Illustration by Meredith Owen

Illustration by Meredith Owen

Often the well-rehearsed sanctimony of promotional material insisting on the qualities of a service, brand or product reduces it to the level of juvenile bragging rights, trivial garnish or constituent parts incapable of adding to anything approaching their combined promise. Mobile phone manufacturers, whose devices routinely fail to live up to their self-imposed hype, or an overly publicised restaurant, whose cooking we’d prefer to have remained behind its incapable kitchen doors, are cases in point.

Both examples result in a routine but frustrating letdown, particularly when phones are tested in untainted conditions or our friend the chef, lacking skills beyond aggrandisement, is forever condemned to being a stranger to practice making perfect, despite it being common to wish to excel at something. Swiss-born Roman Stern and his Singaporean wife Chitra have done away with that idiom altogether by successfully realising a vision at their first attempt and removed the assumption that grand marketing claims are but the first clue to a lacklustre experience.

Once colleagues at the London office of PricewaterhouseCoopers, the couple solidified a love discovered there and their mutual ambition for more personally rewarding gains by establishing in 2010 the five-star Martinhal Beach Resort and Hotel on Portugal’s unspoilt western Algarve. A stone’s throw courtesy of the rugged scenery from the historic village of Sagres, visitors find a sleepy place untroubled by modernity yet proud of its legend as location for Prince Henry the Navigator’s 15th century nautical school where Christopher Columbus learned the seas.

Nowadays Sagres is a renowned European surfing destination, ideal as is the resort itself for unwinding. Beautifully situated within a 40-hectare nature reserve overlooking Martinhal beach, particular care has been paid to the resort blending seamlessly into the landscape as if germinating from it. Plant choices such as rosemary and lavender scent the surroundings as intended, the building’s soft-textures blend harmoniously as if attuned to an undisturbed environment, and the organic colour-palette of materials respond to the ambient nature behind the area’s calm complexion.

Read the rest of the Story by NoéMie Schwaller and Paul Stewart in our S/S14 issue, available for purchase here.

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