A little geography upfront since the La Donaira property is big but not exactly easy to find. Most international visitors arrive via Seville (about 1.5h by car to the resort) or Malaga (2h). If you are not pressed for time you may want to consider spending a night or two in either city. They are definitely both worth a visit.
In any event, head to the direction of Ronda and once you make it to the small village of El Gastor you just park your car. You leave it behind for good reason. The road to La Donaira is rather on the steep side and a driver is sent down from the property to pick up the guests at the Piazza.
Ten minutes later, you arrive in another world: 1700 acres of unspoiled land, mountains, hills, steppe, 80 horses, countless sheep, chickens and cattle. You see a Mongolian yurt tent on a hillside, a bathhouse with a long swimming pool, an outdoor pool made of stone, surrounded by sunshades made of raffia. And in the middle of it all: The white, typical Andalusian main house, called Cortijo.
We are being led through the property and into our room. Each one of them is completely different with one common denominator: there is an abundance of beautiful yet simple details everywhere.
Our first impression: Grandiose. You can tell that not only someone has fulfilled a dream but that he also likes to share this dream with likeminded folks.
Simply put: the conventional has had its day. Nobody really needs a bathroom made out of marble. And the star chef should rather serve four proper dishes as opposed to twelve fancy ones. To keep it simple, all dishes are included in the price. The menu is discussed in advance. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Here everyone co-exists in harmony with each other – the guests, the owners and also the staff, of which there are about 80 on the entire premises.
The most beautiful place in the hotel: The kitchen: It is a large room with high ceilings – the former stable. In the middle is a large, inviting table with comfortable bar stools. From there you can watch the kitchen brigade preparing the food. Already in the afternoon, there is the smell of freshly baked bread, a waiter offers a glass of red wine and you plan the activities for the next day.
Our morning started very early, as we walked in unison with the rising sun to the top of the mountain at around 6.30 am. It is a beautiful, narrow trail. You hike past the white Lusitano horses, one of the oldest European horse breeds, which originated in neighboring Portugal. After about 45 minutes, you reach the top of Malaver (1122 meters above sea level) and look out over a breathtaking landscape. Tiny white settlements and mountains like in old Western movies are everywhere.
In the afternoon, it is all about the horses, horsemanship at its finest. You learn how to build trust with the horses in a round-pen together with a trainer. It is about positive energy and how to approach the animals. If you haven’t done something like this before, we highly recommend doing it.
More experienced riders can of course take them out for a ride. The area is large enough for day trips. But beware: this is a real farm with goats, sheep, Pajuna and Wagyu cattle, Berrenda cows, over 300 chickens and its own beekeeping. Non-riders grab one of the mountain bikes and tour the gravel paths – a real experience.
Also not to be missed: A tour with former ballet dancer Gigi through his medicinal herb garden next to the main house. He grows 350 medicinal plants, some of them very rare, and knows a little story about each species. In the middle of the garden you will also find the Asian plant Gynostemma pentaphyllum (the plant of immortality), which promises a longer life if taken (which doesn’t sound too bad).
When a comes to the spa house with its large indoor pool, where you can actually swim laps, and the sauna and steam bath, a masterpiece. You can reserve this place completely privately for a certain time and relax accordingly. Above all, the view of the surrounding nature and the mountains is highly exclusive from this spot. Also magical: the outdoor pool with a view over the property and the valley.
There are seven different rooms for guests in the main house. Some are also suitable for families with children. In addition, there are two different Mongolian tents with exclusive furnishings up on the hill. For breakfast you have to walk down a path for about two minutes to the main house. Have a go, we highly recommend them.
If you arrive in the afternoon and are a little hungry, you can order something from the kitchen.
Everyone who wants to experience something special for a week – Andalusia unplugged. Every now and then there is a retreat, sometimes artists visit and play the piano. Sometimes it is also the boss who plays.
From 880 Euro for the suite including all meals.
Booking & Contacts
Finca La Donaira
Camino de las Minas, s/n,