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Travel: PORTUGUESE RESORT EMERGES FROM THE LANDSCAPE LIKE A SET OF CONCRETE SCULPTURES

exterior of Portuguese resort with modern buildings tall trees


Fifteen years ago, hoteliers Sofia and Miguel Charters purchased a plot of land near the Portuguese village of Melides, intending to turn it into a vacation destination. The 200-acre parcel—which includes an idyllic oak grove and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean—is typical of the hilly Alentejo region, where mild winters and sunbaked summers provide the perfect backdrop for an unplugged escape. The couple, who had spent time in Alentejo over the years, wanted to share their love for the area with others through a unique hospitality experience. The result is Pa.te.os, four homes that sit like minimalist sculptures among the tree-studded hills. 



infinity edge pool at Portuguese resort at sunset


Envisioning a design that would respect the region’s history, culture, and landscape, the Charterses turned to close friend and architect Manuel Aires Mateus, who had designed their private residence nearby. During discussions about architectural vernacular, Aires Mateus and the couple gravitated toward a style—inspired by Islamic architecture and common throughout southern Portugal—that would employ a series of courtyards to foster strong indoor/outdoor connections. 


“The design [of such houses] takes advantage of nature,” Aires Mateus says. “The buildings are integrated into the landscape like ruins lost in time.”



sun shining between two modern buildings


The concrete structures that Aires Mateus created have gabled roofs and cutout sections that capture specific views of the property. Matching façades engage the four homes in a dialogue with one another, but the interiors are unique, giving guests an individualized experience. Master carpenters and stucco workers and specialized stonemasons completed the finish work—showcasing solid woods, natural materials, and neutral, earthy tones—which complements Scandinavian and Italian furniture.


“The project started from an understanding of living in this landscape alongside breezes, smells, colors, textures, mountains, and sea,” Aires Mateus says. “The color palette is composed of the natural tones of the earth’s materials, and the light [coming in from outside] fundamentally highlights environments, marking different experiences in spaces.”

The interiors of each house merge with private outdoor patios that accommodate lounging and dining while providing peek-a-boo views of the surrounding landscape. To enjoy the full panorama, guests can gather at a centrally located, wedge-shaped pool that faces the ocean. 



Portuguese resort cottage with open wall to outdoor modern furniture suspended fireplace


“What we sought was to generate intimacy in each of the units,” Aires Mateus says. “This allows people to connect in the [shared] relationship spaces or to isolate themselves in the most intimate spaces.”


For the Charterses, capturing a true sense of place is as important as good design, and it’s achieved by engaging all the senses to create in-the-moment experiences that can be elusive in our fast-paced, ultra-connected world. 


“We want our guests to see, understand, and feel the truth in this project,” they say. “With no hidden tricks, Pa.te.os reflects the authenticity of materials without disregarding comfort and function to offer a genuine sensory experience.”



poolside lounge chairs at Portuguese resort in front of modern concrete building


Photographed by Francisco Nogueira

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