“Dad, are we really going to sleep in this circus tent?” The tent which our six-year-old believes to be a circus tent, is in fact a real Mongolian Yurt, even though it is not pitched on the endless prairies of the Far East, but on perpetually windy Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. Even though we are thousands of miles from where these tents originate, we keep expecting a Cossack to enter, carrying a peregrine falcon on his arm. The tent has been beautifully furnished. Not at all the look of a modern design hotel, but authentic, sumptuous scarlet silk, a gold Buddha statue – to remind us, as if we needed to be, that we are here to find rest and relaxation – and a range of cabinets and chests to unpack our luggage into. “Granny and Grandpa could have come, too”, remarks our sharp-eyed eldest daughter. She is not wrong, because the Eco Yurt Royal can easily accommodate 8 people.
‘Eco’ is a well-deserved moniker for Finca de Arrieta, as it boasts the largest environmentally friendly power generator on the island. The 30-foot long pool is heated by its own solar panels, and guests who stay for a week or longer, are given the use of a hybrid Toyota Prius.
The energy-conscious crowd are not the only ones who can enjoy Finca de Arrieta, parents and children will feel right at home, too. The grounds encompass an amazing 30,000 square metres in effect a huge natural playground. Don’t expect anything fancy in the way of entertainment, nor a fully-equipped children’s club, but instead enjoy small pleasures such as hunting for the eggs laid by the pet chickens, jumping on trampolines, riding on a donkey’s back, waking up to gaze at the starlit sky or collecting volcanic rocks.
Besides the various Yurts, there are several stone accommodation buildings, which may be less atmospheric, but they make up for it in quality and comforts. There is not a great deal of privacy, because the guest quarters are quite closely set and particularly in school holidays when it’s fully booked. A fair amount of noise is, then, part of the tourist season. On the upside, this means that children have no difficulty meeting each other and setting out together in their explorations of the Finca.
All the guest accommodation is equipped with private cooking facilities, though the focus on ‘eco’ means you should not expect a dishwasher or microwave – but never mind, it’s a holiday, so we’ve plenty of time. In need for basic foodstuffs? You can check the ones other guests left behind on the dedicated space for that or at the mini shop on Finca de Arrieta. Fresh food can be found in several shops in nearby Arrieta village, a few minutes’ walk from the Finca. If you’re not in the mood for cooking yourself, that same village easily has a dozen restaurants for simple but always delicious food. If you want anything outlandish, you’ll have to hop in the car and go to one of the larger supermarkets on the island.
Tila and Michelle Braddock have lived on the island for twenty years, and are the proud owners of this slice of paradise. Tila explains: “We wanted to create a place for adventurous families, who prefer something unique to the run-of-the-mill holiday. Because we are absolutely smitten with this authentic part of Lanzarote – an island after all, which has its share of nightmarish tourist blare – we were keen to find something that would match the island’s original character.” It is this vision which led Tila and Michelle to renovate the dilapidated Finca into an eco- and child-friendly spot for modern bohemians.
The Finca itself is not the only thing which will blow your mind with its beauty. We loved to see all the houses painted white and the lack of billboards. UNESCO named the whole of Lanzarote as a biosphere reserve, in 1993. Which is why you should be sure to visit the extinct volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park. Or, for those who have an even more adventurous spirit, take a canoe safari to the hidden sea caves. On another day you might opt for a safari at the yellow submarine in the harbor of Puerto Calero which takes you more than 30 metres down the ocean to see fishes and shipwrecks. And we visited the Green Lake, as well as the Jameos del Agua that reflects harmony between nature and artistic creation, with its enormous stones and surrealistic shapes. Then, when the family all sit down after a long hard day of adventures, enjoy the sunset and put on your fleece hoodies. After all, there is one sure thing on Lanzarote, and that’s the wind.
# The way the accommodation, and the Yurt tents in particular are laid out, evokes an otherworldly atmosphere. It is almost a fairy tale village set in a lunar volcanic landscape.
# Lanzarote has a pleasant climate all year. Do be prepared, though, for perpetual wind. That can mean anything from a steady breeze to an actual storm.
# Exceptionally child-friendly (do expect a lot of guests and less privacy in school holidays). There is no trouble finding playmates, and besides, there are also the donkey, chicken, ducks and cat. Gently sloping into the sea, the beach is just 300 metres’ walk from the Finca.
# Discounting the flight to Lanzarote, your eco-consciousness can be at peace. This does mean forsaking some luxurious comforts.
This property can be booked through www.i-escape.com/finca-de-arrieta