Portugal cultural vacation

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Portugal cultural vacation

Environment

We have installed solar energy panels to provide hot water and electricity for our site. We run a mini-recycling point for plastic, glass, waste paper/card, bottle tops and tin cans and use our waste water for watering the trees and plants. Our olives are grown organically on site and harvested in the traditional method after which they are pressed at the local co-operative. We decant the oil into recycled bottles from our Bar and this is then offered for sale in our Reception. We make jams and marmalades from the fruits growing on site for use with our breakfasts and for sale to visitors. Visitors are also at liberty to sample the produce of our gardens. Our honey is collected from local hives and repackaged in recycled glass jars. We compost our animal, garden and suitable food waste and sell to local residents as garden compost. We encourage our visitors to use public transport, share cars or taxis and use bicycles when possible. We operate a No Smoking policy in our accommodation and Bar. Many varieties of birds and other wildlife thrive in the sub-tropical atmosphere of the gardens we have created.

Community

We employ local staff and in addition support a tourism trainee scheme run by the Portuguese government by employing a trainee. Our professional services are supplied by Portuguese. We are members of the local village Association and support local charities and fairs by donating products or vouchers for use at our premises. We take part in our local village events and encourage clients to join us at these. Our suppliers are all local businesses and we buy Portuguese products wherever possible. The wines we use are all from local vineyards and we have two displays of locally produced wines for visitors to buy. To offer a marketing outlet for local villagers we sell their "country products" ie, wine, honey, jams, eggs in our reception area. We have organised discounts for our clients at local Restaurants both to support the restaurants and to offer our clients good service We have an annual Christmas lunch to thank all our workers and supporters.

Reviews of Portugal cultural vacation

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 12 Jul 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


I chose this vacation as I wanted to stay in the countryside in a quiet area of Portugal and to have a mixture of activities- walks, swimming and canoeing combined with the historical and cultural interest of Tomar and the surrounding area. I booked as a solo traveler rather than in a group with others. The vacation provided everything I wanted- I had an interesting and varied
programme which also included meals in local restaurants (included in the price) where I could try local food and wine. Linda, Gilberto and Carlos were so friendly and helpful- I ate with them at the site and at the restaurants and felt like a friend of the family.

Highlights were many : swimming and canoeing in the lake which is vast and beautiful, visiting an old lakeside village ( Dornes), the three waterfalls walk through the countryside and the wild flowers, a personal guided tour of the Convento in Tomar and to other sites of historical interest in the area (Almourol castle) by a very knowledgeable English guide and friend. I shared the
Convento tour with a another couple, but my second historical tour was just myself- although others staying could have joined to form a small group. I was able to walk a short distance of the Portuguese Caminho which was an unexpected highlight for me. I particularly enjoyed a visit to a small specialist wine cafe (Amor Lusitano) where you could choose a fine wine and a small
Portuguese dish to accompany it.


2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


This was a very interesting and original way to get to know this area of central Portugal. It was very easy for me to get there- I had chosen to fly to Porto. I could have taken the train for which Linda provided very clear instructions and times with the connection from the airport. The train is approximately 2 hours from the centre of Porto. As my flight arrived late afternoon I chose to pay
for a transfer and was met by Linda and Carlos at the airport.This had the advantage that I could learn quite a lot about the area on the journey! On my return to Porto I had a short transfer to Entroncamento (20 minutes) then got the train.I felt the vacation was tailored to my interests- Linda had asked about these before I arrived and what was provided suited me perfectly, and the time of year (early June) when the temperature was starting to rise steeply. I was on my own for some activities (as I booked as a solo traveler) but was always accompanied by Linda so didn't feel alone. Where possible I was with one or two
others.


3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


One of the partners in the business is local (Carlos) and shares in the running and management. Local staff are employed to service and maintain the site. We used local restaurants when eating out and a local ( English-speaking) tour guide. We ate fruit grown from the garden and olives are grown which are harvested and pressed locally sharing the work with a local co-operative. The oil
is then used in cooking the meals provided or sold to guests. We ate local honey and jams made from the fruit grown. There is a small recycling plant and solar panels for energy and hot water.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Altogether this was a very interesting, relaxing and original vacation with a very personal interest taken in what I would enjoy- so thank you for your friendship and effort. I felt confident as a solo traveler and enjoyed meeting other guests staying independently. I felt I was really starting to get to know a (largely) undiscovered area of Portugal. It was very good to meet Portuguese people -
particularly Carlos who ate with us and was so friendly.

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