These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.
Vicky Seymour review 25 Apr 2011
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
The group of participants were really lovely both weeks (I did 2 consecutive weeks with the same company).
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
I think it is really important to have a clear idea of what sort of thing is on offer. the trip was far too tame for my tastes. The first week i expected more painting tuition and the second i though we would be walking in the high andalucian
mountains, this was not the case. perhaps booking 2 one-week trips was a mistake, since it felt as if one repeated the other, certainly in terms of eating.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
yes and no. The people at the finca are very nice and working a lot to develop an organic-style small holding but to be honest i had hoped to integrate with the locals and this never happened. the only spanish i got to speak were in the cafes in the evenings. everyone else - from guides, to drivers and even the people who's home we were staying in, were English so i felt that i was supporting the local ex-pat community rather than the locals to the area. the restaurants were Spanish-owned.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
I had a nice time, but think my expectations were off track perhaps and i was made to feel a little bit like another cog in the tourist wheel. As i said, the hosts were very accommodating with their house, but i think they packed too many people into the groups so the balance of a small home-stay feel and a commercial event are being pushed a bit.
Again, I would not criticise them too much, but perhaps needed to have a clearer idea of what was being offered i how this fits with what i want from a holiday. I am sure that i will take some happy memories away with me, the people i met and the places i visited.
Read the operator's response here:
Firstly, it is good to know that overall Vicky had a nice time with us and that she enjoyed the company of the other guests. However, she makes a number of points on which I would like to comment.
I am sorry that she feels she did not get the level of painting tuition she expected during the first week and, although this was not the experience of all the guests, we do accept that this criticism has some validity.
I think Vicky found that the group was rather large and although we always employ two tutors when the group is eight people or more a problem arose because the role of the second tutor was not properly defined so that some clients did not receive the level of tuition they would expect. As a result of Vicky’s comments, a new timetable and allocation of duties have been agreed so hopefully the problem should not reoccur and we are grateful to have received this constructive criticism.
With regard to her second week, we do not know why Vicky thought that she would be walking in the high Andalucian mountains as our holidays are clearly marketed as easy to moderate walking holidays and this is apparent both from the sample itinerary on our website and from the programme which was sent out prior to the commencement of the holiday.
With regard to the meals, our holidays are week-long holidays and we always visit the same restaurants every week. I should point out that Torrox is a small place so we do not have an option to change the restaurants week on week which is why Vicky felt she was repeating week 1.
We employ English speaking staff because 100% of our clients speak English which is the only language we market in. However, our staff also speak Spanish fluently, live in Spain and are extremely knowledgeable about the local history, flora, fauna, gastronomy and culture. Anna Martin, our painting tutor, is half Spanish and is always more than keen to chat in Spanish to anybody who wishes to speak with her.
It is true that the houses are mainly owned by Northern Europeans. The local Spanish population is quite elderly as many of the younger people have moved to apartment blocks on the Costa. As a result many of the houses have fallen into disrepair. Northern Europeans have been buying the houses and renovating them and this is something that the local and regional governments have been very keen to promote because of the money it brings into the local economy. You will appreciate that we can only rent houses of a certain standard and these renovated houses do offer a lovely experience of living in a Spanish village but with the modern conveniences that our client group demands.
Vicky acknowledges that the restaurants we use are Spanish owned (some of which we pretty much keep alive during the winter months). Indeed our little company spent €20,000 in restaurants in Torrox in 2010. What she doesn’t mention is the money we spend on food in the local market and in local shops, the fuel we buy from a Spanish petroleum company staffed by Spanish workers, the local Spanish-owned and operated workshop we use for vehicle maintenance and repairs, the local laundry where we send our tablecloths, the Spanish cleaners for the houses, the Spanish builders who maintain them and so on. 75% of our turnover is spent in Torrox and this is gratefully acknowledged by the local people with whom we do business.