in the vineyard set up with tables, chairs, and linens. Guests intermingled among each other with the houses’ owners reflecting how family centered and communal this special place is.
Last but not least, we ended our FAM trip at the stately and stunning Grand House. This luxury hotel is in the small historic town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio and tastefully combines the country’s history with nods to the roaring twenties. Situated right on the border, you can see Spain just across the water. Similar to European properties, the beach is not right at the property, but the hotel runs shuttles to and from the beach and beach club for guest’s convenience. The beach is very nice and popular in the summertime, and the beachy feel carries into the rooms as well. The rooms come in all different sizes and feels. Each room has either a river or village view – it really comes down to what your client wants. During our stay, we visited The Grand Salon restaurant on the first floor and I had the best seabass of my life. The hotel has a Portuguese waterdog named Grand on the premise and any hotel that has a dog is a good hotel for me!