Behind the Green is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tells stories of the people on the ground, exposes the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.
Meet Patricia, the owner of La Almunia del Valle. She used to work in marketing in the automotive sector before she and her husband decided they wanted to change their lives forever. They now run this sustainable hotel and go travelling as often as they can. When Patricia isn’t visiting new places to inspire her, you’re likely to find her sat around the fire with friends and a good glass of wine!
Learn more about La Almunia del Valle here >
What makes the Sierra Nevada National park so special & unique?
“The climate is what makes the park so special; it really can be enjoyed all year round as there are so many things to do. Because the top of the park reaches nearly 2,000 metres high, the higher levels can be a completely different temperature to the bottom. So, in the winter you can ski at the resort, but you are able to hike and horse ride all year-round. There is always something to do.”
How would you best describe the hotel? Is there anything guests don’t expect?
“People are surprised by how close we are to Granada city. The house is a traditional ‘cortijo’, a rural Spanish house, and with views of the mountains, so we can feel very far away from everything, but actually we are very close. In this sense, we really offer the best of both worlds to our guests.”
How did La Almunia del Valle become green-focused, was it always this way?
“When we bought the house, it was clear that it had been built with respect for the natural surroundings. If you look at it from far away, you might not even realise that there is a house on the hill because it blends in so well with the surroundings. We were so inspired by the eco-approach of the house and we wanted to preserve and build upon this kindness to the environment.”
Which aspect of your sustainable approach at the hotel are you most proud of to date?
“We’re very proud that we can teach our guests about sustainable water usage. People are prone to leaving a tap running or taking more baths than they need, but we don’t get much rain here, so we always have to be careful about what we’re using. When guests arrive, we give them an orientation tour and talk about the water shortages and how they can use it more responsibly whilst they’re with us. We have heard guests say they will carry this knowledge and respect on at home, as water is a very precious resource all around the world.”
Tell us about the most recent green initiative you have implemented at the hotel?
“We have massively reduced our plastic waste and improved our recycling practices in the last 2-3 years. 90% of the plastic we used to use before is gone, the only plastic we use is binbags where we’re struggling to find an alternative. All of our paper is recycled, guests now have recycling bins in their rooms and every single member of staff is heavily involved in our recycling practices. Even our food suppliers are supporting our efforts as they bring produce to us in reusable boxes, not plastic.”
What has been the biggest challenge you have overcome to date?
“Water has been our biggest challenge because of the lack of rainfall in Spain, and with global warming it is not set to improve. This industry is about relaxation and a lot of water usage comes as a result of that. We get a lot of visitors from the North of Europe who don’t understand why we have shortages. Our water comes from an irrigation system made up of ditches that hold the water that comes down from the ski resort, any water that isn’t used goes back into the river, so none of it is wasted. We have also installed aerators on 70% of taps to reduce the flow and removed our baths from 90% of our rooms to encourage more responsible usage.”
What’s next for La Almunia del Valle?
“Next we would love to install more solar panels so that we can be self-sufficient when it comes to energy. Previously in Spain there was a ‘solar tax’ where you had to pay the electricity companies to generate your own energy. Fortunately, it has now been lifted and we will be able to install more panels, which is especially great here in Spain where we get so much sunshine!”
Find out more about La Almunia del Valle & do your own green checks here >