Meet the owners – Hunting Lodge near Malaga

This time we’re hearing from Alan, who runs El Carligto in the hills behind Malaga. He and his partner Marc renovated the estate – a recent Conde Nast Gold Award recipient for the best rural retreat in Spain – where amazing spaces, views and cuisine help create a perfect Spanish holiday home. Stylish and incredibly beautiful the estate has two houses, available separately or as a whole, one of which is Hunting Lodge. Find out what took them to Spain and what it is that they love about their wonderful business.

Have you always lived and worked where you are based now?

Not at all! Marc is Dutch but has also lived in France and I’m originally from the US but also lived in London. My background is in education and Marc’s in IT but now the business is essentially our only job, and really Marc is now retired so I manage all of the operational business myself.

How did you end up running your business?

Marc previously owned a chateaux in south west France that developed into a holiday rental business with its hamlet-like collection of outbuildings. I was living in London and met Marc not long before he sold that property and subsequently moved to London. After a couple of years of living together in the city and vacationing in Andalucía, we decided to look at properties to see what was on the market that we might develop into a business here. When we visited El Carligto we immediately fell in love with the property and began the long process of negotiating the purchase and preparing for the change. We moved to Andalucía in January, 2009 and immediately got to work on the renovations of the main cortijo and opened for business at the end of that same year.

Tell us a bit about the pursuits that are on offer either through you or through providers in the immediate area that you work with

Being culinary enthusiasts ourselves, we focus heavily on gastronomic experiences to share the cuisine of the region, be it for a private meal with one of our seven different personal chefs, cooking courses, or guided excursions to local bodegas, olive mills and the famed food market in Malaga (above). To further delve into the local culture, we offer such experiences as on-site Flamenco dance and guitar lessons, and private Flamenco performances. On the health and wellness front, we have developed full weeklong yoga programmes paired with guided hikes in the adjacent Sierra Tejeda nature park and fully catered, health-conscious meals throughout the visit.

What’s your favorite walk and are you a dog friendly place to stay?

El Carligto sits within mere minutes walk from a massive mountain nature reserve with endless hiking and stunning views over the Mediterranean. We have two Labradors ourselves, and El Carligto is a dog friendly place to stay. We love taking the dogs for walks in the park above Alcaucin, near the Alcazar; however, the property itself features breathtaking views and we walk daily with the dogs in the immediate vicinity.

Do you have a favorite restaurant nearby?

Our little village of Canillas de Aceituno has a surprising number of bars for a village of fewer than 2,000 people within the pueblo itself. It’s always lively, but our favorite place is Restaurante La Sociedad. It was previously a private gambling club, literally hundreds of years ago, and maintains the feel of a busy meeting place with friendly and accommodating staff, and a menu full of traditional, rustic fare suited to it’s location on the slopes of La Maroma, the tallest mountain in the province. Their specialty is roast kid and diners are known to come from far distances to sample it.

If you’re looking for a bit of culture where do you head to?

One of the things we love about living here is the richness of culture in our little region of La Axarquia in easternmost Malaga province. Just under the surface lies a wealth of history and culture in even the smallest of the local “pueblos blancos”, and the regional capital of Velez-Malaga (above) is only about a 20 minute drive. Here, where Miguel de Cervantes once lived and wrote, you find an ancient Moorish fortress within the old medina, labyrinthine streets with architectural surprises exposing the historic mix of Moorish, Christian and Jewish cultures. There is also a “tablao” here with authentic, live Flamenco performances every Friday.

If the very local cultural experiences are not enough, we are within easy reach for day trips to cosmopolitan Malaga, and the UNESCO sites at the Alhambra in Granada and the Mezquita in Cordoba.

What’s the best thing about running your business?

We absolutely love living here and experiencing the culture and cuisine of Andalucía. The business keeps us intimately tuned into local events and developments that otherwise might get past us. However, the best thing about running the business is meeting so many interesting and wonderful people. There’s a level of trust and risk involved in renting a beloved home to strangers, but nearly every one of our guests have been lovely people and we’ve actually formed lasting friendships with people we met initially as clients. We host families and individuals from all over the world and our experience has been rich thanks to the fascinating stories they bring with them.

Check out The Hunting Lodge for more information


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