Self guided walking holiday in Andalucia, Spain

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Self guided walking holiday in Andalucia, Spain

Environment

We are fully committed to renewable energy in a way very few other hotels are. We have a fully ‘off grid’ system (not connected to the national grid) with an extensive array of solar panels for both and electricity and hot water. We are more than happy to show our guests how everything works. Our central heating system is driven by a large pellet burner stove, which also helps to heat the dining room. We use only energy-efficient light bulbs and every bathroom has shower facilities as well as a full bath to encourage sensible use of water; all the toilets have dual flush; the room keys have energy saving cards attached. For washing we use an eco-ball and prefer ecologically friendly cleaning, washing and personal hygiene products, though they are very difficult to source in this part of Spain! We change bed sheets and towels every 4 nights, unless otherwise requested.

Our land is mostly wild, with Almond and Olive orchards which had not been exploited for some time. We do not use pesticides and have brought the trees back into production organically. We grow organic fruit and vegetables in our own kitchen garden, raise free range chickens and source everything else from local organic farmers. We have dedicated recycling bins for guests to use, which we add to our own domestic recycling. We also practice composting, which is a great way to use up vegetable peelings and chicken manure!

We support the Foundation Gypaetus, for the reintroduction of the Bearded Vulture which reached the brink of extinction in Europe a few years ago. The FG has a rearing site in the natural park of the nearby Sierra de Cazorla and every year release into the wild a number of vultures, which are then tracked for a minimum of five years. The majority of the released birds have taken up residence in the Sierra de Castril, very close to the hotel. We offer interested guests information about the whereabouts of the birds and how to get to the various sites (without jeopardising the nests) plus special information cards to fill out in case the birds are spotted. And of course it is amazing how many other beautiful things you see when out looking for something else!

We have designed our schedules to make it possible to use community taxis for airport collection and drop off; in other words a minibus which is already making the trip. Otherwise, if guests are arriving in a group they can effectively charter the same minibus for a reasonable rate and tailor make the holiday in a similarly sustainable way.

Community

First and foremost we are promoting this fantastic region, the Altiplano de Granada, which is new to international tourism. We see the economic benefits sustainable tourism could bring to a rural community which is (at present) over-dependent on agriculture and EU grant aid.

Secondly we are championing the gastronomy, culture and tradition of a ´land that time forgot´, which is to say a place virtually unchanged and untouched by the stresses and strains of modernity. Here the pace of life is different. Family and tradition are respected. The hard won secrets of how to live well with limited resources are still handed down the generations. As a result many young people here are shepherds, olive and almond cultivators, vegetable growers, and, increasingly, budding ecologists. We are members of BioCastril, which promotes organic farming and even gives its landless members plots of land to work. This organisation also provides ingredients for school dinners and holds regular workshops in the schools to raise awareness about the benefits of organic food.

We look after our guests by buying in and growing our own organic produce and we also sell local organic products such as olive oil, oregano, honey and saffron. We also promote art, craft and glass products from a local workshop which is reviving the town´s ancient tradition of glass production. Our preferred guides and workshop leaders are mostly young local people with an enthusiasm and a passion for nature.

We encourage all our guests to make use of local restaurants and shops by offering them extensive information and by using our language skills and contacts to book and organise things on their behalf to ensure an enjoyable and tailor-made experience. All our specialist activities are offered by local outdoor pursuits companies with young qualified guides who care about the environment as much as we do. Your custom will provide them with much-needed work.

The restoration of the old house and development of the hotel provided employment for an average of five local labourers and craftsmen every working day for 18 months. We are now able to provide (albeit small) amounts of work for a part time cleaner at the hotel during busy periods.

Reviews of Self guided walking holiday in Andalucia, 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 19 Mar 2014 by

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


Amazing walks in the Natural Park, and the friendly welcome from Ilaria and Derek. The Barranco de Osa walk was spectacular. We went in March and it was perfect for walking.

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


This is a place to go walking, and /or relax by the fire with a book and a glass of wine. You really are away from it all.

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


Yes, we were encouraged to go to local restaurants for lunch, and they buy everything in the local town. The hotel is off grid and uses solar hot water and
electricity, along with wood and pellet stoves.

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


A really good break with lovely people.

Reviewed on 04 Feb 2014 by

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


The scenery.

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


Don't go in January unless you have to. We had to.

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


I'm not sure, really. Presumably spending our money in the local economy benefits local people. We had to fly and then hire a car, so I'm not sure that we benefited the environment. We certainly appreciated the environment of the sierras we visited.

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


Brilliant. A wonderful place to get away to. Marvellous scenery, good walking country, a nice place to stay, welcoming hosts, good food, etc.. We'd like to go back if we can - during a warmer month, and in the hope of not getting quite so much rain.

I would give it four and a half stars. It's not the best holiday we've ever been on, but it was better than four stars.

Reviewed on 29 Apr 2013 by

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


Mountain walks and mountain biking.

2. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Not particularly, except in the usual local spending.

3. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
A good holiday - nice hotel in good location for walks; really friendly, welcoming and always helpful; food always fine but with a bit more elan and local accent could make the holiday truly memorable.

Reviewed on 24 Apr 2013 by

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


So many!

We didn't see another soul on the 3 main hikes that we did and getting to the top of Cerro del Buitre and seeing all the mountains around us was amazing. The only real noise was the sound of the snow melting and falling off the trees below us.

As the hotel is in the middle of nowhere we went to bed every night with the blinds open so we got to wake up to the sun rising over the olive groves around us - beautiful!

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


If you want to be able to get away from it all this the place for you. The hotel owners, Derek and Ilaria speak perfect English but none of the other locals do so it would help if you have some basic Spanish or take a phrase book with you! Everyone was very friendly and helpful though and the old man in the local supermarket even used Google Translate to help us work out what we were trying to ask for!

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


Definitely - Ilaria uses fresh local produce to prepare all the meals, from her own garden wherever possible. They also link up with other local businesses to offer horse riding and adventure activities.

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


Exactly what we needed! Ilaria and Derek do everything they can to make sure every guest has all the information they need to do the things they want with their holiday.

Reviewed on 16 Feb 2013 by

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


It is a wonderful place to stay for a holiday. Its location is amazing, many walks are possible in the beautiful countryside and Ilaria and Derek are lovely hosts. They are so welcoming and nothing (including my special diet!) was too much trouble. They are also very knowledgeable about the area and can give you excellent advice on where to go.

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


A car is essential but from Almeria or Malaga airports the drive is straightforward.

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


Ilaria and Derek are committed to green issues and run their business accordingly.

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


Brilliant! We definitely hope to return!

Reviewed on 07 Feb 2013 by

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


Stunning views from mountain trails still knee-deep in snow. Wading streams knee-deep in snow-melt which would normally be a stroll across stepping stones.
Meant we had to turn back midway on some walks, but that let us enjoy views we'd missed on the way up.
Griffon vultures circling just outside our bedroom window above a spectacular valley.

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


If hiring a car, consider upgrading to a high wheelbase vehicle, the roads into the mountains are a bit hairy in winter. Bring a book-light, in case Derek and Ilaria haven't got round to my suggestion of improving lighting for reading in the lounge. (A lovely space otherwise, with its log fire and sunset views over the Sierra).

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


The latter two certainly, with a lovely stove/water heater fuelled by sustainable waste wood, and PV panels used wherever possible instead of gas-fuelled generator.
The hotel would have provided local employment when being built. Not sure whether it generates much in its day to day running. Locally sourced food helps the local economy. Majority of our fellow guests were Spanish, so it's meeting a need for the resident population, not just tourists.

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


A very relaxing week, despite the strenuous days described above. Comfort and excellent cooking, friendly and ever-helpful hosts.

Reviewed on 21 May 2013 by

“Booking through Responsible travel I visited the Castril area of Andalusian Spain in April. I whished to walk and look for unusual plants of the area. My stay at was most enjoyable with excellent accommodation and food at a reasonable cost. I was pointed to the best walking areas and had a very pleasant time.“

Reviewed on 14 Apr 2012 by

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


We have many fond memories from our short but action packed six day break in Andalucia, Spain. We couldn't have asked for a better base than this hotel, an impressive building, sympathetically modernised whilst still retaining its Spanish Farmhouse roots. Run by friendly and helpful owners, Derek and Ilaria we had an excellent and comfortable stay. This was a last minute booking that turned out to tick all the boxes for a restful but adventurous, 'getaway' from our busy lives in the UK. The Park Naturale at Castril (based just a short drive) was an amazing and unforgettable place to walk - totally unspoilt with fabulous views, beautiful waterfalls and stunning rock formations. During our walks the birds of prey circled us overhead in the mountain peaks and the goats grazed peacefully in the valleys below. We walked in the park on 3 occasions, all the walks were very different but equally stunning and the only other human beings we saw during our time in the park were the shepherds! If you enjoy walking, there is no doubt you will love this beautiful place.

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


You will need a car and an up to date map of the area. We found the restaurants in the local area to be very good value but quite quiet. Ilaria offers an excellent 3 course menu at the Hotel, all home-made and using local produce we enjoyed this option, which was very welcome after a long day walking. Local honey, wine, almonds and olives (of course) are just a few examples of the local produce used by the hotel in the daily menus. Take plenty of water with you on the walks and some snacks - there are no cafes in the park. Some of the walks are long and quite challenging but really worth the effort - trainers or similar footwear with good grip are essential. If you don't speak Spanish take your dictionary with you - very few of the locals speak English, which can make communication quite interesting! The owners of the hotel speak fluent English and they will go out of their way to help you plan your time, so that you can really make the most of the locality during your holiday.

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


Yes - We ate in local restaurants, as well as at the hotel and we also bought produce in the local markets.

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


The holiday was fantastic - the hotel run by Derek and Ilaria is a real gem and we feel lucky to have found it. Set in a prominent and stunning position (360 degree panoramic views) in the heart of rural Spain, it really is highly recommended as a place to stay to enjoy the wonders of Andalucia. If you are looking for a walking or bird watching holiday destination this is the ideal place for you!

Reviewed on 27 Nov 2012 by

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


The walking in the local national parks was great; good weather and lovely scenery. Watching the vultures practising landing on a rocky outcrop was great.

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


The packed lunches and dinners at the hotel are excellent. November was a good time for walking in the mountains - sun every day but pleasantly cool.
The maps of the area are a bit vague with very few paths marked. The hotel-supplied walking directions were fine although an altimeter would help as a lot of the waypoints were height based.

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


The hotel is very green and the owners have reduced their environmental impact as far as possible.

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


Brilliant. Ilaria and Derek are great hosts and made us very welcome.

Reviewed on 04 Nov 2012 by

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


The location of the hotel was fantastic. Beautiful views all around and close to
two mountain ranges where we did some wonderful self guided walks. Ilaria was a
welcoming host, who was full of advice about the local area. She speaks English
very well, having lived in the UK for 10 years. The hotel has large bedrooms, an
honesty bar and a living room, with a large selection of books and DVDs.

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


The hotel is quite remote-which is great if you want a peaceful holiday- but you
definitely need to hire a car. Also, the nearest restaurants are 15 minutes drive
away, so half board is a good idea. Ilaria feeds you very well! The 3 course meal
is only 15 euros, which is fantastic value. The hotel is about 1500m above sea
level, so outside the high season, it is quite cool first thing in the morning
and late afternoon, so pack accordingly.

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


The hotel generates its own electricity- solar panels and burning wood pellets
that are a by product of sawmills. Recycling of waste is encouraged. A number of
local people are employed to help with cleaning, cooking and serving meals during
busy times.

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


It was everything we had hoped it would be. Lovely hotel, great walks, peace and
quiet and the opportunity to discover a remote and unspoiled part of Spain. We
have travelled quite extensively, but so far, have rarely returned anywhere.
However, we are already talking about returning, to experience
it at a different time of the year.

Reviewed on 16 Oct 2012 by

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


I had a lovely few days. There are a lot of opportunties for walks and bike rides. The hotel is decorated is a high standard and is a beautiful place to stay - the pictures don't really do the building or the location justice! The food was great and the owners are very friendly and went out of their way to make my stay enjoyable.
I think the highlight was a beautifil hike in the Cazola National Park where I didn't see anyone else all day!

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


I arrived by public transport and the owners were very helpful will dropping me off for walks and visits, however, I think that there is so much to explore in the area I would definitely recommend hiring a car.

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


The hotel is completeing off-grid so definitely reduced enironmental impact.

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


Great! Excellent combination of relaxation and opportunities to get out hiking or biking.

Reviewed on 27 Sep 2012 by

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


Sitting with a cold beer watching the sun set over the mountains on the beautiful terrace.

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


Come in The spring or in September October ...the walking will be more easy than in high summer

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


All the produce used for the meals was sourced locally and local people are employed to help out.....the operator also has high environmental awareness.

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


We loved the oeprator and will come back to see the flowers in May or June. An excellent holiday.

Reviewed on 10 Apr 2012 by

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


There are many memories but the peace and quiet, starry nights, stunning views and excellent hiking, local food and wonderful hosts made it the perfect escape from busy city living.

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


This is a wonderful place to go to if you want to get away from it all. Book a car so that you can get around easily. The rest Ilaria and Derek will help you with!

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


All food sourced locally and environmental impacts minimised.

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


This was the perfect break for getting into the outdoors while also being able to experience wandering about local rural villages, sampling delicious food and wine and finding time for a siesta. One of the best holidays we have had since moving to the UK from New Zealand.

Reviewed on 16 Feb 2012 by

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


Undoubtedly the scenery and the wonderful walking. Also the excitement of seeing majestic Griffon vultures, at least 15 of them, flying right above us!

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


Hire a car, we hired one for 46€ for the whole week. It was worth having the freedom of moving about how we wanted.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We had a little tour of the facilities. Ilaria showed us how the solar system works, I was impressed by the fact that such a house was totally off grid. We had a nice time lunching in some of the local restaurants and hired some bikes from a local company. I would say that they do their best to give information about local things.

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


Absolutely fabulous. We had only 3 days, I wish we had gone for longer. Beautiful hotel, lovely food and fantastic hosts. What really made it for us though was the amazing wild location. We did not meet a single tourist in any of our walks! We will be back undoubtedly.

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