|Project Name||WHITE||Posted in||Hotels, Design, Interior Design||Location||
10 Rua da Rocha Quebrada
Atalhada Lagoa, São MiguelPortugal
|Telephone||+351 296 249 153||Completed||2022||Rooms||10|
When WHITE opened its doors in 2017 on the southern coast of São Miguel island in the Azores, it stood out not just for its monochromatic colour scheme but also for its tailor-made hospitality—the nine suites and one villa boutique hotel has come to be known as a pioneer in luxury travel in the archipelago. Not satisfied with resting on their laurels, last winter husband and wife hoteliers Catarina and João Reis decided it was time to give the hotel a makeover.
Enter Spanish interior designer and creative director at Quiet Studios, Daniela Franceschini who drew inspiration from WHITE’s postcard location—the resort sits atop a basalt cliff overlooking the ocean—imbuing the resort with the island’s volcanic soulfulness by complementing the original all-white palette with grey and black tones. With William Blake, the new Chef at the helm of Cardume restaurant, promising an unforgettable culinary journey across the Azores, and a new ocean-side outdoor wellness area, plus SINGULAR PROPERTIES’ signature calmness and tailor made services, WHITE’s unique brand of hospitality hasn’t necessarily changed but the overall experience is now more attuned to the island’s volcanic nature and cultural heritage.
It was during a hike that Catarina and João Reis came across the ruins of an old manor house near the town of Lagoa on São Miguel’s southern coast. As part of a wine production property, the house enjoyed a soothing tranquillity and magnificent ocean views. Passionate about creating unique places—their first endeavour two years earlier, Santa Bárbara, is Azores’ first eco-beach resort—they decided to transform the ancient building into an exclusive boutique hotel, crucially without effacing its vernacular architecture, which they did to great effect. Five years and one renovation later, the hotel’s sense of place has been deepened. “One of the most important things for a hotel such as this one is the feeling of place”, Franceschini explains, “guests want to feel they’re in the Azores”.
While the hotel’s original all-white colour scheme evoked soothing calmness, it lacked a strong connection with the land, something that Franceschini has rectified by introducing tones of black that reflect the volcanic rock that the property is built on. From the dark grey Marmorino stucco used for floors and walls, to the glazed basalt tiles in some of the bathrooms, to the black-stained timber furnishings and three-ton volcanic rock reception counter, the dark accents not only echo the surrounding basalt cliffs but also accentuate the hotel’s white hues, “as there is no light without darkness or white without black” in Franceschini’s words.
Underpinned by a minimalist aesthetic of ascetic elegance, Franceschini got rid of anything that was of “secondary importance” being careful to preserve all of the original elements of the manor house such as the stone-built walls made of basalt, the stone arches that frame the ceiling of the old wine cellar, and the old kitchen’s fireplace. Complementing the pared down spaces, bespoke furniture made out of cryptomeria, an evergreen tree from Asia that is widely cultivated in the Azores, hand-crafted ceramics, including a series of ceramic corals designed by Franceschini, and wicker lamps made using traditional basketry techniques enhance the scheme’s harmonious mix of vernacular and contemporary, as well as speak of WHITE’s sustainability ethos. Combined with natural fabrics and carpets in warm, earthy hues, the hotel’s renovated interiors are elegant, welcoming and relaxed.
The hotel’s renovation extends to its outdoor spaces which include different patios and levels, a fire pit and a heated saltwater infinity pool which has been revamped with a black bottom that evokes the island’s volcanic beaches. An old pergola was transformed into a sheltered lounge area, where guests can enjoy an al fresco breakfast, lunch or dinner even when the weather is questionable, while a freestanding pavilion offers guests the chance to enjoy a range of wellness treatments and rituals in a secluded setting above the ocean.
Based on a farm-to-table philosophy, the well-edited menu at the on-site Cardume restaurant is the work of Chef William Blake whose young age belies his experience—Blake has previously worked alongside White’s previous chef, as well as several Michelin-star names such as Dieter Koschina and Vincent Farges. Locally caught fresh fish, pasture-raised Azorean meat, and fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables from the hotel’s organic farm set the stage for hearty dishes that stand out amid the restaurant’s all-white interior both in their vibrancy of colour and intensity of flavour. Add in the seductive aromas and the tactile pleasure of the ceramic tableware, and you have a pure, all-sensory experience made all the more sublime in contrast to, or because of, the humble setting and relaxed atmosphere—a state of affairs that pretty much sums ups WHITE’s hospitality proposition.