Inside the Andalusian retreat bringing new life to luxury eco-travel
Appreciation for the land is at the heart of the Spanish escape, La Donaira, from the expansive landscape to the in-house Michelin-star chef’s menu
By Darcie Imbert All images courtesy of La Donaira Sunday 27 September, 2020 Short read
In keeping with the strict policy prohibiting guest cars on the estate, we left ours in the whitewashed village of El Gastor on an early Sunday morning. Our driver arrived just as flamenco music started to stir through the sleepy streets, emanating from crackling speakers on every street corner. Climbing up through the rugged terrain, the expansiveness of the property, untamed and wild, made the journey feel almost safari-like. Lusitano horses galloped across undulating hills, chickens pottered against a backdrop of craggy mountains, and sheep grazed on wild grass.
Set in 1,700 acres of rolling terrain, biodynamic farm La Dehesa Biodinámica is what makes La Donaira much more than a retreat. La Donaira considers the act of eating a powerful tool for change, given that agriculture is a key player in the environmental crisis. The farm itself consists of olive and almond groves, organic orchards and vineyards, and green valleys dotted with experimental plantations. They have bees, sheep, goats, chickens and rare breeds of cattle, which are moved around the estate regularly to keep the land fertile.
The philosophy of the farm is reinforced in the kitchen by Michelin-star chef Fredrik Andersson, who uses every meal to communicate the culinary ethos of La Donaira. ‘Here, we have at least two days to start a dialogue with guests about what we care about: recultivating a connection to the land’. Lunch and dinner is a five-course affair accompanied by natural wines, produced on site or from low-intervention producers across Europe. Andersson concepts menus based on what has been gathered from the farm that morning, using ingredients in their most authentic form to create delicate flavours layered with skill and meaning.
Each of the nine rooms is unique, and priced between €340 and €490 per person, per night, on a full-board basis. Book your experience at ladonaira.com