Anna Hitchmough review 9 Sep 2022
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Dramatic landscapes, exciting activities and real Spanish culture in the area.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Be prepared for it to be really hot in summer. Make sure you have a hire car with air con. Be prepared to do less walking than you might expect.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
No. The local population benefited from us spending our vacation money but any vacation where you arrive by plane and then use a hire car extensively is never going to reduce envirnmental impact.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Read the operator's response here:
Hi Anna, thank you for your helpful comments. I just wanted underline some points to consider when assessing the vacation's enviromental and social impact.
The latter is particularly important to us; Our business has a very positive impact on the small rural community where we are based. Our local village (like many others in rural Andalucia) is suffering depopulation, primarily due to a lack of jobs. Over the past 12 years our business has brought thousands of new consumers into the area, creating work for restaurants, bars, and supermarkets, not to mention all the auxilliary services (cleaning, laundry, general supplies and trades involved in maintainance).
Most important in our case are the activity guides and companies we work with (we work with 7 different companies). Juan Manuel, for example, is a local olive farmer who operates a rafting business in the summer months to supplement his main income, making it possible for him to go on living in the village he loves. Vagaries of the weather mean olive farmers experience good years and bad years, and can´t rely on a guaranteed income. More than half of Juan Manuel´s rafting customers last summer came from El Geco Verde.
Another good example is Armando, who bucked the general trend by returning from Barcelona to live in the village of his birth, bringing with him his young family. He is now trying to carve out a future as a farmer and entrepreneur. He loves to shares his knowledge and passion for ecological products so we worked together to develop a farm tour and tasting activity. This has proven very popular with our clients and really helps Armando´s business. We are aware that as the main (if not the only source of foreign tourism) in this struggling agricultural community, we feel our little family-run hotel is actually making a big difference for many people.
The lack of public transport goes hand in hand with the depopulation of rural areas, and makes moving by car the only viable way to discover and enjoy this unknown área, its wonderful landscapes and hidden treasures!
Of course, we´d like to minimise the negative environmental impact, and to this end we are currently developing plans for our own electric car charging facilities at the hotel, so that drivers who want to switch to hybrid vehicles can do so more comfortably.
Flying to foreign destinations for vacations is a bigger issue, but not the only one to be taken into considaration when assessing the overall impact of a vacation. It´s worth mentioning here that not all foreign clients enter Spain by plane, some choose to travel in their own vehicles and others use Spain´s excellent rail network, hiring a car only for the last part of the journey to us, and for getting around while they are here. The cross-cultural benefits of international travel are well established and the obvious economic benefits of tourists from richer countries spending money in poorer ones should also be taken into account when assessing the impact of international flights.
Our eco-hotel is off-grid and self-powered, utilising a considerable array of solar panels. In October 2022 we made a significant investment to quadruple our energy generating capacity with new, more efficient panels, boosting both fotovoltaic and hot water output. Our central heating system uses olive stones for fuel, a locally available wasteproduct and completely renewable. Auxilliary stoves run on pine pellets, which are also processed and packaged locally. Our open fireplace uses seasoned olive wood for fuel, from the annual pollarding of our own olive groves.
We really strive to reduce our impact on the environment, buying primarily fresh local produce and employing a fixed menú to reduce wastage, going for minimal packaging whenever possible and recycling around 90% of our household waste. Of course, we are constantly looking to improve.