09 Apr 2020
Girona, Spain
Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Waste Management, Sustainable Tourism

When Fiona Smart and Gareth Speechley decided to build Hotel Mas Pelegri, their eco-friendly hotel, they could not have found a more fitting location than Girona. The atmospheric Catalonian town has long lured visitors with drawcards free from the unsustainable trappings of modern technology. 

The adventurous — professional cyclists among them — revel in the surrounding area’s dazzling biking routes, suitable for every level. Others head for the equally low-tech (yet infinitely more bizarre) attraction of kissing the “Culo de la Leona” statue. According to local legend, this amorous gesture guarantees that visitors will return to Girona’s cobbled streets once more.

Hotel Mas Pelegri draws upon Girona’s many outdoor attractions by taking a holistic approach to sustainability. The business operates on stringent eco-friendly principles, from energy efficient architecture to locally sourced produce. And eco-consciousness extends to the guests themselves, who can take local cycling trips while learning about international best practice for sustainability. “Everything here is about energy conservation,” said Smart.

15 years ago, Smart and Speechley came across a rundown house outside Girona, which used to provide shelter on a popular pilgrim trail. The building’s character continued to shine through, despite years of neglect. 

Since then, Hotel Mas Pelegri (Pilgrim’s House) has been the object of the co-owners’ devotion, as they strove to create a hotel with impeccable eco-credentials. One crucial element has been taking Hotel Mas Pelegri “off-grid,” in the sense of removing the property’s reliance on public utilities altogether. Hotel Mas Pelegri generates its own electricity, collects its own drinking water, and treats its own sewerage.

The very structure of Hotel Mas Pelegri further conserves energy. Climate-smart architecture reduces the need for heaters and air-conditioners, despite fluctuating temperatures from season to season. “The buildings are built to absorb the sun’s heat during winter, while the shade of our deciduous trees reduce the sun’s intensity in summer,” explained Smart. For when the mercury climbs too high, the resourceful owners have installed solar-powered air-conditioners.

Hotel Mas Pelegri’s philosophy encourages guests to move themselves “off-grid” during their stay. Each visitor plays their part in maintaining the hotel’s energy efficiency, even with small actions like closing doors and window shutters during the day. Eco-friendly activities abound: Smart and Speechley, both triathlon enthusiasts, arrange a host of fun outdoor options for guests.

While Hotel Mas Pelegri has become a popular haunt for adventure sport professionals, amateurs have plenty of reasons to stay too. Energetic families and young travellers can all enjoy cycling, walking, horse riding, open water swimming, and more. The same applies to the young-at-heart, who often rediscover a love for the outdoors at Hotel Mas Pelegri. 

“Our favourite moments are helping people to become active again,” said Smart, reflecting on guests (often in their 50s and 60s) taking up sports once more.

Proudly, the co-owners have prioritised their shared passion for environmentalism and physical health over profit. “All profit goes directly into becoming better, becoming more eco,” said Smart. She added that, even after 15 years, Hotel Mas Pelegri still has plenty of scope for improving its green credentials.

This endless pursuit of perfection can only be sustained with a mission as strong as Hotel Mas Pelegri’s. As Smart neatly summarised: “It is our passion to help people to lead healthier lifestyles.”


Learn more about Hotel Mas Pelegri through the website.

Photos courtesy of Hotel Mas Pelegri

David Wood is a freelance writer and researched based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
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