Portugal is well-known for its sunny weather and pristine coastline. Even in the fall, you can still be greeted by a warm day, especially down in the Algarve, the country’s sunniest region. It’s exactly around this time, in early November, that Martinhal Resorts hosts its Art, Design & Wellbeing Weekend. The event takes place in Sagres, a coastal town on the west edge of the Algarve.
Set amidst the sandy shores of Sagres, Martinhal Sagres is the only five-star hotel in the region. It has direct access to the beach, and many rooms offer sea views. I stayed in one of the Beach rooms, which was spacious and ideally located near all the main facilities. However, you can also opt to stay in a private villa or apartment.
The resort is very much geared for families, with regular activities, kids’ pools, and play areas around all the restaurants. That said, there is plenty of entertainment for adults, including bike rentals, water sports, and spa treatments. Sunsets here are magical, and if you’re lucky, you may get a rare sighting of a red fox, a species found in remote districts of the Algarve.
For 10 years, owners Chitra and Roman Stern have curated this weekend event, where selected guests can meet Portuguese artists, wellness brands, and up-and-coming chefs in a mix of exhibits, workshops, and dining experiences. For the first time in 2023, they’re planning to release it as a retreat-style package, opening up access to local entrepreneurs in a stunning location just steps away from the beach. And for those who go and decide the Atlantic water is too brisk for a swim, you can always retreat to the heated pool.
Exploring the local side of Sagres from Martinhal
Every year, Martinhal invites a group of local artists to revamp the space. In 2022, the resort brought Oficina Marques, a Lisbon-based atelier run by Gezo and José that works mainly with wood and ceramics, including repurposed material like wine boxes, drawers, or doors. Inspired by their stay at Martinhal Sagres, the duo created seven pieces that were displayed across the hotel’s lobby, spa, and restaurants. One stand out is the Mãe Pássaro (Mother Bird). In it, a female figure uses one arm as a nest while the other releases a bird. It represents the two sides of motherhood: protective but also freeing.
Other featured artists and works included textile artist Maria Pratas, who weaved bits of roots growing near the Sagres cliffs into her handmade boxes; natural candles from Casa Bohemia; and Marie de Carvalho, the curator behind the Ojo Gallery, who showcased a mix of tapestries and ceramics.
Over the course of a weekend, I got to know several wellness brands making things like haircare products, creams, and artisanal soaps. One such meeting was with Ana and Alicia from Hair Rituel by Sisley, who shared tips on the best way to treat your hair. Equilibrium Lisboa led a gyrokinesis lesson (a type of workout that focuses on joint mobility), while Fios Jardins Suspensos led a kokedama (Japanese moss ball planting) workshop. The highlight, however, was the hands-on watercolor workshop from Claus Porto, a beloved Portuguese beauty brand launched in 1887.
Getting out into nature
Sagres is a prime spot for surfing in the Algarve. Its privileged location in Portugal’s southwest means you can catch waves from the west and the south. Beaches here range from large sandy stretches to small coves, and there’s a surf school on pretty much every corner. The hotel’s Water Sports Center in Praia do Martinhal hosts windsurf classes and provides kayaks and stand-up paddles for guests eager to take on the sea.
If you’d rather stay on land, Sagres is part of the Costa Vicentina and is one of Portugal’s wildest coastal stretches. From here, you can follow sections of the Rota Vicentina, a network of trails that connect the Algarve to the Alentejo. The most popular one is the Trilho dos Pescadores, a 140-mile trail that takes you from Sagres to Porto Covo. Alternatively, you can explore shorter sections of the coast. Martinhal has a bike station, allowing you to get on your own two wheels or follow a guided tour.
Dining at Martinhal Sagres
With easy access to the coast, Sagres is an ideal spot to sample Portuguese seafood. Martinhal’s restaurants offer a taste of this, but also provide international delicacies and tasting menus curated by local chefs.
As Dunas: Overlooking the beach, this seafood restaurant sources fish directly from the Sagres market, so it’s always fresh. Try the corvina (croaker) and tiger prawns, as well as a selection of poke bowls and dishes catered for children of all ages.
O Terraço: The sea views continue at this restaurant located above the lobby that serves a contemporary take on Portuguese cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Os Gambuzinos: It’s all about Italian cuisine here. Every day, chefs prepare pizza, risotto, and pasta for a buffet spread.
How to get to Sagres
By car: Faro is the closest airport to Sagres. From there, it’s about an hour and a half drive to the hotel. If you’re flying into Lisbon, you can rent a car and head down to Sagres following the A2. The journey takes around three hours.
By public transport: To get to Sagres via bus, depart from the Sete Rios terminal in Lisbon. Tickets can be purchased from Rede Expressos. Alternatively, you can catch a train from Lisbon to Lagos and then a bus to Sagres. The hotel can then pick you up in town.