Small things count...
We care about our commitment to the future and believe that the little things we can do together can cumulatively make a difference.
Our Palacio was constructed in 1877 – built to last, and built to be efficient for those times. A smart building, 19th Century style! Warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
- The building has thick, stone walls and locally sourced solid stone marble and wooden floors made from Portuguese pine. We refused point blank to demolish the old stone walls or any of the unique original features that adorn our Palácio.
- Original wood shutters feature on all our original windows.
- These features, which we have lovingly restored, mean that the building is still incredibly energy efficient. Although we have installed 21st century infrastructure, including Air Conditioning, we hope to keep its operation to a minimum. With careful guests, on many days of the year we think that this modern infrastructure should not be needed. In winter, the under-floor heating for our bathrooms, powered also by solar heating, can be enough to keep the building snug. In summer the thick walls and stone and wood floors (supplemented by ceiling fans in the bedrooms on the top floor and in the reception hall) keep things cool.
- When the modern infrastructure is needed, we have state of the art Air Conditioning technology with a heat recovery system so that in spring and autumn, one room requiring cooling down if in the sunlight can provide the heat to warm another room in the shade. For guests with terrace or garden rooms, when the doors to the terrace/garden are opened the heating or Air Conditioning cuts out automatically to avoid heating or cooling the “Great Outside”.
- All our windows, whether old or new can be opened to allow the air, fresh off the Atlantic sea, to circulate freely – as Florence Nightingale discovered in the 19th century, opening the windows is the best way to maintain a healthy environment!
- The wooden shutters can keep the warmth in at night and provide shelter from the sunlight during the hotter weather.
Sustainable building materials
- We have kept the original stone marble floors on the garden ground floor and found replica local Portuguese “Lioz Rosa” pink stone to complete the guest area. We have entirely re-laid the wood floor on all the other floors with Portuguese pine.
- We have rescued excess marble off-cuts destined for the rubbish skip and used these to fully tile our magnificent outdoor poolside shower and to form our garden pathways.
- We have kept all the original wood doors.
- We have used spare original wood doors to create double doors for enhanced acoustic insulation for all our bedrooms on the first and second floors.
- We have preserved and restored all the original ornate ceiling moldings.
- Our bedroom furniture is hand-made by Portuguese craftsmen from fine oak.
- Our carpets, curtains, bed-linen and towels are all made of 100% natural fibres.
- Where possible, we have retained the original wooden windows and fully restored the original brass handles and fittings for the windows.
- To improve acoustic insulation and promote heat retention, where we have retained original windows on the Rua de Sao Marçal street side, we have installed a second set of new additional wooden windows with state-of -the-art double glazing. The cumulative effect means that our building is surprisingly well insulated and energy efficient.
- The rooms on the top floor of our building are equipped with traditional ceiling fans, which should further limit the need to fire up the Air Conditioning.
- Our Duck bar has a gas-fired burning-wood effect, which keeps much of the garden floor warm in the cooler winter weather.
All of our lighting uses modern LED bulbs.
...green on the outside, green on the inside!
- We have 1400 m2 of green oasis in the middle of the city with around 500 pesticide-free trees, plants and shrubs breathing oxygen back into the city air.
- Many of our garden features recycle the scrap metal retrieved from the building – garden lighting is made from old water pipes, the barbecue from an old compression tank and many other recovered pieces feature highly in our garden furniture.
- Our pool house roof has been entirely covered reusing old surplus tiles from the main building roof.
- Solar panels heat our beautiful infinity pool.
- We have a car charging power point for electric vehicles.
- Green, real grass grids form the surface for our small car parking area – it looks like part of the garden and absorbs the rainwater!
- We have our own herb garden.
- We compost our organic waste.
- We use our flowers cut from the garden for room and table decoration.
- We do not believe in outdoor heaters to heat the “Great Outside”. Guests can enjoy our protected garden all year round and, if warmth is needed, we will provide blankets to our guests who want to sit outside in the short winter months. On cold evenings we will fire up the fire-pits made with scrap metal retrieved from the building.
Laundry and water consumption
- We have our own laundry room with state of the art “smart” machines using minimum amounts of power and hot water (the hot water can be provided by our solar panels).
- We use garden plants well adapted to the climate to keep watering to a minimum. As noted, our extensive grass garden and parking area absorb the rainwater.
- Our terrace area uses the typical un-cemented Portuguese cobbles used for pavements (Calçada Portuguesa) which has the advantage that it is again largely permeable.
- We considered very closely the installation of underground tanks to store rainwater for the garden, but concluded from the engineering projects that this would provide insufficient water at the times of year when most needed. Instead we have installed separate drainage pipes in the hotel to separate out the bath and shower water from the dirtier “brown” water to enable us in the future to recycle the former for garden irrigation.
Our kitchen and bar
- We passionately believe in sustainable, healthy food options.
- We give you what you want. To avoid the unnecessary waste associated with buffet breakfasts, all our guests receive, free of additional charge, an “a-la-carte” healthy breakfast menu.
- Where possible we use organic produce and grass-fed beef.
- Where possible we source locally produced, seasonal fruit and vegetables. The Portuguese climate is great for almost all classes of fruit and vegetables (including locally produced avocadoes almost all the year round!).
- We are owner-producers of first-class extra virgin organic olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is ever present in our kitchen.
- Many of the wines we stock are produced by sustainable means and where possible by friends. We can arrange a visit to one of the wineries we prefer.
A word about Plastics
- We hate plastic, whether single use or not.
- We are striving to do what we can to eliminate plastic from our building.
- We avoid plastic bottles and packaging where we can.
- We provide guests complimentary filtered still and sparkling water in reusable glass bottles.
- Our amenities are in recyclable bottles that we take for recycling.
- Our coffee capsules in the rooms are made of recyclable materials (and the coffee grinds from the bar and restaurant end up as organic feed for our plants!).
Off-setting our carbon footprint
- As can be seen, wherever possible we have made the building and operations as efficient and as respectful for the environment as possible. In addition, to further off-set our carbon footprint, our Owners have invested and continue to invest in the sustainable farming of olives to produce ecological extra virgin olive oil.
- This has involved the purchase and nurturing (as certified “green producers” in the Iberian peninsula) of over 30 hectares/75 acres of un-watered traditionally farmed chemical free olive trees.
- Many of the trees are hundreds of years old, supplemented with the annual planting of new trees.
- To assist biodiversity, the Owners are experimenting with leaving some of the olive groves un-ploughed to promote a more conducive environment for fauna and flora.
- The Owners are in discussions with an apiarist to allow the location of bee-hives in the olive groves in exchange for honey for the hotel.
A final word about Air Conditioning - we aren't a fan, but recognise it is essential in an establishment such as ours. That said, for the reasons stated above, we believe its use can be kept to a minimum in our building. Let us not forget that whilst Air Conditioning keeps things cool on the inside, this involves pumping the extracted heat into the “Great Outside” and is an often-forgotten major contributor to global warming. Cooling solutions are projected to contribute over 10% of global emissions in coming years - more than the air travel and shipping sectors combined!! Our building is naturally cool in summer and warm in winter, and we would ask our guests to use the Air Conditioning sparingly and sensibly.
This is an ongoing mission and we are taking on the challenges to do what we can. We welcome suggestions from our guests on where we can do more. Every little bit helps.