Daisy, the resident ostrich
An ostrich egg incubation business turned into a rural hotel.
After driving through a stretch of dirt road you arrive at this little slice of heaven in the coast of Alentejo, the perfect base to explore the spectacular beaches of Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park. The owner, Balthasar, is a founder member of Rota Vicentina (a network of walking and cycling trails) and his passionate knowledge about the area is captivating.
Três Marias is a rural hotel offering fifteen whitewashed rooms all with minimal rustic decor, plenty of natural light, and an inviting porch for enjoying the peaceful surrounding nature.
The delicious breakfast includes fresh fruit, cooked meats, regional cheeses, eggs, and fresh pastries. Dinner, which is available on request, consists of a regional set menu (can be accommodated for dietary requirements) and wine. We really enjoyed our meal.
The resident ostrich Daisy and three donkeys.
A wonderful base for walking, cycling, surfing, canoeing, and birdwatching.
The dreamy and serene surrounding Alentejo landscape.
The regional dinner and wine were lovely.
Unless you’re on a hiking/cycling trip, a car is recommended.
There wasn’t a swimming pool when we visited but they’re building one, which we think will be a welcome addition.
No TV or AC in the rooms, and wi-fi can be slow at times.
This is a rural countryside house, here luxury is the simple life.
Três Marias is located between the villages of Vila Nova Milfontes and Porto Covo, in the Alentejo Coast, a region very popular with hikers walking the Rota Vicentina (the hotel offers pick-up service).
Here it’s all about appreciating the nature, the fresh air, and the silence. This is a walkers’ and cyclists’ paradise, as it is for surfing, horse riding, canoeing, and birdwatching. And if you just want to relax in a hammock and read a book whilst enjoying the sound of the birds, this place is certainly very good for that too.
After a busy day exploring, lie down in a hammock and gaze at the stars.
An ostrich egg incubation business turned into a rural hotel.
“I decided to build two bedrooms for guests, family and friends (…) currently we have 15 rooms.”
I’m Swiss, but my mother is Portuguese. I’ve always known this region, and in 1997 I decided to leave my job in Switzerland to move here and start something new.
Well, it all began during the outbreak of mad cow disease (BSE). People were looking for alternative meats and ostrich was a very popular choice. So I decided to start a place for the incubation of ostrich eggs, so that whoever had ostrich eggs could bring them here. The business was a success for a while but eventually mad cow disease subsided and bird flu arrived, which meant people weren’t interested in ostriches any longer.
Therefore I had to find a new business strategy. We already had a restaurant here “Três Marias”, and because I’d built my house to be closer to the business, I decided to build two bedrooms for guests, family and friends. During the summer, customers from the restaurant would often ask to rent the rooms. The idea to turn the ostrich egg incubation business into a rural hotel came from that. This was back in 2007, and currently we have 15 rooms.
As one of the founding members of Rota Vicentina, Balthasar’s passionate knowledge about the area is captivating.
The spectacular beaches of Costa Vicentina are considered a Mecca for surfers.
Daisy was born in 2006, she’s 13 years old.
Rota Vicentina is a network of walking trails compromising of a main route – called the Historic Way – the Fisherman’s Trail, and several Circular Routes, some which are going to be launched in a few weeks. One of these routes also includes a 1,000km cycling route so that Rota Vicentina becomes more diverse by offering both walking and cycling options.
The project Rota Vicentina started as a tiny thing, and today it embraces the whole region with nature and outdoors tourism, which is good because it means that the people who come here are seeking exactly that.
Rota Vicentina’s website is an excellent resource for anyone interested in finding out more.
Walking and surfing play a massive part in the region, the other top activities are cycling, horse riding, canoeing and birdwatching. There’s also a whole range of workshops promoted by people that use our place, from yoga retreats to art therapy workshops.
Each home has its own soul, and its soul reflects the taste of the owner.
I come from a family of architects. I’m not an architect myself but I’ve seen a lot in my life, and maybe I have a different sensibility because of that. My brother is an architect, and he has helped me a lot, mostly they are my ideas but with a lot of help from my brother.
It’s easy when we are architects for ourselves. When an architect works for others, they have a lot of restrictions – the client’s wishes, the budget, and all the building permissions related to the location.
I love living here. I love being here all year round, so much so that I find it really hard to leave. My favourite time of year is spring as it’s the time when I can enjoy Três Marias most, before the high season kicks in.
I take a lot of pleasure in doing things up, I find the building work extremely creative. It’s as if we can make our own sand castles. I’m always fantasising about what to do next.
I can’t tell what inspires me, it’s a combination of things. One thing I know is that if I could go back to the beginning, there’s a lot of stuff I would have done differently, but I think it’s always like that.
Perhaps Daisy, my ostrich (laughs). The ostrich for me is very special, after all, all of this happened because of the ostriches.
With good company, my partner and kids. That’s my perfect day. Yesterday it was raining, and we played board games (Naval Battle and Trivial Pursuit). It was great.
I also like to do DIY and gardening, I want to picture how everything will turn out. The garden is something that takes time, a house you can build in six months, but a garden takes at least six years to grow as you want it to be. We are always wondering how it’s going to turn out when it finally starts growing.
Três Marias is a boutique rural hotel in Vila Nova de Milfontes, in Alentejo.
Faro (FAO) – 162km
Lisbon (LIS) – 178km
Porto (OPO) – 468km
Unless you are on a walking/cycling trip, hiring a car is highly recommended to get to the hotel and explore the region and the beautiful beaches nearby. Otherwise, you can take a taxi or the hotel can arrange a transfer from the airport.