La Don­aira

We dis­cover La Don­aira, a Span­ish re­treat to re­store mind and body.

Chic & Country - - Contents -

La Don­aira, re­cently crowned Best

Lux­ury Eco Ho­tel in Spain, is a 1700-acre or­ganic farm, with just 9 in­di­vid­u­al­ly­de­signed suites in the Ser­ranía de Ronda, An­dalu­cia that has been a true labour of love. Its suc­cess is a tes­ta­ment, not only to the in­spi­ra­tion and vi­sion of the owner, Man­fred Bod­ner, but to the ef­fort and col­lab­o­ra­tion of his en­tire staff since the farm was pur­chased in 2005. La Don­aira is built around a tra­di­tional cor­tijo, that dates back to 1910, and, fol­low­ing the pur­chase, over the next decade var­i­ous out­build­ings and sur­round­ing land­scapes have been taste­fully re­stored us­ing lo­cal ar­ti­sanal meth­ods un­der the di­rec­tion of a Gi­bral­tar based project team. There has

been con­stant im­prove­ment at La Don­aira but through­out there has been an un­flinch­ing re­spect for na­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment.

Such rev­er­ence is ob­vi­ous when guests are en­cour­aged to as­sist in the daily work­ing life of the farm, whether it be by pick­ing al­monds, grapes or olives or by just pick­ing up the fresh eggs from the farm’s hens. The farm is large, and there are plenty of sheep, goats and rare breed cat­tle. The farm also boasts 70 won­der­ful Lusi­tano horses and, with trained rid­ers on site, there are won­der­ful hacks and trails to ex­plore. It should come as no sur­prise that an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of food and drink is de­vel­oped dur­ing a stay. The farm has its own vines, of course, and you will be able to sam­ple red and rosé wines from their own grapes. These wines are com­ple­mented by a small se­lec­tion of eco­log­i­cal wines from small pro­duc­ers from a dozen coun­tries.

The em­pha­sis is, as with ev­ery­thing at La Don­aira, on au­then­tic­ity and qual­ity. Most of the food is sourced straight from the farm (and there is a pref­er­ence for veg­e­tar­ian recipes) but with freshly baked bread and honey from the lo­cal hives (in the hilly ar­eas of the farm) break­fast is an ab­so­lute must and a fan­tas­tic start to the day. There is a real sense of gen­eros­ity within La Don­aira, and so you are able to at­tend a gourmet veg­e­tar­ian work­shop which re­veals a few of the house se­crets.

A won­der­ful ex­cur­sion is to me­an­der through the farm’s medic­i­nal gar­den which has over 200 herbs and plants de­signed to im­prove well­be­ing and con­sti­tu­tion and which ends with your very own tea cer­e­mony. Many of the reme­dies in the farm’s re­lax­ing spa are pre­pared from the gar­den, and you will be treated with lo­cally sourced ar­gan oil, laven­der, rose­mary, al­monds and av­o­ca­dos. There is an icy plunge pool and a spring-fed out­door pool as well as a

ham­mam and an en­tic­ing sauna.

The rep­u­ta­tion of La Don­aira has fa­cil­i­tated its am­bi­tion to host a wide range of wed­dings and events, and since 2017 it now show­cases an an­nual se­ries of open-air clas­si­cal mu­sic events which it has called Pause – es­sen­tially invit­ing you to pause and ex­pe­ri­ence de­light­ful clas­si­cal mu­sic in a mes­meris­ing set­ting. Pause 2018 is set for 14-19 Au­gust, and it al­ready has an im­pres­sive num­ber of in­ter­na­tional artists who are set to per­form.

La Don­aira is proof that a dream can some­times be­come a re­al­ity, and the ex­cite­ment and en­ergy in the farm is in­fec­tious. Even a short visit will def­i­nitely recharge you and you will have a wel­come chance to be­come at one with na­ture and to learn to ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty around you. There is some­thing mag­i­cal about the farm’s set­ting, and the sin­cer­ity and pas­sion of those that look af­ter it.

www.ladon­aira.com

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