Lonely Planet Writer

Remote Flores Island's stunning stone cottages win a sustainability award

On the westernmost point of Europe, tucked away on a plateau that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on Flores Island (Azores, Portugal), is the Aldeia da Cuada.

The eco-village has won environmental awards. Image by Aldeia da Cuada

This 17-year-old eco-tourism village, the first of its kind on the Portuguese archipelago, won the award for Environmental Sustainability on 30 May given by the AHRESP – the Portuguese Association of Hotels and Restaurants. “For us, winning this award means we’re on the right track but also that we have to continue to work to keep up the sustainability standards”, Carlota Silva told me over the phone. She is the daughter of the owners, currently managing the property with her husband. “We would like Aldeia da Cuada to be a calling card of sustainability”.

The village is on Flores Island in the Azores. Image by Aldeia da Cuada

Aldeia da Cuada (Cuada Village in English) was a rural town established in the early 19th century, with a population of 122, where people lived off agriculture and weaving until the 1960s. As life conditions declined in the Azores at that time, the wave of emigration to North America increased and little by little the village became a ghost town. Teotónia and Carlos Silva fell in love with the village almost 30 years ago and started working on what would become their passion project in the early 2000s, buying and rebuilding the abandoned houses, improving accessibility and facilities, including electricity and plumbing. Each accommodation unit is named after the former owner, as a tribute to the ones who once lived there, and is decorated with vintage pieces that evoke the village’s early days.

There are 20 houses in the village. Image by Aldeia da Cuada

Today, the village has an on-site bar, a restaurant that only uses local products, and a total of 20 independent basalt-stone rural houses (maintaining the original style), each with a private garden and fully-equipped kitchen. The only house that stands out, painted in white, is the Império – a sort of small chapel where every year they celebrate the religious festivities in honour of the Holy Spirit, an Azorean tradition.

The houses are decorated with vintage pieces to reflect the village’s history. Image by Aldeia da Cuada

“For us, winning this award means we’re on the right track but also that we have to continue to work to keep up the sustainability standards”, Carlota Silva told Lonely Planet over the phone. She is the daughter of the owners, currently managing the property with her husband. “We would like Aldeia da Cuada to be a calling card of sustainability”.