Comporta, the massive rice producing estate south of Lisbon, turned Europe’s playground of the rich and famous, has had a somewhat bumpy history lately. As the previous owners joined the pantheon of bankers gone bust, many of the proposed developments for this vast and glorious stretch of sandy beaches and pine covered dunes, were halted.
And mind you, It was a blessing: a slower pace of development has never hurt an unspoiled beach destination, and while the severe lack of hotel rooms might seem like a problem, it adds to Comporta’s exclusive mystique.
As I’m not the renting type, and can’t really be bothered with stocking toilette paper and grocery shopping, the very best option in the area is Sublime Comporta. Located in Muda, a few miles off Carvalhal Beach, the 17 hectares property is a collection of lovely wood lined, steel framed glass pavillions in perfect harmony with the surroundings. The grounds are just landscaped enough, so as not to loose the areas unique beachy forest look.
The main pavilion houses the reception, lobby, bar, restaurant and a store. Designed by José Alberto Charrua and Miguel Cancio Martins, the interior is stunning in scale and cosy in feel, an accomplished tour de force in sophisticated rusticity.
Two bedroom cottages dot the grounds, each with their own private swimming pool, expansive lounge area, and very generous suites with decadently large bathrooms, all dressed up in tastefull shades of grey and white. It’s like your own personal mini Comporta haven, surrounded by the sand and the pine trees, immersed in tranquility and five star service. I’m on board, show me more.
The restaurant, Sem Porta, is a showstopper. The food is quintessentially Portuguese, as the menu includes classic staples like suckling pig, grilled octopus or braised pig cheeks. And while the cooking is of the highest standard, it’s the flavour that blows me away. There’s an unavoidable sense of immersion, as if the surrounding forest, the sand and the sea were magically conjured in my plate.
Brought to Sublime by consulting chef Ljubomir Stanisic, Salar Kayhan, the charismatic wizard at the helms of the kitchen, spent most of his younger life in Denmark, and the influence of new scandinavian cuisine during thosee tough nordic formative years is striking. He’s been around the block, and after working at such disparate places such as Sidney’s The Ivy or Girona’s El Celler de Can Roca, he brings to the Alentejo coast a cuisine of thruthfull and simple refinement that’s bound to become a very serious success.
The next day, and after my mandatory eggs Benedict and cappuccino breakfast, complete with some heavenly slices of house smoked turkey breast, and a local yogurth that puts its Greek counterpart to shame, I toured one the hotels most prized ongoing projects, the herb garden. Housing three hundred different species, it‘ll be an unmatched source for almost any European kitchen.
Gonçalo Pessoa, the plane pilot turned hotelier, has all the reasons to be quite proud of his accomplishment. His inn keeping taste and laid back luxury approach, informed no doubt by decades of travel, seems to be spot on. And while there is always room for improvement, the standard of service being a bit spotty despite its friendliness, the Sublime Comporta might indeed be considered sublime.
Sublime Comporta Country Retreat and SPA
7570-337 Muda, CCI 3954 Grandola
General phone: +351 269449376
Reservations: +351 269449376