The Loaded Trunk was founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.
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Portugal’s Alentejo region stretches west along the Atlantic coast, between Lisbon in the north to the Algarve in the south. The Costa Vicentina, as it is known, is the westernmost coastline of continental Europe. Along this wild coastline, you will find acres of farmland and vineyards, a smattering of small family-run restaurants and groves of fragrant pine and eucalyptus. The wide, uncrowded beaches are surrounded by dunes and cliffs sprouting wildflowers. Surfers are drawn to the big waves along this sleepy coastline. Off the main tourist trail, this stunning section of Portugal seems to stand still in time, remaining untouched by the big development of much of Europe’s coastlines.
Tucked in the hinterland just a few kilometers from the coast, sits a wondrous place where nature is deeply revered, and where fortunate guests can sip from nature’s delights. TEIMA is a small boutique hotel that is the epitome of Portuguese country chic.
Luísa Botelho was looking to buy a property in the area in 2009. Her husband found 6 properties for her to visit. As soon as she stepped onto the land at the 2nd property, it was love at first sight for Botelho and she knew this was the one; she had no interest in seeing anything else. “The atmosphere, the light, the smells… these elements made me fall in love with it,” she recalls. Included on the property were the ruins of a farm, which had sat abandoned in disrepair for many years. The couple made the purchase and built a home of their own. Her husband named it TEIMA which, in Portuguese, translates to the idea of stubbornness (a nod to Botelho’s firmness in deciding it was this plot of land or none at all).
Five years later, Botelho took the plunge and left her job in Lisbon with the intention of transforming their property into a small boutique hotel. So that is what she and her now ex-husband did (they remain partners in the business). They converted their home into 5 rooms and built 4 more. Botelho described the process of transforming the property into what is now the most peaceful, relaxing place for guests to come and unwind in this way: “We went with the flow. And we followed the instincts of Mother Nature… My relationship with TEIMA is unequal. I believe there is a feminine will so strong in “her” that she commands me and I do what “she” wants me to do.”
The idea of stubbornness is emphasized by the TEIMA’s logo… a donkey. And, no surprise, donkeys are in residence on the property, living their best life. I asked Botelho about the donkeys.
“The first donkey we acquired was Rosa, a middle aged character and sweet animal that we bought from a gypsy, who made her work hard and have many foals. We decided to allow her the best retirement possible, and she has always paid us back by being so lovely. Rosa became our mascot and the face of the farm.”
Along with the donkeys, a menagerie of horses, ducks, a dog and a cat reside in peaceful, contented existence. A house for the ducks floats in the center of the pond. Birdsong wafts along to the whisper of the tall grove of pine trees moving in the breeze. Frogs and turtles live among the lily pads in the garden. The harmony of nature is palpable here.
Rooms are decorated with natural textures, a fusion of organic and modern style, each space with its own color theme. All rooms have private terraces with views of the countryside and swimming pool, as well as comfortable seating areas for relaxation.
The staff makes a concerted effort to make sure guests feel at home by providing the best service possible. Massages can be arranged in a lovely open-air pavilion. Breakfast is a delicious, thoughtfully arranged spread. Every detail is lovely and resonates with a sense of calm.
The intention is for guests to be embraced by the quietness, the unique atmosphere, the close contact with nature and animals and the pure beauty of it, and we certainly felt that way during our visit. Time simply melted away and we felt caressed by the soothing spirit of the land, the peaceful energy of the happy animals and the contented feeling of being infused with nature’s harmony. Truth be told, we were loathe to peel ourselves from TEIMA when the time came for us to leave, but grateful for the opportunity we had to experience this unique and special place, nestled in the hills of the southwest Alentejo.
September 5, 2022
The Loaded Trunk is a travel and lifestyle magazine founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.