How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
As first impression is so important I am very lucky to have found local taxi driver senhor Jose to do the taxi transfers from either the airport, train or bus station, his English is perfect and as he has been born and raised in the area he can give all the local details.
All the retreats are hosted at the beautiful eco resort Vale da Lama. At Vale da Lama there is a small community of local people living, which I support with hosting the retreats there. They are either working at the farm supplying all the lovely local, seasonal & organic food for the retreats. In the kitchen providing us with amazing, deliciously nutritious meals or like the wonderful Xana managing the resort, making sure everybody feels welcome and at home.
I am also very lucky to be able to work together with amazing therapists from the area. From deep tissue massage, to thai yoga to ayurvedic, all are amazing!
For the Yoga & surf retreats I work together with one of the oldest surf schools of the area, run by local surfers who provide great lessons with a lot of care and fun. During the retreats the food is based on a local, organic, vegetarian diet. So that the guests can taste and feel how amazing this way of eating is.
Also during the week there is a farm tour around the eco resort, giving the guest a feel of permaculture and how it is implemented in to the resort and the community living.
I live my own life according to sustainable and organic ways and really also want to share this in the retreats, because of this I chose a true eco resort to host the retreats. The resort is solar passive, meaning it get's heated by the sun and cooled down in summer by shades. In the winter they use a big fireplace to heat up the resort and electricity and warm water come mainly from Solar panels. They have a beautiful saltwater swimming pool and all the grey water from this and the rest of the resort gets recycled and reused at the farm, so this one of the reasons that only organic, biodegradable cleaning products are used and why the guests are asked to only bring organic & biodegradable soaps, shampoos & toothpaste . All the food is local & organic coming either straight from the permaculture farm of Vale da lama or from the organic farm down the road. This means that most of the waste is biodegradable and for any other waste the eco resort has a full on recycling program.
The surf lessons are mainly given on the beautiful beaches of the costa vincentina national park where no entry fee is needed.
During the Yoga & Surf week I give the guests one 1.5liter glass water bottle, so they can refill their bottle during the week. At the end we collect the bottles and either recycle them or safe them for later use in bioconstruction.
During the week on all the different retreats there is an educating farm tour showing the guests about permaculture and sustainable living and teaching them how they can implement this in their day to day lives.
The eco resort is based on a 42ha property including a permaculture farm & living community, which the guests have a tour of during the week showing them how the local community lives and letting them know that by joining the Yogaion retreats they are supporting the community which is based not on capitalism, but creating a closed circle where the eco resort provides for the income, which then goes back into the community, who then provide for the food, work and organization of the resort.
At the beginning of the week Xana and me explain about the permaculture principles and how they are implemented in to the eco resort and the retreats, for example there is no room service or hierarchy at the retreat and everybody does their share to help. Bringing and rinsing their own dishes to go into the dishwasher, managing their own rooms or asking us if they need anything. And separating their own waste in the recycle bins.
All the guests that use the airport, bus or train transfer to and from the retreat are always very pleasantly surprised to have Senhor Jose pick them up, as his English is perfect and as he is born and raised in the area the trip to the resort is always one full of local knowledge and experience.
All though I encourage the guests not to drink during the week, I do explain about the local wine being sold at the resort, as it comes from a small Portuguese organic winery down the road, which they are more than welcome to enjoy.
I let all the guests of the Yoga & Surf retreats know that they are surfing in a very special and beautiful place on the westcoast of the Algarve in the Costa Vincentina National park and inform that the surf school I work with is one of the oldest and got started by one a local surfer and yogi who still runs it today. The surf school has special programs to teach local kids how to surf from all social levels they also great at taking their time to educate the guests of the value of the costa vincentina national park and it's beaches.