“Portugal is a garden planted by the sea.” Eduardo quotes the Portuguese poet Camões as we sit at the big outdoor dining table surrounded by a garden of lush plants, fragrant flowers and beautiful succulents. Founded in 2013, Omassim is thriving in a kind of way that feels like its been there forever, but its only been 3 seasons. Lia and Eduardo met working together in guesthouses and by combining their forces as hospitality and holistic living experts, they have created the perfect space for serenity, comfortable living, relaxation, mindfulness, and an all-around happy lifestyle.
The houses (there are two, across the road from each other), are nestled into the quaint and charming residential area of Ribamar, near the beach village of Ericeira. I approached the house to find the sounds of laughter and quiet chat among the guests in various places. You can find people relaxing and enjoying themselves here in a comfortable sort of way that seems totally organic. There’s no formula for “retreat” here, its just a groovy sort of place where you can really chill out and unwind.
Mornings start with an energizing yoga class in the yoga shala led by founder and instructor Lia. Her teaching style is fun, playful, and inviting and the gentle reminders to make funny faces and laugh help the asanas flow naturally. After yoga, the group meets for breakfast in the main house. All meals are served communal style and set up as a buffet and the food (ahhh, the food), all vegetarian, healthy, and homemade by a variety of local staff and international workaway volunteers – prepares the guests for a successful day.
There’s a variety of options at Omassim. Not wanting to use the word “retreat”, Lia and Eduardo have created a customizable menu of options for guests to create their holistic holiday in whatever way serves them best. Packages, for example, include (but are not limited to) surf and yoga, yogatrail (daily yoga and meditation), juice cleanse, and massage. Lia likes to recommend the yoga trail package, but as surfing has become such a popular attraction in the area since year 2000, she also says, “just start with something that interests you and once you’re here, we can talk about extra stuff to do.”
Omassim works with Progress, a local surf school, so for those in the surf package, the instructors come to pick up the surfers and take them out into the swell shortly after breakfast. Joanna, a professional big wave surfer, is the main
instructor and her team are fun, energetic, and always there to make sure you’re learning and improving with every lesson. All equipment is included in the price and everything is taken care of by the staff, so the process is quite simple – just hop on the bus and go! Meanwhile, for those hanging back at the house – there’s a beautiful pool and outdoor lounge area complete with hammocks hanging from palm trees, ongoing yoga practice available in the shala, and ample time and space to relax or mingle with other guests. If you want to get away to explore the picturesque beauty of coastal Portugal, the beach is only a 20 minute walk away.
Lunch is an active time at Omassim. The houses are buzzing with guests, either back from surfing or other activities, and they gather back at the communal area for eating. I can’t talk enough about the food. Its bountiful, fresh, colorful and so healthy but also SO delicious. Eating is guilt-free at Omassim and aside from the variety of veggie and vegan options, there’s also fresh, cold-pressed juices and “power desserts” like chia pudding, available for purchase. The dining area is comprised of 3 large outdoor picnic-style tables, encouraging the guests to sit together and enjoy meals as a group. The conversations are always so interesting, meeting people from all around the world and hearing stories from near and far.
Afternoons can be spent in the surf, in the pool, lounging and reading a good book, indulging in a variety of holistic massages offered by trained therapists, or doing anything you want, really. This space is one where you can truly feel at home any time, day or night. I always felt comfortable, relaxed, and totally welcome. Lia and Eduardo are always around and involved with the guests, which means they are in tune with the needs of the guests as well. This isn’t something that can be created in a business – it just exists when the right combination of compassion, empathy, and interest is met.
After evening yoga and meditation, the group reconvenes for family dinner. I closed my eyes to hear the sound of calm and happy chitter chatter, the sounds of the kitchen, the sounds of the birds nesting in the trees, and felt the calm and cool breeze sweeping over my shoulders. At night, the area can be quite cool, but after a day of such intense relaxation, it feels so good to crawl into bed, melt into the mattress, and cover up with a fluffy duvet before drifting off to sleep.
Omassim is the kind of place that is created by pure alchemy – a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, and combination. Perhaps Lia and Eduardo had this exact vision in their minds the entire time, or perhaps it just happened this way because they were born to do this. Whatever the reason, a true sense of self can be found here – in a place that is safe, lovely, and truly unforgettable.