It is in the silence of nature, in a village of Trás-os-Montes that has stood still in time, that Casas Novas Countryside Hotel Spa & Events welcomes those who choose this luxurious rural hotel for a few days of leisure and escape. The new restaurant and the new spa, opened in early 2022, are just two of the many reasons for interest in this quaint hotel, the life plan of Fernando Moura, a businessman born in Cortiço, a neighboring village of Casas Novas, who lived in the United States of America.
In 1999, during a visit to his homeland, he accidentally discovers an 18th century manor house, built in 1749, which belonged to the second count of Penamacor, António de Saldanha Albuquerque and Castro Ribafria, who married a Trás-os-Donna Montes. Located in an area with fertile soils, rich in water and a microclimate suited to viticulture and fruit growing, it was the main building of an agricultural property that produced 150 barrels of wine and 40,000 kilos of pears and apples.
“It is a perfect example of Baroque architecture”, boasts the current owner, who fell in love with the ancient manor as soon as he saw it, despite the state of neglect. “It was abandoned for many years. It was sold to a Portuguese who returned from Brazil with a great fortune. Having no children, it was donated to Santa Casa da Misericórdia. It has been in their possession for over 100 years,” recalls Fernando Moura .
It was for the cloisters that today enchant guests of Casas Novas Countryside Hotel Spa & Events as soon as they enter the hotel gates that the entrepreneur fell in love more than 20 years ago. “It was love at first sight. They were the ones who made this madness happen,” he guarantees. In 2008, after five demanding years of restoration work, he finally manages to open the rural hotel he had imagined, at the time with only 20 rooms. Current legislation no longer allowed this.
Currently, in addition to an outdoor and an indoor swimming pool, it has 34 rooms, a restaurant and a wellness center, in a new building that has a direct connection with the old manor house, classified as a monument of public interest by the Institute for Management of Architectural Heritage and Archaeological Sites (IGESPAR). In the new wing there are 27 rooms, spread over two floors. The rest, around the old kitchen, now a library, will be renovated and modernized starting in 2023.
The two symmetrical blocks joined by a centuries-old cloister, built to make the most of the sun exposure on sunny days, are the soul of Casas Novas Countryside Hotel Spa & Events. Located on the main street of the village of Trás-os-Montes which gives it its name and which invites for relaxing walks, it is also the starting point for exploring the surrounding countryside. In addition to heather, you can harvest broom, broom, lavender and / or eucalyptus leaves.
It is then possible to bring the collected herbs to the spa masseurs, who mix them with organic vegetable oils and apply them during (very) therapeutic massages. This new space, which can also be used by those who do not stay overnight in the hotel, is another of Fernando Moura’s prides. “We have three treatment rooms and a relaxation room and they all have a view of nature,” the entrepreneur is proud. The connection with the earth and with the four seasons of the year is one of the premises of the wellness center of the transmontana hotel.
“In the spring we bet on indigenous herbal massages. In the summer we set up the outdoor tables and take advantage of the landscape and the good weather. In the autumn we will do treatments with wine. In the winter, we are thinking of doing those with hot stones”, announces the former emigrant. In the surroundings, in addition to Chaves and the old villages, there are restaurants that are worth trying, such as Míscaro and Casa do Capador, known for the Bísaro pig.
Another must-see, near the Casas Novas Countryside Hotel Spa & Events, is the picturesque Quinta de Arcossó, the dream of another man from the region, the entrepreneur and wine producer Amílcar Salgado. It was there, in a valley with a wide temperature range, that he decided to start a wine and olive oil production project that was much appreciated. “I made everything from scratch in 2001”, boasts the Nordic producer, defender of authentic and minimalist winemaking.
The nectars it produces and sells are the perfect accompaniment to the cod alla viscountess do Rosário and the grilled lamb of the lameiros do Barroso, two of the specialties served by the refurbished restaurant of the Fernando Moura hotel. With enchanting views over the hills and valleys, this restaurant, open every day, focuses on traditional products of the region, such as the famous alheira, which is present in various gastronomic packages.