Quinta Camarena is paving the way for responsible travel in the Alentejo region of southwest Portugal. Their boutique hotel, event, and retreat venue harnesses many branches of responsible tourism, including supporting the local community, engaging in environmentally friendly practices, and promoting animal welfare.
Note: Quinta Camarena didn’t pay or offer perks to A Piece of Travel for writing this article. It’s our mission to spread the word about businesses that practice responsible tourism, no strings attached.
Quinta Camarena’s Start
Quinta Camarena is a family-owned hotel. Owners Cam and Vera, who are originally from Los Angeles, USA, and Porto, Portugal, met while working in New York City. Their mutual love for travel and outdoor sports led them to leave NYC and settle in Cercal.
Cam and Vera value building relationships within their community, creating comfortable and history-rich spaces at their hotel, and making their guests’ stays memorable.
Upon moving to Alentejo, Cam and Vera knew they wanted to focus on sustainable tourism. Research started them on this journey, but they said they’ve “learned the most from talking with farmers and fishermen and old artisans.”
Mother Nature was also a teacher, with Cam and Vera commenting, “We learned from experiencing the land and observing the birds, the trees, and the nature surrounding us.”
Keeping Food Local
Guests at Quinta Camarena are in for a treat, for Cam and Vera value eating local, seasonal, and organic. They can list the origin of all the food and wine they offer at their hotel. An emphasis is placed on purchasing food from small farmers and producers that farm sustainably.
Cam and Vera are so passionate about their mission to serve farm-to-table food to their guests and work with the local community that Quinta Camarena offers a four-day Sustainable Food and Wine experience.
Those who book this food and wine experience will have the opportunity to visit some of Quinta Camarena’s local suppliers. Examples include visiting the goat and sheep farm where Quinta Camarena purchases its dairy products and baking pesticide-free bread using organic flour ground by a windmill.
Responsible Use of Water and Electricity
Opening a boutique hotel and building relationships with local farmers made Cam and Vera realize how big of an impact one’s water and electricity consumption has on a town. They say, “When you see how your farmer friends struggle with low productivity caused by the lack of water, and you see the rivers dry every year earlier, it’s easy to understand.”
Quinta Camarena’s solution to reducing water and electricity consumption is to lead by example.
They minimize excessive water use at the hotel and have partnered with local and national projects to democratize energy production. Their goal is to promote small private projects, including solar panel initiatives, while “fighting massive projects that promote the monopoly of energy production destroying rural areas.”
Quinta Camarena goes above and beyond to promote environmentally responsible tourism aside from the basics of recycling. The hotel was built with environmental landscaping and design in mind.
What does this translate to in real life? Minimized lights to make their hotel grounds more welcoming for nocturnal animals and planting trees and flowers to promote regenerative forest and increase biodiversity. Quinta Camarena’s guests benefit immensely from this, as they can view a star-filled sky in the evenings and pick seasonal fruit as they walk around the premises.
Quinta Camarena is proud of the partners they work with. They say, “It’s a major satisfaction for us at Quinta Camarena to support their businesses and share them with guests.” Below are some of the partners they work with who have helped them have such a deep understanding of the land and the Alentejo region of Portugal.
Dozero is a local bread and baked goods company. From olive oil scones to gluten-free brownies and seasonal fruit crumbles, guests at Quinta Camarena will get to enjoy delicious treats and bread made with love. Dozero’s bread is sourdough fermented for 24 hours and is made by grinding 100% organic flour via a traditional windmill.
Sazonal is Quinta Camarena’s cheese, butter, and yogurt provider. This artisanal business is led by a young woman who learned her trade from her mother and grandmother. All of the products come from the sheep and goats she raises herself. Guests will get to enjoy dairy products that go back generations, for Sazonal uses an ancient fermentation process using wildflowers.
Herdade Do Cebolal
Herdade Do Cebolal is a family-owned winery near Quinta Camarena. Luis Capitao is the fifth generation family member to run this business, and he maintains the all-natural approach passed down to him. Herdade Do Cebolal’s wines are free of fertilizers, pesticides, and sulfites. Furthermore, Luis Capitao values creating a syntropic forest on his land, helping natural species to support and protect one another.
Much of Quinta Camarena’s produce comes from Horta Nova, an organic farm led by local young farmer Marcos. Regenerative agriculture is Marcos’ mission via the use of traditional agriculture and technology. Produce availability varies by the week. So, Marcos places a memo online each week so his clients know what produce is available for purchase.
Quinta Camarena has partnered with several artisans in the Alentejo region. Alentejo Weaving provides unique, handmade carpets and blankets using an ancient loom by the owner, Carlo.
Make Your Next Vacation a Responsible One
Quinta Camarena embodies responsible tourism, allowing travelers to feel good about their vacation while relaxing in the Portuguese countryside.
If you’re lucky enough to stay at Quinta Camarena, you can expect to be greeted with smiles from the hotel staff and community members, whom your tourist dollars will support.
Whether you fancy observing an onsite bee farm from a local honey producer, visiting farms, or sunbathing at a nearby beach, Quinta Camarena will undoubtedly leave a stamp on your heart. Learn more about Quinta Camarena and how to book a stay.