Re-emerging for the summer travel season under a new identity, following the unveiling of Octant Hotels, no one can deny that Octant Evorá answers accurately to its location, while also sheltering idyllic spaces that are suitable for all modern travellers. Editor Hamish Kilburn becomes the ‘first in’ under the new name to exclusively review the boutique wellness hotel…
Evorá, with its harsh, dry climate and mirage-inducing landscape – geographically pinned right in the centre of Portugal – is not the obvious place to expect a luxury hotel. But for Octant Hotels, a newly formed hotel group that sits under the Discovery Hotel Management portfolio that comprises eight properties dotted around the country, the site formally owned and partially built by a famous footballer was the perfect venue to showcase wellness and wellbeing outside already popular hospitality hotspots.
For Luís Mexia Alves, CEO of Discovery Hotel Management, the arrival of Octant Hotels is aimed very much to “meet the needs of the new generation of tourists” who are emerging globally who seek out authentic, laidback yet luxurious experiences. “With Octant, we hope to connect our guests to the places where each of the hotels are located through warm hospitality, food and wine and unique experiences in an authentic way,” he told Hotel Designs. “We’re thrilled to have finally launched it, especially at such a pivotal time in the recovery of the Portuguese tourism market.”
Each property in the eight territories have a unique stamp within the collection – and Evorá is no exception, which first opened in 2021, with a sharp design and architecture narrative very much dictating how guests should feel immediately upon arrival: at ease, calm and taken care of.
For guests checking in, seeing nothing on the horizon other than the working estate and vast hills, it’s hard to escape the feeling of complete relaxation – far removed from city life– as Alves explained. “The hotel’s design speaks of the locality and it evokes a sense of true relaxation and immersion into the landscape,” he said. “This is matched with an element of buzz and excitement, created by the communal spaces around the pools, firepits and outdoor bar and immersive nature of the working farm, expansive land to roam and wild gardens.”
The deliberately low-level architecture of the hotel allows the building’s foundation to connect, almost sink, into nature. In fact, this along with the savvy design throughout makes the hotel stylishly accessible to all guests checking in.”The hotel structure blends seamlessly with its setting and we knew it would offer something special to guests looking to visit the region,” added Alves. “Since purchasing the property, we have designed and executed all of the interior spaces and created additional villas for family and group getaways. The hotel lends itself to evolution and we will continue to regenerate the estate as and when it is required.”
Each area has been designed consciously by Broadway Maylan, with endless nods to Evorá’s unique topography, whether that be the almost real-looking tree in the lobby or the bamboo-like lighting pendants in the restaurant and guestrooms. What guests don’t perhaps see, though, are the solar panels on the rooftops of the buildings, which produce clean energy for many areas of the hotel, including the heated indoor pool in the summer months and the air conditioning.
The journey through Octant Evora is refined, with a clever lighting scheme, at shin height, allowing the experience between spaces to feel muted yet dramatic – all part of setting the scene – almost transforming guests through two contrasting vibes.
Inside the rooms and suites, guests are immediately hit with a Mediterranean-meets-rural-farm design style, which feels immediately relaxing and well considered – the way guestsrooms should feel these days. With a distinct lack of complicated technology, the colour scheme of shallow-ocean blue mixed with earthy taupe compliments the simple yet effective landscape artwork that hangs above the bed. The rooms on the ground floor feature floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding door that opens onto a private decking with two sun loungers.
Beyond this is where private and public areas meet for the first time, as guests can walk onto the mounded garden, towards the two main pools. It’s a clear indication that manicured landscape architecture plays a clear role in the hotel.
While the guestrooms may be tranquil, Octant Evora’s best kept secret – of which I am about to out – is located at the edge of the property. Past the hotel’s fast-growing herb garden, but not as far as its very own farm, sit four completely separate, adult-only pools, which sit on individual pavilions.
Next to these, on a separate stage, if you like and decorated with hanging lights, is an area that is reserved for parties, yoga and ‘oxygen sessions’ (you heard me correctly). This specially curated session – new to me – mixes cohesive breathing exercises with yoga and a hint of meditation. In many ways, it’s the perfect experience if, like many guests expected to check in, are looking to detach from the often hectic, always on, world outside.
The other special area of the hotel is located above and beyond the lobby. The hotel’s spa is a ‘treatment’ in itself. With an indoor pool, sauna, steam room and a fully operational gym, this area of the hotel offers all and more that today’s modern traveller desires – and it does so with elegance, thanks to a carefully curated natural design scheme that helps transport its guests into a zen-fused enclave.
Checking out of Octant Evorá, I am impressed with the raw bones of the place – designed with all travellers in mind. As the hotel settles into its surroundings, and as it gets used to its fresh identity, I can see it flourishing into one of Portugal’s finest. But before I leave, I am intrigued to understand what’s next from this new and disruptive brand. “The Octant brand has only just launched into the Portuguese hotel market and as such, our focus remains on driving brand awareness, delivering warm hospitality and continuing to invest back into the properties with the group,” concluded Alves. “The name Octant is inspired in the octant, also called reflecting quadrant, it is a reflection instrument used primarily in measuring distances for navigation. For us we are not limited to eight, because our inspiration is this instrument, we have hotels all over Portugal, from north to south and Azores, and we intend to grow.”
And so the journey continues, which after all is much more fun and fulfilling than the end destination.
Main image credit: Octant Evorá