Meet the owners: Farmhouse of the Palms
Sometimes a place comes along that is just so beautiful, so relaxed and chilled out, so welcomingly hosted that you’d happily move in forever. Farmhouse of the Palms on The Algarve is one of those places. Described by guests with terms like “an oasis of calm and beauty”, “they make it all appear so effortless. If it were, the experience would not be so rare” you know this is something special. This time we meet Frank and Veronique and discover what it is that makes Farmhouse of the Palms so unique.
How did you end up on The Algarve?
We moved to Portugal seven years ago, from Antwerp, Belgium. We had played with the idea of changing our lives and opening a B&B for a very long time. Having toured Spain, the Greek Islands and the South of France extensively we never seemed to find the perfect location that ticked all the boxes. So we continued our dull life in Belgium.
But then one day we discovered Portugal. Although we knew Lisbon, we knew very little about the rest of Portugal. In the Eastern Algarve we found the sunshine that was so missing in our lives, as well abundant green nature, friendly people and “authentic” countryside. We were both working in the financial sector and the financial crisis in 2010 was like the perfect catalyst for making (finally) the jump. As so here we are, having swapped banking for full time hoteliers.
What happened next?
We bought this grand farmhouse in 2013. We were looking for an exceptional property, with history, space and views and we visited about 150 houses before finally finding the right one and we opened in 2015 after an extensive renovation. Often the best lodgings come with a certain sense of formality or pretence, but we wanted to create a beautiful place but one which was unpretentious and welcoming.
We are now full time hosts and to be honest, it is much harder work than expected (before we opened, we had wild dreams of lying on the beach every afternoon:-). Those dreams have long imploded … but we also found out that we like what we do!
We like to take care of our guests and our guests in turn appreciate what we do, so it gives us the energy to keep going the extra mile. Hospitality is 50% passion and 60% hard work. In winter we close and then we have abundant quality time for each other and for our son. We have mild winters in Algarve so it is a nice place to be.
What is there to explore nearby?
Although the Algarve is sometimes considered to be touristy, that does not apply to Eastern Algarve. It is actually an ideal destination for varied holidays and we attract guests with varied interests. We are close to the most beautiful beaches in the world, but at the same time, there are so many things to do apart from lying on a beach!
In our neighborhood we have one of the best olive oil producers in the world, a cork factory, an artisan pottery, a biological culinary herb producer, all of which organize visits. If you prefer tranquility and nature, just head north from here instead of south and you will find yourself surrounded by unspoiled nature and little villages where time stood still.
Do you have favourite places to eat?
Our location in the middle between touristy and not touristy Algarve means we (and our guests) get to taste of both worlds, from the trendy restaurants to the more traditional family owned restaurants. We have two favourite ones: Sabores do Campo and Lagar da Mesquita both located in São Brás de Alportel. The former is Portuguese with a menu that includes the best from both the ocean and the “campo” (countryside). The latter is more international inspired in a beautifully restored old olive press.
If there was one unmissable experience for your guests what would it be?
Most of our guests come for the tranquility and the location in the midst of green nature. Although they all are keen to savor once in a while the hustle and the bustle of the coast, all are happy to return to the quiet and peace of the Farmhouse in the afternoon.
What’s the best thing about running your business?
Without any doubt, it is the contact with guests. We get to meet people while they are on holidays, while they are in a great mood. Human mood is contagious and their happiness is infectious. It becomes like a circular movement that reinforces itself each time. It is not uncommon that we remain in contact with our guests after their stay, such is the bond that is sometimes created.
Main photo credit: Youri Claessens