"Why have 22-karat gold chandeliers and gilded walls, when you can delight your eyes to our precious lava stone, provided by the very same volcanoes that created the Azores."
MINUVIDA AZORES is not a business model. It's rather a mission-driven business. While we see the tourism industry trying to monetize "experiences" "authentic" "sustainable" – the biggest question is whether they believe any of it or are simply trying to sell more rooms with old gimmicks. We walk the line.
It's refreshing to see that our philosophy permeates our team. We tasked our guest manager, friendly local expert Luís, to study the premium travel industry and he found a single focus on indulgence. Why do we need seven-star hotels anyway? What about what really matters?
In Luís' words:
The Azores has given us infinite fortune. If we maintain it our future will be as green and healthy as it has always been. In reviewing luxury hotels and how they describe themselves, what sets us apart is that we are authentic. People do not leave minuvida with an illusion, but a reality – memories they will never forget.
Yoga and meditation are the most important tools for self-awareness and reflection, softening our own inner criticisms and expanding our world – a belief that carried me across the Atlantic to start minuvida.
At minuvida, we base our experience package around the idea of connecting guests to food, hiking and yoga. Many guests attended their first yoga class here. As my Portuguese started to improve I slowly grew a local community of yoga students. Classes evolved into a mix of locals and visitors, a mix of English and sometimes comical Portuguese.
Our post-practice herbal tea gives students an opportunity to engage in conversation. Locals enjoy hearing how much visitors love their island. Visitors enjoy getting to know locals, what they do, about the island, and even get some insider tips.
I hosted a sunset series in summer, selecting a different beach or viewpoint every week to host a class. Post-class conversations sometimes led to impromptu dinners. Those are some of the most memorable nights for me.
Isn’t that what travel is all about? Those experiences that lead to a new friend? Gaining a different perspective? Learning how to say a few words in a new language? Communicating beyond words?
These are the experiences that foster self-discovery.
During yoga we breathe deeply. We work to feel our breath in various parts of our body, becoming aware of the present moment – as well as the connection between breath, body, and mind. Through this awareness, we appreciate even more the abundant nature that surrounds us on this magical island. We smell more. We feel more. We smile more. And then hopefully we bring that awareness home with us. We stay more connected to ourselves and our world, day to day.
I am leading a yoga + mindfulness retreat coming up this April Join me and Discover + Feel the Azores.
The bounty of the sea and the gifts of the land, enhanced by freshness, make for a rich and varied local cuisine – not to mention the endless variety of fruit and decadent sweets.
It's the perfect time for cactus pears. We packed our blow torch and tongs and got on our way.
A hiking holiday in the Azores rewards with postcard vistas of mountains and sea, lush, almost Jurassic forests.
THE FEBRUARY CHILL of the Azores mountains vanished as we started ascending the rim of the dormant Furnas volcano. Sweat drained out of our pores. We could feel our own breath, hear our hearts beat. We slowed down. The silence of the walk gave to meditation amidst the lush foliage of the subtropical cloud forest.
Number one question: Is it warm there?
Post by João
We know that the Azores are fairly unknown and as your local experts on the ground we are eager to provide the answers, which you can also find neatly packaged in our Resources page.
So, the (as-if-I-was-in-front-of-you-tongue-and-cheek) answers...
How warm... Look, with a yearly average temp of 63 to 64F (17 to 18c), yes it's a fairly warm place. But Puerto Rico's yearly average is about 75F (23 to 24c). So, we are not a tropical island paradise. But we do have plenty of guavas, bananas and palm trees. We aren't fully temperate (say like in Boston) either. We are somewhere in between. Imagine San Diego-like temperatures with Seattle-like amounts of rain.
But that's only half the story. São Miguel is known as the "green island" aptly named for its lush evergreen look. There's little change in temperature between seasons. In summer the warmest month has highs of 79F (26c) and lows of about 66F (19c). In the coldest month highs average 63F (17c) and lows 54F (12c). Summer-like temps can occur from June through September. Winter-like temps can occur the rest of the year. October and November are transition months, as are April and May. Summer tends to be drier (10 days with rain on average) and winter wetter (20 days with rain). Today is a beautiful sunny skies day with a 66F temp. Yesterday it rained.
It's always pretty humid -- as in 84 percent average year-round. Yes, mold-will-grow-on-your-shoes humid. So, it can feel colder (or warmer) in winter. When the sun is out, like today, it can feel like 80F (27c). When it's windy, it can feel like 40F (4c). It can also feel raw in unheated homes. We have a cozy fireplace and in-room heat Enough of this one.
Driving around in a car... Ok, we get it. Many, many people are reluctant to rent a car during their vacation. They either don't drive at home or don't want the added expense. But the freedom you'll get by renting a car is priceless. The island is not huge, but it's very hilly and public transport is not thorough, although it's getting better. Also, this is not a resort-like place with all the attractions centered around, say, downtown Ponta Delgada. To truly experience everything the island has to offer, you really need to be able to get around. So, you either spend a lot of time on buses or get to experience more by driving yourself. Or, you can sign up for tours, but that can also get expensive and is often impersonal. Luckily, we have solved the problem with our minuvida experience packages, where we include an airport pickup and assist in arranging an affordable rental a car delivered right to quinta minuvida
Two-or-three islands... To which I reply: Do you prefer shoving junk food down your throat during your half-hour lunch while sitting at your desk or would you rather have a nice sit-down dinner at a fine establishment at a leisurely pace? I know which one I would pick. To get a full experience, don't plan to visit other islands during a one-week vacation. S. Miguel is the main island with the most things to do and places to go. One week is not enough. It's also more than 60 miles from the nearest island, Santa Maria. So, getting around to other islands is not that easy. If coming more than a week, I'd reccomend a second week in the closely clustered central group of Pico, Faial and S. Jorge. Those are easy to get around, each apart by boat about a half-hour to an hour only. Or take a 3- to 4-hour ferry in summer months to Santa Maria. Just don't try to squeeze in multiple islands on week-long stay.
I can hear a drumroll in the distance... We have completed renovations and welcomed our first guests (a full house!) just two weeks ago. We are incredibly grateful for all the people, business partners and friends who have made this endeavor possible and it is here that we are first announcing some very exciting grand opening specials. But first, a few of our favorite photos...
A full photo album is on our Facebook PageCheck it out!
Specials + promotions
Guests who choose to stay longer than 3 days can add additional days at our lodging only rates or opt for the 5-night package. Dinner subject to availbility of Quinta dos Sabores.
Experiences offered will be based on guest responses to our curated trip planning survey. We will be sure to offer something special for the whole family!
Details are forthcoming! Book now to make sure you're here in the Azores during this exciting weekend!
For those of you in the Boston area: there is a special airline promo right now that ends on Dec. 15 for flights between Jan. 8 and March 31. Full details on the Azores Airlines website.
The 8 a.m. buzzing of jack-hammers and greeting workers in pajamas half-asleep is something we've accepted as natural during our construction over the last six-moths.
But we're getting ready to make our own buzz now.
In our last construction update we had (finally) started the long-awaited transformation of quinta minuvida from a traditional manor home to a full-fledged lodging facility, including building our new home. It has been incredible to witness the daily happenings and we are so lucky to have a fantastic architect construction manager and team who are helping us realize this dream. It hasn't been all peaches, of course.
We have moved in and out of the property about a half-a-dozen times, and even camped in the back to accommodate a few early reservations. We were lucky to have them but João and I nearly killed each other trying to serve gourmet meals while eating our own out of a microwave (since we had no real kitchen...). We even lived with João's mom for a few weeks.
We are SO looking forward to finally having our own home! So, without further ado...
Before and nows!
Note that on the "now" photos the landscaping and manicuring will be the last part;-)
Here are shots of the living room expansion, new reception and corridor to our future home (formerly the four-car garage). First the team built foundations and then put in iron framing for earthquake-resistant columns. Insulated cement brick walls went up. Inside the living room is a new fireplace and reception area.
This is the view from on the other side, showing the living room expansion and also the second floor private balcony and bathroom for the Dragon Tree Suite. Now that double-pane windows and volcanic stone detail are in it's time for paint!
Some of the main work inside involved creating suites out of the several smaller rooms, and creating in-suite bathrooms. Shown below is the opening in the 3-foot stone wall to create the two-room Kentia Suite bedroom and living room.
And here's the Kentia bathroom; just needs the fixtures and finishing touches.
Meanwhile, other exciting stuff is going on in the inside, including a revamped electrical system (oh the dust that created with cutting into stone walls!) and newly stained wood floors and ceilings really bring the original elements into their former glory.
And now for our home! It was the first part of the project, mostly to create a staging area while the main house was being worked on. We intended to build our home in the back (where the new yoga studio will be), but zoning regulations dictated only one main "residence" and so our home had to be built connected to the main house. It looks very much like our first home together in Somerville, Mass.!
And this is the back of our new house (former garage) and where we created an additional bedroom. There is also a brand new three-chamber septic tank, holy shit!
Stay tuned for some exciting finished photos! – although we are learning that with a property this big and visions so grand, we'll really never be "done"!