Catalan countryside hotel, Spain

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Responsible tourism: Catalan countryside hotel, Spain

Environment

We think about water and power usage and what waste we are producing. We plant local plants like olives and lavender that require little watering. We have left the wood at the back of the property that we look after and harvest, but still keep the healthy trees. The harvested wood is then used in the wood burning stoves. We have underfloor heating as in the winter the nights can be a little chilly. The historic house has been rebuilt in the old ways but with added insulation, so it stays warm in winter but cool in Summer. The walls are 60cm thick, so slowly heat up in the Summer and then keep their heat through the winter. This system works really well, so you do not need AC. People are always amazed how cool it is in the Summer inside. We also have shutters fitted to all the windows, so we can shut the shutters in the Summer to prevent the sun warming up the rooms. As the walls are really thick and as we have thought about window placement, this means in the Summer the sun misses the south facing windows due to the sun height, but in the winter can warm up the rooms as the sun is at a lower height and therefore shines in.

We have a solar pool cover and a solar system to heat the jacuzzi. This means our pool is swimmable from March through to November and the jacuzzi is warm enough May through to the end of September, all via the suns power. Our light bulbs are all eco and we think about each watt that is used. Our hair dryers are all 1kw rather than 2kw for example. We look at each product and try and reasearch and buy the ones that used the least amount of power but still function well.

All waste is divided and what can be recycled is recycled. All of our waste water goes through a septic tank which technically produces drinkable water. We water our garden from the old cisternas which are connected to our roof, so we collect rainwater to fill the cisternas, as they did in the old days. We run the whole of the small boutique hotel on 4kw usually, but can up the power automatically for example if everyone turns on their hairdryers at the same time. But usually we run at less than 4kw, which for such a large house is unheard of in Spain.

Our cleaning & hygiene products are all eco, mostly the Ecover brand. We buy local ingredients, zero km, where possible and also buy as much organic ingredients as possible. Everything is cooked from fresh ingredients for each meal.

We plan to keep buying PV panels until we can produce almost all our power requirements, but this will happen over the next few years. We are off grid, but do not be scared, most people do not even notice.

Community

Where we can we buy local in season produce, so for example our onions are Figueres onions, apples & pear from local orchards, local wines etc. We also have our own small vegetable garden. We buy locally and use local companies for almost everything. We also support the local restaurants, by booking tables for our clients. We send our clients to the local best shops if they require anything and let them know the local market days etc.

We offer good wages to locals and train them. For example we have been employing a local guy and supporting him in his university masters studies to become a more qualified sports coach.

We are part of the local community and support the Gegants (this is a local tradition where at festivals the local Gegants (people wearing huge heads, to make them look like giants) go and dance and perform.

We campaigned with the local community against high voltage power lines being put in the area. The campaign was not completely successful but we did manage to get them moved so as not to disturb as much of the local wildlife. We all offered to club together to pay for them to go underground, but the electrical company said this would set a precedent and would not allow it. Which we find ridiculous. In the end the power company said they would put the line where they wanted it or they would work with the local town councils to come up with the best solution, although they would not bury it. So we did have a small effect, but not the one we wanted. The MAT is a very controversial project here, but it has all been passed in Madrid and Catalunya is very angry.

Reviews of Catalan countryside hotel, Spain

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 01 Nov 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Perfect relaxing, rural location convenient to sight-seeing spots such as Girona and Besalu.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


We are cyclists, but traveling with both a grandparent and small children, we didn't book here for the cycling but rather for the location. We rented a car and found this to be a perfect base from which to enjoy touring Besalu, Girona and many other local points of interest.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Reviewed on 22 Apr 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


It was lovely to be able to ride along quiet roads taking in the beautiful views with the snowcapped Pyrenees in the distance. Our 12 year old athletic son was thrilled to be able to ride a good quality road bike, and the few drivers we
encountered were so thoughtful and gave us plenty of space. This is a great place for dedicated cyclists but also offer interesting cultural sites. We visited the local palaeolithic caves, saw the Dalν Theatre Museum in Figueres and did a day
trip to L'Escala and the interesting Greek/Roman remains of Emporium where we also took a swim in the sea (refreshing!). Our hosts, Fiona and Gareth and their children, were very friendly and helpful. They provide a great place
for visitors interested in an active holiday.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


To get the most of this holiday, be prepared to be active, Fiona and Gareth are very helpful setting up your bikes and giving advice on suitable routes and other things to do.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, we were introduces to local restaurants and people and you could tell the house was refurbished with the environment in mind.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a great holiday, a bit like when we go skiing... you come home feeling fit and energised.

It would be useful to have a map indicating places to eat/snack on the road (with reviews). The Catalan food is quite meaty and it can be a bit difficult to get a tasty, healthy meal.

Reviewed on 16 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Cycling in the beautiful countryside. The freshly baked bread with the evening meal at the hotel.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would recommend hiring a car.
Bring a Spanish phrase book as English did not seem to be widely understood ( not a problem at the hotel)
Not that easy to find veggie options when eating in local restaurants.However the hotel restaurant provided excellent veggie food and the owners can advise on where to eat.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes the hotel was very environmentally aware.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Hotel highly recommended. Very Clean. Staff helpful and knowledgeable. Beautiful location.

Reviewed on 03 Sep 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Beautiful accommodation, loads to do and a wonderful Salvador Dali Museum to add to the healthy, outdoor break.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Plan your fitness regime - loads to do, too little time!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Based in a small village where we were encouraged to spend time. Very environment conscious family.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Great. I'd go again.

Reviewed on 07 Apr 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I thought my hosts were amazingly helpful. The house was lovely . There was lots to do in the local area and I loved the walking.
Fiona and Gareth were on hand for advice and the emphasis on Sports was very interesting.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I had my bag stolen in Girona. I think it was unusual in the city but I would take care not to carry everything around with you .take copies of passports and have emergency numbers at home. I found the local people including the police really helpful.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Despite the setbacks I really enjoyed my holiday. In fact I was very impressed with the support I was given by my hosts who were determined that I should enjoy myself which I did. I thought the area was great for walking with good transport links to local towns. I did not have to hire a car and using public transport meant I mingled with the locals. Lots of walking trails and maps in the house. A good break with something different.

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