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Art and leisure on the Portuguese coast

Luxury historic hotel in Cascais to set up its own arts district

Pousada de Cascais

Europe’s first hotel-managed arts district will open this month in the Portuguese coastal resort town of Cascais, once a popular summer getaway for the Portuguese royals. Inside a recently renovated Renaissance-era fortress near Lisbon, the Pousada de Cascais Cidadela Historic Hotel opened in 2012 and will now add “Arts District” to its masthead.

The artistic director of the project, Sandro Resende, has invited six artists (Pedro Matos, Bruno Pereira, Paulo Brighenti, Duarte Amaral Netto, Susana Anágua and Paulo Arraiano) for a year-long residency. Their studios, along with five new art galleries, including Raw, the first Art Brut Gallery in Portugal, will be open to the general public. The entire Cidadela will showcase site-specific works and hotel-room installations called “author rooms”. “It’s a new way of looking at a resort, without stopping it from being a place of comfort and rest. [It is] transformed in this artistic dimension [into] a world of creation that completely subverts the idea of hotel space,” Resende says.

Offering the gallery spaces and the studios free of charge is a risky move. However, a representative of the company that manages the hotel, the Pestana Group, says that this is part of the experiment, and that they will assess its success at the end of the year. For the past ten years the Pestana Group has managed the country’s Pousadas, a name given to historic hotels formerly run by the Portuguese state, which now retains a 51% stake in them.

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