The hamlet where we run our Crete fitness holiday is a restoration and ecological project designed to preserve the traditional principles and history of Crete. The hamlet is situated in an area unique for its expansive variety of plants and trees and was built at the end of the 16th century but deserted just over fifty years later after an outbreak of cholera. Some twenty years ago, two local families started to rebuild the ruins with the idea to turn them into guesthouses and combine this with biological farming, reforestation, and environmental protection.
Environment & conservation: Until 1982, when the decision was made for environmental improvements and the restoration of the mediaeval settlement, this area was a place where irresponsible human activities, especially fires and over-grazing, had resulted in the erosion of earth and a diminished water supply, cultivable earth and abundant water having been two of the most notable and precious attributes of the place at one point.
The initial work here included the systematic cultivation of the land, which included the planting of many thousands of trees, some endemic to the island. The entire property was fenced in and anti-fire zones were created. The efforts towards an improved natural environment are intensified every year with reforestation and the cultivation of a wider variety of crops and other products. The owners recognise that every thoughtless act towards the environment has its price and practice humility in everything they do.
Building restoration: The guest-houses have been built from the foundations of the old village houses with local materials – chestnut wood and stone, keeping to the architecture characteristic of the area, and are furnished with old restored furniture collected from the surrounding villages. Huge rocks comprise the walls of some of the houses, which the villagers had used as part of the building when they were initially built. The houses blend so harmoniously with the environment that you can actually imagine them just sprouting up from the earth. Reconstruction of the buildings themselves began in 1991 and was completed in 1994.
Energy & recycling: The hamlet is a fully sustainable operation. Electricity is generated from solar energy, gas- and wood-fired boilers heat water for showers, shower water in turn is used for irrigation. In the evening the rooms are candle-lit. Very few items are thrown away. All natural products are recycled, and they try to find alternative uses for everything else. All edible fruit and vegetables end up in the kitchen, while their remnants and other plants feed the animals, who in turn provide milk and cheese, meat, leather, wool and manure.
Food: Most food on this fitness holiday in Crete is organic and home-grown on site, without the use of pesticides and fertilisers, and served fresh. Any other food is bought locally in Chania. The delicious food served is renowned in Crete.
Culture: The hamlet is owned and run by local Cretans, some of whom are related to the original inhabitants of the hamlet. They try to promote culture in its essential form by keeping tradition alive, all the while keeping up with current methods and ideas. And, they consider it crucial that the elders remind and instruct the younger generations in how their forefathers lived.
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