Who we are

Monte Maravilhas is supported by a team of friends who really care about this beautiful estate. I, Prem Zijtveld, am the owner and manager of Monte Maravilhas, aided by various volunteers.

I was born and raised in the Netherlands and after my education at the Sociale Akademie (Social Academy) I worked as a social worker for a couple of years. Afterwards I went on my way, realising a life-long dream of travelling around the world.

During my trip through India in 1980 I ended up at an ashram, where I first encountered meditation. After I followed the training in India I went back to Amsterdam and started a practice in holistic massage and rebalancing. In the Netherlands I provided individual treatments, courses and lessons.

The idea to live in Portugal was born when I first visited this beautiful country in 1986. The rhythm of life, the relaxed atmosphere, the space and the unspoiled nature remind me of my beloved India.

That said, it took me until 1997 to find this place… Monte Maravilhas, in Southern Alentejo Portugal, is located in one of the last quiet areas of Europe. The rest is history.

History Monte Maravilhas

‘Maravilhas’ translates as ‘miracles’. It is the original name of the 8.5-hectare estate. The word ‘Monte’ is a typical word in Alentejo, meaning ‘farm’.

In the summer of 1997, when we first visited this charming place, we decided to make our dream come true – to create a place where people can enjoy nature, peace, quiet and space.

On the terrain were two farms and a couple of sheds. What we loved most was the enchanting beauty of the valley surrounded by hills. What we also found charming were the many trees, natural stone terraces and water wells. In the middle of the summer we could see that this lush green valley was a fertile, watery paradise.

What followed were years during which we built and renovated. We learned Portuguese and were immersed in the Portuguese culture.

In the spring of 1998 we started the renovation of the farms and sheds. In July 2001 the houses Azul, Amarela and Mimosa were ready, we received our first guests and had our first activity weeks.

In 2003 we developed a small camping site with camping spots for tents in the hills and spots for caravans and campers in the valley. ‘Terra’ was also built: a camping building with large kitchen and sanitary facilities. Finally, we positioned two caravans for rental.

In 2004 the saltwater swimming pool was built and in the years after, we focused on the terraces, a biological vegetable garden and on the planting of trees.

If you are interested in seeing the original site of Monte Maravilhas and learning more about how it has become what it is now, there are photo albums available at Maravilhas.

Organic beginnings

Besides the individual renting of the houses and small camping site, we also thought it would be fun to offer group activities.

Prem started with what she was already doing: giving courses in massage Portugal and meditation. Devi, who loves hiking, explored the area for hiking trips and this was the beginning of hiking holidays in the Alentejo of Portugal weeks. Rupa was enlisted to make the brochures for Maravilhas and was so enthusiastic that she also wanted to teach for the painting holidays at Maravilhas. Sabina was originally a participant of the cooking-hiking week and then really wanted to teach the Learning Portuguese in Portugal course. Atul came as a participant of the massage course, fell in love with Maravilhas and started the yoga weeks in the Alentejo, South Portugal.

All activity weeks were initiated organically, something which fits with Monte Maravilhas.