A Way of Life…
You would be forgiven for thinking that this sleepy neighbourhood nestled in the hills near Ronda, and situated near the whitewashed Andalucian village of El Gastor, is like any other traditional town we come across in southern Spain, but be prepared to be blown away…
Cars are not allowed up to La Donaira so they insist that you meet a member of staff at La Posada – a small and unassuming inn centrally located in El Gastor, which has a charming little boutique shop selling products made locally in the area. It is at La Posada where you leave your car and are then taken up the rugged roads east of the town to the final destination, Finca La Donaira.
The property spans 1,700 acres across the Serranía de Ronda with around 80 Lusitano horses freely grazing on the vast open pastures that surround it. The entire focus of this luxurious boutique hotel is ecocentrism, and their unrelenting respect for the environment and nature earned them the title of Best Eco Hotel in the 2018 Spain Luxury Hotel Awards. Their water comes directly from the mountains and, thanks to the holistic permaculture system they have adopted, all their produce is taken from the land, offering a true farm-to-table gastronomic experience.
At mealtimes, you will hear a tinkle of a bell signalling that the kitchen staff await you. Guests are encouraged to dine together around a large wooden table in the spacious open kitchen to allow free-flowing conversation and exchange of ideas whilst enjoying the healthy organic gastronomy prepared for you straight from their garden. In between mealtimes guests can help themselves to whatever is in the kitchen as if they were at home.
The design of the hotel embraces the formidable natural scenery that surrounds it, with large-scale windows engulfing the rooms with natural sunlight and allowing you to visually devour the breath-taking beauty beyond. As you would expect, natural materials such as natural stone and wood are utilised throughout the hotel.
In the main building, each of the seven bedrooms has a huge four-poster double bed shrouded by elegant mosquito nets with high-quality bed linen and extremely comfortable mattresses. There is a glass wardrobe with interior lighting and a bathroom with natural stone sinks, a free-standing copper bath and taps made from recycled copper piping. Each room has a different characteristic, but the interior design is always chic and contemporary. Also, for those who really want to immerse themselves in nature, there are two luxury yurts near the main building.
The rangy living room is home to a beautiful Steinway grand piano where the charismatic owner likes to play classical music when he is in residence. Even though he only visits once or twice a month, he is very hands-on, consulting with the friendly and enthusiastic staff, chatting with guests and constantly planning the next development of this dynamic project.
When you venture outside, you will come across their medicinal herb garden with more than 200 types of healing and edible herbs and flowers. There is an outdoor swimming pool filled with natural spring water and flower beds bursting with wild flowers and shrubs.
If you feel like some pampering, meander up the stony path to their impressive spa, which houses a 21-metre indoor swimming pool with sensational views as far as the eye can see over the valleys. There is a hammam and Russian wooden sauna as well as an ice plunge pool. Aside from the spa there is also a small building set aside for massage for the ultimate relaxation, where they offer aromatherapy, osteopathic and stress-reducing Thai massage as well as a deep tissue workout.
If activities are more your gig, then the equestrian center offers horse riding lessons, hacks and dressage. You can also enjoy yoga, mountain biking, hiking and trekking, farm tours, garden tours, gastronomic workshops and tastings plus stargazing guides.
From 14 to 19 August, La Donaira plays host to the Pause Festival. The event brings together talented musicians to celebrate nature and artistic expression through improvised sessions, workshops and open-air concerts whilst guests disconnect from their busy lives and relax into a magical evening of musical performances.
If you need a break away from the hubbub of the Coast, La Donaira delivers on every level, offering a wonderfully special experience. To be able to combine eco-friendliness and sustainability with luxury in such a seemingly effortless way is quite an achievement by anyone’s standards – and La Donaira has achieved this triumphantly.
Tel. (+34) 951 390 059