The pool at Ferme des Palmes Francisco Nogueira When Frank and Véronique Persyn were looking for a place to embrace the simple life of hoteliers, they chose an unlikely corner of the Algarve. Their very stylish bed-and-breakfast, Farmhouse of the Palms, is located in the hills near the sleepy town of São Bras de Alportel, about ten miles from the beaches southern Portugal is famous for. The couple, bankers who felt like they spent half their lives commuting between Brussels and their native Antwerp, chose Portugal for its simplicity and genuine hospitality. Frank tells a story about how the hotel started out around 2015, before international travelers still came up with Google Maps on their phones. Customers would get lost looking for the hotel and ask someone in São Bras (5 km), then that person, instead of just giving directions, got into their own car, said: “Follow me. Then went out of their way to escort the arriving guest. The hotel in the evening Ann Abel Another thing that makes the region attractive is its history: when the Algarve operated on agriculture rather than tourism, São Bras was the richest place in the region, in largely thanks to the production of cork. Those days are long gone, but many of the great houses of the estate still survive. The Palm Farm – translated from the original name, Monte das Palmeiras, after the elderly gardener who had tended the place for decades told them changing a house’s name was unlucky – is one of them. At the time, it was the home of a wealthy family that produced wine. A member of this family, now in his 80s, still lives nearby and loves to drop by and visit his childhood home. He calls the part of the complex where the Persyns live “casa nova” the new house. He calls the building where the guests sleep “casa velha”, the old house. It is not known exactly how old this is, although parts of it appear to predate the massive Portuguese earthquake of 1755. One of the shared lounges Palm Farm In their renovation, the Persyns created a Kinfolk reverie, a simple, contemporary style of furnishings topped with the house’s original whitewashed walls and hand-laid terracotta floors. Most of the pieces come from local markets and nearby artisans. Véronique chooses them with an eye for endearing. The result is unpretentious and very livable, both in the seven large suites (including two in the old stables), with their works of art inspired by the Algarve fishing industry, and in the different rooms. municipalities and libraries. The outdoor spaces are no less beautiful, full of fragrant fruit trees, no-frills landscaping, and a dining terrace under olive trees. (A homemade dinner is offered twice a week, as well as a daily breakfast.) A simple and chic Francisco Nogueira room Sounds good too. There is often a happy silence. Otherwise, there is the song of birds, or the sound of flowing water – Véronique was inspired by the Alhambra and created water games to give a feeling of freshness in the hot summer of the city. ‘Algarve. Of course, you can rent a car and go to the best beaches in Portugal. Or to the charming towns of Tavira and Olhão. But above all, the Ferme des Palmes is a place of relaxation. There’s hot water in the dark blue pool, shaded courtyards, lounge chairs, hammocks, and even an extravagant four-poster bed (and mosquito net) on the roof of one of the suites. Sleeping under the stars – they’ll make a real bed, if you like – more than takes care of half the equation. The other part is breakfast. They do it well too. It’s a leisurely, a la carte affair with a regular procession of juices, smoothies, the usual morning things (pastries, fruit) and a daily treat like strawberry pancakes or a toasted sandwich with local cheese. . They make their own marmalades from the fruit trees on the property. Put breakfast in bed and breakfast. Francisco Nogueira It is especially the moment for the Persyns to connect with their guests. “It’s our job, but it’s also our hobby and our love,” says Véronique. “We get our energy from sharing with people.” Frank adds: “The advantage of being a hotelier is to see everyone at their best. When we had office jobs nobody was happy. Here, unless it rains, everyone is happy. .