During our Azores stay, we spent four nights at the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort. For a hotel location, it can’t be beat — and the owners Rodrigo and João knew it, too.
It was not by happenstance that we lodged in the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort. Fellow blogger Esther with Travel Sisi was here last winter and pointed us to it.
We knew we would like it, because she shares our preference for beautiful, stylish hotels…
Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Hotel
Right away, as we stepped into the hotel lobby it reminded me of Areias do Seixo, the boutique hotel on Portugal’s east coast whose interiors and decorations we had found so fascinating a few years earlier. It was just as stylishly appointed here.
However, one striking difference is the straight line of sight to the Atlantic from the lobby. That is because the hotel sits on a cliff on the north coast of the Azores’ São Miguel island above directly-accessible Praia de Santa Barbara beach. It is a simply heavenly vista!
That is precisely what Rodrigo Herédia and João Reis, the resort’s owners, must have figured. The two friends share a passion for the Azores, the ocean, and for surfing. And with this hotel they fulfilled their shared dream.
Eco-chic married to outstanding architecture
The resort opened its doors in the summer of 2015. It was conceived as ecologically sustainable. In addition, it was perfectly embedded in the surrounding terrain. The materials they chose for it, like unfinished wood and traditional cork, are in complete harmony with the surroundings.
Like on the island generally, green and blue dominate here: green from the lush meadows and the surrounding mountains, blue from the sky and the Atlantic. It makes sense then that some of the rooms are also “Blue and Green Villas”.
Ah, yes, that would be the ones with the green or blue chairs on their patios.
The hotel offers 14 villas in three categories: the Garden Villas, Blue and Green Villas, and the Retreat Villas. In early July 2018, during our stay, the resort added six Blue and Green Studios. We got a chance to overnight in a newly-opened one.
Architecturally, too, the resort stands out, with its cubical elements contrasting with the craggy rock coast. Many of the geometric building elements have cork cladding.
In the villas, we found natural materials like stone and wood everywhere. The bathtub is made from a dark grey, almost black laquered cement that resembles the islands lava rock. Walter, with his liking for plain architecture, got his money’s worth…
The garden and the sea
It is not only the architecture and design that fascinate us here; the exposed location is glorious and the garden – it’s a dream!
No matter where you choose to relax outside, you have a wonderful view, even from the swimming pool and the small, open-sided massage gazebo.
If you’d rather swim in the ocean — I find the Atlantic is a little on the cool side — you can walk down to the Praia de Santa Barbara beach directly. Besides fine drinks and snacks, you’ll also find plenty of activities like surfing on offer here.
This beach is said to be the best surfing beach on the entire island — so we learn from the owners, who are both passionate surfers. That gives them surf cred, doesn’t it?
The Santa Barbara Restaurant
As we all know, we eat with our eyes as well. And, of course, this is about fare being beautifully arranged on the plate.
And here in the Santa Barbara resort, the eyes are also spoiled by the ocean view. The ambiance is awesome!
They serve various local specialities, but sushi and various Asian-influenced dishes are also on the menu.
We really enjoyed the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort! Even now, back home, I still dream of the blue-green scenery and the ocean vistas.
Many thanks to…
… Mário Ladeira, Sales Manager of the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, for coordinating our stay. It was supported by the hotel.
Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort
Estrada Regional nº1
1º Morro de Baixo
9600-219 Ribeira Grande
São Miguel, Azores
Telephone: +351 296 470 360
Ribeira Grande is about 15 miles from the Ponta Delgada airport and its an easy 20-minute drive by the expressway. And that despite the fact that the town lies on the island’s north side and the airport is in the south.
About the Azores island of São Miguel
At 39 miles in length and 16 miles wide at its widest point (287 square miles), São Miguel is the largest and also the main island in the archipelago. It is also often called the blue-green instead of just “the green island“. What all there is to be experienced on São Miguel you can see in this separate report.
Getting to São Miguel
From Switzerland, our home base, Air Portugal (TAP) will get you to the Azores’ São Miguel, although with a stop in Porto or Lisbon. TAP at present has an attractive Stopover Program, which makes it easy to combine your Azores vacation with a stay in one of the two cities.
Apparently there are also direct flights to the Azores out of Boston and New York.
And still more impressions: