Barranco da Palha Eco Rural Retreat
Our dream is a sustainable rural escape offering guest accommodation both in the main house and individual charming accommodations burrowed into the hillside overlooking nothing but a lake, unspoilt country side with every room having space, privacy and also a truly uninterrupted view because of our vision of “Hobbit Homes” blending into the landscape.
We are also hoping we could rely 100% on solar and wind power and to have a true Turismo Rural!
We are delighted to have an update on our Project, Barranco da Palha Eco Rural Retreat (Casa de Campo) Turismo Rural. Having worked closely with our Architect Goreti Christina, an Architect located in our local town of São Brás de Alportel and also the relevant personnel within the Camara Municipal of São Brás de Alportel, our Architectural Project to build has been approved.
For anyone embarking on the dream of building your dream Project off a ruin, patience is most definitely required but from our experience to date, if you make sure that you work closely with the relevant personnel within your local Camara Municipal and your architect you will hopefully get there but to be honest it is not something that anyone in a hurry to build may wish to consider.
Now, for us, we can work with a good local engineer to ensure that the build specification is correct for not just the location and terrain but also we wish to incorporate the latest environmental construction techniques. Due to the complexity of our Project and its location we made the decision that the Architectural Project had to be approved before embarking on this next stage but we can go forward now knowing that our dream can now become a reality.
From this first Project Phase it is still also our dream to offer further accommodation in the form of individual “Hobbit” style accommodation thus being able to offer guests in time two different experiences - this is something hopefully for the future.
We will of course continue to give updates on our journey and hope that being able to open our doors and welcome guests to Barranco Da Palha Eco Rural Retreat on the edge of the Cerro do Caldeirão in the hills just above São Brás de Alportel will now occur in the not too distant future.
THE START OF OUR JOURNEY
In 2019, having decided that we were going to make the area of Sao Bras de Alportel our home, we embarked upon finding the right place for our dream. Having looked at several options we were shown the land and ruin, Barranco da Palha just outside Bico Alto. We fell in love with the valley, the view of the adjoining lake and the peace and quiet and being only five minutes from Sao Bras was also a deciding factor.
THE NEED FOR WATER
One of our first tasks was to install our bore hole which will in time supply all the water used at Barranco da Palha. We plan to use fully renewable energy so it was important to install a good solar pump system which we have done.
Presently we have worked hard to build an irrigation system off this bore hole to allow us to irrigate our planting and management of new fruit trees and indigenous plants, shrubs and trees. We have been planting to create a natural landscape.
The system will in time supply the whole property. We also intend to ensure that rainwater collection and storage is incorporated into the infrastructure of the build stage together with collection, storage and recycling of greywater.
THE "BIG" IDEA
Once we had purchased the land and the ruin we came to the conclusion it was too special a place not to do something more than just a home for ourselves. This is when we decided upon creating an eco-friendly rural retreat with the least impact on the environment around us and to provide a place where people can come and stay and be able to experience nature and enjoy hiking, walking, mountain biking, painting and photography and even holistic getaways.
At night the skies are amazingly clear due to no light pollution so we hope this will be an attraction too and we do have a good telescope on our wish list for guests to be able to use too. We have a top terraced area of land that would make for perfect star gazing.
Of course, with all of our lives having been changed by Covid 19, we are aware that people even more so now will be looking to stay where they can enjoy space and peaceful surroundings with fewer fellow guests. What better way to offer this than in a beautiful valley right on the edge of the Serra do Caldeirao
Due to our close proximity to Sao Bras centre, our guests will be able to benefit from an excellent selection of cafes and restaurants, many offering traditional Portuguese Cuisine, not to mention being able to visit the museums, art galleries, market and shops.
THE NEED FOR POWER
We need to explain that we are some way away from any mains electricity supply so there will be a solar energy system that will provide all our power maybe with the option of a small wind turbine as back up too. The control centre for this will be located in a service room.
Being truly off grid is a very important part of the concept of Barranco da Palha. We also believe that we could therefore be the first fully solar powered Casa de Campo, Rural Tourism in the Algarve and feel that this could be an excellent opportunity to showcase with a Solar Firm what is indeed viable. So far we have installed a Grundfos Solar Pump for our bore hole which is proving to be very affective and we had this installed by Albombas from Almancil
BARRANCO DA PALHA - CASA DE CAMPO (TURISMO RURAL)
Phase One of our plan is the main villa, with four guest bedrooms all benefiting from their own en suite shower rooms and also doors out onto the terrace. Individual dividing screens on the terrace will allow for privacy and social distancing for each set of guests.
One of our bedrooms is going to be a family suite and as you will see from the plan this will have a smaller twin room within the suite. This will also benefit from offering handicapped facilities as will our guest toilet in the main area of the house. The idea for this family suite being that guests also with children will feel they can all still be together in the same suite and retain their own privacy.
The rooms will not be entered via any internal corridor. There will be a covered terrace allowing guests to come and go from their rooms without the need to come and go through the main living space
SOMEWHERE TO RELAX AROUND THE POOL
Our pool, surrounding terrace and pool room with outside gas BBQ’s will allow guests space and an area to relax and if they wish to use the BBQ area in the evenings will be welcome to do so. Promoting “meat” packs with all ingredients supplied by our wonderful local suppliers in the area will allow guests to truly get a taste of what we have to offer in the region. Of course we will also be promoting Portuguese wine and beer!
The area around the pool will also allow the perfect place to arrange evenings where we can arrange for local chefs to come in and cook and promote various cuisine to our guests. We hope to also be able to offer this area for outside groups who would like to book a setting for a special alfresco meal.
PHASE 2 - “HOBBIT” STYLE ACCOMMODATION
Now a little bit about Phase 2 of our project. When we first stood on the hill the area reminded us of the countryside you see in the film “Lord of the Rings”. A Beautiful valley, with a stunning lake and an abundance of wildlife.
How could we come up with the idea of offering accommodation to guests that would truly allow them to feel at one with nature? Our hill is quite steep so the idea of offering individual “hobbit” style accommodation was born, thus potentially being able to offer two different experiences but still being right in the middle of nature.
To be able to hide the rooms as much as possible into the hill so that as you look down you do not see what is hidden into the hill below you retaining the view of the lake and the valley. The idea being to provide 6 - 8 of these units and thus maximising the number of overall guest rooms to 10-12.
STANDARDS OF HIGH QUALITY AND COMFORT USING LOCAL SUPPLIERS
Of course there is also a desire for our guests to come and stay in rooms that have not been standardised. We plan individual and distinctive rooms - both the B&B bedrooms in the main house and the hillside rooms using local craftsmen - we are blessed with some excellent furniture makers and carpenters again on our doorstep and soft furnishings and artwork will be sourced through our local artisan talent. Welcome baskets on arrival in all guest rooms will also offer an array of local goodies.
On the building side we are presently in consultation with a local engineer exploring the latest environmental construction techniques. We will then be using local firms, not just for building but for landscaping and in time of course we will need ongoing staff who of course will be from Sao Bras to help the smooth running of Barranco da Palha.
ACTIVITIES FOR GUESTS
We hope many of our guests will want to explore the local area on a bike and what better way than for us to arrange their bike rental through one of our very own local firms Avalanche Bike Shop and Hire. Through their delivery service of bikes for guests the day they arrive is brilliant and of course if guests wish to then book one of the tours his firms offer then even better. Of course there are also several local firms offering safari trips around the area which would be promoted to our guests.
Through personal experience we have also got to know good local holistic therapists and again being able to offer treatments to clients when staying with us is something we very much plan on doing. Working with local artists to offer workshops is also a recreation that we feel would appeal to guests wanting to enjoy and capture the beauty of the valley.