11am – Wander around Vila Real de Santo António. Not far from the sailing boats moored along the river, the Marquês de Pombal square is the authentic beating heart of the coastal city Vila Real de Santo António. The time has come to lose yourself in the straight white streets of the city before sampling the flavours, colours and local life to be found in the city market hall.
The charms of the Ria Formosa Park’s natural reserve protected by dunes can be found between the land and the sea. On board a solar-powered silent and non-polluting boat you can let yourself be carried away by the beauty of the lagoon ecosystems escorted by the migrating birds and sultan chickens.
You will be torn between dinner at the Grand Salon with its golden years’ ambiance and an authentic Vila Real de Santo Antonio wine bar. While you make up your mind, let yourself be guided by the softness of the night-time air in which you can hear a few notes of fado here and there.
Under the terrace of the Ta Certo Wine bar shaded by the sails, traditional dishes have been redesigned to offer original and simple small plates. Accompanied by a glass of vinho verde and a pinch of Castro Marim sea salt, the stewed or grilled octopus will leave you wanting more.
VOTRE POINT DE CHUTE:
“THE GRAND HOUSE”
The Grand House opened its doors in January 2019, but its history goes back much further. In 1926, the building was the point of passage for the merchants who bought, sold and exported canned fish in the 27 canning factories of Vila Real de Santo António, which was then one of the most prosperous cities in the Algarve and known as Little Lisbon thanks to its Pombaline-style city plan.
–Location : The hotel is located at the heart of Vila Real Santo António on its main street looking over the Gardena River which separates Portugal from Spain (a small ferry provides transport between the two banks). The main square with its church, shops and cafés is located just behind the hotel. San António beach is just a few minutes away by car and the neighbouring town Castro Marim is worth a visit to see its mediaeval castle and impressive salt pans. Seville is 90 minutes away by car and Faro airport is 40 minutes away.
–Style&character : Swiss architect Ernesto Korrodi fully renovated the building to return it to its original form. A talented local company White & Kaki created the interiors. The focus on the glamour of the golden years was achieved through a mix of antiques, colonial design, nautical colours in the public areas and softer colours in the rooms. The old prints, white orchids, panelling and stuccos are flooded with natural light.
– Services&activités : personnel amical et efficace. Les installations sont limitées par la taille de l’hôtel, mais tout est mis en œuvre pour vous offrir tout ce dont vous aurez besoin. Une chambre sert de spa, avec des massages à la demande. À l’ouverture du Grand Club House (fin 2019), il y aura un concept store et un cinéma privé. Une liste impressionnante d’expériences est offerte dont l’équitation sur une plage de la ville voisine de Tavira et un spa en plein air dans la ville voisine de Castro Marim
– Rooms: 30, decorated in soft peaceful colours. The wooden floorboards are adorned with handwoven rugs and ancient chests of drawers, while antique prints and black and white cards line the walls. Shutters and mullions made by Korrodi open onto terraces. The elegant bathrooms which only have showers (with the exception of one room which has a bath) feature black and white tiling and facilities designed by C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries.
– Food&drinks: The Grand Beach Club offers light lunches, from pizzas topped with local figs to salad Niçoise with fresh tuna, while the breakfast buffet providing eggs cooked to order is served in the pretty dining room looking over the river. You can find the perfect Negroni or Tom Collins in the bar, and in the summer they can even be enjoyed in the roof-top bar. For dinner, both a tasting menu and an à la carte menu are available. Don’t miss the red mullet fillet and the razor shell clams from neighbouring Ria Formosa.
HOW TO GET TO VILA REAL SANTO ANTONIO?