The New York Times ran a fascinating article on the developing tourism hub at Marvão – a walled town in the eastern portion of Alto Alentejo in Portugal. The article’s subject – a boutique hotel owner named Doug Smith – was looking to expand from his roots as a Palm Springs, CA hotelier in 2002 and was actively looking for new properties while traveling throughout Spain. He crossed the border into Portugal and found Alto Alentejo — the perfect setting for boutique expansion. Featuring an amazing, elevated landscape (from the town’s former usage as a Moorish fortress), top-notch cuisine and what the Times describes as a “lost-in-time lifestyle” and “relatively inexpensive cost of living,” Alto Alentejo became the home of Smith’s new venture.
“After four days of inspecting broken-down barns and farmhouses, he bought a 130-acre 18th-century farm outside the village of Campo Maior,” explains the Times. ‘Compared with Spain, this place was even more charming, beautiful and about a third less expensive,’ Mr. Smith said. ‘Old guys in snap caps and corduroys tip their hats to strangers.’
In the past seven years, Mr. Smith, who no longer owns Korakia Pensione, has watched the Alto Alentejo, a border province carpeted with cork oaks and olive trees in southeastern Portugal, emerge as a stylish backwater. The region’s name is derived from “Além-Tejo,” which means “beyond the Tagus,” the river that flows past Lisbon. A new blacktop highway now stretches eastward from Lisbon, and within an hour you’re admiring vineyards, the occasional whitewashed town or castle and gently rolling plains.”
Head over to the New York Times for the full article. As you’ve likely noticed, ILC is now offering the Pousadas throughout Portugal. We encourage you to head to our website or give us a call to check out the options.
Photo credit: Rosino
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