Our family lived in Funchal but was looking for a calm place in the countryside to spend weekends and holidays. We remember with great happiness and pleasure the sunny day, in 1995, when we found Calhau Grande: a beautiful wild place with big rocks and terraces. The name of this family project – Calhau Grande (Big Rock) – arose exactly by influence of the great basaltic stones that can be found here, some of them measure 5 meters in height.
The main house, which we later called Calhau, belonged to a humble family that lived from the use of the agricultural land. A very beautiful house, with two bedrooms, built in basaltic stone. Nearby, there was also a smaller house, Palheiro, which was used as a shelter for animals during the night. A large space of garden and orchard surrounded the rustic houses, where we could also find some ruins of other houses here and there. As you can imagine, we immediately felt in love with this picturesque place. It was exactly what we were looking for. The superb view over the Atlantic Ocean, the existing flora and the relaxing calmness of this haven contributed to the final decision of creating here, in Calhau Grande, our family shelter, that later became our dream project.
We started restoring the main house. Every weekend we came from Funchal with our two children so that we could all work together towards a common goal: our rural holiday house. The cottage was carefully rehabilitated by us, in accordance with the architectural models of the region in order to protect the surrounding landscape. This process finished in April 1998, and we will never forget the first night we slept here. Everything was more serene compared to the city: the smell of the flowers, the singing of the frogs at nightfall and the sound of the birds at dawn.
The main house was ready, but Palheiro was still waiting. We decided to move forward with its rehabilitation, creating a small cottage with a kitchenette and bathroom. In addition to preserving the existing local heritage, if some friends wanted to join us, by the weekend, they could stay in house Palheiro. Then, we thought about having a modest swimming pool for our kids. The terrace below the houses was perfect to build the pool without creating a negative impact on the landscape. With a lot of work and effort, the swimming pool appeared.
Quickly we felt desire to show this magnificent place. It was great to share Calhau Grande with family and friends, like giving a little of our hearts. We worked so hard to have our dream come true and the best reward was to see their happiness here. In 2004, the idea of renting the cottage Palheiro was born, and our first guests stayed here for a week in March. It was such a good experience. The guests were so friendly, and we could share life stories and the same green ideas: live in harmony with nature, recycle materials, bring new life to old things.
Over time, other houses emerged from the ruins, in chronological order: Sapateiro, Tenda, Levada, Junior and Sol. Also, the cottage Palheiro had to be rehabilitated and was divided into two different studios: Palha and Eira. Now, we are based in Calheta and our daughter Sofia is working in Calhau Grande, receiving the guests with joy and sharing what our region has the best to offer. Our son Pedro, following the father’s passion for construction, works as an architect and helps designing the new rehabilitation projects.
The spirit never changed. We love Calhau Grande and we are all working for having it alive!