Popular Rural Retreats & Why

FTR Cortijo Prado ReyThe pandemic has savaged the hospitality sector and the big hotels, for example have come off worse compared with small rural hotels.

Whereas the big hotels just cannot run with a good percentage of the rooms in use, rural hotels have managed to scrape through and in some cases even prosper.

One of the main reasons that rural hotels have fared better is that people want to get away from crowds so large hotels are not what they are looking for; they’re looking for isolated accommodation surrounded by countryside where you can go for a walk without hardly meeting anybody.

With this in mind, we decided to interview the owner of one of the cosiest winter retreats in the Alpujarra; Cortijo Prado Toro just outside Pitres.

FTR Cortijo Prado Toro 04Ludwig Hönig, together with good friend and architect, Donald Gray, created this small complex of individual, self-contained cortijos, so beautifully done that Donald Gray won a Rafael Manzano 2015 prize for architecture. Now, Ludwig’s daughter, Cynthia, runs the whole thing, as well as a dwelling in Bubión and it is with her that we spoke about how the pandemic has affected the business and her take on life.

The Lockdown for three months starting in March last year was devastating and even with the doors closed, being up in the Alpujarra there are continual costs at keeping the winter’s damp out – you cannot just lock it up and forget it.

FTR Snow in PitresDuring those months however the peace of this little paradise led her to re-evaluate her values; what was important and what was merely a distraction from seeing it. If anything, its very stone walls and loving carpentry that breaths and sighs in every room of Cortijo Prado Toro, had moved even deeper into her heart.

Since her father’s death and more recently, her mothers, she has taken on more and more of the running of this rural retreat until almost single handedly she maintains the five dwellings to such a degree that when you move in for your weekend stay, its like walking into your home because you feel, “I’m home.”

So yes, it has been hard during spring 2020 but the rest of the year went much better as people from cities and towns seek out this gem set on the side of a valley, surrounded by Spanish-oak forest, green fields and… restorative peace.

(News/Interview: Cortijo Prado Toro, Pitres, Alpujarra, Granada, Andalucia)

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