A major boost to a local rural economy is now much closer to becoming reality thanks to the perseverance and dedication of a Casarabonela-based British Project Manager and Business start-up specialist.
More than 35 full- and part-time jobs will be created once the €2.5 million Hotel and Eco Activities complex has been built in the Arroyo de Casarabonela – a valley just 3km from the village centre, one of the nine white villages situated in the beautiful and ecologically important Sierra de las Nieves Biosphere National Park area. Once the Hotel and Eco Activities Centre is up and running the business should generate at least a further £2.5 million on an annual basis which will be pumped into the local economy.
Avril Quince, who heads a strong management team in Spain and the UK said: “We have permission to build the complex, we have funding in place and we have a start date.” Avril, who has been planning the venture for nine years, prefers not to remember the huge amount of bureaucratic difficulties she has had to overcome in order to get the project to the point where building can start in November 2012 with a first phase completion by the following April 2013. The ambitious project, which has already swallowed half a million euros in development, planning and land purchase costs, will provide an all-year- round Eco Activity Centre for those interested in all kinds of outdoor pursuits such as mountain biking, hiking, paragliding, horse trekking, triathlons, swimming, bird watching as well as activity challenges including monkey bridge, abseiling and rock climbing.
“There is a dedicated team on board here and in the UK,” Avril continues, “and we have the support of the British Armed Forces who want to use the centre for the “Forces Challenge” activities. We have planned and tested the routes and some of the challenges, and we have had them approved by the representatives of the charities raising funds for the Armed Forces including RAFBF, Bomber Command and Coming Home.” At present a separate UK company, Eco Activities Ltd, is organising the bookings and events, but eventually the business will be wholly integrated and based here in Spain.
The hotel will be built from scratch on a 36,000 sq metre site which looks up to the village and the majestic Sierra de la Prieta range above. It will cater for charity events, wedding holidays, women only breaks, same-sex and singles-only events, as well as the core business of providing an eco-friendly centre for singles and teams’ outdoor pursuits activities.
“What has always puzzled us,” added Avril, “is that over the nine-year period we have been trying to spend €2.5 million in building costs and generate 35 jobs and the spin-off activity that should result from the project, is why we have faced so many difficulties and obstructions from officials. Hopefully all that is now behind us. We now have a timetable, we have all the planning permissions and approvals together with the promise of funding from the EU and a grant from the Sierra de las Nieves conservation group. This will bring much needed jobs and income to the area as well as the spin-offs of increased tourism, car hire and people eating out in local bars and restaurants.”
All that is holding up building now is a required environmental study which will take until October to complete. While the project will be up and running by next April, further development will have to be staged due to a funding shortfall caused by the bureaucratic delays. Now that the start dates have been approved and bookings can be made Avril plans to offer short term investment opportunities for syndicates or individuals with very attractive income returns.
“We have a very comprehensive business plan which we can release to genuinely interested parties who may wish to do their own due diligence,” said Avril.