Villa Keisa: moments frozen in time

With a connection to Villa Keisa spanning his whole life, Francisco Matos Gil takes us inside this retro seaside paradise where your family can step out of time.
Villa Keisa: moments frozen in time

With dramatic limestone cliffs and crystal clear water, Algarve has long been a popular destination for both local and international tourists. The beaches in Algarve are among the best in Portugal. Though the city attracts crowds every year, hidden gems lay interspersed throughout the area to offer shrewd travellers quiet retreats

Of these, Villa Keisa sits indiscernible in its entirety, staggered on different levels of the coastal cliffs. Francisco Matos Gil dives into the history and attributes of the property to give you a private and stunning viewpoint from which to discover the area, all while steeped in retro charm for a precious family memory.




Francisco’s family is no stranger to the Algarve region: long before it became the local and international travel hub that it is, the family already had its roots firmly planted under layers of sand.

For years, their summers were spent exploring the region's cliffs, both on foot for a plunging view of the beaches below and by way of the sea. From local fisherman boats, they discovered coastal caves where they could stop and swim. In fact, it was one of these water-way excursions that first put Francisco’s great-grandfather Joao on the path to Villa Keisa. Like all the best stories, it begins with love at first sight.

Perched atop limestone cliffs at the edge of Carvoeiro village, Villa Keisa overlooks the ocean - but as it turns out, the ocean gazes back! Joao first discovered the property from the water, where he was sailing along on a boat trip.




It was the Arabic-style dining room that first caught Joao's eye, since the rounded architectural style was different from what he knew. He was immediately smitten by the villa’s charm: the house’s exterior, its position on the cliffs, and its view of the water all drew him in.

Once back on land, Joao decided to find the villa and knock at the door. Greeted by the American architect couple that had built this luxury getaway in Portugal, he was able to visit the villa and get a new vantage point, this time from the property out to the sea.

Inside, he discovered more Arabic influences throughout the house, including bathroom tiles and art pieces. The Arabic art, typical of the Iberian peninsula’s southern coast, is interspersed with more contemporary pieces for a fresher look, balancing the retro conception with a sophisticated modern touch.






Joao acquired the home in 1974, and it quickly became a piece of family history. They bought several surrounding plots of land and over time built the villa into the four-hectare estate it is today. Francisco’s parents later worked to open up the garden, cutting down overgrown vegetation to clear the view of the sea and opposing cliffs.

Other than these additions, Villa Keisa has maintained its original 1970s glory. With every renovation, the family was careful not to rewrite the property’s DNA, modernising it functionally but not aesthetically. In fact, the house has conserved much of its original furniture, hand chosen by the family.

After acquiring the property a few years later, Joao gave it his own touch while keeping with the home’s character. As an architecture and design aficionado with an eye for stunning interiors, he embellished the villa with a selection of art while maintaining Villa Keisa’s atemporal ethos.

This same penchant for interior design passed through Franciso’s mother Marta – owner of an interior design agency in Porto called Rhino Home – who has ensured a consistent spirit within the villa throughout the renovations.





Villa Keisa is situated on the cliffed side of Algarve, so it doesn’t have the same sprawling beaches you’ll find on the other side of the town. Instead, small beaches are broken up by towering cliffs, providing a more intimate and secluded experience.

It’s easy to find a break in these precious spaces that feel almost outside of time. Villa Keisa even offers private beach access: go to the gate at the end of the garden and follow the path down the cliffs, then take a ladder directly down to the golden sandy beach.


Because the villa has changed very little over the decades, it exists in a frame captured outside of time, where backdrops of family memories remain the same over the generations.

Francisco, his parents, and his grandparents all spent their Villa Keisa days in the same way: swimming in the outdoor pool, gazing over the cliffs at the ocean horizon, watching the turquoise water dance with hues of pink and orange at sunset, and dining by candlelight while the waves crash against the cliffs below. These memories have been shared and echoed year after year thanks to the villa’s timeless charm.


What makes this villa truly stunning is its location, and the property was built specifically to honour that. Perched high above the coastline, the home’s traditional whitewashed exterior blends in seamlessly with the limestone cliffs.

The property’s interior and exterior are expertly crafted to get the most out of its precious location. For instance, the Arabic dining room that so allured Joao is positioned with a view over the water, so while you drink your morning coffee you can also lap up ocean views.



One notable difference between the youngest generation’s experience in contrast with their parents’ or grandparents’ is the pool, which was recently renovated. Although the pool was modernised with more of an infinity look, it was kept in the same spot and much of the original flooring was preserved, speaking to the desire to keep the property as true to its original form as possible.

Though it passed hands from generation to generation, the home has maintained its original 1970s charm for a retro yet sophisticated family getaway.

The Collection

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