Surfers Lodge Peniche is a 4 star lodge located in Baleal, Peniche. The building itself has been designed and built from the ground up to accommodate up to 49 guests in sumptuous comfort.
The man behind the Lodge, John, was kind enough to take some time out of his busy day to answer a few of my questions for Surf Bunker and show me around the amazing building that has a fascinating attention to detail.
From a suite dedicated to the Beatles (yes the band) to a roof top swimming pool to a cinema and dedicated massage rooms the Lodge is immaculately finished with heavy emphasis on recycled materials. Oh did I forget to mention the restaurant and the food, the old type 2 VW bus you can borrow also beach cruisers and skateboards to rent on the premises.
So how do you come up with this kind of perfection, and it really is, well lets find out:
**SB: How old are you John?**John: I am 36 years old, born in 78 (doesn’t look it.)
**SB: Where were you born, where did you grow up?**John: I was born in Stockholm, I grew up there until I moved to the US when I was 16 , learnt to surf there and moved to Australia for 4 years.
**SB: When did you first have the idea for this awesome place?**John: I first had the idea when I was working in a surf camp in Ericeira as a chef, I noticed that some of the older guests, whilst loving the surfing wanted a little bit more luxury and then I realised that maybe I could do this.
**SB: What made you choose the Peinche area to build Surfers Lodge?**John: Well I was searching the whole coast line from Nazare down to Lisbon and really this plot of land came up with the correct permits, in Portugal it can save you a year with planning, the beaches here are a lot better for surf schools, if its big at one spot you can just go around the peninsula you know? and then of course, the WSL event comes here which has brought lots of media and the has really helped put Peniche on the map.
SB: Surfers Lodge has been finished with a great attention to detail where do you get your inspiration from?
John: Mainly from my family, my dad who designs hotels. I wanted to have sustainable approach to this, the bar is made from the wood of old fishing boats and the reception is made of used pallets. We also took a lot of inspiration from ski lodges you know, people who ski are used to paying a lot of money and for that so here is pretty cheap in comparison, I think these types of people would expect a decent standard of living too.
**SB: What is the average age and level of surfer you guys get in?**John: I would say between 25 and 45, these people who are a bit older and want to have fun but still want to get up and go surfing in the morning. We sometimes have parties up on the roof but its all over by midnight which is when the bars in town start anyway and can go on to six oclock. The only time we have had a conflict of interest is when the WCT comes to town, we have had Mick Fanning after a few beers trying to empty the dishwasher (laughs). We get I would say about 70% beginners in but our surfschool is geared towards any standard, of course if Kelly Slater stayed it might be different (laughs)
**SB: Is it possible to stay here just room and board or can you taylor the package?**John: Yes of course you can have any option but what we really want is for people to enjoy the whole experience we provide. Some people might email me and ask to stay here but they heard that another place has a better surf school I would tell them the truth that that other camp has 50 people to one instructor, we have maximum of 6 people to one instructor, you know. In terms of surf school we really want to try and be the best, we have video analysis and feedback, everyone gets an email with tips of what to work on after the stay and all this is saved on our database so that when they come back they can see where they were last time.
**SB: As well as the recycled furniture what other what else do you guys do in terms of sustainability?**John: We dont have it yet but we are going for an eco-hotel certification so we will have systems so the air conditioning will turn off automatically when you open a window, lots of stuff like that we also have bikes and skateboards for people to get around.
**SB: The restaurant looks awesome, how is the food here?**John: Here, have a look at the menu, it is quite small but we try to focus on quality and using as much organic ingredients as possible, all the wine is Portuguese and good quality. For breakfast they would get a big spread, eggs, yoghurt, fruit, cereals, toast, pancakes, hams, cheeses and we also open the restaurant for people from outside the lodge. We are also making plans have little picnic boxes for people to take away food if they want to surf up the coast or chill on the beach.
**SB: And now for some surfing questions, how old where you when you started surfing?**John: I was sixteen years old in Santa Cruz, California. It was cold and sharky but so beautiful.
**SB: Can you describe how it made you feel the first time you got barrelled?**John: Ahhhh, well the first time I got barrelled, how I felt? I was terrified, I closed my eyes and jumped off (laughs) but afterwards, when I was out of the water, I was like 'f*** yeah I was in a barrel' and then you just want more and more.
**SB: What was your first surfboard?**John: It was a Pearson and Arrow, a real old 80's board, I bought it used and it was browner than this wood I guess, it was really sh**y and heavy. I was living in a small town in California and the place I got it was not even a surf shop, they pretty much had 2 boards so I just picked one of them (laughs) it was way to small for me then, like a 6'6 or something.
**SB: Who is your favourite surfer on the WCT/WSL and who is going to win this year?**John: My Favourite surfer is John John Florence. It so hard to tell who I will win but I think John John could do it, I think he needs to work a bit on his competitive edge, it could be Medina, he might win it again.
**SB: What is your favourite wave that you have ever surfed anywhere?**John: My favourite wave has to be Greenbush or E-bay in the Mentawis, I really liked Macaronis but would like to have surfed it in better conditions, so Greenbush.
**SB: Thanks for your time John, is there anything else you that I have not asked you that you want me to include?**John: Ahhhhhh, You could say I am a former Swedish surfing champion and boost my ego a little but (laughs) but don’t say it was like 20 years ago! (laughs).
The Lodge is a truly different place with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere, open fire and distressed leather sofas. I for one will be going to try out the food and the wine too.
You can stay at the Surfers Lodge for a little as 29 euro per night in a bunk room off season board and breakfast. For all the different rates and packages just check out their website. http://surferslodgepeniche.com/