Keeping an illustrated nature journal, in Greece
Description of Keeping an illustrated nature journal, in Greece
2023: 17 Jun
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PlanetOur accommodation was opened in December 2013 (we operate all year) and the design was inspired by the varied architecture of the Pelion Peninsula. The hotel is surrounded by gardens with many unusual botanical specimens and the organic vegetable garden supplies the kitchen during the summer months. We have an eco-friendly towel policy, biological waste management and fans rather than air conditioning. A ‘puit canadien’ helps to keep the rooms cool in the summer and the air warmer in the winter. The heating is underfloor and we have a solar vacuum system. We recycle as much as possible, try to reduce wastage and use no pesticides or herbicides in our gardens. We have two cats who tolerate guests’ pets which are welcome.
Roads did not come to the Pelion peninsula until the 1960’s but the cobblestone donkey and mule paths were soon forgotten once vehicles arrived. Since they were rediscovered, one by one, by a Volos doctor before the millenium a community based Greek and international group has painstakingly opened them up. This network of signed paths links the traditional (protected) villages of Pelion and its beaches and small fishing ports.
We and the group have encouraged locals and visitors alike to respect the paths, wildlife and particularly the glorious nature of Pelion and its huge variety of plants. Schoolchildren are taken on hikes to learn to appreciate their heritage.
We have a large library of reference books which can be consulted in the evenings (wildflowers, birds etc.) We give each walker a detailed map showing routes, heights of the hills and mountains in South Pelion as well as places of interest (monasteries, chapels, spring wells and historical sites). We are happy to spend time with our guests sharing what we know of their history. Some of this we have specifically researched ourselves.
Through our tours for overseas clients we contribute to the local environment. In April we organise orchid and other wildflower spotting tours which enable us to help fund local specialist societies. We also arrange foraging and other botanic tours including painting. This, the Mosaics in Marble and other courses are conducted through the Mediterranean centre for Art, Gardens, Plants and Design.
We, with our friends.keep an eye open for any potential threat to the totally unspoiled nature of our area. We are active in making objections to any project or activity which does not meet accepted environmental criteria, and lobby where necessary to keep our beaches clean and quiet and generally to enhance the auditory and visual experiences of our guests.
PeopleBy extending the season, and indeed staying open all year, the hotel is able to offer employment to local people providing they have the right qualifications. They clean rooms, cook, help with the breakfasts, bar etc. We stay open in the winter and try to encourage guests during shoulder seasons to offer more days work to our staff. This is important so that they can stay in the village, their children attend the local school and help to keep the community vibrant and self-sustained. We give on the spot training in most aspects of hotel work with our Greek hotel school trained and highly experienced manager.
We believe that this helps to keep those, particularly younger people in rural communities in their villages, where they are most needed. Our eco-policies include increasing yearly the amount of organic products we use. We also have our own pesticide-free vegetable garden and many plants which attract bees. We use as little processed food as possible, preferring items freshly cooked by our chef. We have also ourselves prepared a map of our village which encourages guests to visit the local tavernas, museums and mini-markets. Other small businesses include the hand-crafted jeweller, home-made cheese-maker, olive-wood fired bakery and a natural products ‘emporium’.
As the highest rated hotel in the area ( 3*) we are working hard to stay integrated with the villagers. We encourage our guests to visit local tavernas, cafeterias and gift shops in this village of only 350 inhabitants. We explain the village life to our guests and engage with the local olive wood baker and small mini-markets. We support the three small museums. Each spring we organise a Plant Fair in the village square which benefits the local community group financially. We also sponsor a local Greek dancing festival, share the cost of leaflets for walking the paths of the area (kalderimia) and other activities such as the inter-village basketball tournament. We have supported the local lafkos.
We have recently offered our large seminar room to the local traditional dance group and this has been much appreciated by the local community. They see more of the hotel and overseas guests. We also encourage young people from the village to play tennis and come in to the hotel for a soft drink or a coffee afterwards. We recommend the local tavernas as an alternative to our own restaurant. We promote the annual Dance Festival and other activities throughout the year.
We have also helped to create a website to promote Lafkos and its local businesses and support other activities such as the annual Dance Festival, inter-village basketball competition and Christmas Fair. We initiated and run the annual Plant Fair held in the village square each April. We also give financial support to these activities as ‘sponsorship’.
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