Casa Coruja - Vale da Cegonha
Casa Aguia and Casa Coruja
- English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
About Penny Chapman
I started out as a school music teacher but then gave it up to go into business with my Mom and Dad, though I continued to give private piano and keyboard lessons. We bought a large Victorian house in Warwick and converted it into a small hotel. Mom and I ran it, my Dad kept on his own job as an accountant, so he did all the bookwork and also helped run the bar in the evening. When Dad retired we moved to Cornwall and bought a bit bigger hotel. By 2000, sadly, I’d previously lost both Mom and Dad so I was running the hotel alone. Unsure whether I wanted to continue, I booked myself on a package holiday to Malta. I needed to spend some time alone and think. On the last evening I met Greg. My first words to him were “Will you please tell your friend John to leave me alone, I’m not interested” “Nothing to do with me” he said, “but we can go elsewhere if you like”. Why not, I thought, I was going home the next day, anyway and he seemed pleasant enough. Six hours later we were still chatting and drinking coffee! The following day we met up for breakfast, swapped addresses and phone numbers (as you do) and went our separate ways - me back to Birmingham to see some friends, before returning to Cornwall and Greg back to Essex. Well, once back home I made that call and the rest as they say, is history. We were married in February 2002 and Greg joined me in running the hotel. Eventually we both decided that we wanted to move to Portugal, so we sold the hotel in 2006 and bought our land which is now Vale da Cegonha. We arrived to an empty field with a motor home, a caravan, 2 cars, 2 dogs and a container full of furniture. Water had to be collected from the next village until we had our own supply. We then set about designing and building Casa Aguia, Casa Coruja, the swimming pool and our own cottage, Casa Andorinha, which is nearby. It is an ongoing adventure; sometimes a bit of a bumpy ride, but we certainly have no regrets.
Penny Chapman purchased this Chateau / Country House in 2005
Why Penny Chapman chose Ourique
When we decided that we wanted to move to Portugal, we started, as many others do, looking at land in the Algarve. But we soon discovered that generally it was far too commercialised for us, particularly near to the coast. So we decided to move in land to the Lower Alentejo and discovered a whole different world. It was vast, wild, untouched and stunningly beautiful. This was more like it! This was the 'real' Portugal, as far as we were concerned. It totally got under our skin and has stayed there ever since.
What makes this Chateau / Country House unique
We looked at many plots of land before we bought Vale da Cegonha. It ticked all our boxes. It was sizeable - almost 7 hectares and it had wonderful views down the valley to the hills in the distance where the sun sets. From the top of the hill there are also fabulous views of the nearby Monte da Rocha Lake. Much of the land at Vale da Cegonha falls within the nature reserve that surrounds the lake. We can't build on it, nor will anyone else ever be able to either. Our views are protected. Starting with an empty field and a blank sheet of paper, meant that we could design the houses just as we wanted them to be. Drawing on our previous experience as hoteliers in Cornwall, we knew just how difficult it could be for disabled travelers to find accommodation that was truly wheelchair friendly. Certainly, if a group of friends happened to include more than one wheelchair user, then it was almost impossible. We were able to solve all that by simple subtle design features such as wider doorways, level thresholds, no steps, spacious rooms and shower rooms and wheelchair friendly kitchens. What we have created are two spacious, elegant country houses that everyone can enjoy.
On the barbeque terrace or pool terrace
Dogs must be controlled at all times.
Minimum age of primary renter:21
Max guests:8 (sleeps up to 6 adults)
Consideration for other guests particularly late evening and during the night
The pool terrace is shared. Please do not monopolize the whole area. There is space enough for everyone
Pets must not cause a nuisance to other guests. Dogs must not be left unattended in the house.
100% refund for cancellations more than 60 days before check-in date. 50% refund for cancellations more than 30 days before check-in date.
Marvellous villa, made really, really special by the hospitality given by the owner
Spacious and very clean two bedroom villa, with the added benefit of a very large kitchen/dining/lounge room. Comfortable beds and furniture. Kitchen well-supplied with utensils and basic supplies (salt, oil, clingfilm, etc.). On arrival, very pleased with the thoughtful provision of eggs, milk, bread, teabags, sugar, coffee (instant and filter!), orange juice and a bottle of wine.
The villa has a really nice pool (shared with other villa on site). Originally planning a holiday spent mostly at the western beaches, in the event we spent many happy hours by that pool, so pleasant were the loungers, the light rippling on the pool, and the stunning views. So quiet and peaceful, a great way to relax and enjoy the sun, with a chilled glass of wine ready to hand from our fridge if we needed it!
Ourique is only a few kilometers away, and there is an excellent supermarket and petrol station as you enter the town, so gaining necessary supplies for our holiday was very easy. Within the house, there were full notes on the attractions and facilities in the area, including recommendations to the local restaurants; we found these immensely useful.
We did have one or two days of cooler weather (mid-October, after all), and Penny, the owner, gave us plenty of olive wood and firelighters for the log-burner stove in the lounge, which really made us toasty-warm in the evenings.
Wonderful though the villa is, it was made extra-special by the continual kindness and thoughtfulness of the owner, Penny, in ways too many to express. She really tried hard to make our holiday in Portugal really special, and she succeeded. We're already planning our return trip back there next year, and if we can, we'll go twice...it's that good.
I'd like to say a huge thank you to David and Susan for taking the trouble to write such a wonderfully detailed and complimentary review.
I am delighted that they enjoyed their holiday here and that I was able to make it so special for them. It really was my pleasure.
I'm really looking forward to welcoming them back again, next year.
The best place to relax and enjoy
Ein wunderbarer Ort zum Entspannen und Genießen. Das Doppelhaus eignet sich wunderbar für größere Gesellschaften und Familien. Die Sonnenuntergänge und das beleuchtete Swimmingpool am Abend waren die Highlights an diesem Ort. Penny und Greg haben das Haus mit Liebe eingerichtet und halten es sauber und gepflegt. Es fehlt an gar nichts - ist sowohl für kleine Kinder als auch für Menschen mit Behinderung geeignet. Und wenn etwas nicht funktionieren oder fehlen sollte, dann sind Penny und Greg sofort da, um alles zu richten. Wir haben unseren Familienurlaub in diesem Ferienhaus sehr genossen und würden das dort wieder tun. Wir fühlten uns bei unseren Gastgebern sehr wohl!!! Vielen Dank dafür!
We had beautiful family holiday not last because of these wonderful hosts and the cozy house. After our daily trips we enjoyed to jump and swim in the lighted pool, to make barbecue outside of the house or only to watch the sunsets. If we had a little problem or missed something, Penny or Greg were always there to give us a recommendation or to find a solution for them. We felt very comfortable and had many fun. Thank you so much, Penny and Greg!
I'd like to thank Monika for writing such a wonderful review for us following their stay in Casa Coruja. I'd also like to thank her for taking the trouble to write in both German and English.
It is so important to us that guests enjoy their holidays here and so gratifying when they confirm that they have had a wonderful time.
On a more personal note, we are both so pleased that we were able to play a part, as hosts, in making their holiday such a success.
We are resident proprietors, so there is always one of us available to answer a question, solve a problem, if one arises, or just for a chat. We are here if our guests need us, but in the background, if they don't.
Small Gem in the Heart of Alentejo
Vale da Cegonha is a wonderfully isolated property at the top of a hill ("monte") in Alentejo, 6km from Ourique. It is composed by 2 main houses. We stayed at Casa da Andorinha, a 1-bedroom detached house with a fully-equipped kitchen. The outdoor area in contact with nature and the swimming-pool are the highlights of the property.
Although there is no electricity at Vale da Cegonha yet, the generator provides power for most of the day.
O Vale da Cegonha é um inesperado oásis de tranquilidade e bem-estar no Alentejo rural, excelente para quem necessita de desligar-se da rotina citadina, da ditadura do relógio e das ligações cibernéticas que (cada vez mais) nos dominam o tempo e energias.
Casas novas, limpas e bem equipadas, anfitriões atentos e de simpatia extrema, piscina refrescante, grelhador para preparar a carne suculenta do porco preto criado da região, sombra para ler, dormir ou jogar, céu estrelado à noite (cuja existência as luzes da cidade nos fazem esquecer) são razões mais do que suficientes para assentar arraiais e mudar de vida por uns dias.
A localização (perto do IC1, a meio caminho entre Évora e Portimão) permite-lhe servir de base para uma exploração da região Alentejana.
Recomendo (e espero repetir).
Thank you Luis. Our very best wishes to you and all your family.
Below is a translation, via Google, into English. Not perfect, but I am sure all will understand your intentions.
"The Valley of the Stork is an unexpected oasis of tranquility and well-being in rural Alentejo, excellent for those who need to secede from the city routine, the dictatorship of the clock and links to cyber (increasingly) dominated in time and energies.
New Houses, clean and well equipped, attentive hosts and extremely friendly, refreshing pool, grill to prepare meat succulent pig's created in the region, shade to read, sleep or play, starry sky at night (whose existence the city lights make us forget) are reasons more than enough to build camps and change your life for a few days.
The location (close to IC1, midway between Évora and Faro) allows you to serve as the basis for an exploration of the Alentejo region.
I recommend (and I repeat)
Penny & Greg made us feel very welcome. Super, fully self-contained accommodation in Casa Andorinha. A stunning countryside location with beautiful widflowers and wildlife, but not too far from fabulous restaurants at very reasonable prices. If you want peace and relaxation, this is the place for you.
Getting away from it all
We were some of the first visitors to the newly built Casa Andorinha and found it a very comfortable and well equipped little hide away. The owners, who live in the main house some distance away were very helpful and keen to make our stay as enjoyable as possible.
The area is very underdeveloped from a tourist point of view and would not suit people looking for Algarve type attractions. There is however no shortage of things to do for anyone who is prepared to spend a little bit of time researching what is available from the literature available in the cottage. We spent our time walking in the countryside, visiting archeological sites and ancient copper mines ( we're both geologists !), on the dramatic Atlantic Coast, canoeing, and pottering round the nearby country towns. Our week passed far too fast.
The local landscape is of rolling hills, dotted with cork, holm oak, eucalyptus and olive groves, plus small towns and villages. In Spring, vivid red, yellow, purple and white flowers carpet the land.
Our central location makes this an idea place from which to explore much of southern Portugal.
For a stunning beach to yourself, head west. Head south to the Algarve for the lively beach resorts
Visit Lisbon for a day of excellent sightseeing and shopping.
The World Heritage city of Evora and other local towns - Beja, Mertola and Serpa all have a long and fascinating history. There are also many archaeological sites throughout the Alentejo.
Some of the best Portuguese wine comes from the Alentejo. A visit to a local Vineyard including lunch, makes a great day out. You can also try quad biking, off-roading or horse riding while you are there or a trip in a hot air balloon.
Further afield is the Alqueva Reservoir and fortified hilltop village of Monsaraz, definitely worth a visit.
Other Activities: hot air ballooning, light air craft, quad biking, off roading.