By Lynne Booker
An idyllic setting surrounded by rolling green hills, cork oaks and olive trees and only a 10-minute drive to the Algarve’s most attractive city – Tavira. Herdade da Corte is a Turismo Rural country house in Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo and has a pool, tennis court, 12 beautiful bedrooms, bar, restaurant and a wonderful malhada covered by a huge wooden canopy. Ideal for eating outside on those chillier evenings or for providing great acoustics for music.
My first thought when in 2012 I saw that the Herdade had re-opened was that, since the previous two managers over the last 10 years could not make of it a successful business when the economy was buoyant, how could anyone hope to run Herdade da Corte as a successful business during an economic downturn?
They have already held birthday parties there and organised a breakfast for the Algarve Senior Bikers. Small groups can make advance bookings for Portuguese-style food or food from any cuisine in the world or simply for afternoon tea with sandwiches and cake.
Previous to taking over Herdade da Corte, João had been in Mozambique for six months to study the tourism industry. His first degree is in International Relations and his Masters degrees are related to the tourist industry.
It was when Francisco and João began to talk about their real objectives that I understood how their business would succeed. They were working along the lines of sustainable tourism by using such techniques as voluntourism and environmental packages. They mean, for example, guests who would get involved in local community projects, who would learn to cook Portuguese foods, who would join walking and cycling circuits.
These projects would be in addition to their hotel, food and cultural trade. They plan to develop the location for art exhibitions and other cultural events as well as jazz and other concerts.
I had been amazed at the number of people they had attracted to their events particularly since there had been no advertisement in the press.
Of course they use their own mailing list together with a wide number of contacts who in turn have their own mailing lists. Most of their publicity is therefore done by email, but they also distribute a small number of posters to key locations.
The two concerts we attended were very well supported and it was just as well that we arrived early.
They celebrate their first anniversary at the beginning of April. There appears to be much to celebrate, and I raise my glass to them, and wish them success.
Lynne Booker, along with her husband Peter, founded the Algarve History Association.