Portugal Highlights A Different Way To Stay: 17th Century Manor Houses
With Anna Kroupina
L-R: William Delgado, Country Manager, Portuguese National Tourist Office; Count Francisco de Calheiros e Menezes.
L-R: Travel Agent Next Door's Elish Tait, Special Projects Manager; Andrew Hau, Marketing Coordinator; Alannah Murphy, Travel Agent Coordinator; and Caley McCarney, Groups and Lead Generation Coordinator.
L-R: Kensington Tours' Jolene Plant, Director of Product Development (Europe); and Marisa Ship, Product Analyst.
A live band played traditional Portuguese Fado music.
Count Francisco de Calheiros e Menezes' home is a stately 17th century residence, framed by elegant gardens with 13 acres of orchards and vineyards in Ponte de Lima in northern Portugal.
It's an impressive estate that's been in the family for hundreds of years and embodies old-world majesty mixed with vintage elegance.
Travellers to Portugal have a chance to stay in this one of a kind manor house.
The Count’s estate is one of 120 properties part of the Solares de Portugal accommodation network. Calheiros e Menezes, President of TURIHAB – Solares de Portugal, was in Toronto this week to introduce the network of solares – or "manor houses" -- that can be rented out by vacationers all across the country.
The Solares de Portugal are more than just luxury accommodations – they're an experience in and of themselves.
Solares de Portugal was started almost 30 years ago, with Calheiros e Menezes as one of the founding members, and is an organization committed to renovating and preserving historic houses by allowing them to live on as accommodations. The owners will greet you with a warm welcome and during your stay share their knowledge about local places of interest, regional gastronomy, festivals and traditions.
The homes range from stately manor houses and elegant country houses, to farm houses and rustic cottages, each with their own individual character. They date as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries and are still in the ownership of the descendants of the founding family.
"We offer a very special experience to be received by owner and live and feel the Portuguese way of living," said Calheiros e Menezes. "It is ideal for people looking for experiences. This is not an accommodation; it’s much more. This is a product."
All offer luxury bed and breakfast included with the stay, but the hosts can prepare dinner upon request. There are also special experience to be enjoyed depending on the property, like culinary classes, wine tastings or a spa.
These types of unique accommodations are precisely what Portugal is trying to promote right now, says William Delgado, Country Manager with the Portuguese National Tourist Office.
"This is the type of product that Portugal needs to start pushing," Delgado told Open Jaw. "We've done a lot of golf, sun and sand, and everybody knows our great food, people and cities, but I think discovering a part of Portugal that, even for a lot of Portuguese, is unknown is the next step."
Kensington Tours' Jolene Plant, Director of Product Development (Europe), echoes that statement – the idea that many Canadians have visited the popular Lisbon and Porto and it's time to discover the next best thing in Portugal.
"Kensington is expanding in Portugal. We're seeing a lot of demand, especially for that combo trip between Spain and Portugal. A lot of people have done Lisbon and Porto, and they're looking to get off the beaten path in Portugal right now."
According to Delgado, Portugal received more than 325,000 Canadian visitors in 2018, representing a 15% increase over 2017, and close to 800,000 room nights (without including rentals through sharing platforms like Airbnb).
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.