Our story

In keeping Horta Vermelha going, we have had the help, support and professional guidance from different people, in differing roles, with diverse lives, work experiences and stories.

Since 2008, with our official opening to the public in 2011, we have all converged in the same – helping to create a unique and personalised environment, making the most of the cottages and of their spirit and context in this wonderful region.

Years go past and we are truly thankful towards more than the 1000 guests that have been with us, from all over the world. We take great joy in seeing their happiness and recognition in our simplicity, authenticity and down-to-earth ways.

Along these years we have evolved to creating pathways for walkers, inside the property.
We have changed our walnut production and commerce, to fully natural production, selling walnut kernel to exquisite demanding customers.
We have eliminated the use of chemicals in our farmland.
We planted more than 700 oak trees (cork oaks, holm oaks and portuguese oaks), with a success rate of about 90%.
We have our happy neighbour’s  happy sheep helping us in weed control, giving birth to many lambs, fertilising the soil and freeing us from a lot of work.

It all helps us grow, along with everything in Horta Vermelha.

Idea & management

Sónia Melo

I am dedicated to providing guests and visitors at Horta Vermelha with a holistic experience of the best and most fascinating features the Alentejo has to offer.

My work and commitment to Horta Vermelha is paired with my activities in policy and research in international development, as an International Development Consultant.

João M. Gil

In Horta Vermelha, I hope guests will link to the world, from local to global scale, from the roots in the soil and their feet in the earth to far beyond.

I transversely apply these ideas in my work also as an Telecommunications Electronics Engineer and Professional Photographer, for Landscapes, Peoples & Cultures, as I do in my engagement with Horta Vermelha.

We have always enjoyed our travels, around the world – from the planning, reading and preparations to the actual physical journey. In our work or holiday experiences around several countries in Europe, Africa, America and Asia, we both share a sense of travelling responsibly. For us, the real travel is the engagement and communication with the local cultures and peoples, making use of the time to savour positive emotions. It is with such experience and vision that we’ve created Horta Vermelha. We hope that you enjoy it!

Friends & supporters

Cláudia Branco

as Welcoming Guide

Cláudia helps us in welcoming and meeting all guests, ensuring that all runs well and that guests feel the Cottages as if of their own. She works with local children, in social projects. She has responded with a smiling face and a spark in her eyes, giving Horta Vermelha’s a bit of her spare time.

António Costa

as Designer

With his exceptional free and creative spirit, António has helped in the definition of our Brand and all image-concerned issues. We believe in his genius from the start, and know that his joy is important to us. And he still manages to surprise. He fits in Horta Vermelha’s project, for sustainability and link to all things.

Vanessa Tavares

as Architect

Vanessa has put her knowledge, hard and rigorous work in for the Licensing issues concerning the Horta Vermelha’s Cottages. From dealing with law matters, materials, drawings, to paper work. She deals with work with devotion and, somehow, keeps a joyful mind on things.

Gonçalo Rosa

as Architect

Gonçalo now knows all corners, walls and construction details of the Cottages. He has seen every measurable dimension and put into detailed drawing for Vanessa to do the rest. He has let us discover the true volume of many until then unmeasured-incredibly thick old walls that make up the Cottages.

Inga Scharf

as Specialist on Elder Flower and Berries

Inga has shown us that picking Elder flowers and berries ends up in wonderful juice, jelly and syrup, and smiles on our faces. It is definitely worth paying a visit to our many elder, around Horta Vermelha, and follow her recipes to savour the good taste of sun-battered wild flowers and ripened sugary berries.


as Herbs Specialist

Cibele has given us a bit of her physical and emotional energies in making our raised herb beds. She brought this idea up and made it happen, bringing her own plants. And, most incredible, she stumbled upon a tiny sleeping tortoise. Here is the proof – smile and all! End of story, as far as we know it: the little thing is back in its hole.

Bruno Arteiro

as Lawyer

Bruno has helped us in the creation and negotiation of the lease of Horta Vermelha’s Cottages and land, for Tourism purposes. He envisaged all kinds of situations with keen knowledge of things and sensibility, ending up with a document that has enabled us to legalise all things rightly.

Others are working with us, all local, for the Cottages, in

Bedding & linen

Housekeeping & cleaning


Several jobs in the fields

Electrical appliances

Building works


Small kitchen-garden

Thanks to all! We just couldn’t do without you.

These are some of the several people who are helping or have helped us in putting Horta Vermelha running. These are our Friends & supporters. For their personal commitment they are entitled to particularly favourable conditions as guests themselves. Others are local people or local small companies. Of several ages, life experiences and expertise, they all have had a role.

Spirit of the place

You will immediately feel Horta Vermelha’s energy, character and personalised detail. From salvaging used or old furniture, maintaining the whitewash and original pigments, to keeping the Mediterranean weeds instead of planting an artificial high-maintenance lawn, dedicated effort and care were put by both Sónia and João.
The result is a genuine diversity of colours, textures, organic and authentic features in a set of two cosy and welcoming cottages, connected to everything beyond.

The surrounding space offers inviting spots under great cork and fig trees, the Japanese medlar, amidst the century-old olive grove, or by the old natural spring under the oldest walnut tree.
You may walk up the meadow, scent the wild garlic, the spontaneous lavender flowers, and a multitude of other herbs, while spotting the sheep and cows in the vicinity. You may be lucky and see some wild animal companions up there.

Recovering & reusing

We show you some photos of these particular parts in the cottages and also a bit of the work in preparing them, way back before 2011. We know that, most often, these past moments of hard work and dirt are not shown. But these were also part of the new history of the place. There were very good moments, but also hard ones, with many surprises on the way.

Since always, our philosophy has been to reuse, refurbish and recover things from the cottages themselves and from other places, such as many doors, chairs or tables. Many wooden materials have been given a paint cover, with varnish or wax, to make things fully integrated in the organic and personalised feel of the place. We also made several things ourselves, such as the low consumption lamps in the kitchens, living-rooms and rooms. This has meant taking time and effort to make things as they are now, producing minimum waste and maximum comfort for our guests.

Along this spirit, inside the houses we have kept the traditional whitewash, for its good properties in keeping the old adobe walls. For the indigo blue or oxide red colours, we’ve used the pigments that have been used in the region for ages, mixed with the whitewash. The ceilings are also either of wooden beams and timber boards, or made of the original terracotta bricks. Also for the floors, we have kept the old materials and stone as possible. All of this adds up to colour, charm and atmosphere, in harmony with an organic feel. Unobtrusive and well integrated modern details have been added for thermal efficiency and comfort.

Most of the feel is of uniqueness, history and personality. And now you may also be part of the new history of these old cottages.


Sustainability can and should also be understood in the social and cultural senses. Together with the use of land and humans linking to Nature.

There are tangible and intangible assets in every place, some of which need attention and are worth contacting with.

If you understand the ultimate aim of sustainability, as being that of cherishing life and general balance, then you will understand our role and the way we work at Horta Vermelha.


Photography Workshops
Photography Workshops