Sustainable holidays

in our rural hotel
… something we really care about!

Sustainable holidays in a sustainable hotel

is becoming an increasingly important selection criterion for most tourists.

In the past, sustainable holidays in organic or eco-hotels were still a real exception. Just thinking about it, some people turned up their noses with disdain. But in the last 10 years, the picture has changed dramatically. Especially the events of the last few years have ensured that environmental and climate protection has become increasingly important. Gentle tourism, slow travel and sustainable tourism are the buzzwords of the hour.

That is why sustainability for us is one thing above all: incredibly important.

In recent years, we have repeatedly made adjustments and changes. The goal: to make our small family-run B&B even more sustainable and thus contribute to nature conservation and a future for our planet.

Furthermore, we want to show that sustainable holidays and luxury are not mutually exclusive! In our hotel, luxury and sustainability merge and form a great symbiosis, which benefits you as our guest and the environment – in short, a classic win-win situation.

So when choosing your holiday hotel, you can help create a stable balance.
Sure, large hotels are much more likely to offer less expensive prices due to a large number of rooms. But if you choose an owner-managed hotel, you’ll very likely contribute to the further development of Mojácar and our province of Almería. Because your money stays here – in the local restaurant, at the butcher and with the vegetable farmer …

What are we doing now in terms of sustainable holidays?

Within our abilities, we would like to contribute to a sustainable world. Our contributions might be small and simple, but we really believe in the concept of “every little bit helps” and we’ve started putting our own house in order. We are not yet 100% zero-waste and climate-neutral, but we have been able to continuously improve our carbon-footprint in recent years.

Solar system:

Living, lucky enough, in an area with an average of 3000 hours of sun a year, we can produce almost 100% of all the hot water we need, may it be just for the usage of hot water or to run our central heating system. Our solar panels lie comfortably on the roof and produce that much hot water without exhausting themselves, we never have to ask our heating system for support.

Photovoltaic System:

Our photovoltaic system produces our complete daily energy requirement through its optimal alignment and state-of-the-art technology. Comfort usually means high energy consumption (e.g. for the pleasant room temperature thanks to air conditioning). And even though we are not a certified organic hotel, in recent years it has always been our target to do something for the environment in this area as well. And so, we are now almost self-sufficient – only at night, when it gets dark, we have to resort to other forms of energy 🙂

Biological Wastewater Treatment Plant:

Our location outside the village makes it impossible to be connected to the municipal sewage system. Therefore, we run our own small wastewater treatment plant and lead the clean wastewater, within the legally required specifications, back into nature – a cycle from which all parties profit.

In addition, the garden architecture has been adapted to the local conditions so that basically only a little water is needed for irrigation. Even in our desert-like climate, our wastewater treatment plant is big enough to water the garden sufficiently.

Recycling:

Even though it is a lot more work in a large house than it used to be in our little two-person household, our waste gets separated and recycled. Zero-Waste is probably an unattainable goal, but reducing waste, in general, is a daily goal for us. And packaging waste is a real challenge here in Spain. Therefore, we also encourage our guests, especially in the area of the Honesty-Bar (glass, cans, etc.) to participate and support us in separating the waste.

Cleaning and washing products:

Since our region finally also offers ecologically degradable cleaning products and detergents, we have almost completely switched our product range here. All products are free from EDTA, phosphates, phthalates, nickel, and paraffin. Furthermore, they contain no optical brighteners, enzymes, ammonia, chlorine, or bleach. They are vegan and not tested on animals.

In addition, the products are sold in large bag-in-boxes, which leads to a significant reduction in our plastic waste.

In addition, one thing should be said at this point: biodegradable cleaning agents also remove dirt, bacteria, and viruses reliably – alcohol is the secret sauce 😉

Food:

We clearly focus on regional and seasonal produce from local growers. Among other things, this ensures short transport routes and very little packaging.

To guarantee a varied cuisine though we sometimes need to fall back on other products, ensuring you, that we will always decide on the best available product.

Personally, we are great fans of the Slow Food movement!

Drinking Water:

The icing on the cake was our decision to switch to a sustainable beverage supply for our guests, and for ourselves.
After we had already banned all cans and plastic bottles from the house during the pandemic and switched to reusable glass bottles, this was the next step that was due. Our drinking water is now filtered and treated and arrives, therefore (almost) straight from the tap. On request, the water dispenser supplies cold water, water at room temperature and cold sparkling water. That’s not only protecting the environment but also your bones … no more heavy lifting of water bottles and cases 🙂

In technical jargon, the device is called “mains-fed, sustainable water cooler dispenser”. In sales jargon, it’s called “AguakmZero”: no arrival and no transport, no garbage, no recycling, no towing, no effort, no nothing. And we call it (in German dialect) “Ehdo water” … the water that’s already there … and only has to be poured into the bottle (or glass).

We offer our guests various reusable bottles of different sizes, and everyone can tap as much water as they want. And they get really excited about our thermos bottles, which keep the water cold for a lot longer than you’d think. They’ve also passed the keep-the-coffee-warm test and are indeed very popular with guests. From 2023 on, you can even purchase them right here if you like 😉

Industrial / Tap Water:

Water was our major topic in 2022. We have also made a few adjustments for “ordinary” tap water. Water saving systems are now installed on sink faucets and showerheads throughout the house. Thanks to these methods, we will save about 35% water in the shower and 50% in the sink. The difference in the amount of water is hardly noticeable because the pressure has minimally decreased. The only thing that suffers is our garden, which has to deal with significantly less water. But we are making sure the treated process water benefits our plants…

Manpower:

Since to us, sustainable holidays also means traveling in harmony with nature and PEOPLE, we feel a responsibility here as well. We don’t need too many workers in the Cortijo (more likely we need more repairmen in this old house 🙂). But it was our heart’s desire to work with Locals. We were laughed at by a few people at the time, but looking back it was certainly the right decision. All of our partners work with official invoices (yep, the Spanish Economy needs tax money) and employees get a legal contract including social security, health insurance, and pension.

Because social responsibility is more important than ever in these times. Fairness, support, and cohesion are especially important in a small family business.

Certification:

Ecostars Certificate Our Cortijo El Sarmiento is legally fully registered at the Junta de Andalucia by the number CR/AL/000039.

As already mentioned above, we have never sought official certification as an organic hotel or a similar sustainability label for cost reasons. (It turns out that getting certified seems a pretty expensive proposition!)

At the beginning of 2022, however, we registered with Ecostars, who have been constantly checking us and awarding the appropriate stars ever since.

Ecostars also provided us with a very insightful analysis on how we can save even more water and implemented it straight away. And again, the quick implementation is far more important to us than an eco-label – which makes us still very happy 🙂

Sustainability means putting yourself to the test again and again.

Because it’s not just about our current behavior, but about creating a stable balance in the long term. Our environmental awareness forces us to think every day about small details we can influence.

When we furnished and decorated our B&B, we had the longevity of the furniture in mind. We also searched for the right “bathroom amenities” for a long time because soap, shower gel and shampoo should also be environmentally friendly. Likewise, their packaging. You won’t find individually portioned butter or jam in disposable packaging at our breakfast buffet either, but you probably figured that out already, didn’t you?

And what can you do in terms of sustainable vacation?

Of course, you can also make your contribution to environmental protection and conserve resources! Take towels, for example. We understand it perfectly: On your vacation you want to relax, not have to worry about anything and simply have a good time. And you should! But using towels several times and not exchanging them for fresh ones every day (we don’t do that at home either, right?) makes a huge difference.

Water is precious in Almería. The desert is expanding further and further, it often doesn’t rain for weeks, and a towel that is used more than once, really makes a difference.

Now let’s look at using the shower. I still remember fondly, how in winter in Germany, I used to take warm showers for hours at a time. It felt so warm and cozy. It just felt wonderful on ice-cold, miserable winter days and yes, I hardly thought about the waste of water at the time either. But honestly – it’s (almost) always warm here and you don’t need an endless shower to warm up.

Funnily enough, there is currently a challenge on Instagram celebrating people who manage to finish their shower in less than 2:30 minutes. Check it you! If I can do it, you can do it, too. Let me share a little secret: If you turn off the water while you are lathering – it won’t count in your time measuring … 🙂

And then there is the eternal issue of air conditioning. Yes, we have them and yes, we think it’s important and great that these things exist. BUT it’s a huge waste of resources to leave them running while lying on the beach or strolling through the village. Every room in our house is cool again, no later than 5 minutes after switching on the aircon – it is therefore sufficient to switch it on when you come back into the room. By the way, turning on the air conditioning and opening the window is a real NO-GO 😉

Have you already heard of take3-org?

As you are still reading here, we assume you don’t leave your rubbish on the beach.

In order to protect the oceans from garbage in the long term, you can help by going a tiny step further: every time you leave the beach, you simply pick up an extra 3 pieces of other people’s garbage with you and hand them over , for us to separate. That way, you contribute to save our environment and as a thank, we show our appreciation with a nice, cool glass of cava.
If you are interested in the topic, visit https://www.take3.org/

A great initiative to leave a wonderful place behind for future generations and to make a contribution to the future of our planet.

And when it comes to souvenirs and gifts for the “flower waterers” and “cat feeders” at home, you can also do something for the sustainability of your holiday region. In our case, that means not buying Indalos made of Chinese plastic. We have a great shop that stocks Indalos made from our local marble, Travertino. Esparto grass decoration is also produced on site. … just like pottery. And of course olive oil in large quantities and other delicious, locally produced food – so you see, there are enough ways to make a contribution ❤️ And we, like all our local colleagues, will be more than grateful!

Make the world a better place for one person at a time. Start with yourself

Linda Poindexter

What do the big names in the travel industry actually do – the tour operators and holiday providers?

In this area, a major rethinking process is currently taking place as well. There are already a number of tour operators who have specialized in sustainable travel offers. The holiday and holiday organizers now have a lot of additional information on their websites and in their catalogues, and new sustainability concepts are constantly being worked on.

There are also more and more really good internet portals on the subject of sustainable travel. And we are proud to be represented on the www.goodtravel.de portal for the German market. Their sustainability criteria are:

  • Architecture: experience natural construction
  • Environment: Conscious use of resources
  • Food: enjoy regional and fresh organic cuisine
  • Social: experience social togetherness
  • Well-Being: slowing down everyday life

But I can only get to you by plane – that’s not directly a good thing for the ecological balance, is it?

No, it would of course be quite dishonest to talk about sustainability all the time and then gallantly ignore the subject of flying.
We are aware that most of you cannot reach us without taking a plane.

We therefore recommend that you offset the CO2 footprint of your flight via e.g. https://co2.myclimate.org/en/flight_calculators/new. That way, your compensation payment flows directly back into climate protection projects.

Best of all, if you bring us a copy of the receipt, we’ll refund you half of it. 50/50, win-win, we together for a better world ❤️

Cortijo El Sarmiento is your bed and breakfast in Andalusia and your place for holidays with a good environmental conscience.