Rarely in life do you find places like this, so
close to home, that just makes you wish you could leave everything behind and
stay forever, this augmented by the fact that such a perfect heaven is found in
my country, a Portugal gem near Lisbon and by the sea, this is Areias do Seixo.
This magic spot is located in Santa Cruz, a
mere 30 minute drive from Lisbon. A coastline populated with gracious wild
beaches and historic towns like Óbidos, known as the West Coast.
Truth be told Santa Cruz is not the most beautiful
place in the World even though I have a strong childhood connection with these
surroundings, but one can say, in perfect conscience, that at Areias do Seixo
we can find an immaculate oasis. We can start validating this statement by analysing the outside structure, an imposing reinforced concrete building with
perfect straight lines, crowned by a red metal square that houses the
magnificent penthouse. It jumps to mind to tag it as a cool bunker that
protects you from all the outside madness.
Once you pass the enormous front door, all
efforts are madeto make us feel at home. You can expect a warm unpretentious welcome,
aiming mainly at freeing you from your day to day burdens.
Forget your bags and indulge in some home-made
tea, made out of fresh picked lemon grass from the nearby green house,
accompanied by some cake that teleports me to childhood. This ritual takes
place in a comfy couch by a suspended fireplace framed by gigantic windows that
let you gaze at the garden with the sea in the horizon.
The chill out bug really starts to kick in...
As we wish, at our own rhythm, we're shown the
bedroom, the much appreciated, generally speaking, TERRA, which literally means
earth in Portuguese, but one can infer several meanings.
This room is just the perfect follow up for the
moment we spent at the lobby. It's a seemingly perfect fusion of minimalist
design with all the essentials for unblemished restfulness. We found it remarkable
that such a great concern in preserving the environment was shown by having
several pieces of furniture, spread out through the premises, based on recycling
There is no TV, although one will be provided
upon request. This started out to be somewhat an unpleasant surprise, but it
proved to be just what we needed to shutdown our minds from media pollution for
one minute and get back to basics.
Among other things, no TV brought back my
primal worship of making fire, accomplished by playing with the installed
fireplace. Its soothing crackling sounds mixed with the blowing wind and the
waves clashing into the shore composed the ultimate soundtrack for gently
inducing us a sweet dreamy sleep.
Waking up fully restored, found breakfast to be
served in the same principles as all the meals around here. This means fresh
products, acquired locally or picked on the hotel grounds, privileging bio
sources when possible, prepared on the same day. So expect good cuisine, with
Portuguese ingredients cooked in a traditional fashion with the imposed notes
of garnishing design, not to fancy but not at all bland.
Exploring the beach is mandatory, as walking
out the private balcony we're only 200 meters apart from the white smooth
sand. This is the kind of Portuguese beach that has fortunately been hidden
from the masses, it is Nature in its purest form. The sea and the sandy stretch
lie under a high cliff that offers great panoramic view. Can't stop breathing in
the addicting aroma, which is a mix of ocean breeze and fresh smells of wild
bushes that grow freely through the sand. We wished we could put in jar to carry it back home.
The couple of “artists” that enabled us to
experience this invigorating peace tour, Marta and Gonçalo, told us this beach
reaches maximum crowding on August Sundays, with 50 families top…what a gem!
Marta and Gonçalo are always present, and
clearly represent the critical success factor. They welcome us as guests at
their home; you really can forget you are at a hotel.
Everyone gets a chance to know them better at
the Circle of Fire, a daily ritual that takes place at an outside space circled
by tree roots (nature’s offerings), where a big fire is lit, so a group of
people can share a glass of wine and speak their minds.
We left dying to come back and with the outmost
respect for this sustainable project, showing strong arguments to succeed, and
would like to acknowledge the outstanding entrepreneurship spirit shown by
Marta and Gonçalo, which is not always easy to prevail at our country. This is
the kind of attitude we need to differentiate Portugal, by absorbing its
natural riches and stepping forward by innovating with courage.
I end with the same observation written on the
guest book, “We want to live here!”