Behind the Green is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tells stories of the people on the ground, exposes the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.
Meet Marianna, the owner of Villa Epicurea. She used to work in fashion and commercial photography before starting her family and deciding that she wanted to change her life by opening an eco-focused Villa. Now, in her spare time, she loves yoga and meditation, as well as going on long walks down to the beach.
Learn more about Villa Epicurea here>
What inspired you to follow the Epicurean philosophy at Villa Epicurea?
‘We are immersed in nature here, with sea views all around. This connection with nature is what inspired us to open Villa Epicurea. Although we’re only an hour away from Lisbon, it feels far from the city here, like the garden of Epicurus. And much like the Epicurean philosophy, we like to celebrate pleasure as the key to a happy and healthy life.’
What has been the biggest challenge you have overcome to date?
‘The biggest challenge was beginning. It was making the decision to switch to this completely new lifestyle without any formal education in it. Building it from scratch and investing everything I have has been a struggle, but it has given me a sense of freedom at the same time.’
What do you see as being the most important element of running an eco-friendly property?
‘It would be getting our guests to understand our eco-approach and behaviour, encouraging them to take it home with them. If we are able to affect our guest’s lives in even a small way, then we have achieved what we set out to do.’
What do you like to recommend for your guests to do when they visit Villa Epicurea?
‘I always encourage nature-based activities because this is such a beautiful area. A walk to the beach with a picnic (which we can provide) can be a lovely way to admire the surroundings, but even just sitting by the pool watching the sunset can be amazing.’
What is the latest green initiative you have introduced?
‘We have the first ecological pool of its kind in Portugal, which we are very proud of! We worked with a company in the UK (Clear Water Revival) to create this pool that doesn’t require any chemicals, you could even drink the water it is so pure and natural. About a month ago, we started making our own shower gel which we can teach guests to make themselves if they are interested. The ingredients are all natural, we use essential oils and it reduces waste.’
Do you carry this eco-approach into your own lifestyle?
‘Yes, I consciously try my best. I’ve always been an eco-conscious person. I’ve always tried to minimise my waste and use eco-friendly products. Little things like taking a bag out shopping with me have just always been something I’ve done. You can’t always do everything, but I am always thinking, how can I be better?’
In terms of building. How did you approach to make sure it was eco-conscious of its impact?
‘Because of Portuguese law, it actually took 3 years to build Villa Epicurea. We took steps to be eco-conscious where possible. We built in lots of windows to create natural light and installed solar panels because there is so much sun in Portugal that it just made sense to power the hotel this way. Most of the materials used were naturally sourced.’
What’s next for Villa Epicurea?
‘We are looking into getting electric cars and installing more solar panels to be able to power them. We are also building a sort of dome for outdoor activities. This dome will be perfect in winter for doing yoga and meditation, when you can be protected from the elements, but still have the amazing views you get here. One of the things we want to focus on is developing programs to improve our guests’ health. The programs will include massage, yoga, meditation and nutritional counselling. ’
Learn more about Villa Epicure & do your own green checks here>