On a beautiful Spanish Tuesday afternoon, I landed at the Hostal
Empuries, near the sleepy Spanish town of L’Escala, in the Costa Brava
region, near Girona. Don’t let the name of this wonderful hotel confuse
you: ‘hostal’ does not mean ‘hostel’: far from it. It simply means
‘hotel’. Nestled between pine trees and sand, the hotel rests on
Portitxol Beach with its “dainty” cliffs.

This seaside resort
is a quiet and beautiful hotel and spa, established more than 100 years
ago. It is the first hotel in Europe to be awarded Gold LEED
certification — the highest environmental achievement, and aside from
being gorgeous and environmentally responsible, boasts a beautiful
restaurant as well.  Serving sumptuous eco-mediterranean cuisine, the
Villa Teresita provides formal dining under the excellent care of Chef
Rafa Peña, as well as the more casual Bistró del Mar.

In a
pleasant afternoon interview with Susana Bosols, Director of Marketing,
we shared black coffee and she described for me their main objectives:
social and ecological responsibility, rejecting waste culture, and the
notion of “following the ant’s trail.”  Along with LEED certification,
the hotel espouses the concept of “cradle to cradle.” From their
website, they describe their principles:

“One of the
principles of Hostal Empuries, according to our social and ecological
responsibilities, had been to think globally and act locally, in order
to create awareness of the Earth as an organism which must be cared for.
Based on the idea that the population of ants on the planet is 3 times
greater than that of humans, understanding that they are beneficial to
this biological organism, the Earth, we want to follow the ant’s trail.

The
building type we have used, therefore, has green roofs which increase
plant life and biodiversity. We have chosen plants typical of the local
area, which are drought tolerant and are only watered from rainfall
collected from the roofs or recycled from the bathrooms and kitchen. For
fertilizer we use nothing more than organic matter left over from the
kitchen.

At Hostal Empuries we care
about humanity and the inheritance to which we are connected. We aim to
provide the best experience possible for our guests and leave a lasting
legacy for future generations…In truth, human beings are the only ones
capable of carrying the responsibility for their harmful behavior and
actions which instigate the destruction of our habitat and the habitats
of all other life forms on the planet.

We
must therefore commit, in a personal way, to take preventative action
and plan for a better future.In order to best plan and develop the
greater part of our initiatives we take advantage of the finest
standards available in order to guarantee sustainability.”

The LEED certification and Cradle to Cradle principles are:
* The Certificate of Sustainable Architecture “LEED,” whose aim is to
ensure that a building becomes a regenerative agent in its environment,
preventing erosion, improving water quality and increasing biodiversity
to benefit the whole community.
* The “Cradle to Cradle” Principle
or “C2C” which promotes the use of materials which are not only
sustainable but whose useful life might continue beyond that for which
it was originally intended, to be re-used in other ways and finally
being converted back into new base material.

Aside from
outstanding environmental stewardship, the hotel has a beautiful
restaurant, including on-site organic gardens which supply the kitchen.
The spa too adheres to the strictest environmental standards, using
natural oils and other products for the body, and natural products for
cleaning. This is true throughout the hotel.

Chef
Rafa Peña generously spoke with me after a beautiful evening meal, and
even shared his recipe for Cod Brandada. He offered a great tip for
finding the perfect restaurant while traveling:

“When
you travel, go to the best restaurant you can find and afford –
Michelin starred, for instance – and have a meal there.  Lunchtime is
often a bit less expensive. Then, ask the chef him or herself where to
eat in that city. Go where they tell you.  The good chefs always know
where to go!”

What a great idea. Thank you, Chef!

I
loved the Hostal Empuries, its philosophy, the lovely rooms, the
gorgeous beach environment… and the food was outstanding. I’d go back
tomorrow if I could. Maybe I will!

-Anjani

Hostal Empúries – Platja de Portitxol s/n Ap. Correos 174.17130 l’Escala, Girona, Spain

Tel: 972.77.02.07 | Fax: 972.98.29.36, info@hostalempuries.com, GPS: 42.13182400, 3.12234900

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