Carlos Fernandes commissioned his sister’s architectural firm PAr to convert his ancestral home into a boutique hotel. The project brief required an amalgam of culture and luxury.
Algarve in Portugal is home to Casa Modesta, a splendid reflection of traditional and contemporary Portuguese culture. In the owner’s own words, “a family house opening its doors to tourism in an almost unknown land, facing the sea and in the heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park is the USP of Casa Modesta.”
PAr converted the house into a boutique hotel. For Carlos, the hotel presents a unique way to share stories from his childhood. The original edifice was built in the first half of the twentieth century, by Carlos’ grandfather Joaquim Modesto de Brito, who was an “old sea dog” according to his grandchildren. In a way, Casa Modesta is a repository of treasured childhood memories that have breathed life into the walls and grounds of the property. For Carlos, who named the hotel after his mother, welcoming travellers and tourists to his hotel is a way of keeping his grandfather’s legacy of warmth and hospitality alive.
The two two-storey buildings have four bedrooms on each floor, with private patios and en-suite bathrooms. A ninth bedroom is situated in the back of the second building, and also comes with its own private patio and en-suite bathroom. The terraces of these bedrooms are further divided into three different kinds of rooms – a standard room, more spacious rooms, and two rooms with minimally designed bathtubs. Each of these rooms is connected by a shared kitchenette.
“We translated ancestral legacies to a contemporary language, creating and feeding social and economical dynamics connected to local arts and crafts,” say The Home Project Design Studio, who designed the interiors of the project. Casa Modesta is an experience that is created by a network of partners specialising in nature, culture, adventure, sports, and even gastronomy. The idea was to maintain and preserve the integrity of the original structure, and simultaneously combine “rural tourism with a contemporary feel”.
To this end, materials were procured from local markets, and most vegetables and foods are either grown organically in the on-site vegetable garden, or bought in from the local markets. The guests are offered a variety of choices in local and international cuisines, including the option of home-cooked meals, where guests can be a part of the culinary experience.
“When the body requires rest we surrender ourselves to wellness rituals, taking advantage of the natural properties of local olives, and almonds,” says Carlos, who believes a trip to Casa Modesta is less of a vacation, and more of a journey to get reacquainted with culture.
Perhaps the most beautifully unifying aspect of Casa Modesta is the vistas presented and enjoyed from each of the rooms. With all of them opening to views of the vibrant blue sea, the hotel provides an unparalleled experience of luxury in the lap of nature, and nature in the lap of luxury – something which is a bit of a rarity today. And where else but Algarve will you find this in? Algarve is in Portugal’s southernmost region famous for its breathtaking Mediterranean beaches and sprawling golf resorts. All along the coastal line are spectacular stretches of ocean views dotted with beach bars, water-sport arenas, discotheques, castles – an all-encompassing cacophony of tradition and modernism.
Located in a remote and secluded location, away from the hustle and bustle of every day city life, Casa Modesta, according to Carlos, is the idyllic getaway for families and couples in search of peace and quiet. With the entire vicinity focused more on nature, rather than urban development, travellers and tourists find this to be a drop in the ocean, quite literally. “We may sound biased if we say that from Casa Modesta you witness the best morning in all of Algarve; from here we can watch the migration of birds, the practice of shellfish gathering and the harvesting of salt.”
Perfect for corporate meetings, family holidays, couples retreats, Casa Modesta was “built using the legacy inherited from Algarve’s traditional architecture”, and the surrounding magnificence of Ria Formosa Natural Park Landscape, one of Portugal’s seven wonders, serves to only augment the hotel’s natural serenity. According to Carlos, the best time to visit Casa Modesta is from March to June, and September to November.
“We are waiting for you at Quatrim do Sul, between the city of Olhao and the village of Fuseta, in the Ria Formosa Natural Park.” To be honest, we don’t need a second invitation. We are packing already!
Text By Priyanka Menon
Photographs Joao Carmo Simoes