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.
Sofie Corfield review 22 Dec 2005
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Taking my young children on the beach. I liked the swimming pool areas and the building we stayed in. The pizza restaurant in town. Having a meal with the host and his family.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Be prepared for a very smoky fire. Take some old clothes to collect wood, you get covered with charcoal. A chainsaw might be useful!. Some knives for the kitchen and an oven that works.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
As far as I could tell he benefit to local people seemed to be minimal, a bit of work and more business coming into the area. Compared to most tourist developments in The Algarve this property was much lower impact, visually, in its construction and in terms of land use. Waste water drained onto the land and some of it seemed to be left to its own devices for example. The property on the whole did not seem to be run in a particularly sustainable way.
4. Any other comments?
I didn't like being told to fix the radiator in my bedroom myself, or to go and get my own wood. I was wanting a break from this kind of thing, thats why I went on holiday. I expected better service for what to me seemed like a lot of money. Particularly as the host sorted wood out for himself during our stay.
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you for your e-mail. Let me start by saying that we, and in particular Theo, my partner who spent most time with them, were very surprised by Sophies review: I was in Holland for a week during their stay, but Theo spent a good time with Sophie, her family and other guests and friends that were here: they had a wonderful dinner together, coffee by the pool and a lot of fun in the new carroussel that was installed here.
We regret that the feedback wasn't given directly to us: in this way practical things could have been resolved (kitchen knives) and technical problems repaired (heater). In the beginning of their holiday there was a moment that the heating was not working but this was due to an empty gas bottle. When told so, Theo put a new gas bottle immediately.
I would like to respond in detail to some of the issues raised:
1. firewood; I'm afraid there has been a misunderstanding here: we always deliver firewood to our guests, this is also written down in our information. Guests get the first basket for free and pay 3,50 euros for every next basket. When the wood is finished they just have to ask for a new basket. It is absolutely not our intention that people bring a chainsaw or gather their own firewood unless they like to do so!! This is where the misunderstanding happened because at some stage Theo asked if they needed firewood. They did not, because they already had picked some up themselves. As said before, normally guests don't go down collecting their own firewood, but since some people like to do something while they are here, Theo let them; (by the way: we didn't charge anything for the wood).
2. Smoky chimney; In principle the fire place is not supposed to be smoky, however it is a big chimney and it needs some extra attention: if you start the fire with small twigs and allow the chimney to heat up, then you can build up the fire gradually. Of course, on windless days, when there is hardly any draught in the chimney, it can get smoky. Besides this, sometimes the wood they collected was quite large which brings the fire too much to the front of the fireplace, thus causing smoke in the house. As they didn't say anything about the fire Theo assumed that they were fine. Guests who were in the house after Sophie didn't have any complaints.
3. Sustainability: we regret that this judgement is given without having asked any questions about it while being here. We have been busy renovating and developing our quinta for several years now, and, unfortunately, we don't have the means to organise everything in one time. Part of our water and heating is already heated by solar power and by wood stoves. Our objective is that within a few years all houses will be heated by renewable energy: sun, wood and bio-diesel. We will produce our own bio-diesel made of waste oil and rape seed oil (we will cultivate rapeseed on our land) and use it for generators, cars, machinery and pumps.
Furthermore, where possible, we use recycled and natural building materials (clay, stones) for our constructions. All rain water is being collected and we use environment friendly cleaning materials. We are developing our organic vegetable garden and make our own compost. In the end all waste water - - black (toilets) and grey (shower, kitchen) - will be collected and purified by ecological systems to be re-used for irrigation. However, we are still in progress and it will take at least one or two years more to be completely sustainable. We have written a Development Plan containing details on all these projects. To give guests a better impression we will now put a summary in the guesthouses.
4. Local Benefit: As we are only a small unit, with at this moment a maximum capacity of 10 guests, we will indeed not have a huge impact on the local economy. However, we try to stimulate guests to make use of the local markets and shops. Besides this we are working on a project called 'Quinta Biológica Educativa'. If we get this plan approved by the EU, we will start workshops on organic gardening, sustainable living and regional arts and crafts for school children in the region and visitors and guests.
In short: a lot of projects are still in on-going phase.
5. Service: as indicated above, the collection of wood was a misunderstanding. Theo doesn't have any recollection of having told Sophie to fix the radiator in her bedroom. He does recall a remark that maybe there was air in the radiator and that Sophie's partner offered to have a look. After that Theo didn't hear anything anymore about the subject. There is an extra electric radiator in the house that can be plugged in.
All in all we really regret that the guests experienced their holidays this way and we also regret that they didn't communicate with us so that we could make their stay a better experience.