This post is by Anglo-Italian journalist Lorenza Bacino. In May Lorenza went on a yoga retreat at Casa Vale da Lama in the hills near Odiaxere on the Algarve in Portugal. It sounds like a very relaxing and enjoyable trip.
‘Once a year I try and take a week to do yoga somewhere nice with my yoga teacher, Cathy Underwood of Yoga4mums, leaving my kids at home with their dad.
Casa Vale da Lama eco resort
It was the hammocks that sold it to me really. Outside each room on this 43-hectare ecological estate hangs a hammock. A personal space to lie and enjoy the gentle sounds of nature whilst reading a book. Or not reading a book – just relaxing. The estate is marketed as a ‘sustainable oasis of good living’. And that is exactly how my stay there felt when 15 of us took over the resort for a week of yoga and relaxation with Cathy.
It worked like this. We rose early and enjoyed a one-and-a-half hour yoga session with Cathy before breakfast. A great way to start the day. Breakfast and dinner were prepared by Bruno and Gabriella using fresh organic fruit, vegetables and herbs from the garden. The Vale da Lama bio-kitchen is exclusively vegetarian and vegan and the talented chefs transform all the locally sourced produce into the most delicious and nourishing Mediterranean food, all seasonal and all as organic as possible. Every day the food was different but consistently delicious. The food was artfully presented too, so a great pleasure to behold. Bruno took time to explain the huge variety of dishes he’d prepared for us each evening so we knew exactly what we were eating. I must say, the food was excellent and cooked with flare, talent and creativity.
Whatever Case Vale da Lama cannot grow themselves is bought from local farmers and producers following their ethic of not harming the environment or the area’s biodiversity. Any leftovers from the farm produce is given away to the local community – there’s a nice veranda outside the kitchen area where people, usually a bit hippyish and alternative, gather to talk and share and eat the food. It’s become quite a meeting place for discerning travellers and foodies.
There are nine bright and airy rooms – almost mini-apartments actually – as each room can sleep up to five people on two levels, which are linked by a wooden staircase. You have your own bathroom, each room has a hammock outside, and the rear doors open onto the glorious gardens and pool. You’re within walking distance of the beach in nearby Lagos (this takes about 40 minutes and is great for a morning constitutional).
Each room is named after a local tree, and décor is minimalist with clean lines and upcycled wooden furniture. The eco resort is a long narrow building, so rooms are side-by-side along one long corridor. The corridor leads to the kitchen/living area to the left of the rooms, and a beautiful roomy and bright yoga studio to the right.
There are no TVs or WiFi in the rooms as you’re here to reboot and regenerate, but there is WiFi in the communal kitchen and living area if you really can’t do without, as well as on the mezzanine level in the communal kitchen area, which is decked out with comfy cushions and has a library.
I slept well at Casa Vale da Lama, and found that the room was never too hot or too cold. There are blinds and slats to keep the sun out and the temperature is regulated naturally, by the environment and the breeze from the sea.
The whole resort is constructed in such a way as to allow communal living as well as respecting the need for quiet and privacy.
I spent my days here either exploring nearby Lagos and the beach, or just chilling by the pool with a book, or joining in with the growers on the farm planting, weeding and helping with any other jobs that needed doing. Guided tours of the farm are available upon request.
In the evenings, we’d enjoy a healing yoga session with Cathy, before heading off for another delicious meal prepared by the lovely chefs. After dinner, we’d move to the fire pit, to share stories and generally get to know each other on a deeper level to encourage healing and regeneration.
Many yoga instructors return year-after-year to host their groups at Casa Vale da Lama and I have a feeling our group may be one of those. It is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature, to heal, reboot and regenerate. The nearby ocean adds to the beauty of the place and I will return for sure. Families can also book to stay here during the summer months (without doing yoga) and I would highly recommend this as there is plenty to do in the area.
Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair all have direct flights from the UK to Faro airport from where you’ll need to get a taxi or minibus to the resort, which is about a 30-40 minute drive away.’
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Disclosure: Lorenza paid for this trip in full. All words, images and opinions are hers. This post contains some affiliate links, which means that if you click through and book I would receive a small commission.