Surrounded by forty acres of pine, cork, carob and olive trees, plus a biological garden, Companhia das Culturas offers a very relaxing experience.
The owners, Eglantina and Francisco, are very proud of the produce of the region and their hotel is a reflection of that. It’s gone through 7 family generations and it took 10 years (it opened in 2008) to create what is today “Companhia das Culturas”. There are 9 uniquely decorated rooms and they’ve also recently opened 4 apartments and a gorgeous hamam.
Apart from the mattresses, every object in the hotel has been recycled and restored with the use of local materials. The furniture therefore, is a mix of different periods and styles and the result is both unique and beautiful.
If you’re not fussed about TVs (there are none), A/C, 24h room service and other luxuries but you’re looking to relax, enjoy walks and nature then you’ll love it.
A wholesome organic breakfast with homemade, seasonal and local produce – absolutely delicious!
Laze in the hammocks by the pool.
Nearest beach is 1.5km away.
A yoga/tai chi room – the Corkbox – which looks like a beautiful art installation.
Complimentary hamam everyday from 4pm.
Experience an Olive Oil tasting session at a farm nearby. Properly good stuff!
Seafood lovers will enjoy the local and super fresh specialities such as oysters, razor clams and tuna.
There are no TV’s anywhere (makes perfect sense).
Internet was a bit sketchy in our room but it worked fine in the communal areas.
Service is very low key but that’s part of the charm.
Wild cats often wonder around – they’re small and harmless (do not feed them, though).
There isn’t any nightlife nearby.
The hotel is closed during the winter but they might be able to accommodate for big groups.
Hamam (steam room)
According to the season, guests can participate in some of the farm’s activities – picking fruit, aromatic herbs and greens.
The hotel can provide you with its own maps of the local footpaths. They also have a variety of bikes, suitable to the different types of terrain. In partnership with local boating companies they offer the possibility to sail on the Ria Formosa with access to its deserted beaches – this is also a great spot for bird watching or kayaking.
We love the nearby village of Cacela a Velha (8km) with its narrow streets and small white houses with colourful windows – its beach is a delight. Tavira (17km) is considered by some the prettiest town in the Algarve.
Visit some of the amazing local producers of salt, olive oil and tuna.
Praia Verde (3km) is a nice and popular beach nearby.
This is a redevelopment of a farmhouse that has belonged to the family for 7 generations. It used to be an urban centre that once housed workers and that served to store and transform agricultural products. With the dismantling of traditional agriculture at the beginning of the 1980s, we needed to give it a new direction.
A long time. The first phase took 10 years, it was a stage during which we had to understand the place, the ecosystem, and also the available financing options to keep from resorting to loans, we worked on the basis of how much we could afford and invest by ourselves.
What was your experience working with hotels?
None. It wasn’t an option, but the answer to the question: what to do with a heritage that we need to take care of? As well as continuing with the agricultural production, especially the organic rain-fed orchard. The hotel was the most logical answer.
A collaboration with the architect Pedro Ressano Garcia. One of the rooms reveals an original beautiful stone wall which hasn’t been plastered over on purpose.
One of Eglantina’s favourite objects is this massive vintage mirror which we too love.
Some objects already belonged to the house but once in a while Eglantina sources some more from vintage shops. Objects are also recycled and given a new purpose.
It’s called the “chã” architecture which can be found in the region. Since its construction, in the mid eighteenth century until now, it has undergone several interventions resulting in influences from different periods. Additions, such as the needs of agricultural activity, which resulted in new emerging materials and construction techniques. The Modern Style of the late 20s is noticeable – the doorways and high windows, geometric tiles in the main house or the garage for the harvesting machine in the 40s, creates a contrast to the adobe houses of the workers and for storing or for the animals. The last intervention was done in collaboration with the architect Pedro Ressano Garcia, who worked to adapt what was already here, to the purpose of hosting people.
Each room is a room in itself. One has an adobe wall, another has a part of a stone wall which hasn’t been plastered – each allowing the feel of the multiple layers of lime. The window openings are also all different, but all open onto a patio. There isn’t a corridor, instead there is a labyrinthine courtyard. The lime, the stone, stroked cement, wooden ceilings with a wash of white paint and some objects made of cork are the most used materials.
A coffee table which is now in the communal living room, an old olive oil mill with a glass… I like it because it’s weird, it’s crazy. Also, in the living room there is a massive mirror which is on the floor against the wall and a cabinet with wood on the outside and sheet metal on the inside – it’s vaguely weird too.
Some belonged to the house, others I just keep finding in vintage shops. Some are cleaned or recovered but I also transform some objects, adapting them to their new needs. The aura of the objects is about time and this manifests itself in their marks, inconsistencies and imperfections.
The corkbox is an old threshing machine garage turned into a unique room – made to practice yoga, tai chi, qigong or to dance. But here you can also just enjoy a total silence, or listen to music or watch a movie.
Pedro Beleza, the talented and passionate head chef at Companhia das Culturas.
According to the season, guests can participate in some of the farm’s activities – picking fruit, aromatic herbs and greens – as well as their transformation and conservation.
Photo courtesy of © David Weyand.
Guests can enjoy a complimentary hamam (a steam room, similar to a Turkish bath) everyday from 4pm.
It used to be the garage for a threshing machine. The construction of plastered brick and vain tile roof was very badly insulated. By working with what has been given to us, and seeing as we are part of the cork oak ecosystem, and in some ways also cork producers, its intensive application – on the ceiling, the walls and on the floor – was an obvious choice.
We got the inspiration from the ecosystem, keeping up with the principle of working with what is in place at the time – meaning locally sourced and seasonal. We don’t use any processed products from the food industry, or anything from the big urban areas. We work with our own products and those from our neighbours. We see the act of eating as a political one.
The fresh fish from the coast, the meat from grazing livestock, the vegetables and the fruit which are daily picked from the garden, and the carob which is little known outside the region. What really impresses guests is the flavour of the products. Instead of hiding the flavours, our kitchen values them; it celebrates the products and its producers.
The Haman is part of the Roman and Arabic tradition of public baths that were a mark throughout the Mediterranean. The Inquisition in the sixteenth century forbade them. We’re inviting and welcoming back the salutary baths that existed in the region for more than six centuries.
The salt marshes and the small Museum at the Castle of Castro Marim, which tells the story of the Phoenicians in search of gold, silver and copper which was abundant in the Lower Alentejo and traded through the Guadiana.
I think that we’re part of a family of hotels that takes hosting as a gesture of being available without being subservient, and as a gift.
When it comes to picking a spot I’m very flexible and random. My priorities are the location and the architecture. If I’m really tired of my job as a hotel manager then I need to switch off so I might look for a very basic hotel, just with a comfortable and clean bed so that I stop myself from observing every detail.
Faro (FAO) – 59km
Lisbon (LIS) – 317km
Porto (OPO) – 593km
It’s a 40-minute drive from Faro to Companhia das Culturas. Hiring a car is highly recommended to get to the hotel and explore the region and the beautiful beaches and villages nearby. Otherwise, you can take a taxi or the hotel can arrange a transfer from the airport.