May | Travel
Craveiral Farmhouse, Portugal
Expect 38 cottages, surrounded by lush forest and fruit treesSusan Ward Davies
On the prized UK green list, and planning to open to tourists by mid May, Portugal is one of the top destination searches on Google at the moment. But rather than heading for the tourist hotspots in the Algarve, our sights are set on the rural, unspoilt region of Alentejo, southern Portugal – all whitewashed villages, cork fields and olive groves. Lisbon lawyer/wannabe farmer Pedro Franco Pinta bought nine hectares of land here 10 years ago, slowly and sustainably creating Craveiral Farmhouse as a very different kind of eco retreat, with the aim to have a positive impact both environmentally and culturally, and help people reconnect with nature. Now, 38 cottages, surrounded by forest and fruit trees, house the guests, with four swimming pools, a wellbeing area, an educational farm, and a rotating artists’ residency programme.
Rainwater is collected and filtered, organic waste is reused, and only old trees that need to be cleared fuel the wood-burning stoves. The restaurant is headed up by Michelin-starred chef Alexandre Silva, who aims to source 70% of ingredients from Craveiral’s own orchard and farmland. Their social mobility project, Craveiral Pizzeria, trains local young people with autism, Asperger’s and Down’s syndrome, with some of the restaurant’s profits donated to their Associação Vila charity.
You could just chill by the pool, ride Craveiral’s horse, try a yoga class or borrow quad bikes or a 4X4 to go surfing on the spectacular beach of Zambujeira do Mar, about 15 minutes away – but that would be missing the point. If you want to make it more than just a regular holiday, volunteer on the farm, feed the animals and help out in the orchard and vegetable gardens, and you will get the very best of both worlds.
Craveiral.pt; cottages from €160, room only.
Getting there: take the train via Lisbon to Santa Clara-Saboia, 30 mins from Craveiral.
If you fly to Lisbon, offset flights with itmustbenow.com, which is B Corp-certified (i.e. the gold standard).