Sonia Hotel is located in la Plaza de Chipude, a strategic area at the centre La Gomera Island. It is a perfect arrival and departure point for exploring the island through trails, bicycle routes, or car rides. In addition to a pleasant stay, it has a restaurant where you can enjoy an authentic meal, in a unique environment.
Today we are going to interview Víctor as one of the owners, to know more about this emblematic Chipude business and the island.
“We first started as a bar-store, just like almost all businesses in La Gomera in those days. In 1981, my parents started to run the business. After the bar, they built a small boarding house on top of the bar, with seven rooms and two bathrooms and in 1996 we decided to have a Hotel. As a result of this change, we recorded a significant progress in terms of quality. Ten years ago my sister and I decided to take over the business and relieve our parents to create our company with a fresh impetus. Both in decision-making and investments as well as all aspects of tourism. To offer quality services to tourists for them to return. What matters is !hard work!, as I usually say”.
Firstly, we started as a bar-shop, just like almost all the businesses in La Gomera in those days.
Autobuses Mesa is an absolute solid company and an example in the world of transporting passengers, both on the island of La Gomera as well as outside. At the moment, it is one of the companies with the biggest impact on the island and does not stop renewing in its sector. To get to know the history a bit, we talk to Domingo Mesa, one of the owners.
“My company has been a family business for 50 years. In the year 1987 we, the brothers, created an association. But the origins of the company came from much earlier; from when the canned factory in La Rajita was still operative and when there was a lot of movement in the upper region of La Gomera, in the area of Chipude, which is our village”.
"Mi padre tenía unos microbuses y transportaba a la gente desde Rajita a Vallehermoso"
“Our drive for the transport has been established long time ago. My father had a few minibuses and transported people from La Rajita to Vallehermoso. My father was a postman, and he delivered letters and transported people. He never devoted himself to tourism. Autobuses Mesa is set up by the children”.
“We transported persons and goods, especially groceries. The people went shopping in Vallehermoso and you almost had to adapt the vehicle, so that the people had enough space to also transport the groceries”.
“Then the island changed. The island began to change, when the tourists arrived, when they started to build Hotel Tecina, and some apartments in Valle Gran Rey. We already saw then that there was an economic level here, a way and an opportunity to live from it”.
Casa Diversa - Touristic Services es una empresa de alojamiento y actividades turisticas, enamorada del mar y el buceo, que ofrece servicios como alojamiento, excursiones o submarinismo para sus huéspedes.
Hablamos con Raquel para conocer su apasionante e internacional historia. La historia de la Casa Diversa empieza en Egipto.
“Yo nací en Valladolid, quería ser azafata de vuelo. Me fui a Alemania a aprender alemán y me quedé allí. Al final estudié otra cosa, soy Técnico Superior en Economía de Marketing. Y unas vacaciones me fui a Egipto y me puse a bucear. El primer día que estuve en el agua buceando, tuve claro que esa iba a ser mi profesión. Y después de estar 5 años en ese camino, me convertí en instructora de buceo y me hicieron una oferta laboral maravillosa en Egipto y me fui. Allí conocí a mi marido, que también es instructor de buceo y es alemán”.
“Pero al año de estar allí, comenzaron los atentados, en el 98. Entonces mi marido y yo ya comenzamos a pensar qué haríamos en el futuro. La profesión de instructor de buceo es un poco como deportista de élite. A partir de los 50 años, pasar más de 3 horas en el agua diarias se hace bastante duro. Entonces empezamos a buscar alternativas, y lo primero a decidir es si seguíamos en Egipto, o si nos íbamos a otro sitio. Ya en el año 2000 nos planteamos buscar un sitio donde poder hacer turismo con un poquito de buceo, naturaleza y alojamiento, enfocado a gente con ese perfil, amantes de la naturaleza y deportistas”.
"El primer día que estuve en el agua buceando, tuve claro que esa iba a ser mi profesión..."
“Buscábamos buscar un lugar donde tuviéramos la posibilidad de poder hacer actividades todo el año, que se pudiera bucear un poquito, que estuviese en Europa, ya que nos dimos cuenta que nuestros clientes de Egipto iban allí a bucear en pareja unos días, pero luego con sus familias se iban a otros destinos donde poder llevar a sus hijos, poder hacer más actividades y tener más tranquilidad y seguridad. Por eso nuestra idea era buscar algo así. Yo soy española, y Canarias era el sitio perfecto porque está en Europa, tenemos el mejor clima del mundo y mucha biodiversidad”.
“Entonces empezamos a buscar qué isla era la que tenía mayor potencial para nosotros. Y nos quedamos entre El Hierro y La Gomera. El Hierro era muy buena por el buceo, pero nosotros no queríamos sólo buceo. Y en La Gomera veíamos que había mucho potencial y que estaba todo por hacer”.
The Pensión Candelaria is situated in the heart of the coastal area of Vueltas, in Valle Gran Rey. This accommodation stands out for its personal and friendly treatment of guests.
Fernando and Carol manage this family business in second generation and we spoke to them and Domingo to find out more about the business and how it got started.
Domingo, Fernando's father, recalls:
"We bought the plot a long time ago. Then I bought an old donkey, which bit and kicked, and I started to collect sand from La Condesa, and bring it here. When I had plenty of sand, I started to make bricks. When we went to the cliff to milk the goats, my son said to me: 'Look, Dad. From here you can't even see our roof terrace, because of all the big buildings. Why don't we put another floor on, above the house, and rent it out?"
"I made a wooden box, and everything we earned from renting beds we kept there..."
And that was how the family got started in the tourist business.
"At the beginning, we offered only beds. I made a wooden box, and everything we earned from renting beds we kept there. After 2 or 3 months we opened it and there were about 500,000 pesetas. I paid what I owed and wiped my debts, I didn't even have one".
Fernando well remembers what those times were like.
"The first tourists were Italian. They were almost the only ones that came here. We filled the pension with Italians, we had up to 17. A month ago, the first Italian guest that stayed here visited us".
"Since 2010, Fernando and his wife Carol are managing the business. Thanks to them that we are how we are now. Right now, the pensión is completely full. And every day people are ringing up and emailing to book. Everyone has done their bit".
Los Telares is nowadays a company running an Ethnographic Park, selling handicrafts and renting rural apartments. This emblematic northern island company was founded in the 1970's by Ms. Maruca Gámez, and is currently run by her only daughter Luisa and family. We have interviewed Luisa to learn a little bit more about this enterpreneur family.
"Los Telares marked a turning point in our family. My mother was the teacher, the traditional school teacher in a small town. Back then my whole world was the school, both as a student and daughter. But everything changed when I was 15 years old. My mother discovered her calling as a businesswoman and from them we would eat, go to sleep and rise with the company, with everything that implied to run and grow a business".
"Definitely, opening a company was terribly difficult. It wasn't like it is right now, it was the 70's. Just imagine the outrage, starting a modern company in Hermigua, and run by a woman, nonetheless! But being an enterpreneur is contagious, even my daughter has set up her own company, eeverde.com, an online Renewable Energies School! That also shows how passionate we are about sustainability. In 1993 I opened one of the first Herbalist's shops in Tenerife. I owned it for 10 years until my mother asked for help here".
"My mother discovered her calling as a businesswoman and from them we would eat, go to sleep and rise with the company..."
"Her legacy to handicrafts was and remains crucial. The first banana leaves pieces made in the island were designed by my mother with the help of Lili Ascanio. Back then in Andalusia they sold rope dolls and donkeys. Those inspired them to make some similar here. They made the banana leaf flowers. I remember meetings of up to 20 women in Vallehermoso! My mother bought the banana and would sit with them to work and try new designs".
"Those were terrible times for the island. La Gomera was in deep crisis and Tenerife, Venezuela... whole families moved there to improve their lives. The "spark" that ignited everything was a conversation with Tomás Cerdeña. He mentioned to my mother that the island would soon be receiving their first daily tourists. A ferry would link Tenerife and La Gomera on the same day, something impossible up to then. He was looking for places where he could take tourists to buy souvenirs on La Gomera. Said and done. In a month her first shop was open for business".