Andalucian traditional cooking vacation, Spain

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Andalucian traditional cooking vacation, Spain

Environment

We are fully committed to renewable energy in a way very few other hotels are. We have a fully ‘off grid’ system (not connected to the national grid) with an extensive array of solar panels for both and electricity and hot water. We are more than happy to show our guests how everything works. Our central heating system is driven by a large pellet burner stove, which also helps to heat the dining room. We use only energy-efficient light bulbs and every bathroom has shower facilities as well as a full bath to encourage sensible use of water; all the toilets have dual flush; the room keys have energy saving cards attached. For washing we use an eco-ball and prefer ecologically friendly cleaning, washing and personal hygiene products, though they are very difficult to source in this part of Spain! We change bed sheets and towels every 4 nights, unless otherwise requested.

Our land is mostly wild, with Almond and Olive orchards which had not been exploited for some time. We do not use pesticides and have brought the trees back into production organically. We grow organic fruit and vegetables in our own kitchen garden, raise free range chickens and source everything else from local organic farmers. We have dedicated recycling bins for guests to use, which we add to our own domestic recycling. We also practice composting, which is a great way to use up vegetable peelings and chicken manure!

We support the Foundation Gypaetus, for the reintroduction of the Bearded Vulture which reached the brink of extinction in Europe a few years ago. The FG has a rearing site in the natural park of the nearby Sierra de Cazorla and every year release into the wild a number of vultures, which are then tracked for a minimum of five years. The majority of the released birds have taken up residence in the Sierra de Castril, very close to the hotel. We offer interested guests information about the whereabouts of the birds and how to get to the various sites (without jeopardising the nests) plus special information cards to fill out in case the birds are spotted. And of course it is amazing how many other beautiful things you see when out looking for something else!

We have designed our schedules to make it possible to use community taxis for airport collection and drop off; in other words a minibus which is already making the trip. Otherwise, if guests are arriving in a group they can effectively charter the same minibus for a reasonable rate and tailor make the vacation in a similarly sustainable way.

Community

First and foremost we are promoting this fantastic region, the Altiplano de Granada, which is new to international tourism. We see the economic benefits sustainable tourism could bring to a rural community which is (at present) over-dependent on agriculture and EU grant aid.

Secondly we are championing the gastronomy, culture and tradition of a ´land that time forgot´, which is to say a place virtually unchanged and untouched by the stresses and strains of modernity. Here the pace of life is different. Family and tradition are respected. The hard won secrets of how to live well with limited resources are still handed down the generations. As a result many young people here are shepherds, olive and almond cultivators, vegetable growers, and, increasingly, budding ecologists. We are members of BioCastril, which promotes organic farming and even gives its landless members plots of land to work. This organisation also provides ingredients for school dinners and holds regular workshops in the schools to raise awareness about the benefits of organic food.
We look after our guests by buying in and growing our own organic produce and we also sell local organic products such as olive oil, oregano, honey and saffron.,
We also promote art, craft and glass products from a local workshop which is reviving the town´s ancient tradition of glass production. Our preferred guides and workshop leaders are mostly young local people with an enthusiasm and a passion for nature.

We encourage all our guests to make use of local restaurants and shops by offering them extensive information and by using our language skills and contacts to book and organise things on their behalf to ensure an enjoyable and tailor-made experience.

All our specialist activities are offered by local outdoor pursuits companies with young qualified guides who care about the environment as much as we do. Your custom will provide them with much-needed work.

The restoration of the old house and development of the hotel provided employment for an average of five local labourers and craftsmen every working for 18 months.

We are now able to provide (albeit small) amounts of work for a part time cleaner at the hotel during busy periods.

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