The Solar Branco Eco Estate aims to be a leading Eco and sustainable hotel in the Azores. We believe in leading the way for sustainable tourism in the Azores. Ask us about our work and projects while you are on the estate or read more below.
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.
Ocean Azores Foundation: The Solar Branco Eco Estate in combination with our in-house brand Baleia Gin is working to support the Azores in several areas of marine and sustainable conservation. Read more on our commitment to sustainability and eco-tourism here.
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 Ocean Azores Foundation
The Ocean Azores Foundation was created in the Azores for the ocean that surrounds us. We aim to invest our 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.
The Solar Branco Eco Estate is the only established rescue centre in the Azores for abandoned or injured hedgehogs. In the Azores they are endangered and cannot be kept as pets under the law. Working with Populo vet clinic (who kindly donate their time for free) we can access the 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.
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 biggest gin bar serving hundreds of gin and tonics in a season, we naturally go through a lot of 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 served 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 Eat 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.
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 – read 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 – read 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 – read 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.
Created in partnership with the local distillery, Lima E Quental, producers of Rocha Negra. Baleia Gin is made to showcase the best of the Azores and give back to environment through a donation of €1 for each Baleia & Tonic sold – read more.
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 – read more.
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 die 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 – read 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 crow 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) – read 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.
A great way for old and new residents in the Azores to meet and have a drink here at the Solar Branco Eco Estate. Happening at The Gin Library each month.