El Geco Verde has been working with the UK´s leading ethical travel agency Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.co.uk) for more than five years now. One of the reasons we like them is because they go the extra mile to bring us nice customers! Our businesses are a really good fit. They scour the globe to find genuine low-impact, ecologically sensitive holiday operators (like us!) whose businesses benefit their local communities. Employing a local cleaner or recycling the majority of your rubbish on its own is not enough to get the gig with RT. To appear on their site you have to give a detailed account of all the measures you take to fulfill their criteria, and they include it in your pitch to customers.
El Geco Verde is different to a standard hotel in lots of ways, some of them more obvious than others. We are always happy to chat to guests about what happens “behind the scenes” and to show them around our rather unusual installations but it´s not mandatory, so some of our guests remain blissfully unaware of our ecological credentials! I thought this blog might be a good place to outline some of the things we do to meet the RT brief. So here goes:
- El Geco Verde is an off-grid hotel, meaning we are not connected to Spain´s coal and nuclear fuel powered grid. We use solar power to create electricity and store it in batteries which deliver clean power on demand.
- We also use solar panels to heat water water for washing and bathing.
- In winter we use a biomass boiler to heat hot water for central heating. This runs on 100% renewable fuels, including pine pellets, almond shells, and crushed olive stones These are all available locally (the principal agricultural products of the region are almonds and olives)
- Our dining room is also heated by a biomass stove, while the living room features an open fire fuelled by olive and almond wood from our own trees (pruned alternately biannually)
- We take recycling very seriously and encourage our guests to do the same by providing collection points. This ensures that about 90% of the hotel´s bottles, cans, plastics and paper make it to the local recycling facilities.
- Our fixed-menu evening meals are offered with advance notice only so we know how many people we are catering for, guaranteeing fresh ingredients and minimising waste. We also cater for guests with special dietary requirements, including vegetarians, who often find Spain challenging without good inside information about suitable local eateries and dishes (wich we can also provide).
- We are more than happy to promote other local restaurants, bars and eateries and do so frequently. We like our guests to sample the traditional local cuisine and enjoy pointing them in the right direction. This definitely benefits local businesses and on this note we´d like to make it clear that we receive absolutely no financial kick-backs on our recommendations. We simply promote places we like, which previous guests have recommended or which we feel will suit particular customers.
- We actively promote lunches out, trips to the village and the local pools, excursions to nearby towns and sites of interests, all of which clearly benefits the local economy and boosts the touristic infrastructure.
- All our guides are local. The activity organisers we use are all from the Spanish community. We have no truck with the widespread practice of hotels taking commission from activity companies for clients they provide, even though we do arrange and facilitate activities and excursions on behalf of our customers, 100% of your money goes to the local guide or organiser. We actually host certain activities such as cookery workshops and guided star gazing at the hotel.We do this in partnership with local workshop leaders and only keep a small amount to cover any costs arising from this.
- We are really passionate about the area and do our utmost to spread the word about it; we believe the Altiplano de Granada is a real “hidden gem” – a truly amazing and rewarding place to visit. We deliberately promote low-impact activities and traditional local culture because we believe it is the best way to safeguard the area´s unique character for future generations. We also reckon that diversification into tourism from the monoculture of olive farming can play an increasingly important role in the development of the local economy in years to come.
But don´t take our word for it. Pay us a visit here at El Geco Verde and we´ll be more than happy to show you around. If you have any interest in renewable energies in action we certainly have a lot of experience we´d be happy to share. But equally, if you prefer just to lay back in a deckchair secure in the knowledge that your holiday is creating a net benefit for our world and our community, that´s fine too.