Estalagem da Quinta da Casa Branca now has an extra five suites and a villa allowing you to have the experience of living like a great Madeiran family.
The label of the bottle on the table you find when you arrive tells you a bit of the history of this estate. It is a bottle of Madeira wine produced by the Leacocks, one of the oldest producers of the island’s renowned wine. The choice is not a random one. It is, in fact, symbolic because Estalagem Quinta da Casa Branca is the contemporary version of the estate that belonged to the family, who traded in wine back in the 18th century and ended up creating of the most successful business groups in Madeira.
There are no traces left from those days except for the place where the family ventured into agriculture and cattle in the 19 th century. And what has been done with the place has resulted in one of the most challenging hotel offers in Madeira. Initially, it opened in 1998 as a small 40 bedroom hotel, built on minimalist lines, and designed by architect João Favila Menezes. It was then expanded with the addition of three suites and a new building in 2002. And thus the island’s first design hotel was born. Since 2003 it is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. All of the 43 rooms and suites were recently remodelled.
The estate, an ancient Madeiran quinta once comprised 70 thousand square meters. Nowadays it is 28 thousand square meters long. The offer of the discreet contemporary buildings was reinforced with two manor houses, one comprising five suites and the other one, known as the Pool Villa, dating back to the 1850s.
Turning the area where the family lived into the hotel’s new wing was a true clash with the past. ‘The house remains pretty much how it was when the family inhabited it’ says general manger Alberto Reynolds. One of the suites leads to a balcony with a view over part of the garden and the banana tree plantation. There lived William Leacock until 2012, the last member of the family to reside in the building.
Seventeenth and eighteenth century furniture abounds and almost nothing was removed, with the exception of pieces gifted to the Sacred Art Museum of Madeira. The suites were renovated and remodelled to function as hotel accommodation, while preserving the classical style of thendécor.
The house was designed by Portuguese architect Castro Freire in 1946 who drew inspiration from the English country house. Thick basalt stone walls and wide rooms. Access to the main-house is restricted to visitors, except for those staying at the suites and using the dining room.
At the Pool Villa, spaces were modernized though the building retains its original style. Spacious, with glass doors, it is the ideal place to enjoy Madeira’s famous sunshine.
Comfort, quality lighting, taste in décor, the blend between classic and functional contemporary, all can be said to describe the new suites and villa.
The hotel’s new area contributes to position it in the premium segment. Service is emphasised, with plenty of fresh fruit, coffee, water and Madeira wine and private terraces. Above all, one gets to experience all that would be expected of a hotel while still feeling like at a family home. It is like immersing oneself in the past of Madeira and the lifestyle of the great families from the 19 th and 20 th centuries who owned many quintas and their manor houses, gardens and agricultural properties.
The garden cause for notable pride. Botanic tourism is one of the hotel’s bets. Species are identified with their scientific names, common names and origin. A map guides visitors through the most iconic plants found in 28 thousand square meters’ worth of grounds. The garden is a definite asset during winter, when visitors from the colder corners of Europe come to find flowers in full bloom. This is one of the pluses of gardens in Madeira, where plants from the southern hemisphere that bloom in the winter have been planted over the centuries.
Estalagem da Quinta da Casa Branca’s new area has allowed for a new pool and new library. These add value to the existing spa, gym, sauna and Turkish bath. And they further one’s sense of tranquillity seeing as to how the estate is in an area where few people live. There is no shortage of comfy corners where one can enjoy a book, take in the view, or simply rest.
Having three restaurants, this hotel is unique in its segment. The Garden Pavilion, where breakfast and lunch are served; the Quinta House, completely remodelled, with both dinner and snacks menus; and The Dining Room, the signature restaurant integrated into the main-house and meant for gourmet experiences.
Chef Carlos Magno has creatively combined menus with local products and a touch of international cuisine in every space, always adding a twist of his own. A good example would be the international rack of lamb imbued with a local flavour. The wine and polite service also contribute to give one a memorable gastronomic experience.
Not only is there scenery, comfort, people and quality here, Estalagem Quinta da Casa Branca also sports plenty of detail. It is a small hotel in a large estate. It is a customized space. Here, people have a name.