A little off the beaten track and yet only a one-hour drive from Alicante airport, you’ll find the rural retreat Cuatre Finques. It’s situated in a tranquil lush green valley on the outskirts of Jalon, with great views of the surrounding mountains. This retreat surely is a friendly destination with a laid-back atmosphere. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing stay for groups of friends, couples or families. The owners are Nicky & Pep. Despite the fact that Nicky is originally from Scotland, her local knowledge is fantastic and she is very willing to answer all our questions.
This time, I am travelling with our girls, my sister and her 12-year-old daughter. Not being very good navigators ourselves (yes, we know, very typical… without our men being there to help us), the navigation system luckily leads the way and so it is quite easy to find the way to our destination.
The owners opened up in 2014 after designing the accommodations themselves. They did a great job in creating an authentic building that fits in splendidly with the environment. With only 6 bedrooms, you could say it’s in between a hotel and a villa retreat. The rooms are clean and simple and a mixture of modern, rustic, country and romantic. Every little detail has been thought of: from iPod docks to vintage headboards and soap dispensers. The eyepatches are also highly appreciated by our kids and in no time they are used to play blind man’s bluff. The hotel and its amenities are of the highest standard. There are a great many lovely patios (some of them in the shade) with chairs and sun loungers.
With the owners having a daughter of their own, you can indeed say it is a kid-friendly hotel. Our girls even play with her when she doesn’t need to be at school. Besides that, the animals around the place make it a fun place for kids. The geese, the lovely dog and the donkeys – the kids love a ride under the supervision of Pep. In the nearby surroundings, it is possible to arrange a donkey ride through the mountains. Also, every day Nicky puts some leftovers into a basket for the kids to feed the donkeys.
Cuatre Finques serves lovely breakfasts outside and, during the season, you can enjoy the cooking skills of Pep in the evening. Twice a week on summer evenings, you can savour a Paella dinner. In the meantime, you can listen to the music played by Pep and his friends while you are “busy” tasting wine and tapas.
Food and drink at Cuatre Finques is pretty much homemade and locally sourced, mostly grown on the surrounding land, and freshly prepared. Lunches and dinners are available upon request and there is an honesty bar with drinks and nibbles. Light lunches served by the pool or on the private terrace include fresh sandwiches on crusty bread or platters of ham, cheese, salad and vegs from the grill. Tapas are served in the late afternoon and early evenings; BBQs are possible on advance notice. So, if you don’t feel like eating out in one the many restaurants nearby, it’s a great opportunity to have lunch or dinner at Cuatre Finques itself.
Pep is an experienced paraglider and a fully qualified tandem gliding instructor. If you feel like it, he’ll gladly take you up into the skies to experience this spectacular type of flying with some of the best views around. The couple will also help you out if you are interested in other activities, such as cycling (there are 6 mountain bikes available and free of charge), playing golf, shopping, picking grapes, olives or almonds, Spa treatments or Yoga and Pilates classes. During the summer season, there are several Fiestas for you to join in.
We visited the retreat in October and could still use the pool, although the water was quite fresh. We could, however, feel somewhat warmer water in the nearby sea. At a short distance from the hotel, there are some nice sandy beaches. We discovered a stony beach where the kids could enjoy climbing and search for a whole variety of beautiful stones.
Jalon (or Xalo) is a small unspoilt village that spreads between the Sierra de la Solana and the Sierra de Bernia, on the boundary of the Marina Baixa on the Costa Blanca. It’s a small town, full of good food and really nice people. We had a nice time having dinner at the local pub and watched a great amount of stars during our walk home; the kids loved it.
# The laid-back atmosphere and luxury of Cuatre Finques give you the feeling of really leaving life’s daily hassles behind you. Our kids love the hotel grounds: the animals and the huge garden to walk and play in.
# Nicky welcomes us all by addressing us by our first names. This personal approach feels very warm and welcoming indeed and, as a family, we totally feel at home from the moment of arrival until we leave. She suggests all kinds of activities for our group that includes kids of different ages (from 5 up to 12 years).
# The location is rural and certainly not a tourist trap. On the other hand, it is conveniently close to the little town of Jalon with its markets, bodegas (wine shops) and restaurants – all within walking distance.