Las Alpujarras B&B, Spain

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Las Alpujarras B&B, Spain

Environment

This was the largest family home in the village until it fell into disuse around 50 years ago. Anne spent nine years from 2004 to 2013 re-building and restoring, working with local builders and craftsmen, and spared no expense to bring the house back to its former beauty.

The village of Ferreirola is one of the few remaining unspoilt examples of the Moorish built heritage in the Alpujarras. The building's stylistic and aesthetic contribution to the preservation of the village serves as an example of how building restoration can assist in revitalising the local economy, through low-impact, environment-sensitive tourism.

For example, now that the building is flourishing as a guest house we’re able to source local products for our guests. Where possible we buy eggs, bread and honey, meats and cheeses locally as well as fruit and vegetables (organic wherever possible).

At Casa Ana we're proud to provide opportunities for practising low-impact tourism. We promote walking vacations which are not damaging to the environment. We encourage guests to walk to the local bars and restaurants rather than driving, and for groups we operate a car-sharing scheme from the nearest airports. We provide hiking notes and maps for a lovely selection of walks straight from the door of Casa Ana - no need to drive anywhere!

We are keen on re-cycling and composting. We re-cycle paper, plastic, glass and cartons. Some of our food waste is composted, and some is given to the neighbour's chickens. We provide filtered water so guests need not buy bottled water and we are lucky to have some natural springs a short distance from the house where guests can fill up their bottles with beautiful water for free.

Water is precious down here in southern Spain. We have shower rooms instead of bathrooms and dual-flush toilets. We encourage guests to appreciate the water they are using, and to not to use it indiscriminately. We've installed a water-efficient watering system in our garden.

Community

The house is playing its part in reviving the fortunes of the village of Ferreirola, which has a tiny population, high unemployment and a pattern of young people leaving the area. Part of revitalising the village has been a simple throughput of people – our guests add to the number of people out and about in the village.

We and our guests also support local businesses by visiting bars and restaurants, crafts shops, and local providers such as the baker, fishmonger and butcher.

Markets are an important part of village life, and we are doing our part in making it worthwhile for the market traders to continue coming up to these mountain villages, by buying fruit and vegetables, local honey and cheeses and where possible supporting local organic growers and suppliers.

When the building was being restored we employed local builders and craftsmen for months at a time. Nowadays we employ local cleaners, a maintenance manager, and occasional helpers for gardening, painting and decorating, electrical and plumbing work and generally helping to care for this rather demanding old house. Even though our team is small, we're the major employer in the village of Ferreirola.

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