Thursday, 18 June 2015

GOING ECO IN LANZAROTE

LOVE YURTS - CHILLED OUT CHIC AT THE FINCA

I must be one of the few British people who had never been to Lanzarote  and apart from a few days in Tenerife I must admit to being a Canary Islands novice.

Deciding to put  this right I set out on an expedition to Lanzarote and not wanting to join the lobster red -faced Brits in the South, I headed for the North of the island.

This is where one finds the sleepy traditional fishing villages and the old-world charm of Lanzarote, unspoilt by big hotels and high rise apartment blocks. The coast here is wild and wonderful with crashing waves that I discover make it a firm favourite with surfers from all over the world.

I booked into the Finca  de Arrieta,  described as an 'eco dream retreat'   which sounded just the job after a long grey London winter.   I found  a surprising almost dream -like village, tucked away in the hills above the pretty little town of Arrieta
 
The retreat occupies 30,000 square metres with great views out to sea on one side and the dramatic black volcanic mountains on the other.  It was set up and built from scratch on former farm land by husband and wife team Tila and Michelle Bradock, who have brought up their family here and still run the property.
There are 15 properties on the site, each one different and they range in style from luxury villa to a silk-lined Mongolian yurt, decked out with Bali-nese fabrics and furnishings. This is where I spent my time , but I could have opted for the eco tower, the eco garden cottage and eco luxury farmhouse or an eco luxury yurt suite.   I sensed there was an eco theme going on here, but whereas that term'eco friendly'  can conjure up images of basic, drab and cranky, nothing could be less true of the Finca de Arrietta, which oozes glamour and  chilled out chic.
 
The area is planted with palm trees and local plants and stones  create a wild  and windswept look that is totally in keeping with this part of the island. You can tell Michelle and Tila have built this place with love and passion, and added to it over the years to make somewhere that is unique in its look, ambience and sustainability.
 
The village is entirely off-grid,  solar-powered and run on sustainable lines without forgoing any creature comforts. As someone who is addicted to my IPad and smart phone, I was rather worried about how switched off I would need to be in the Finca, but I needn't have worried. There is free WiFi in the central 'chill-out' area and mobile phones work perfectly so I was able to send umpteen selfies of me sitting in my yurt drinking delicious Lanzarote cava.......
 
My yurt had its own well - equipped little kitchen and shower room, and the Honesty Shop was well -stocked with items for my fridge. Guests just write down what they have taken and settle up when they leave, a system which seems to work well. There is also an ordering service for fresh food and meals delivered to your door and once a week there is a barbeque night.
 
This is a charming place for families and it was lovely to see young children playing in their own adventure playground and collecting eggs from the resident hen for breakfast. There is also a donkey, Molly, and a giant chess set. Each property comes with it own Hybrid electric car, so guests can get out and about in an environmentally friendly way and discover the local attractions.
 
 
But I didn't need to get in the car to find the beach, I just followed the sound of the waves and after a leisurely  10 minute walk was kicking the pebbles.  There is a lovely little beach front caf√© and tapas bar here, perfect for a casual lunch watching the surf.  A little further away in Arrietta there are numerous little restaurants and bars, although this is a simple, unsophisticated spot which doesn't buzz with nightlife and boozy tourists. Thank goodness
 
There is plenty to  see and do in the area, from the dramatic Jameos Del Agua caves - a 15 minute drive away - to the enchanting island of Graciosa, accessible by ferry. This is where I found birdlife galore, exhilarating coastal walks and the beautiful white and blue buildings made famous by Lanzarote's  architect Cesar Manrique.
 
 
Back at the Finca, I relax in the Saharan seating in the chill-out area and watch my fellow guests floating in the pool.  Eco doesn't come any better than this, I tweet ......
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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