In the sixth of our series of interviews with holiday homeowners from around the world, Jeff and Tish talk about how they bought a ruin in a spectacular setting in Andalucia and turned it into a stunning Moorish-style boutique villa.
Originally from London, Jeff and Tish bought a ruin in the heart of Andalucia countryside 7 years ago. Their aim was to develop a rental property which offered all the services and facilities of a five star hotel yet had all the privacy of a home from home villa that catered for children and adults alike. Lovingly restored in Moorish-style and beautifully furnished, Cortijo Bujio opened its doors to the public two and half years ago and since has been enjoying excellent occupancy rates.
1. What first made you fall in love with this area and why should people come here?
Tish, a former teacher and myself, a property developer decided to buy Cortijo Bujio because of its close proximity to Granada airport which had just started flights from London. Set in a gorgeous valley near to Sierra Parapanda, the Cortijo offers unspoilt vistas of the neighbouring olive groves and oak forests, the panoramic expanse of the plains to the west of Granada and the snow-capped slopes of the Sierra Nevada beyond. It is ideal for those who are looking for a holiday where they can relax and enjoy peace and quiet and maybe even a bit of pampering.
2. What’s the ‘best kept secret’ you would tell any visitors not to miss?
Our best kept secret has to be Rio Frio, a natural trout river and farm which runs through a village about 20km from the Cortijo. Here you can dine on freshly caught trout, traverse the meandering river or explore the countryside. Rio Frio is thought to be the first organic certified sturgeon farm in the world. It is also the only fish farm known to have rare species of trout indigenous to Andalusia but is thought to be extinct in the wild.
3. Where’s the place to go to just hang out, people watch and generally soak up the atmosphere?
8km from the Cortijo is the picturesque village of Montefrio where we live; Montefrio is exquisite. An agrarian village with plenty of modern trappings, however, it still manages to cling on to the past and is truly the real Spain, the only language spoken here is Spanish! The people are warm and welcoming and go about their business seemingly without a care in the world. We love it!
Montefrio is definitely the place to go and hang out, people watch and soak up the atmosphere; you can sit outside many of the bars and restaurants drinking good beer, wine or coffee and enjoying the great local cuisine. There are many fiestas which can also be enjoyed throughout the year. This friendly village enjoys one of the region’s most striking settings, with one of its churches perched on top of a bare, rocky pinnacle, overlooking the town and its surrounding hillsides clothed in olive groves and fields of cereal crops. It nestles between two memorable hilltop churches; you can’t miss either of them since they dominate the skyline.
4. What would you recommend visitors either treat themselves to or take home as a souvenir?
Our most popular event and a must for all of our guests is the Flamenco evening, where local Flamenco players get together in our open courtyard overlooking the Sierra Nevada, and entertain with live music and dance, accompanied by Paella cooked al-fresco by our lovely cook Reme (who also makes divine Sangria!).
5. Finally, what are the quirkiest things to do, see, eat, visit or experience in this place?
Quirky has to be a visit to Restaurante Piolas in the middle of nowhere, lost in the olive belt of inland Andalusia, and about 45 minutes’ drive from Cortijo Bujio. The restaurant offers a 15-course Spanish taster menu in a similar style to Heston Blumenthal but distinctly Spanish.
Leave yourself a couple of hours and sit back and enjoy. Changing by the month, the fifteen or so plates are so varied and unique. Arriving to strains of salsa and flamenco, the courses have included a strawberry salad with sardines, the most incredible ‘towers of cheese’ – looking like toadstools and made out of cheddar, Roquefort, parmesan and goats cheese – and a camembert and apple pie, with a vinaigrette of Mallorcan sausage.
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Discover more about Andalucia and the historic city of Jerez de la Frontera here.