Malhadinha Nova | 2022-02-18

Herdade da Malhadinha Nova: A rural experience in a natural and pure environment

 Interview conducted by Green Purpose to Rita Andrade Soares, CEO of Herdade da Malhadinha Nova. 


1. Tell us a little about the history of Herdade da Malhadinha Nova and the concept associated with it.

Malhadinha Nova is a family project, that started in 1998 with the purchase of an abandoned property in the lower Alentejo, in one of the least populated areas of Europe. The transversal concept to all business areas of the Herdade focuses on the preservation of the endogenous characteristics of the property and the immense desire to preserve this unique area, to improve it through the development of diverse activities, always with a huge investment in quality and with the aim of leaving a legacy.
The project starts with the plantation of the first 20 hectares of vineyards, with the construction of a winery and culminates today with several business areas developed in the property, all of it in certified organic production, self-sufficiency in wine and olive oil, produced from the majority Portuguese grape varieties existing at the property; agricultural production and livestock farming through the breeding of the native breeds and the breeding of the Lusitano Purebred horse.
The tourism project with accommodation was born with the recovery of a ruin of Monte da Peceguina, a unit with 10 rooms and most recently with the recovery of all the ruins existing in the 455 hectares of the property, in which today there are 26 rooms spread over five different hotel units.

2. What experience do you want to offer to visitors?

All the experiences we provide at Malhadinha are custom-made for those who visit us, by the hands of a creative and dedicated team, inspired by various themes, such as wine, the central pillar, gastronomy, culture, adventure, sports, romance, well-being, among others, and the limit of what we want to create and provide is imagination.

3. In what way is sustainability present at the estate?

Sustainability is present across the board. From the beginning of the project, the HMN project immediately became also the enormous challenge of maintaining the sustainability and the natural balance of a unique property, never before under attack by exhaustive soil exploration through chemical fertilization and/or pesticide use or the planting of any intensive monoculture, or even the target of any real estate speculation that would have easily led to the building of hundreds or thousands of square meters of construction to guarantee an easy to find economic sustainability.
The preservation of a perfect ecosystem made up of Holm oak groves, traditional olive groves, wheat, oat and barley fields and natural grassland, the preservation and restoration of the centuries-old buildings on the property quickly became a primary objective.

All the exploitation potential of Malhadinha's land went from a state of total abandonment decades ago to the use of all natural resources in an absolutely sustainable way at all levels:

ECONOMIC: the enormous investment in the quality and exclusiveness of the product, in the primacy of the image, in the excellence of the service, elevated the MALHADINHA brand to a level of recognition and consolidation in the national and international markets that guarantee the total outflow of the produced articles.

SOCIAL: creation of the company in 1999 with two workers from the region, current staff over 70 persons of which over 80% are from the region. Use in the restoration and construction of all the buildings of a good part of traditional materials such as terracotta and tiles made by local craftsmen, wood from the region and carpentry produced by local companies.
The enormous concern with the need to share and preserve knowledge and traditions results in the involvement of the local communities of craftsmen, musicians and artists in all the experiences promoted by HMN in its tourist activity.

ENVIRONMENTAL: the entire 455 hectares of the property converted to organic mode in early 2017, water
treatments carried out throughout the estate by BIOLOGICAL WATER TREATMENT (plants). Efficient use of water, monitoring of all water consumption on the property by flow meters installed at all consumption points and supervised by an independent partner (Aquagri) on a contractual basis, good agricultural practices, natural fertilization of the soil with the use of manure and auxiliary crops, natural cutting of weeds using sheep grazing in certain seasons. The recent acquisition of 10 100% electric vehicles for internal transport of employees and guests.

ENERGY: largely guaranteed by the use of solar energy in all the accommodation units on the property, by the use of wood-fired boilers from the pruning of the centuries-old holm oaks on the property, by the restoration and construction of all the buildings using traditional techniques and very high energy efficiency materials, and by acquiring only the most energy-efficient and latest generation equipment.
Its participation and integration, from the outset, with great success in the Sustainability Plan for Alentejo Wines is proof of HMN's strategic vision and practices.

4. The culture of Alentejo is an important aspect for Herdade da Malhadinha Nova. How do you incorporate it in the hotel?

The culture of our country, the culture of Alentejo and the history and traditions of the region and the past of this agricultural property are a huge inspiration from the beginning of the project, in all areas. Each house of the hotel project is inspired by the local activities of the past, the geology, the local birdlife and flora, the nature of Malhadinha, and in every area we find pieces made by local craftsmen; in the experiences, those same craftsmen come to share their knowledge and crafts, through workshops or presentations of their work.

5. What activities do you offer to those who visit your venue? Which is the most popular?

The most popular activities or the experiences we design are those dedicated to wine and gastronomy, culture and sports, family programmes with the aim of sharing the local culture are increasingly sought after, clients seek Malhadinha for longer stays, in which nature and concerns for the preservation of the planet are increasingly aspects that multigenerational families wish to experience. Travelling with a purpose is today one of the main objectives of those who seek us out.

6. Is there greater customer concern about sustainability? Do you notice that this is already a factor that weighs in their choice of decision?

Malhadinha being, in essence, a wine project, and being located in a region where the gastronomic tradition is so rich, it is already one of the concerns of our guests. It is a property included in a natural environment with considerable diversity and dimension, which also makes it very attractive, especially for sports and adventure activities, cultural initiatives and experiences and trips with the purpose of getting to know the local culture and traditions. The cultural theme and the sense of belonging are increasingly sought after. Sustainability is undoubtedly a growing concern for our clients, and Malhadinha is currently developing new experiences dedicated to the preservation of nature and the potential of this area. Among other activities, we have a strong partnership with the Centre for Nature Conservation, in order to make birdlife and flora species known, through creative communication materials and presentation of the various protected species.
Malhadinha is within one of the most important areas in the country for the breeding and development of endangered bird species. Setting itself as a model for other projects to develop according to the same principles and values, preserving and improving a unique natural space and leaving a legacy are our main motivations. 

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