Lagou Raxi Country Hotel
How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
the owners were founder members of the organisation which has encouraged local people to open up the local cobbled stone paths (or kalderimia), unused fro many years. Groups and individuals now walk these paths including the South Pelion trail. Nature walks, riding and
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. The local support extends to employing those who live within a 10 minute radius to clean rooms, cook, help with the breakfasts, bar etc. We also give financial support to these activities as ‘sponsorship’.
All our staff, but the manager, are local. We use local guides, both professional and amateur and promote nature walks and seminars on botany, foraging and appreciation of the countryside.
We source local products as far as possible. Until very recently this was not possible for a limited company but since the obligatory introduction of POS machines it is becoming easier to have a simple till receipt accepted by our accountant. Examples are olive oil and olives, feta cheese, locally produced drinks such as wine and soft drinks, bread, spoon sweets and vegetables that we do not grow ourselves. Our chef cooks local pies and makes chips and puree from real potatoes. We buy our meat from a local butcher in the next village. It is many years since furnishings such as carpets were made in this area! However our room keys are held on an olive wood key holder made by a local artisan.
All the small gift shops here are locally owned and most sell local produce. We do encourage them to visit these shops rather than buy at the airport on departure.
Lagou Raxi Country Hotel is situated on the edge of the picturesque and unspoiled village of Lafkos, South Pelion, in mainland Greece, at a height of 330m. We believe that the hotel enjoys one of the best views in Greece – looking west over the islands of the Pagasitic Gulf – an exceptional panoramic sweep as far as Mount Pelion, Volos and the island of Evia. The hotel is close to the charming chapel of Agia Paraskevi which nestles amongst cypress trees overlooking the village.
Lagou Raxi 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.
In addition to the above we, with our Greek 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.
We avoid waste so always reuse paper for notes, print double sided and avoid printing at all when avoidable. Of course we use recycled cartridges and rechargeable batteries. We advise our guests to 'live like locals' and keep the shutters closed when they are out at the beach.
Water is less of an issue here in Pelion (where we have plenty of rain in the winter) because ours comes from a spring which is pumped to a holding tank above the village and then in turn flows to us by gravity. We do try as much as possible to use waterwise plants in the garden but of course the vegetables need water. We use a traditional ridge and furrow method to keep them from drying out. We have tanks for rain-water for emergency watering and can use the water from part of our biological sewage system for the garden, but not the vegetables. We try to encourage taxi-sharing or the use of long-distance buses from Athens and Thessaloniki airports. We have never had a printed brochure for the hotel, only business cards with a photo. We publish pdfs of our programmes online.
Most of the walkers who come here choose this area because it is known as a special environment that needs to be respected. Other guests who are interested in botany and wildlife and creative arts need only minimal reminding of the value of the untouched nature here. It is more relevant to discuss the environment with locals who sometimes lose sight or do not value the uniqueness of what they have and promote or support a non-environmentally friendly initiative of the municipality or others. We have many reference books in the hotel library and sitting areas (birds, country ways, wildflowers, trees etc.) as well as childrens' books on these subjects.
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 & DESIGN.
We and our staff spend many happy hours talking about village ways and festivals. We engage with the local people and explain their lifestyle to our guests.
We explain to people about the need for caution on the roads, that we and others clean the beaches each Spring, that guests should not dig up plants and we suggest some simple words in Greek.