Octant Vila Monte, Moncarapacho, Portugal

Octant Vila Monte, Moncarapacho, Portugal

Set amid tangled olive groves and fragrant citrus trees, this stunning farmhouse stay honours the fabric of Portugal’s Algarve region by championing local heroes

might be a well-worn trend, but Vila Monte digs deeper
than most. Earlier this year, Portugal saw the launch of an all-new
hospitality group, Octant. Taking eight boutique stays across the
country and repurposing them to spotlight localism through food,
furnishings and experiences, these guys are paving the way in
raising the profile of smaller neighbourhoods and spotlighting
local heroes. We visit Octant Vila Monte, located in the heart of
the Algarve, in the village of Moncarapacho. Embodying the very
essence of the Mediterranean spirit, the property is home to 55
bedrooms set amid centuries-old olive groves and fragrant citrus
trees, all spread across some nine verdant hectares.

On arrival, the first surprise is the length of the driveway –
this truly is an off-grid abode. Greeted with cool damp cloths,
lemon-infused water and a map of the property, we suddenly
appreciate the sheer scale of the space. A tour takes us past
hand-etched signs strung with lanterns, something we will be
thankful for come sunset. As we glide past the pool, we spot a
barman skating around with an enormous jug of sangria: sangria
o’clock, we are told, is a daily (complimentary) affair.

Octant Vila Monte, Entrance

The hotel’s entrance, left, and a cycle trail cutting
through the gardens.

Throughout our stay, we are charmed by the ways in which Vila
Monte showcases its locality through its people – beekeepers,
florists, potters, bakers and weavers. This is translated to guests
in handcrafted tableware, accessories, fresh bouquets and ceramics.
On a wider scale, Octant works with talented locals to weave
community into each property: Moncarapacho’s beauty is reflected
here in pieces by weaver Maria João Gomes and potter Francisco
Eugénio. Gomes braids natural leaves to create bespoke items, using
a technique once employed in the making of vessels for transporting
figs and almonds. Eugénio, meanwhile, finds freedom as he sits
behind the wheel and works with clay, a skill that has been passed
down through three generations of his family. There’s something
remarkably special about seeing this concept at play, with the
area’s culture being so carefully incorporated into the hotel.


There’s little in life more satisfying than slapping your key
card against the door and stepping into a haven of serenity for the
first time. Nor in taking in the scene that awaits as you first
tour your boudoir at Octant Vila Monte. The 55 bedrooms, which span
20 categories, from Sunrise Suites to a three-bedroom villa with a
private pool and butler service, are split into clusters of
whitewashed buildings. Ours is an Ocean and Mountain View Suite,
whose private balcony turns sunset-watching into a daily ritual.
Inside, the light-flooded room is kitted out with a plush sofa,
desk space, vanity area, built-in wardrobe units and a spacious
bathroom complete with rainfall shower and organic toiletries.
Beach wraps, panama hats and basket bags are provided for guests’
use, and a turndown service sees a bottle of lavender spray, silk
sleep mask and ear plugs being popped beside the bed – details that
make for a memorable stay.

Octant Vila Monte, Suite Corner
Octant Vila Monte, Bathroom

An airy suite corner, left, and a snapshot of a

What’s for breakfast?

We rarely find ourselves genuinely lost for words, but the
breakfast at this place was enough to silence our hungry mouths for
a solid 10 minutes. Luckily for us, breakfast was served in
restaurant Laranjal, which was just a pastry’s throw from our front
door. For others, a citrus-lined avenue leads to the terrace, where
terracotta-tiled floors, a braided roof and stunning coastal views
make for a breezy start to the day. Inside, a buffet-style banquet
awaits, with everything from fresh juices to ginger shots,
traditional Portuguese pastries, grains, granolas and platters of
fruit that are so fresh, it’s almost rude not to stack your plate.
This, might we add, is just a warm-up for the à la carte menu – but
we’ll leave that part for you to discover.

How about lunch and dinner?

Lunch and dinner are served at À Terra, an incredibly laid-back
setting where a mish-mash of tables and chairs are spread across
the grass beneath the trees. It’s not too often that you can
comfortably wear swimwear or your finest garms at the same
restaurant, but anything goes here. Head chef Marco Alban (a native
of Italy, but, in his own words, “made in Portugal”) works
delicately with the fruit and vegetables from the garden to create
dishes that honour the region’s culinary traditions.
Unsurprisingly, we took it upon ourselves to try as much of the
10-page menu as possible during our stay – so that we could deliver
you the must-try bites, obvs. Dinner should commence with at least
three starters: guacamole with corn tortillas, houmous with crunchy
vegetables and the creamy burrata. Then, it’s time to get to work
on the traditional octopus seafood casserole. Dessert? Carob
churros drizzled in lemon custard.

The chef’s table is something we’d strongly recommend everyone
experiences at least once during their stay. During a seven-course
feast, chef Alban will share the story behind each dish while he
prepares and cooks the food in the outdoor oven.

Special occasion? The kitchen team will be happy to pack you a
champagne picnic to enjoy at the beach.

Octant Vila Monte, Breakfast
Ocant Vila Monte, Breakfast

The breakfast space at Laranjal restaurant, left, and a
selction of spreads and honeycomb.

Is there a bar?

There’s no designated main bar, but the outdoor pool bar more
than makes up for it. Plus, you can pick up a glass of red at any
time of the day.


Drumroll, please. Step into a boutique stocked with local salts,
soaps, olive oils and ceramics. Shed calories in a fully-equipped
gym that offers sweeping views across the surrounding hills. Wander
around a herb garden, and be prepared to rub shoulders with chef
Alban, picking produce. Dive into not one but two outdoor swimming
pools, but be warned: the adults-only pool isn’t heated. Both,
however, are open 24/7 – midnight dip or it didn’t count. Lounge on
parasol-shaded daybeds and sip flavoursome cocktails at the outdoor
bar. Plough through your reading list in secluded hammock spots.
Work on perfecting your serve or challenge your travel partner to a
game of singles at the tennis court. And, if all of that isn’t
enough to keep you entertained, we haven’t even started on the
activities timetable. On arrival, you’ll receive a weekly schedule,
with options including sunrise yoga sessions, guided hikes,
cocktail masterclasses and wine-tasting sessions, all of which are
complimentary for guests.

Octant Vila Monte, Outdoor Cinema
Ocant Vila Monte, Chefs Table

The outdoor cinema, left, and the chef’s table.

How about their green credentials?

Vila Monte ticks all the boxes when it comes to social,
environmental and economic sustainability: there are no single-use
plastics, menus are local, and measured energy and water
consumption policies are in place. The Octant group regularly hosts
beach clean-ups along Portugal’s southern coast, too.

What about accessibility?

There is a wheelchair-accessible bedroom, but be aware that the
property itself is spread across steep hills and has narrow
cobblestone paths.

What’s the crowd like?

On a level of Zen we didn’t even think possible – we were
seriously tempted to greet our neighbours with a downward dog flex.
We spotted lots of young, loved-up couples, a handful of which were
babymooners and honeymooners. While the hotel was touching capacity
during our stay, no single area felt overcrowded. Kids and dogs are

Things I should know

Each evening, an outdoor cinema shows classic titles with a
set-up we can only describe as utter bliss. Grab your roomie and
follow the chalkboard signs to a deckchair courtyard, where baskets
of popcorn await beneath the starry sky.

Within a short walk I can find…

Other than dirt-track trails, absolutely nothing. Looking for an
outing? It’s a 25-minute drive to Olhão, where whitewashed villas
and cascading bougainvillaea front a harbour lined with fishing
boats. Visit the daily fish market, at Mercados de Olhão, or hop on
a boat to the beautiful beaches of Fuseta island.

The Lowdown

Doubles cost from £142 a night.

This article contains affiliate links, which means SUITCASE
may earn a small commission if you click through and book.

La Donaira, Landscape

Discover More
Wellness Buzz: Hives and Healing in the Andalusian Hills