Quinta da Serra - Bio Hotel
Surrounded by lush gardens, Quinta da Serra has implemented an organic agricultural system (in the process of being converted) and boasts important and monumental trees, such as the tallest eucalyptus registered in Madeira (Eucalyptus globulus), which is around 64 metres tall and has a diameter of around 10 metres at its base.
Completely renovated in 2014, Quinta da Serra aims to exceed the expectations of guests by providing quality and personalised service, as well as a sophisticated cuisine with purely organic options, using as much of the hotel’s own produce as possible.
Bio Project and Our history
Development of an organic project at Quinta da Serra
Quinta da Serra Bio Hotel is an organic project by nature.
Quinta da Serra, located in the parish of Jardim da Serra, in the highlands of Câmara de Lobos, has a strong historical, social and botanical component combined with luxury facilities. Building on these assets, the ambition of the current management is to preserve and enhance the natural resources that characterise Madeira. In this spirit, the hotel has adopted technologies aimed at economic and, above all, environmental sustainability, in compliance with the standards defined by the Green Key programme (https://greenkey.org.uk/ or https://greenkey.abae.pt/), and has been awarded the Green Key Award for Hotels every year since 2016.
Examples of the environmental technologies used include solar panels and a water treatment plant that allows the use of grey water for irrigation, increasing efficiency in the management of water resources. In addition, of the 9.6 hectares of the estate, the management has decided to convert all the land suitable for agriculture to organic production, totalling more than 25,400 m2. Of this, 2,300 m2 is devoted to vegetables, 18,700 m2 to various fruit trees and 4,400 m2 to Sercial vines. This is one of the “noble grape varieties” that has been instrumental in shaping what we know today as Madeira wine.
The estate also has more than 30,000 m2 of woodland, most of which has been reforested with species belonging to the lush Laurisilva forest, originally destroyed by early settlers to make way for farmland. Ultimately, we are giving back to Mother Nature something that was already hers.
It was here that the founder of the estate, the British Consul Henry Veitch, introduced the first tea plants (Camellia sinensis). Over time, and due to the neglect to which the estate was subjected, this species was lost. But with the renovation of the estate in 2013/2014, new plants were introduced to further preserve this historical aspect.
Consistent with our promotion of regional products and our own organic farming, we have certified the hotel restaurant as organic. Guests can enjoy dishes prepared exclusively with organic products grown on the property, a unique feature that guarantees exceptional freshness.
As part of our ongoing quest for authenticity and the preservation of history and biodiversity, we invite you to discover this fascinating aspect of the island’s identity.
The tallest tree in Madeira
A long time ago, at the beginning of the 19th century, a young British man fell in love with this island and decided to stay. He was involved in the export of Madeira wine to the UK and was one of the driving forces behind this trade, having introduced the Sercial variety.
His interests went far beyond wine and vines and he also introduced the tea plant and many exotic tree species to the island. He acquired an estate of more than 1,155,000 square metres where he built his holiday home: the present-day Quinta da Serra.
While working in this land of plenty, he created beautiful gardens that can still be seen today in the grounds of Quinta da Serra, and even gave the whole area its name: Jardim da Serra.
When building his mansion, the consul preserved the oldest native trees and introduced new species brought from all over the world. The planting of these trees was carried out exclusively by women, as it was believed that their hands transmitted the fertility necessary for the plants to flourish.
Of all the trees that were planted, one in particular stands out: a majestic eucalyptus tree at the entrance to the estate, which is the tallest tree in Madeira at over 64 metres.
This eucalyptus is said to be over 200 years old, and as most of the trees around it are even older, you can feel an energy emanating from them, a reminder of the care and attention that went into planting and maintaining them.
Many visitors to Quinta da Serra approach the tree and embrace it emotionally, absorbing much of the energy it transmits, but also leaving some of their own energy, which the tree carefully stores and transmits to those who embrace it in the future.
It is in the shade of this tree that we can rest and recharge, for this eucalyptus seems to concentrate all the energy, purity and wisdom of this place, and even seems to thrive on it, transmitting these vibes to even the most unsuspecting visitor.
For this reason, we invite you to come and embrace the tallest tree on the island of Madeira.
Welcome to Quinta da Serra Bio Hotel and our wonderful forest heritage
At Quinta da Serra Bio Hotel you will find a fantastic woodland heritage, with emblematic and monumental species. Come and learn more about our trees.
The history of Quinta da Serra dates back to the first quarter of the 19th century. It was commissioned by the British Consul Henry Veitch. Today, we can still see some evidence of this period, the most visible of which is the primitive building we call the “Mother House”. However, there are other lesser-known historical monuments, some of which probably predate the construction of the main house, and which often go unnoticed when walking around the estate. This heritage includes rare species of trees typical of the Laurisilva forest, as well as other species introduced by settlers in the area.
In 2008, the Regional Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources, through the Regional Directorate of Forests, promoted a survey that resulted in a publication entitled “Monumental and Emblematic Trees of Madeira”. In this book, we can find the most impressive and fascinating trees of the Autonomous Region of Madeira. It is divided into several chapters, each corresponding to a municipality. Of the twelve monumental and emblematic trees identified in the municipality of Câmara de Lobos, eight belong to Quinta da Serra. We estimate that these trees are at least 200 years old (Domingues et al., 2008).
When you visit us, you will be able to see these rare living monuments, created by nature and preserved by man.
The Legends of Quinta da Serra
The legends of Quinta da Serra are steeped in tradition and involve mysterious characters, eternal love and famous figures.
Legend of the Emperor
In the early 19th century, somewhere in the remote highlands of Madeira Island, in a place that would come to be known as Jardim da Serra, the daily lives of many were determined by a few.
The founder of today’s Quinta da Serra, Sir Henry Veitch, is said to have belonged to a secret society that met at his mystical mansion on the last Friday of every month. Only the most influential people of the time attended these mysterious meetings. It seems that one such meeting was attended by some unusual guests: Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine.
In fact, it has been confirmed that Napoleon Bonaparte passed through the island of Madeira on board the ship Northumberland, destined to take him to the island of St Helena where he was to be exiled. It is known that the voyage began on 7 August and reached St Helena on 15 October 1815.
The original builder and owner of this estate, Sir Henry Veitch, then British Consul in Madeira, was the only person allowed to board and visit Napoleon on 23 August.
It is said that he did so because he was the only one who continued to refer to Napoleon as “Majesty” when everyone else called him “General”.
Legend has it that Henry Veitch, using all his influence with the Portuguese and English authorities, managed to get Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine to secretly disembark and move to the estate that Veitch had built at Jardim da Serra, the “apple of his eye”, set in more than 115 hectares of land. There were legendary gardens there, characterised by exquisite labyrinths of green terraces and home to luscious camellias, which can still be admired today in the gardens of the “Mother House”. Josephine is said to have loved to stroll through these gardens, as they reminded her of the days of splendour and glory she had known in France.
When Napoleon and Josephine arrived at the estate, they were put up in the best rooms in the house and all the servants worked tirelessly to look after them. Veitch was an attentive host and even offered his services to Napoleon, who accepted some books, fruit and tea. Veitch, of course, agreed and sent a splendid supply of fruit, sweets and vintage wines to his ship. It is said that Napoleon presented Veitch with a pair of golden gloves in return for his hospitality, and tradition has it that the consul placed them on the foundation stone of the Anglican Church that was later built in Funchal, a project that Veitch strongly supported.
Legend of the Estate
A long time ago, there was a Scottish nobleman who was appointed British Consul of Madeira. When he arrived, he visited the island and fell in love with a particular place, high up on one of the south-western slopes, which was full of indigenous plants such as heather, laurel and mountain vines and flanked by a watercourse. There was a part of this stream with a waterfall, where it was said that there was an enchanted moura. The young consul, amazed by the exuberance of nature in this area and by the legend, ordered the construction of an imposing pink house next to the stream. It is said that the consul had left England to overcome the death of his beloved, who had recently died during childbirth.
When building his mansion, the consul preserved the oldest native trees and introduced new species brought from all over the world. The planting of the trees was carried out exclusively by women, as it was believed that their hands transmitted the fertility necessary for the plants to flourish. On one of his morning walks through the estate, the consul marvelled at the energy and stamina of the men and especially the women, some of whom were breastfeeding, who worked tenaciously to meet the needs of their families. The young consul then noticed a young brunette with pearl-green eyes, dressed in white, but with the typical black apron of her country. In her hands, she carried the most intense perfume. The consul, confused by this experience, asked the young lady, “where does the perfume on your hands come from?” She answered trembling, “it comes from the plant I carry in my hands.” It was truly a unique perfume, never before experienced by the people of the land, not even by the young consul. The foreman interrupted the encounter with a thunderous voice, “This is the eucalyptus tree you ordered from Oceania! That’s what the man on the boat said.” The consul, ecstatic, watched the planting of the tree as if it were the birth of his son. The young woman was sweating, not only because of the hard work, but also because of the presence of the consul, who was not only a person of high rank, but also young and handsome. When the young woman had finished, the consul bade her farewell with a final glance that needed no explanation. One of the older women present said, “if that tree grows like what was born here today, it will have no equal!” And with that, a deep silence fell over the hustle and bustle of the plantations, broken only by a light breeze that cooled the young woman’s rosy face.
From that day on, the consul continued his morning walks, but with the addition that they included the area where the young woman worked. One day the consul, depressed by the news from England that the wine he had exported there had not arrived, went to rest under the eucalyptus tree. Fortunately, the young woman was there watering the mighty tree. She did not dare speak, but the consul approached her, asked to hold her hands, looked into her eyes and requested that she meet him by the tree at the end of each day. The two fell in love and married in secret, as the consul needed the permission of her father, who was on a trip to the Indies. The truth is that the consul knew that his family would disown him if they found out that he had married a young commoner. For this reason, when he had to travel to Britain, the consul had to leave his beloved behind on the island and set off alone. He told his wife that he would not see her again for a year, and although the young woman understood, she was naturally saddened. It is said that during that year the young woman visited the huge eucalyptus tree at the end of every day. A year passed, two, three, a decade, and the consul never returned. For thirteen long years, the young woman waited in despair, and the story goes that the eucalyptus tree was watered by her tears, and it stopped growing.
One rainy day, the old woman who had once said that the tree would “grow like no other” told the young woman, “the tree has grown again, it is more than a metre higher!” A week later it was still raining, and in the distance flocks of birds could be seen flying energetically across the valley. The villagers, accustomed to peace and quiet, were frightened and gathered around the consul’s house. The rain stopped and then, at the entrance to the estate, next to the charismatic tree, the majestic figure of the consul appeared on horseback. The old woman exclaimed, “the tree of unity will only stop when it hits the sky!”
Of all the eucalyptus trees planted that season, this one is still the tallest, and so it is said that whoever comes to Quinta da Serra and embraces the tree will find eternal love.
Legend of the Lake
It is said that this island has always been inhabited by mystical creatures. This very place was the scene of a titanic battle between two beasts who, struck by their greed to manipulate water, one of the four elements, cursed the fish that lived there, turning them black, red and even bi-coloured hybrids, the colours of darkness. For those seven days and seven nights, all the wrath of the world was released out, and the wrath of hell caused the earth to shake, the birds in the sky to flee and the thunder to resound in the distance.
The event was brought to the attention of the newly arrived Consul Henry Veitch, who bravely set out to investigate and, at the end of the seventh day of battle, encountered two creatures he could only have imagined in a nightmare. The two exhausted beasts lay side by side, on what we now know as the right and left sides of the lake. The consul, anxious to find out what was going on and to resolve such a grim situation, questioned the beasts. After several hours of negotiation, an agreement was reached between the two creatures at the end of the eighth day, and the human representative divided the waters and camouflaged the area. The consul wanted to put an end to this final battle and prevent the reappearance of such creatures, which had plagued the inhabitants of this island for centuries. The creatures swore a blood oath never to trouble the humans again. The young consul then ordered the construction of a small but symmetrical lake, right in the middle of the battlefield. The sides of the picturesque lake were covered with panels of tiles with seven crosses and four half crosses, two halves in the middle and two halves at each end. The seven crosses on one side symbolised the seven days, and the seven crosses on the other side symbolised the seven dark nights of the battle. The two half crosses at each end represented the eighth day and the eighth night, the times of the negotiations. Lush trees and green gardens were planted around the lake to disguise the devastation of the scene and the traces left by the terrible creatures. In the centre, there was a levada of considerable width, dividing the battlefield into two equal parts and transporting the much sought-after “fourth element”, with half of the water on one side and the other half on the other, no more, no less! The two half-crosses in the middle of the lake represented this division of the water. The miracle of dividing this commodity was a reconciliatory force between the two mystical beasts.
Many years have passed since the event, and with time the island’s population has grown, and with it the need for water. Men diverted some of the water that fed the lake, and soon things began to happen in this strange place. Whether or not it was a manifestation of the ancient creatures, what is certain is that the historic tiles on both sides of the lake were violently destroyed. It is said that this was a warning from the ancient creatures to man, proving they do exist…