Aug 12, 2012

DAP 360* - Graca Viterbo - Hotel Bela Vista Part 1

For many of you that read my blog, you know how much I loved the years I spent in Portugal. Let's just say, I am an "Honorary Portuguese" citizen of the world.

Part of the visual experience while discovering Portugal is the sheer joy expressed in the colorful architecture throughout the country: through paint & tile laden facades in bright pink, yellow and sky blue of Lisbon.
As a designer or architect, when you are given the task of redesigning and bringing these buildings into the 21st century, it  can be an almost impossible task. Lately, however, many have found ways to incorporate these tiles into the decor and use them as the very foundation of modernity such as the

Casa da Musica

Casa da Musica by Rem Koolhas in Porto

or Portuguese Boca do Lobo's latest limited edition piece called “Heritage”. This highly coveted piece is clad with hand painted tiles “like that of an expertly curate art collection incorporating the Portuguese blue & white tile.

The tradition of colored tiles exist in several countries such as Spain, Holland, Italy, or Morocco, but since the end of the 17th century the use of blue color on white background, influenced by Chinese ceramics, allowed these Portuguese artisans to express themselves as other European traditional painters were, using the "Azulejo" tiles as their canvas. The nobility of Lisbon and beyond began to take notice, and would elaborately decorate their new palaces and gardens with them, such as the gardens of the home of the "Marquis of Fronteira" in Lisbon.

All about story telling, and artistic expression, these tiles or "Azulejos", enhance the places where they are placed.

So when the family of the Hotel Bela Vista, a historically unique hotels on the Southern coast, decided to redesign their hotel there could be no other interior designer that would be up to that challenge. 

Graca Viterbo, Portugal's leading interior designer, highly decorated and with experience in both the realm of Hospitality, Commercial, and Residential design throughout Europe & Asia  for over 40 years,.. and she also happens to be my mother in law!

Hotel Bela Vista is located on the clean, sandy beaches of Praia de Rocha, which is one of the nicest and most pristine in the of the Algarve. The Hotel and L’Occitane spa has been owned by the same family since the 19th Century, and first became a hotel in 1934 and in it's most recent encarnation, the hotel boasts 3 distinct buildings and 38 rooms, Spa, outdoor pool with increible views of the private beach below.

From the modern interpretation of the small mosaic tiles as part of the new reception area against the backdrop of the existing tiles, neutral venetian plastered walls and playful fish chandeliers, all set the tone for the rest of the hotel experience.

Remaining quaint and intimate, this boutique hotel is now rich in vibrant colors and tradition

with traditional black and white checkered marble floors

juxtaposed against the use of bright yellows, reds and blues and the "chita" patchwork custom piano line the entrance.

The "chita"  is this colorful fabric, said to have been taken by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama from India, & then in the early XVI century, they brought chita with them to the newly colonized Brazil.

Detail: "Chita" fabric pattern from Piano

The lobby is comfortably laid out as an open floor plan with an almost private Living Room sensibility...

With tiles, mirrors, patterns and textures in abundance

Hope you have enjoyed this tour so far and will join me for more in the upcoming days, as I explore some of the other areas of this fantastic new hotel, the Bar, The Spa and common areas, before moving on the Suites with some crazy Before and After shots.

*images courtesy of Graca Viterbo and


  1. Jennifer, absolutely stunning! I would guess you and your mother-in-law have no shortage of things to talk about! What a talent - would LOVE to go. Cheers, Carla

  2. Thank you Jennifer for sharing these beautiful pictures of the hotel and let us know one of the great interior designer I wish to go there one day Gehan

  3. Such a gorgeous hotel, and she complimented the old with the new so well. Love the hand-painted tiles; they are stunning.


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