Monte do Giestal is part of my family’s History. It belonged to my maternal grandparents, and I remember well when I came here on the weekends and in the cork stripping season. At the time, I was already fascinated by the Alentejo pastures and cork fields and understood how important they were for the region and the family.
My grandfather passed his love for trees and nature from one generation to the next. When it was time to rebuild the “monte”, we didn’t forget what we were part of, and we designed the houses and the spa in the space between each tree.
Here cork trees are the protagonists of the landscape and of the “monte”. Our goal and concept were to value their presence, bringing these fields and trees indoors. And you notice that from the moment you arrive -- from the careful décor using cork details to the spa where you can have a relaxing massage with honey, rosemary, and cork.
You have a property of 71 hectares to discover and live it to the fullest and in simplicity. Animals, shades, green, and freedom are plentiful. For those looking for a real countryside experience, this is the ideal place, where quiet and silence are the key to relax.
There’s a lot to discover in our 71 hectares property. One of the secrets and one of our most significant treasures is owning a cork tree that we believe is over 500 years old. We have no way to prove it’s the oldest in the country because a while ago while stripping the cork, it was struck by lightning and partly burned. No one touched it since and it’s grown on its own until it became what we see today. Its beauty and greatness are unmissable, and it’s absolutely the most beautiful cork tree in Portugal.
Our story and mission
No one brought me to Alentejo. I was born here, and I’m from here with all my heart and soul. I did all I could to stay here. It’s important to always have your roots in mind, to know where you come from, and, mainly, to understand how to return. Our homeland and our family are an essential part of who we are, and that defines us.
I only left Abela to study Sociology in Lisbon. I lived there for five years but always meant to return home. And I did it. I worked as a Sociologist for a while, but I decided I needed my life to be quieter. When my parents inherited Monte do Giestal I thought I could contribute and had the idea to turn this into a rural tourism business. Because we didn’t have any formal training in the area and this was a family project, we discussed it and together decided to move forward with Giestal Casas de Campo & Spa.
I remember coming to Monte do Giestal as a little girl. I came to stay with my grandparents on weekends and when was time to harvest the cork. Later, I began to bring my children too.
My parents always had a strong connection to agriculture and the land. My father is passionate about the cork tree fields, and he passed that on to the next generations. Trees have a fundamental role in our lives, so, when we thought of this business, we did it with respect and care. All the houses were built around the trees. No tree was displaced. Furthermore, we wanted to include cork and wood in all the decoration and the concept.
I feel a big responsibility for being a part of this region. And every day that makes me a little bit of a guardian of our “monte”, of the cork tree fields, and the parish. Our richness must be preserved and valued.
The treasure that everyone was looking for
Monte do Giestal is a part of the Abela parish, the village where I was born and raised in the Santiago do Cacém county. I usually say that this typical Alentejo village is, as its name means, beautiful. Although we have few people, we’re very friendly and hospitable. We know how to welcome you, and we are proud to tell our story.
Our paths have always crossed with farming and, therefore, I always suggest a visit to Museu do Trabalho Rural (Museum of Rural Labour). It’s a small museum, but very rich that reflects years of work and dedication to this land.
Retrosaria Bijou is another mandatory stop. It’s been open for over 100 years, and it’s still working like the old days. It’s lovely to walk in and see details of other ages that you can’t find elsewhere. It’s an unofficial free entrance museum.
We have this spectacular landscape, the Alentejo cork tree fields, that’s an incredibly vibrant ecosystem.
We’re grateful for his location, surrounded by this beautiful cork tree fields. We hope it’s valued one day as it deserves to be and is recognised as Intangible Heritage by UNESCO. The world needs to know it, to discover it, and there’s no better way to understand its weight than to see it in front of you.
We’re at one of the quietest areas of the Alentejo coast. Here there is silence and Nature is in charge. We have lots of fields to explore, and many gardens are an invitation for a picnic or a hike at the end of the day.
If you get tired of silence, you can quickly reach busier places like Santiago do Cacém or Sines where you’ll find the most beautiful beaches in the region and the best fish. Our cuisine is as diverse as it is rich and is, undoubtedly, one of our best assets.
Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora Abela is one of the most beautiful and unique churches of this region, in the Abela village. It was built by the count of Avilez who wanted to have a tower people could see from Santiago do Cacém. High and grand, it’s a unique site with a beautiful view over the area.