The Solar Branco Eco Estate aims to lead the way in the Azores regarding meaningful eco initiatives and sustainability projects for hotels in the Azores. We believe in leading the way for sustainable tourism here in the Azores and beyond. We know that everything we do impacts on the environment. But we believe we can reduce our impact through simple, significant and careful steps.
Our initiatives include a complete ban on single-use plastic and pesticides. We are the first in the Azores to commit to being a zero food waste hotel. In the gardens we have 3 dedicated wildlife ponds for frogs and local birds. Our chickens are all free-range, and our field is maintained with wildflowers, cut in stages only twice a year encouraging wildflowers for pollinators and other wildlife. We employ local staff and buy the majority of our food produce from local vendors.
We understand our impact and work will never stop. Sustainability isn’t something we can start and finish. It is a constantly evolving process. Owners, Ali and Caroline feel the foundations are in place and will be delighted to talk you through the work and projects being undertaken in person while you are on the estate.
Ocean Azores Foundation: The Solar Branco Eco Estate in combination with our in-house gin brand, Ghosts of The Ocean makes a donation to support the Azores in several areas of marine and sustainable conservation. Read more on our commitment to sustainability and eco-tourism here.
From The Ocean. For The Ocean Initiative
Throughout the estate and accommodation units we monitor energy usage. In partnership with our guests, we will donate these savings to The Ocean Azores Foundation. This will help support marine sustainability initiatives in the Azores through the work of this organisation.
Through our commitment to sustainability, every guest will receive an individual report of the energy saved and a year-end report of the work of the foundation. We hope this will encourage a 2-way discussion with our guests about sustainability and how we can make a positive impact when travelling.
PROJECT DETAILS COMING IN OCTOBER 2023
The Ocean Azores Foundation
About The Ocean Azores Foundation
The Ocean Azores Foundation was created in the Azores for the ocean that surrounds us. It aims to invest its resources in selected community projects that will help drive lasting social and environmental change, focusing on the protection of the waters that surround the Azores Islands.
Created in 2020 by Ali Bullock, co-owner of The Solar Branco Eco Estate. From a simple conversation about how the Azores could become a certified Whale Heritage Site to completing this certification in 2023. The foundation aims to support change and conservation for the whales that live and travel through the waters of the Azores.
ENVIORNMENTAL HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ESTATE
The Solar Branco Eco Estate aims to go above and beyond with our sustainability plans in all areas of the hotel and experiences. From careful restoration to world leading technologies to support our sustainability efforts. A sample of our work is outlined below, but for a full tour and explanation of what we do please speak to us directly.
100% Glass Recycling
With Europe’s largest gin collection serving hundreds of gin and tonics a month, we naturally go through a lot of glass tonic bottles. With this in mind, we work to ensure that 100% of our glass is recycled. Additionally, we have banned single use plastic on the estate and are working with partners to reduce their usage, not just for us, but for other clients.
Zero Food Waste on The Eco Estate
The estate aims to source over 80% of our food from local suppliers, growing seasonal foods here in the Azores. But our commitment doesn’t stop there. We also ensure that no edible food is wasted by feeding it to our free range chickens. Unwanted food goes in, and the most delicious eggs come out. A pretty good deal all round.
A Plastic Free Eco Estate
With less than 7% of plastic being recycled in the EU (and too much of this shipped off to South East Asia to be burnt or dumped in the ocean) we have taken a region-wide, industry-leading stance. Rather than recycle plastic waste, we focus on how to not use it in the first place with a complete ban.
Upto 80% of energy use from solar panels
Our targeted plan is to achieve 80% or higher from renewable sources of energy, focusing on the solar panels that we have on the estate. We can also reduce our energy usage in partnership with our guests, further helping the environment.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s a phrase we’ve all become accustomed to hearing. Some products and materials are commonly recycled with little thought, such as metal, glass and cardboard for example. We wanted to think bigger. Much bigger, and with more impact. Think of entire buildings being converted into completely new spaces. restored to their former eighteenth century glory, in a sustainable way. Through adaptive reuse, old buildings are given new life, and the process brings a host of benefits to the community, inhabitants and environment. We invest thought, time and effort to reduce our impact on the environment, a key tenant of our low carbon luxury strategy.
Build materials: Reuse
Every piece of material or product that is removed from the building site is checked for a second life opportunity, reuse or recycling before sent to landfill.
Adaptive energy reduction
More details coming soon.
Recycling on site
Each room has recycling bins for our guests to sort waste. But better than recycling is not to use in the first place. We ask all guests to consider reducing or not using single use plastic water bottles while in the Azores.
The Azores is a heaven for wildlife, but threats such as over tourism, industrial agriculture as well as pollution threatens this status. The Solar Branco Eco Estate is committed to protecting and helping native wildlife thrive here on the grounds and in the wider region.
The humble pond is much overlooked and undervalued by most people. Our ponds are the wildlife town squares of the estate. They are a place where so much wildlife meets. From insects such as bees and dragon flies, to frogs and lizards. Ants and worms live in the piled up logs along with all sorts of creepy crawlies (which we leave undisturbed for good reason.)
Working with Populo vet clinic we can help rescue hedgehogs and release them back into the wild when it is safe to do so.
Save Our Bees
Bees are at critically low levels around the world due to industrialised agriculture and pesticide usage. The Azores is no different, and in fact has 10% of the bee population that you find on other islands, such as Madeira. The estate is committed to help to increase bee numbers with a number of initiatives on the estate.
Our belief in “how you do the little things, impacts on how you do the big things” is showcased throughout the estate and grounds. Our small touches help to bring the estate and grounds to life with wildlife.
Restoring the gardens to their former glory
The gardens would have been a sight for all in the 18the century. From growing vegetables and herbs on the grounds, to the famous orange trees of the Azores.
Zero pesticide use
Our grounds are a pesticide and chemical free area. By using only organic materials for our fruits and vegetables we aim to showcase the best of the Azores.
Our wildlife ponds don’t just look very pretty, they also serve a key function to support the wildlife on the estate. Frogs, insects, birds all use the ponds in their daily lives helping to support the eco system around us.
All our grass is wild with flowers and pollenating plants. We cut it infrequently so that there is pollen for bees and cover for wildlife to roam under and through.
Just because we are an island, doesn’t mean we can work alone. Going beyond our foundation, we work on the land and surrounding communities in a number of ways. Join out ever growing communities about the Azores on Facebook. You can find out information about our events and news here.
Created in 2020 the idea of the Azores Foodie group is to highlight the best local restaurants to guests to the islands. We also aim to highlight local producers and provide updates about the weekly farmers market at Santana, aiming to encourage expats and visitors to buy fresh and buy straight from the farmers more.
The Ocean Azores group was built to highlight the best ocean based activities and photos from the Azores. Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean we have some of the best whale watching and diving in the world. Our group is a place to find out, and celebrate what is on offer more.
It is said, that anything grows in the Azores thanks to the volcanic substrate and the temperate year round weather. And while it is true that many plants do grow on the islands, the wind and ever changing weather can prove challenging at times. Set up by 2 keen gardeners to learn and showcase their gardens, the Azores Gardeners group was born more.
From the very beginning of its inception, The Solar Branco Eco Estate and experiences have been committed to using local products and working with local producers as part of our sustainability commitments.
Ghosts of The Ocean Gin
Our gin is made to showcase the best of the Azores and give back to the environment through a donation for each bottle sold.
Azorean Wine Tasting
The Azores produces some fantastic wines and is going through a wine growing renaissance. At the estate we host a wine tasting experience, showcasing the best wines of the Azores from Pico and Sao Miguel, hosted by our private wine sommelier Jao Courtino.
Hosted every week at the Santana Farmers Union, this is the best place to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and even cows straight from the farmers of Sao Miguel. Highlighted and promoted by the Solar Branco Eco Estate and now open again after the closure due to COVID-19 we are thrilled to be back each Thursday at 10:00.
Health & Wellness
The Azores is paradise, a place where you can enjoy wide open spaces on these to truly enjoy these magical islands. Taking time to work on your health and slow down as you enjoy the green lands of São Miguel. is part of the Solar Branco Eco Estate mission and our food offerings and experiences aim to reflect this.
Discover the never-ending green lands of the island of São Miguel. Take part in our signature Shinrin Yoku experience. The Eco Estate is a place to allow your unique senses to experience and connect with nature. This is an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature without modern-day distractions. Shinrin Yoku is often referred to in English as forest bathing (the literal translation of this Japanese term) or forest therapy more.
Cage Free Chickens
Our first chickens were brought from the farmers market in pretty poor condition, unwanted and only desired for the pot. Within a month of free range foraging and a nice warm place to sleep (which we called Cluckingham Palace) they thrived and we now have over 50 happy chickens laying eggs (most days).
Vegan Cozido Dinner
The Azores has some of the best land in which to grow vegetables, and we aim to highlight this with our locally sourced, organic vegan cozido. A hit with everyone who tries it, we often sell out dinner experiences months in advance (so booking as early as possible is recommended) more.
Hosts Ali & Caroline are delighted to host a number of events on the estate. Events are free to attend, and proceeds from drinks and food sales go to charities based on São Miguel, including The Ocean Azores Foundation.
Gardeners Plant Swap & Drinks
There is a saying here that everything grows in the Azores. And thanks to the volcanic substrate, as well as a year round temperate temperature this is true, to a degree. Some local and experienced advice makes all the difference. And its even better when served with a G&T or a glass of wine. Everyone welcome, green fingered or not.
Th Christmas Tree
The Solar Branco Eco Estate Christmas Event, features The World’s Tallest Living Christmas Tree. It was first lit up in 2019 as a way to thank the local community for welcoming the estate’s owners, Ali & Caroline, to the area.