Have you ever taken one look at a website and decided instantly that this is a place you need to visit?! For me, with Lanzarote Retreats, this was definitely the case!
Ever since my friend Claire told me about the time she spent there earlier this year with her family, I've been waiting for an excuse to go... so a couple of weeks ago when I found myself with a few days spare, I knew straight away this was the place I wanted to head to for a mini break!
This decision was made easy, not only because it looks incredible online, but also because it's a family run business with an amazing eco-concept. The Braddock family took the plunge and set up Lanzarote Retreats in 2007, almost 30 years after having moved to the island from the UK and since then have been developing this innovative model for tourism.
Knowing already it was ticking all my boxes, I was itching to find out more and after a quick conversation with the super helpful Peta, who looks after reservations, I was good to go. Off-the-grid glamping in the Canary Islands here I come!
Finca de Arrieta
Finca De Arrieta is a luxury eco village in the north of Lanzarote, just a short walk from the beautiful Playa de Garita, set back from the road and housing 16 different yurts or other accommodation options, from lodges to villa, all set around fantastic shared facilities.
Occupying an area of over 30,000 square metres, Finca de Arrieta is powered by the largest green energy set-up on the island and this perfect mix of eco off-grid living combined with some touches of luxury.
I opted for their great value flexi-rate, where you book your dates, but are allocated their choice of accommodation ... this worked perfectly for me, as not only do all the accommodation options look AMAZING, but I was still given the preference of a yurt or a more traditional cottage style option.
Service is first-class from the outset at Lanzarote Retreats and those landing at the airport are treated to a private transfer complete with a bottle of fizz en route. I was travelling across from my other favourite rock, Fuerteventura, and so instead, with help from Peta, opted for great value car hire with PlusCar who have no hidden extras in their all-inclusive pricing. Having arrived via ferry in Playa Blanca, I took a short taxi ride (3 euros) and in 5 minutes had picked-up my car from their office there. On the road in no time, I enjoyed the 1 hour drive through the stunning volcanic landscape towards the north of the island, a part of Lanzarote I hadn't experienced before.
I arrived in Tabayesco without a hitch thanks to Peta's very easy to follow directions and thanks to the super simple self check-in was quickly settling in to my home for the next 3 nights ... the very lovely Eco Chico Yurt!.
This is glamping off-the-grid, but I certainly was not slumming it! The yurt itself was cosy, but chic, with all the little touches you can appreciate to make life a little easier ... a lovely welcome pack greeted me, complete with cava, water, milk coffee, a tote bag and much more. The yurt was contained in its own mini garden with two sun loungers, a table and chairs, barbecue, plus an outside kitchen and 'rainforest-esque' bathroom with a palm tree growing through the middle of it, plus a bucket to collect excess water to help quench the thirst of the plants in the desert climate of the Canary Islands.
I spent the rest of the afternoon getting settled in ... chilling out and snoozing on my sun lounger ... pure bliss, especially with my phone disconnected from the internet due to the fact that wi-fi access is limited to the shared pool and lounge area. MUCH NEEDED.
And then the sun went down. I may have only been there a few hours, but as the moon rose and the stars came out, the beauty of off-the-grid living came into its own. Sitting by my little yurt house, with a glass of red, a few nibbles from the honesty shop and a good book picked from their extensive library, I felt myself exhale and my under-the-canvas king size bed was calling before I knew it! Wonderfully quiet with only the sound of the sea in the distance, I drifted away into a deep sleep before 10pm knowing that this mini-break was only going to deliver me good things :)
Waking up feeling super refreshed, it was now time to check out the rest of what Lanzarote Retreats had on offer! Enjoying a freshing brewed cafetiere of coffee from the hob, I made a leisurely move to the shared pool and lounge area to mooch around, chat to the lovely Sally who heads up guest relations and get some tips for exploring the island.
Sally recommended a lovely tour of the north of island (more on that to come on the blog very soon), but before that I had chance to explore Finca de Arrieta; checking up on the cactus my friend Claire had planted for her daughter Martha earlier in the year (still looking good!), meeting the residents of Cluckingham Palace and making friends with Molly the donkey.
The other guests were a mix of couples and young families, and the set-up provided a great stage for interesting conversations, even for a solo traveller like me. And if you're around on a Thursday, the team provide a lovely shared lunch of paella and cava, which is a fab excuse for everyone to get to know each other a little more and swap tips for exploring the island.
The accommodation is self-catering, but this is made easy thanks to the on-site honesty shop or a short walk away in Arrieta you can find a decent mini-market and beach side restaurants offering fresh fish and tapas overlooking the very pretty Playa La Garita. Alternatively, the team also offer dine-in options including a luxury breakfast delivered to your yurt door and BBQ packages just allow you to just cook and enjoy, without any of the hassle of planning!
There are also lots of opportunities to get in a retreat-vibe, with on-site yoga and Pilates classes and therapists. I booked in for a lovely massage with Claudia, all very easily arranged through Sally ... such a treat to slip away into a zen-like state underneath canvas with the fresh air breezing in from outside.
Time to explore Lanzarote
One thing I was quite surprised about was the amount of interesting, artistic and cultural offerings that the north of Lanzarote has waiting for you to discover - very different from my second home Fuerteventura, which is predominantly all about the activities the stunning landscape offers and the beautiful beaches.
Close to Arrieta, I found the stunning Jameos Del Agua, a unique volcanic tunnel and caverns, featuring an underground concert hall, restaurant and salt lake, designed the artist Manrique, whose style has shaped the appearance of much of the island, and all set at the end of a 4000 year old 6km lava tube!
On top of this, I discovered beautiful quaint towns such as Haria, with a plaza that wouldn't have felt out of place in the depths of mainland Spain. A highlight was also the opportunity to tick off one on my travel wish-list locations - La Graciosa... a small, unspoilt island, north of Lanzarote with a population of less than 700 and where the roads aren't even paved! Escapism at its best :) (Look out for a blog post about this very soon!)
All of these experiences really allowed me the chance to step outside of everyday life for a little while and take some much needed time out ... going back into nature and away from technology to get a little new perspective and headspace.
Until next time ...
On my last day, I was encouraged by the team to make the most of my last few hours of relaxation and enjoy the paella social by the gorgeous pool. As part of this I got to spend to some welcome time with Michelle, one of the co-founders of Lanzarote Retreats.
Over a glass of cava, I got the chance to learn more about how this beautiful concept came about and the exciting plans they have for the future ... this was such a nice added bonus, meeting the people who are at the heart of this very special place. I am a big believer in following your gut, and not only was it fulfilling to see how they'd followed their's, but I knew I was right in picking Lanzarote Retreats from that first moment I'd seen their website. I will most definitely be back.