It all started when we read an article in the Guardian about a little village on the Algarve that had been brought back to life.
The pictures looked so inviting we had to go and find it for ourselves – and we were instantly smitten.
The story is a remarkable one – a high flying executive from Lisbon who falls in love with a run-down and dilapidated village – and promptly sells up everything he owns –takes early retirement – buys virtually the entire village – and moves to live there with his family. That was in 2006 – and you should see it now!
The before and after pictures in the reception area tell the story so well – there are still some ruined properties in the village waiting to be developed, which give you a sense of the scale of the project António Ferreira undertook when he decided to renovate and restore this beautiful little village.
Pedralva was once a thriving little traditional Portuguese village, but by 2006 there were only 9 inhabitants left in the village – and now there are 27 fully restored houses which you can stay in. The transformation is remarkable and the houses nestle alongside a handful of privately owned houses – and also sit comfortably beside the locals who still live there – and the local farms that surround the village. The owners have purchased four more of the ruins and have plans to renovate these too in the future.
You will find Pedralva nestled in the Algarvian countryside, near the stunning west coast beaches. Find Vila do Bispo on the map and then follow the signs through some beautiful open landscape, with pine trees, farms and green fields. Somehow the air seems to feel fresher, the sky just a little brighter and the view just a little more beautiful as you approach the village, which nestles into the surrounding fields so perfectly:
We were invited to spend a weekend at the village, staying in one of the renovated houses, and experiencing the ‘real’ Pedralva – it was a most generous offer by the owner and we were delighted to accept.
We will review Pedralva over three posts – the first one here is about the village itself and its history – then we will cover the wonderful food we ate on site at the two restaurants you can choose from – and then we will travel a little further afield for you and share with you some of the wonderful local landscape, villages and beaches that you can enjoy from this base.
The blog posts and reviews we have here are our own views and thoughts however – we do not accept advertising on our blog and our reviews are all genuine and independent of any influence.
We set off having also invited fellow bloggers Ben and Lou from the Moving to Portugal blog to join us on our weekend; and I am sure they will also be blogging about their time at Pedralva too.
We arrived and found the car parking which is at the edge of the village – we parked up next to an old bright red VW camper van and instantly realised that this would be a different holiday – with a slower, gentler pace and a relaxed venue – and then a smile spread easily across our faces – it felt like ‘home’ instantly!
We were warmly greeted at reception and given the keys to our little house for the weekend –named ‘Barranco’ and off we went to excitedly explore our charming little place.
The houses have all been beautifully restored in a traditional and sympathetic way, with mis-matched furniture which just seems ‘right’ in such a property:
The bathroom was fab, with a big walk-in cave for a shower (!) – but the first surprise was the modern steaming hot water that came out from the taps – and the big fluffy towels. Luxury!
Our bedroom was tucked up in the eaves and was enormous! Lovely crisp bedding and more quaint furniture and furnishings – I can’t remember the last time I saw a proper old Singer sewing machine!
The kitchen area was very well equipped with a little oven, electric hob, microwave and plenty of utensils, cutlery and crockery. We even had an Espresso machine! Tea towel and cloths were provided (bring some washing up liquid with you!) – but no kettle!! (we got round that one by microwaving our mugs of water for our tea – how British of us!!)
The one big difference here – no TV! No Internet! And very little mobile phone reception (There’s free wi-fi in the reception area if you are desperate!) and after about five minutes we relaxed on the comfy sofa, and just sat and talked – and it was lovely!
We then went off to explore the little village – which is charming! Little cobbled paths lead to the houses, which are all painted white with different coloured doors and windows – they range from one bedroom little cottages, to big three bedroom houses with their own outside covered eating areas.
There’s a BBQ area and pizza/bread oven with shared seating, and the most stunning views of the local countryside. A local farm, with sheep grazing in the field, vegetable plots and flowers abound – and a peace and quiet rarely found – even on the Algarve.
The aim of the resort is simple – to give guests an authentic experience of ‘living in the past’, of living in a ‘real’ village; with space, and peace. Perfect for families and children to take time away together, and for people tired from the frantic pace of modern life – a space to step aside, refresh and revive, and recharge your batteries.
Or perhaps not! If it all seems too quiet for you – then check out their website, or talk to reception – and book a trek – hire a bike – go for a nature walk – go horse-riding – or book a surfing lesson on a nearby beach – because Pedralva also prides itself on being a ‘Tourism Village’ – and has excellent links with many local companies and activities.
Or just grab a coffee from the restaurant and sit out in the sunshine or the reception area and relax! If you’re lucky, the owners Newfoundland dog will amble over for some fuss – ‘Urso’ (the Bear!) is aptly named! There’s also a games room with a pool table, and imminent plans to add an outdoor pool and relaxing area too.
On our last morning we were lucky enough to be able to meet António Ferreira and spend time talking to him about the remarkable transformation that he has made to this special village, and the concept that is Pedralva. He is a warm, engaging, gentle and articulate man, who is passionate about this project – and he has big plans for the future too!
His vision was simple – to combine the past and the future by weaving together the culture, community and history of this beautiful village and to provide a genuine and authentic holiday experience of village life.
Bringing this village back to life has also regenerated the local area and local businesses – the local pizza restaurant was already on site – and now it is thriving. A local artist runs regular ‘art and craft’ artisan fairs along the streets of the village – the next one is June 9th – and many other local tour and experience providers, and local restaurants also benefit.
We found all of the staff at the resort to have mastered the art of being ‘present’ and helpful without being conspicuous – if you need anything, someone is there to help you and give you advice. It is indeed a gentle place to stay, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Pedralva.
With more houses still to develop António is a busy man! He is about to embark on changing the reception area and offering more experiences for their guests – including an intriguing idea of linking with Garmin so that you can download a walking, cycling or hiking route of your choice to enjoy around the local area – complete with the option of hiring binoculars and bikes!
The resort also has a communal space suitable for up to 40 people – in the old primary school building – which would be perfect for a group to come and stay – and retreat – or paint – or write. The views are breathtaking and the options are endless.
As we left him, António was off to start overseeing the building of an outdoor pool area, and in true Pedralva ‘rest or active’ style it will be complete with a relaxation area – and scuba diving equipment so that a local club will be able to teach the basics to beginners before they venture out into the sea!
We left feeling relaxed, de-stressed and content. The sky was blue, the flowers were in full bloom, the sun shining – and Pedralva left us feeling that all was indeed well with the world.
You can also enjoy Dave’s photographic journey around Pedralva on his photo journal blog – click here to be transported back for more wonderful images of this beautiful place:
You can also find out more about Pedralva via their website, which will give you more information, pictures, pricing and booking information – click the logo below:
Look out for Part 2 next week – when we will be reviewing the wonderful food we enjoyed whilst at Pedralva – so do come back soon!