Grândola, Portugal

Photo: Mauricio Abreu via Sublime Comporta Country House Retreat
Photo: Mauricio Abreu via Sublime Comporta Country House Retreat

Winter is finally getting to you. Now that the holidays are over and you’ve spent a few weekends freezing on the mountains, all you’re thinking about is warm weather. José Ignacio, Trancoso, and Tulum—three of your favorite repeat destinations—sound perfect right about now. Or you could try an up-and-coming spot. A chic hotel and a gorgeous beach are included, of course. But this time, you’ll have to travel to Europe to find it.

Portugal may be harder to reach than Mexico, but it’s certainly easier than Brazil and Uruguay. After an overnight flight to Lisbon, drive—or, better yet, ride the train—an hour south into Alentejo. Comporta, on the peninsula where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Sado River, is known for its extensive rice fields, wetlands, and sand dunes. But it’s famous for its endless white-sand beach.

You’re heading slightly inland to Grândola, an even smaller town. Don’t worry, you’ll just be a quick bike ride from the beach. The extra distance is worth it as soon as you see where you’re staying. Sublime Comporta Country House Retreat has the rustic-chic vibe you expect in a destination like this. The owners, a couple, arrived with the intention of buying a weekend house. They ended up building the area’s first design hotel instead.

Photo: Sublime Comporta Country House Retreat
Photo: Sublime Comporta Country House Retreat

Sublime Comporta’s low buildings are surrounded by cork trees, umbrella pines, and early blooming flowers. Expect floor-to-ceiling windows and vaulted ceilings, minimal decor and muted colors throughout the property. In the main house, you’ll find a wooden bar and hanging glasses in the Lobby Bar. Leather banquets and green plants fill Celeiro, the restaurant whose design was inspired by the area’s old rice-storing facilities. You find traditional recipes—featuring local razor clams, oysters, and black pork—when you peek at the dinner menu. Bottles of local Parus wine fill the glass wine cellar, as well. The treatment rooms (both indoor and outdoor) and the heated pool in the spa look heavenly. Plus there are wood-burning fireplaces everywhere.

Your cabana room isn’t too shabby either. It too has large windows, a high ceiling, and a concrete floor, which turns out to be heated. It also has a king bed with crisp white linens. There’s a freestanding tub in the bathroom. A little deck has views of olive trees and the gardens. While the infinity pool is just steps away. It feels like home already.

So what’s first? A long, wine-filled lunch on the terrace? A massage, using organic products, at the spa? Or a bike ride to Pego Beach? The beach, of course. That’s what brought you to Alentejo in the first place.

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