River House meets river retreat, a holiday haven for foodies and nature lovers
Heading inland from Silves, you might get the impression that you’re venturing into no man’s land but that is far from the case. There are many rural retreats hidden in wonderfully peaceful and stunningly beautiful locations dotted around the Algarve, so Inside Magazine took a drive out to meet Cheryl and Graham Smith and find out what makes their place special.
They bought a traditional Portuguese farmhouse with stables and a barn, which was converted into Figs on the Funcho, and there are now two main buildings within the property boundaries, River House and River Lodge.
The River House is now a modern, stylish and spacious villa with five roomy double bedrooms, an infinity pool overlooking the Funcho River, and decking areas designed for dining, entertaining and, most importantly, relaxing under the Carob trees enjoying a gorgeous uninterrupted view over the idyllic countryside. It’s a place of privacy and undisturbed tranquility, ideal for guests who appreciate the splendid location and its air of sophistication.
The River Lodge is currently a barn and stables with big plans for the future and will be converted over the coming years into individual double rooms with social areas and more fabulous outdoor spaces. Figs on the Funcho is a destination venue where the Smiths pride themselves on giving their guests the very best of what’s on offer in the local area. With specialty welcome baskets, private arrangements with local suppliers, your own SUP trips on the river, the Via Algarviana walking route directly past the driveway and a “can do attitude” from the owners, just about anything is possible here.
A real foodie, Cheryl told us about the various experiences that are on offer at Figs on the Funcho. “We offer various cookery classes and retreats from a four-hour Portuguese Holiday Cooking Master Class to a five-day Culinary Extravaganza. Under the guidance of a local chef, guests get to create a bespoke menu using ingredients of their choice to suit their preferences and we also offer a three-hour Indian cookery class, which is proving very popular. The five-day extravaganza combines a discovery tour of the local culinary dishes with a holiday cooking course where guests will discover the passion of Portuguese cooking, how to create local specialties and which seasonal ingredients will add that extra something to your dish.”
Cooking together is a great way to understand Portuguese ingredients and methods and even more so in their highly sociable and bright kitchen which is ideal for cookery classes. Portugal is rich in fabulous, seasonal produce and cuisine which is becoming a tourist attraction in itself while some of the country’s biggest gastronomic events are now taking place here in the Algarve.
Guests can enjoy early morning yoga sessions on the Waterfront Deck and Cheryl works closely with a number of yoga and detox experts who host their own workshops at Figs on the Funcho every year. Through the workshops, guests find out how to increase their energy and cleanse their system, leaving them feeling renewed by the end of their stay. For example, The Raw Truth, including yoga by popular regular visitor Stephanie Jeffs, is a detox retreat that will take place in the first two weeks of August 2017.
Individuals can join detox expert Stephanie for a week-long break in the Algarve whilst gaining an understanding of how super foods can reinvigorate your body and mind. The retreat includes demonstrations on how to prepare healthy, detoxifying meals and raw food dishes while also offering rest and the prospect of losing some weight.
The layout of the River House is just lovely and suitable for families, friends, and groups and has enough space to accommodate up to 70 people for weddings or other events such as family holiday or organized retreats.
Cheryl told us: “I’m passionate about Portugal; holidaying, exploring, enjoying good food and wine and sharing my discoveries with others so that they can experience the luxurious offerings of the Algarve. Our dream for the future is to settle in the south of Portugal which we chose as our ‘living the dream destination’. I love to explore the area, find new beaches, restaurants, and activities, sample new wines and visit nearby towns and villages. And so, you can trust that all recommendations on our blog and in our resources have been tried, tested and given the Cheryl stamp of approval.”
TEXT MIA WALLACE