With hundreds of eco-certifications and greenwashing rife in tourism. Behind the Green takes it back to BASICS. Back to storytelling and human connection. Meet the visionaries and inspiring teams behind the world’s leading sustainable and regenerative travel experiences.
Written by Rebecca Woolford
Across cultures, food is humanity’s greatest shared bond and universal language…
Experiencing the true culture of a place is an essential part of any authentic sustainable travel experience. By tasting local, seasonal food we can connect deeply with a culture. Some travellers simply call it ‘living like a local’. And it lies at the heart of Ecocirer’s very being.
In a townhouse in rural Sóller, owners Barbara and Martijn, are champions of eco-conscious living.
Quite possibly Majorca’s best sustainable hotel, this restored townhouse in the, with upcycled furniture, and a daily plant-based menu that inspires vegans and meat-eaters alike.
If your Spanish is anything like mine, it’s useful to know that ‘Ecocirer‘ means house of the cherries – which immediately evokes a sense of place. Fresh, healthy food is the star of the show here, and the six delightfully thoughtful rooms all have a different names: Believe, Fly, Love, Dream, Sense, and Imagine.
Discover below which sustainable initiative Martin is most proud of, what positive changes he’s seen in Majorca, and what’s next for this boutique hotel which lies near the Tramuntana mountain range.
So, let’s start at the beginning. What led you to become the Co-owner of a small, sustainable hotel in the mountains of Majorca?
“Well, my wife Barbara is from Majorca. But we met back in the Netherlands which is where I was born. We had two children when we were living together in the Netherlands and that’s when we started to explore more healthy living which led us to become vegans. My wife was also studying to be a lawyer at the time, but we had a vision for a different way of life.
My wife is a self-taught and very talented chef, she even has a cookbook! The plan was to find ways in which she could share her plant-based cuisine creations with other people. So, about 7 years ago we started out with a small bed and breakfast with just 2 rooms.
It went so well that we later decided to expand and that’s how we ended up with a bigger house with 6 bedrooms. It was a place that we could restore, and bring back to life. So that’s how Ecocirer hotel was born, which is where we find ourselves today.”
Click here to find out more about Ecocirer’s sustainability efforts across food, design, waste, community and more.
Majorca is not the obvious choice for an eco-destination. It’s often associated with fly-and-flop holiday packages. You talk passionately about showing a different side of Majorca to tourists, tell us more.
“You’re right people have a perception that Majorca is a party, package holiday place. Especially by people in Europe. The truth is this stereotype of the island is only from a small part of Majorca. It has so much more to offer.
When I first came to Majorca and I saw this world heritage area, I was like WOW this is just unbelievable. I couldn’t believe such beautiful areas like this existed in Europe.
When referring to showing people a different side of the island – my wife and I are really passionate about introducing guests to the concept of ‘living like a local’. One way in which we do this is by providing, local, fresh healthy food which takes care of people’s wellbeing.”
From beach cleanups to a plant-based menu, and upcycled furniture. I’m curious, which sustainable initiative are you most proud of at Ecocirer hotel?
“Everything we do is from the heart. We haven’t pursued any eco certifications or green keys, because it won’t change our approach. Sustainability is our lifestyle or very being.
I’m most proud of our food. We provide our guests with an inventive plant-based menu. Every day we serve local, seasonal food. Around 95% of our food is from Majorca and the surrounding local areas.
Our guests connect to the island, through the seasonal ingredients we serve. We have a daily menu so we avoid the unbelievable waste created by buffets. Not everyone who stays with us is vegan, some are meat eaters. But the feedback so far is that people are pleasantly surprised by our inspiring menus and feel good after trying something new. We’ve become friends with many of our guests through simply sharing our passion for food.”
Behind the Green is powered by friends Weeva, a smart, online tool that is already transforming travel. I love how Weeva makes sustainability simple.
Many elements at your boutique sustainable hotel are upcycled which is wonderful. I read that each piece of furniture is the result of a long process of restoration, and creativity, carried out with love. Can you tell us more?
“Apart from the mattresses on the beds which are new, pretty much everything else here is restored and upcycled. Reducing waste and repurposing furniture, hoovers, etc. is a passion and a key part of the ethos at Ecocirer.
For example, we took out the original entrance door and made 3 tables from it. If our hoover breaks we don’t throw it away, I take the time to fix it. It’s a way of life for us here.
I’m currently restoring an old wardrobe for one of the rooms. To give it a second life. The reception desk I’m sitting at right now is restored, so you get the idea, it’s everything here. Even down to the hoover, if it breaks I don’t buy a new one, I fix the current one. This brings character to our hotel, it’s a new luxury.”
During your time living in Majorca have you seen any positive changes unfold? Is the island moving towards becoming the next eco-destination or does it still have a way to go?
“I can only really comment in terms of the area we are situated in, which is an area called Sóller. The biggest positive change I am seeing is the interest in plant-based food here. There are so many more vegan restaurants and veggie cafes springing up everywhere. When we first arrived on the island we were the only ones offering this experience.
Something where change is happening, but it’s not fast enough is solar energy. It’s not easy to get solar panels installed here, in fact, it’s very difficult. Most places here don’t have solar energy despite the great weather. The Netherlands where I’m originally from has poor weather but most people use solar. Progress is coming but it’s too slow. “
Sustainability is a forever-evolving journey. It’s not a destination and no one place is perfect. Where do you see the biggest area for improvement at Ecocirer?
“Getting the solar panels installed is my focus right now. We finally have the plans approved which is great. That’s an example of a bigger project, but it’s also important to think about the smaller everyday things, as these really add up over time and are just as important. The journey continues as you can always do more, do better, and improve.”
Climate change and biodiversity collapse are happening simultaneously, so I like to ask every sustainable hotel I speak to, how they are supporting their local biodiversity.
“There is always more we can do, right? We are currently helping the local biodiversity through beach cleanups in which we invite guests to join us. We do this through a local community initiative. The other thing we do is in our vegetable garden we avoid the use of pesticides or any chemicals. This is a sure way to help the local wildlife.”
What’s next for Ecocirer?
“What’s next is to continue to build on what we’ve created so far. What success looks like to us is that every time our clients come back to visit they see and experience something new.
The exciting plans we have in the pipeline continue to be based on sharing our passion for well-being, healthy food, and nature. The cooking classes here are designed to help people with connecting with nature and healthy food, this will continue to grow organically.”