Vale do Gaio is a rural hotel with modern rooms, remote yet only a 1h20m drive from Lisbon. This is the sort of place where you come to relax although there are plenty of activities at hand, be it fishing, kayaking, bird watching or simply enjoying the swimming pool or playing board games.
Watching the sun slowly setting above the dam is an unforgettable experience.
You’ll be surrounded by the beauty of nature and immersed in its timeless silence.
Excellent food and wine menu.
Lots of beds to lay down on and watch some amazing birds fly by.
Bikes and Kayaks to explore the surroundings are provided free of charge.
Cosy living room, with loads of books, newspapers and games.
Bear in Mind
It can feel a bit busy during the school holidays.
This is a rural hotel so expect a relaxed attitude and service. The luxury here is to be surrounded by beautiful nature.
Wifi can be a bit slow sometimes but you’re here to switch off.
The bathrooms feel a bit outdated but redevelopment is on the cards.
The nearest restaurant is a 20-minute drive but the hotel has a great menu.
“Firstly, I wanted to have a place where people come to eat but then sleep.”
I discovered Vale do Gaio around twenty years ago as a guest and at the time I was fascinated by its beauty, the location and the potential of the space – even though I thought it was very poorly executed. The original hotel was way too closed with lots of curtains and the outside areas weren’t being used to their full potential. The best thing here is the outdoors, the view… and they didn’t take advantage of that. At the time I realised a lot of work had to be done but I was in love with the place. About twelve years later someone told me that the hotel was for sale and I ended up making an offer with a project proposal, and I got it.
At the end of December 2008, I got the news that my offer had been accepted and on the 1st of January 2009 it was mine. With the little budget I had left I did a bit of work in the communal areas, refurbished the 1st room and opened again in mid-February. We needed to start generating returns so that we could afford to slowly keep investing back. We didn’t refurbish everything at once, but incrementally.
I didn’t have any experience working with hotels but I’d been running my XL restaurant in Lisbon for fifteen years. I’d always dreamt of having a hotel. All my life I kept watching how it was done. Some hoteliers might have studied to become hoteliers but if your heart is not in it, it won’t work out. The life experience itself is the most valuable lesson of all. I know I’ve made mistakes and if I could go back I probably would have done a few things a little differently. I also didn’t have any experience when I opened the XL restaurant and yet there aren’t many twenty-one-year-old restaurants left in Lisbon.
I’m usually in Lisbon from Monday to Wednesday and in Alentejo from Thursday to Saturday. Sunday is my day off so I’m usually in Vale do Gaio.
At Vale do Gaio we not only have a big love for gastronomy but we also need to bear in mind that there’s nothing nearby. We’re quite remote which is great but I don’t want guests to have to drive lots of kilometres to go and eat. Hotels are usually places to sleep but you can also eat there. I wanted to have a place where people come to eat but where they can also sleep. For me, the cuisine side of things plays a very important role and the restaurant at Vale do Gaio has received a lot of recognition so it’s been worth it.
We try to create a homely atmosphere where people feel relaxed. The rooms are spacious. Four of them have a beautiful view and the beds are marvellous.
I adore Alentejo and its people. The nearest town to Vale do Gaio is Torrão and the hardest part of all of this has been to persuade the locals to work. I never imagined or knew that it was possible for so many people to have no desire whatsoever to work. They’re just too laid back… I love them. However, that means that I end up having to find staff from outside this region which is ridiculous.
Both the location and the beauty of the surroundings are unbelievable. I think it’s a nice concept, very laid back and people feel they can kick back and relax. The food is amazing and the staff are always very friendly. The service always gets a lot of praise.
The Amanpulo in the Philippines, it’s a paradise.
I haven’t been on a holiday since I acquired Vale do Gaio eight years ago. Since then there’s only been one weekend that I wasn’t here, and that was because it was one of my best friends’ birthday and he said he’d never talk to me again if I missed it. I love being at Vale do Gaio.
Thank you too!
More relaxing activities include astronomy, bird watching, enjoying the swimming pool, reading a book and having a good sleep.
If you want a bit of cultural action go to Évora (58km), a UNESCO listed city, wander through its whitewashed alleys and visit the Roman ruins. Whilst there we highly recommend visiting ‘Restaurante Fialho‘ – serving gorgeous traditional and regional dishes, currently overseen by the third generation of the family.
Watch the video above which we did with Condé Nast Traveller. In it we talk about Foz do Douro - the seaside neighbourhood in Porto where we grew up. check out the Full article on their website.
Vale do Gaio is a rural boutique hotel in Alentejo.
Lisbon (LIS) – 116km
Faro (FAO) – 198km
Porto (OPO) – 404km
It’s a 1h30 drive from Lisbon to Vale do Gaio. Hiring a car is recommended if you want to explore the region. Otherwise, the hotel can arrange a transfer from the airport.
© Photos by JO&SO and courtesy of Vale do Gaio.
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