Three Couples Go All In on a Portuguese Dream Home
Welcome to T Wanderlust, a new travel newsletter from the editors of T Magazine. Twice a month, we’ll recommend global destinations and hotels worth visiting. Sign up here to find us in your inbox every other Friday, along with our T List newsletter each Wednesday.And you can always reach us at [email protected].
A Coastal Refuge in the Algarve
By Monica Mendal
In 2014, three couples who work across the hospitality, service and art industries met by chance at a harvest dinner in Kansas City, Mo. The group stayed in contact over the years and discussed their shared dream of someday owning a second home abroad. Some seven years later, they collectively purchased a property in the small village of Carrapateira, Portugal, roughly three hours south of Lisbon. “We had traveled together and spent many nights discussing wine, food, coffee and fermentation,” says Audrey Welch, one of the home’s half-dozen new owners. “We knew going in on a house could work because we respected each other as friends and as businesspeople.” Casa Almargens, which officially opens this month, is a contemporary three-bedroom, three-bath dwelling surrounded by farmland. It’s within walking distance of two beaches as well as the town square, where, Welch says, she often sees locals “meeting for their morning coffee or waiting for the fish van to arrive with the daily catch.” The couples tapped Jade Passey of the West Algarve-based interior design-and-style firm Escolhido to remodel the property and create a space that’s elevated yet sustainable. A stone accent wall in the living room inspired the neutral color palette; the old countertops were repurposed as a base for a new fireplace; and the local mason Paulo Caneco collaborated with Escolhido on several tables made of Portuguese marble. Pottery by Mariana Filipe of Malga Ceramic Design in Lisbon and images from the Ukrainian American photographer Sergiy Barchuk are displayed throughout the space, while glass doors in the dining room frame the surrounding hills and dunes. With “such beautiful nature, the location allows you to immerse yourself in the simple life,” says Welch. “Walking, exploring beaches, reading and cooking local produce are the things we love to do here.” Rooms from around $310; almargens.com.
A Year-Round Guesthouse in Ski Country
By Lane Nieset
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia’s oldest ski town, sits at the border of Italy and Austria in the Julian Alps and has long been known as a winter destination. But as more cyclists and hikers came to tackle some of the country’s highest peaks in recent years, Milka’s co-partner and general manager, Dino Katalenić, saw an opportunity to open an inn for all seasons. The boutique hotel with B & B sensibilities inhabits a family-owned gostišče, or guesthouse, from the 1960s. Katalenić worked with the Ljubljana-based Gartner Architects to revamp the six-room inn, blending Nordic and alpine elements such as slatted wood wall panels, monolithic stone for the reception desk and tree trunks that double as night stands. “The look is modern yet holds a lot of tradition within its walls,” Katalenić says, referring to the burnt- and hand-brushed larch panels cladding the A-frame’s facade. “We wanted to bring the surrounding environment inside.” Limestone for the floors, bar and restaurant walls was sourced from one of the country’s oldest quarries and hand-chiseled by artisans in Kras; the restaurant’s minimalist ceramics were crafted at a tiny workshop in Ljubljana; and a local geologist made a bowl-and-saucer set using stone from Lake Jasna, which every guest room overlooks. Milka’s focus on sustainability extends to its line of organic toiletries and biodegradable felt slippers made from recycled plastic bottles. The seven- and 10-course tasting menus at Restaurant Milka, helmed by the chef David Žefran, center on ingredients sourced within a 100-mile radius, including a baked beetroot perfumed with spruce branches, served with brown bear meat-infused cream from a nearby dairy farm and topped with Osetra caviar from Alpen Kaviar in Austria. The wine list, meanwhile, champions small, regional, natural winemakers. Rooms from $280, including breakfast for two; hotelmilka.si.
A Forager’s Haven in the Bavarian Alps
By Gisela Williams
As the next in line to inherit a 4,500-acre estate near Chiemsee in Bavaria, about an hour southeast of Munich, Ludwig Cramer-Klett understood that one day he, too, would have the responsibility of protecting the land — just as the generations of small farmers who came before him had. Years later, when Cramer-Klett, the restaurateur behind Berlin’s trendy Katz Orange and Oh, Panama, both located in Mitte, took over ownership of the estate, he hired a chef whose cooking could attract an international crowd and support his broader mission of sustainability. The result is Stubn, a rustic lodge with 11 rooms designed by Nora Witzigmann, Oh, Panama’s interior architect, and a 70-seat restaurant helmed by Maximilian Müller, formerly of the Michelin-starred Berlin restaurant Nobelhart & Schmutzig. “I remember learning about the Slow Food movement when I was a teenager … and I thought what a smart way it was to travel,” says Cramer-Klett. Müller’s dishes, to that end, make good use of all things local, whether duck with foraged mushroom jus and roasted cabbage or lake trout with pickled elderberry blossoms that he gathered over the summer. While diners can visit Stubn for a meal only, Cramer-Klett hopes they’ll stick around — trying a breakfast of fresh-baked brioche, local cheeses and homemade granola the following morning; exploring the surrounding alpine forest on foot, snowshoes or cross-country skis; and getting to know other guests. “I want to [animate] this landscape with all the creative people I know from Berlin and beyond,” says Cramer-Klett, who is already in the process of renovating his estate’s historic farm cabins and transforming his grandfather’s villa into an artist’s retreat. Rooms from around $93; stubn.co.
A Safari Camp on Stilts in Etosha National Park
By Chris Schalkx
In a nature reserve on the eastern fringe of Namibia’s wildlife-rich Etosha National Park, a new safari lodge has risen from its predecessor’s actual ashes. Opened earlier this month, the Onguma Camp Kala was built on the foundations of the Onguma Tree Top Camp, which partly burned down after a lightning strike in 2020. Inspired by the termite mounds in the area, the Johannesburg-based Nicholas Plewman Architects, the firm behind the cocoonlike Bisate Lodge in Rwanda and the grass-roofed Arijiju residence in Kenya, erected a mud-plastered conical tower at the center of the property, from which stilted wooden walkways snake to four thatch-roofed suites. The inn is a well-positioned jumping-off point for sundowner safaris and game drives around Etosha National Park (home to lions, rhinos, elephants and giraffes), but with a name like Kala, which translates to “stay” in the local Oshiwambo language, it also offers visitors good reason to settle in. Each suite opens to a terrace with its own plunge pool and a hot tub fired by wood from invasive tree species, while wooden bridges link these amenities to a king-size daybed in a private sala, or outdoor lounge. A ground-level hide makes wildlife photography a breeze, and an on-site spa and yoga deck allow for pre- and post-safari relaxation. Rooms from $748 per adult, all-inclusive (opening rate); onguma.com/onguma-camp-kala.
A Lakefront Retreat in a Surfer’s Paradise
By Chris Schalkx
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has had a rough go these past few years: The pandemic brought international travel to a standstill just as the country rebounded from the 2019 Easter bombings. Travel restrictions were lifted in March, right as antigovernment protests gained momentum — a reaction to devastating fuel shortages and the island nation’s near economic collapse. Despite the upheaval, the south-coast village of Ahangama has emerged as a magnetic surfer hide-out. New arrivals such as the Palm Hotel, a clutch of steel A-frame cabanas pitched between inland groves, welcomed their first guests just before the pandemic, while the tropical modernist Harding Boutique Hotel opened along the village’s honey-hued beach last November. This month, Kurulu Bay joined the pack. Spearheaded by the Pakistan-born, Turkey- and Sri Lanka-based former banker Shahzad Malik, who in 2006 opened boutique hotel the Fort Printers in Colombo’s UNESCO-listed Galle Fort, 30 minutes northwest of Ahangama, this estate is located on the jungled shore of Koggala Lake, a lagoon scattered with islets that are home to Buddhist temples and spice gardens. It centers around the pre-existing Kurulu House, a high-ceilinged mix of 1960s Florida modernism and Geoffrey Bawa-inspired architecture designed by his protégé Channa Daswatte, as exemplified by the estate’s yoga center. Newer constructions, all straight-lined from concrete and wood, include the Ayurvedic spa, the tree house-like suites and lakefront cottages — one of which has a private pool. “Everything was built to blend in with the surrounding landscape and offers space, privacy and tranquillity,” says Malik. “It’s aimed at those who seek to unwind and reconnect with themselves.” Rooms from $200; kurulubay.com.