Behind the Green is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tells the 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 Javier, General Manager of Mas Salagros in sunny Spain. He is an avid reader with history, his favourite subject, and the Roman era being, in particular, a passion of his. Javier has a daughter that he loves to spend time with, and he has a real passion for the beautiful city of Barcelona!
When did the hotel open and was it always one with an eco-vision?“Mas Salagros opened its doors 4 years ago. It is owned by a family that also owns an organic supermarket company which has been around for nearly 15 years. They have always focused on sustainability and so it was very clear from the outset what this hotel would be in terms of its eco-vision”.
What element of your green approach are you most proud of?“Our organic cuisine is what we are most proud of at Mas Salagros. We grow our own vegetables and other items in our organic garden which guests really enjoy. Going 100% organic is not an easy feat, it comes with its challenges. Our beverages also continue this ethos, all the wine served here is organic”.
What would you have done differently if you could start again?“If we could start again I would say we should have started the process of a globally recognised green certification much earlier, we should have started it years ago. We are currently undergoing the evaluation of Green Globe, which is hard to obtain and will take us many months to complete. So we are moving forward which is positive. This certification is important to us as it aligns us with others in the industry that have met this level in their green approach and supports us to be even better than we are today”.
What is the best part of being a General Manager of an eco-friendly hotel?“Mas Salagros is surrounded by rolling hills and countless walking routes, this is just a great place to be. Every Saturday we take guests around the area, we explain to them about the different plants we come across and reconnect them to the beautiful nature around them. The best part has got to be spending my time in this beautiful place”.
What is the latest green practice you have introduced there?“Last summer we were very happy to have installed a system which cleans the pool without the use of harsh chemicals such as chlorine. Salt pools are much more natural which is better for guests and the environment, its a win-win. As 5% of the pool must be emptied each day as standard, this waste water evaporates and leaves behind the deposits which is the problem we wanted to move away from”.
What is the most challenging aspect of running an eco-friendly hotel?“For us it is communicating to guests that if everything we serve is organic then there is naturally going to be an associated cost. Doing the right thing is usually more expensive than cutting corners. It is and will always be a step-by-step process in which we introduce guests into our eco-friendly approach. For instance, we know 62% of guests come to Mas Salagros because of our green approach, which is great. However, we still have to keep the other 38% of our guests happy, it is not like jumping from black to white, it is more of a gradual transition than people realise”.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do there?“For me personally it is comforting to be a part of a project which is doing good. Mas Salagros is setting an example to other hoteliers (particularly in Spain) which feels great. We are considered as pioneers in Spain, successfully running an eco-hotel at a 5 star level which is making a positive difference. We are leading the way for others to follow which is very rewarding”.
What’s next for Mas Salagros?“We see the biggest area of improvement in our green approach to be in generating clean, renewable energy for the hotel, so this is what’s next for us here at Mas Salagros. We are aiming for new solar panels to be installed in 2020”.