Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
On the sand dunes of Costa da Caparica in Portugal—a few kilometers from exciting Lisbon—the ocean’s symphonic sounds coalesce to the distant sizzling of fire. A “secular temple of play” situated on the shores of the Atlantic coastline, the new holistic space, casa reîa, which opened May 29, molds hospitality and purpose into one symbiotic experience.Born from a shared vision between co-founders Sacha Gielbaum and Emil Stefkov (founder of New York restaurant collective The Group NYC), the space conjoins a conscious culinary approach to ritualistic practices and a refined curation of the wabi-sabi, assimilating into an accumulative atmosphere that echoes a new age in what CEO Gielbaum calls, “experience-based hospitality.”
With distinct undertones stretching beyond the usual scope of sustainability, we spoke to the CEO Gielbaum, who with an unmalleable feel of wisdom gave us insight on the upcoming beach house and what it holds for the future of the hospitality industry.
With a prior beach house, called Yamba, just a shell’s throw away on the same beach of Caparica, demolished by an all-consuming fire only a year ago, the new holistic space casa reîa came with what Gielbaum called, “lessons in humility.”
“After the fire, we pondered on the importance of paying homage to the local culture, embracing the slow movement as we engage with local stakeholders and authorities,” said Gielbaum. “From the sustainable materials we use to the Portuguese craftsmanship we put forward, we make sure to integrate the local environment, doubling down on local artisans while continuing to blend with nature and minimize our impact.”
With a notion of sustainability suited to fit every angle, Gielbaum connects hospitality to the myriad of industries at the forefront of sustainable change, bringing with it a novel perspective that stretches beyond the bounds of the eco-friendly.“Nowadays, no-single-use plastic is something that is common to everyone,” said Gielbaum. “For us, playing our part starts with building a deeper, more genuine relationship with local food providers. It starts by training our team on the conscious values of the company along with the accountability we have regarding our local environment.”
With an emphasis on integrating and embracing the local culture rather than outsourcing from abroad, reîa operates “following the seasonality,” while “appreciating all the local and national treasures a destination has to offer.”Synchronizing with the variability of nature’s changing seasons whilst incorporating the culture embedded in the land around them, the space makes a pledge to “embrace the local while bringing the global.” Paying homage to the local community and their various traditions, reîa allows their customers to discover experiences, flavors, traditions, and materials that veer outside of their conventions while allowing such respite to profit the surrounding community. In other words, holding “making a positive impact in our lives and the community,” as “the centerpiece of our vision of hospitality.”
Along with a new strategic partnership with the Group NYC that promises a world-class standard of excellence in hospitality, the collaboration allows an alliance with partners “fully aligned with our vision and ethos,” an element Gielbaum suggests is “primordial to any successful venture.”
As for the space itself, the curation follows a refined approach to the Japanese philosophy of the wabi-sabi, guided by the distinct touch of interior designer Juliana Cavalcanti, in collaboration with Gielbaum: sourcing uniquely hand-crafted pieces that “embrace the imperfect,” finding beauty in the impermanent and incomplete. An ideology rhymed to the nature the materials merge from, it fosters an atmosphere inviting customers and onlookers alike to seek meaning over perfection.
In terms of decor, reîa’s creative team Astral selects pieces offering what Gielbaum calls “textures with context,” choosing objects that, like the food on the table, tell a story to their audience. One can expect earthy colors and neutral tones derived from clay, carved and burnt wood, showcasing “marks from their makers,” which—from Portuguese craftmanship, ceramics to upholstery—find solace in their simplicity. “What you can expect is a homey feeling, casa reîa,” said Gielbaum.
With a less is more prerogative that teeters on essentialism and incorporates every aspect of the business, Gielbaum substitutes quantity and luxury for quality and consistency, focusing on the caliber of the ingredients he brings to the table as well as the paths they took to get there. “We are committed to a conscious menu selection…paying attention to the way the product is treated from start to finish,” said Gielbaum. Focusing on local, individual, and essential produce, casa reîa provides meals sourced from sustainable farming, paying homage to local herbs and vegetables as they combine the culinary techniques of two renowned chefs —Dario Costa and Udi Barkan—to seep nutrition-based goodness through every delectable mouthful.
Along with an emphasis on foods cooked by a large open wood-fire grill that acts as a centerpiece for the restaurant, one can expect all the latest nutritional trends one would find at your local health store. From adaptogenic coffee and teas with Lion’s Mane and Ashwagandha to fresh juices, kombucha, and craft beer, produced in-house whenever possible, casa reîa threads a nutritional aspect across their food and drinks menu, finding presence even in their range of signature cocktails. In short, as Gielbaum describes, “supporting craft in all its forms, from what you eat to what you sit on.”
But more than mere culinary dishes to relish one’s tastebuds, casa reîa hopes to incite an atmosphere conducive to connecting with the epicurean experience of eating, bringing you to the here and now. With a name itself aligning with such a purpose, reîa means, flow and ease. “As the wife of Chronos, the God of time, she represents the eternal flow of time and generations,” said Gielbaum. Away from excess materiality, reîa makes a plea to shed our outer layers in order to live through an authentic experience, making a simple request from his audience.
With a deliberate Dionysian curation of music performances, wellbeing practices, and transformative rituals ranging from vibrational medicine to ecstatic dance, no shortage of ways can be found for fulfilling just that. “One of our missions is exploring emotions in the realm of the affect, the feeling state,” said Gielbaum. “We invite strangers to be themselves in a different environment, expressing the individualism that makes them different.”
Hoping to play the part of the culture lab for local and international dwellers alike, visitors are invited to “explore ideas, sensations, and states that cultivate joy and presence,” said Gielbaum.
In terms of music, reîa’s melting pot of sonic ideas creates a soundscape of musical experimentation that, bridging the divide between acoustic and electronic sounds, spans a wide range of musical genres and cultures.
With a mindset aligned with “helping leaders and companies transform our future for the better,” the space gathers events with NGOs and international actors ranging from storyteller's night to lectures on sustainable fishing with local fishing associations.
Emanating an accumulative contemplative and co-existing atmosphere that, from the collective effects of aesthetics, music, and events to the proximity to nature and genuineness of staff members, opts its customers towards deeper conversations and connections, reîa incites inner experiences as much as external ones—a place from which the CEO plans to expand both horizontally and vertically, across both globe and hospitality sector. All in all, whether the former or the latter, we can be sure to expect something that will grow beyond the scope of Caparica.