We stayed at the Casa de Mae for 10 days in August 2014. A family of 6 (including a 6-month old baby) we found it a wonderful base from which to explore the eastern Algarve. It is set in a very rural location but this only adds to the appeal if youre a nature lover like myself looking to get away from the madding crowds.
The house has 2 good-sized double bedrooms equipped with wardrobes and double beds. My three children slept in one of the rooms with the eldest occupying a foldaway bed that had kindly been provided. The owners also supplied a cot on request.
The house is spacious enough with a huge lounge/dining area and a decent sized kitchen. The satellite tv only worked for one of the nights that we were there but that was a positive as it encouraged my kids to find more constructive ways of filling their spare time. The kitchen is equipped with most things youd require on a self-catering holiday including a very large fridge freezer and a big new washing machine. However two essentials were missing, a kettle and a toaster. Theres also a big seating area in the garden and a purpose-built barbeque, as well as a couple of sun beds. There are stairs from the landing leading to the flat rook on which you can dry your clothes or lounge on the other two sun beds there. The views from here are panoramic and in the early evening the breeze is a welcome reprieve from the blistering sun.
The bathroom was clean and spacious enough (plenty of towels and linen provided). However we found the wc and the shower cubicle to be rather on the small side. I cant imagine why this is the case as the bathroom is plenty big enough to accommodate a larger version of each.
Other than these drawbacks the property is fantastic. If youre looking for authentic Portugal you wont get better than this. The house is located in a small village called Amaro Goncalves, on the road to Moncarapacho. Theres a handful of houses in the village which is slap bang in the middle of an agricultural area producing fruit. The garden of the Casa de Mae (and the land opposite owned by the same family) has trees bearing olives, figs, citrus, bananas and pomegranates. The owner, Maria, lives next door and among her livestock and pets are a brood of hens that lay delicious free range eggs which she let us have free of charge. She will also allow you to pick fresh oranges to squeeze your own juice if you ask her. She is a delightful lady and always ready to help whenever she can, and remarkably patient with my kids who must have annoyed her by endlessly chasing her chickens around the huge garden.
Unfortunately she doesnt speak a word of English (fluent in German though) and the house is managed by her son Marcos, who we did not see but is always accessible over the phone and speaks fluent English.
Casa de Mae is about 15 mins drive from Tavira to the east and this is where we did most of our shopping, mostly for fresh fish and produce in the big local indoor market. There is also the little fishing town of Fuseta which is about 10 mins drive from the house although this has a much smaller outdoor market. The main beaches in the area are all within a half hour drive of the house. And the Spanish border is a 45-minute drive to the east.
I enjoyed the rustic setting of the Casa de Mae and the peace and tranquillity it offers, although the kids and wife said they prefer somewhere a bit busier in the evenings. The only major issue we had with it was the presence of mice dro ppings in some of the lower level kitchen cabinets. Being a bit of country boy it did not faze me (cleaned it up straight away) and we didnt spot a single rodent during our stay. We did point it out to Maria but she didnt seem to grasp the fact that it posed a health risk, especially to children. Marcos, if you are reading this, please get this problem sorted asap. And while youre at it, dont forget to updat e the directions that you give to visitors as theyre very outdated. Some of the landmarks you mention such as the school and bar no longer exist.
I would have absolutely no hesitation in returning to the Casa de Mae or recommending it for families, groups or couples.