Pico do Réfugio sits on the north side of São Miguel an Azores island off the coast of Portugal. Unlike a typical hotel, it is made up of a reception area, several separate single-level apartments, a swath of lush fields and a pool. The exteriors are simple white stucco surrounded by verdant green, gleaming tiles and blooming flowers.
Inside, however, the apartments feature sleek chrome, polished wood, muted colors and a great deal of Scandinavian design, from Ikea to Hans Wegner. This cool minimalism belies the comfort of the apartments, which feel as sumptuous as they are functional. The hotel rooms strike the perfect balance between designed and liveable.
Owner Luís Bernardo Brito e Abreu (he goes by Bernardo), whose family has owned the 16th-century estate for generations, also lives part time on the property, in the main house at the top of the hill. His home is filled with an incredible mix of classical art, dramatic pieces (like his natural tree-trunk table) and high-end design from both Portugal and Scandinavia.
Though interior design is clearly a love of his, it is art that is his passion. This passion, sparked by his mother and great-grandfather – both well-known artists – led to the creation of an artist-in-residence program at the hotel.
This program hosts an artist or group of artists for one month, providing them with travel costs and an apartment at the hotel. Though Bernardo is largely focused on fine arts like photography (most of the artists thus far have been photographers), painting and sculpture, he’s hosted industrial designers, dancers and even Thurston Moore in early 2016.
The artist-in-residence program currently runs from November to April, because the summer months are typically reserved for visitors. Each artist has a month to conceptualize and create their chosen work(s), hosts a public presentation of their work during the residence and leaves a piece of the work, if possible, at the hotel for public display. The reception area is full of eclectic, interesting artworks from former residents.
In addition to his own love of art, Bernardo believes that boosting the artist-in-residence program will improve tourism in the Azores and could create an art-hub on the island of São Miguel.
To this end, he’s planning to expand the hotel by building more residences and allowing several artists to be on the property at the same time. This creates an artists’ colony of sorts that encourages knowledge-sharing and collective inspiration from not only each other but also the incredible landscape of the Azores.
The apartments at Pico do Réfugio are self-service, so you have your own kitchen and living area. Definitely a great option for groups and families!
Interested in becoming an artist-in-residence, or know someone who would be a good fit? Contact Bernardo here!
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