FEATURE: Putting the ‘Treat’ in Retreat
Yurt holidaying has recently enjoyed a period of popularity – with couples and families seeking something a little alternative to camping and lodging by going for the middle ground of room sized canvas getaways, often complete with luxurious furnishings. When you marry silk-lined luxury yurts with barren, primal land and sea views, you get a potent experience for travellers looking for the essence of escape. This is why the yurt-bias eco-tourism site, Finca De Arrieta, on the north east coast of Lanzarote has really caught the imagination of visitors and the world’s travel press. The endearing brand responsible for this haven is Lanzarote Retreats, a family run business that began in 2007 and has developed into a wonderful holidaying site near the coastal village of Arietta.
Friendly and Relaxing
The hospitality of the hosts counts for a lot and Tila and Michelle Braddock have it in abundance, always available and
going the extra mile if you need something but never intrusive. It’s also a very family friendly resort. There is a trampoline at ground level for little ones to bounce on in safety and an old fishing boat grounded there for kids to clamber upon. When you arrive at the complex it feels like you have escaped the traps of society and you are welcomed into a sanctuary of calm. The yurts and villas all have a personality of their own, there are no blocks or units here – it’s all charmingly boutique and sufficient effort has been made for elements of privacy per accommodation.
The design of the place is really one of its pluses, it feels like a village as opposed to a holiday resort. There is a small circular, hut-like honesty shop on the site, stocked with nibbles, drinks and food essentials to de-stress anyone wanting a couple of days of not venturing out beyond the walls. There is also a great communal area – some of it with cover, where you can access booze of choice, books, swim in a narrow strip of a pool or chill out on one of the loungers. The eco-aspect of the resort comes from its self-sufficiency. There is a wind fuelled generator, solar power and the water is piped around via a DIY assembly
but it all works and is a very impressive example of how you can create a self-sufficient infrastructure for tourists that appreciate extra thought into how they get energy and are looked after whilst away. The pool also uses solar power and you can even collect an egg for breakfast from the chickens kept on the site.
The Warmth of Lanzarote
The north of the island has an elemental bleakness that is not unappealing, with black gnarled expanses where lava has long since cooled, imposing volcanoes and ground splitting terrain scars. There is something of an alien world about it. The barren, sandy scrub lands adapted to exposure makes a great frame for people into the ‘glamping’ vibe. There is rugged beauty all around this area of the island. There is always a warm wind cascading into the east coast, a wind that has gushed across the dunes of the Sahara desert in neighbouring Africa, which is a mere 78 miles away across the narrow stretch of Atlantic water. Watching the broad leaves on the towering palms swaying in the wind, from a lounger or hammock on the resort, is trance inducing, more so when coupled with a glass or two of the local wine stocked on site! Lanzarote is a fascinating place – with much more to offer than you may expect. It’s hard to get lost on the relatively small island too, which makes it attractive for visitors hiring cars (which is recommended).
You won’t find the mass tourism in the north of the island and it’s relatively peaceful. You can of course, do the day visits to anywhere on the island if you get up early enough. There are many tourist attractions and one of the most sited is the Timanfaya National Park where dinosaur themed blockbusters of old have been filmed. You can join an organised tour and even choose to go camel trekking here. This is in the south west of the island so it means planning in time for a drive there and back. For a half day adventure that’s much closer to Arrieta, you can easily visit the nearby cave formations of Jameos Del Aqua by car, the venue overshadowed by the nearby volcano, Monte de la Corona (which last erupted 3,000 years ago). Here you can dine in a collapsed lava tube and witness the tiny – quite unique, resident blind lobsters, dwelling in a deep cave pool there. You will also see what some call ‘the best swimming pool in the world’, so perfectly designed and pristine in its beauty that no one except the King of Spain is allowed to swim in it. Exploring the place reveals surprise after surprise, culminating in a gigantic auditorium formed in a volcanic cave.
Also in easy range of the Finca is Mirador del Rio in the far north of the island – worth continuing on after a visit to Jameos Del Aqua, as it provides a great cliff top vantage point with spectacular views, being 479 metres high. If you explore the island extensively the coastline has everything from black sands, golden sands, to rocky shores. If you like surfing or wind surfing there are some suitable beaches available. A beach that has golden sand and amenities (also good for wind surfing) is just a quick drive down the arterial road of the LZ-1, namely the resort of Costa Teguise. On this road you can also turn off to take a visit to the Jardin de Cactus – which is pretty much what it says on the tin, ‘a garden of cactuses’ and a spectacular one at that. If you prefer to venture by foot from your yurt there is a nice little sandy beach next to the so called Blue House, a distinctive cube of a building, in the village of Arrieta. This is a quaint little beach and you can enjoy a bit of snorkelling as there are some rocks for fish to hide in to the side and there is a wall that dissipates most waves, which means it’s more suitable for children than some of the beaches on this coast where the surf rolls in.
The efforts of an environmentalist, artist and designer named César Manrique ensured that a conservation movement was respected to preserve the island’s beautiful landscapes and it’s a good thing too. Once coined ‘Lans-a-grotty’ by UK travellers from yesteryear, this island will surprise you with its sights if you venture and has much to appreciate. There are enough wonders both natural and manmade to keep you fascinated and enthralled and Finca De Arrieta is the perfect base from which to enjoy it.
The great thing about Finca De Arrieta is that if the atmosphere of the eco-resort’s environment appeals but you can’t get past the concept of yurt accommodation – as well presented as it is – you still have the choice of luxury villa or cottage based accommodation.
Leave your mobiles at home, don’t even bother with rainwear – it’s sunny all year round with an annual average of 21 degrees Centigrade – and no need to even bring a good book – as there are plenty on site.
Lanzarote Retreats: http://www.lanzaroteretreats.com/
Tourism Lanzarote: http://www.turismolanzarote.com/en/