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".
Today, Pensión Candelaria offers friendly, traditional accommodation, with extremely personalised service, as Fernando tells us.
"There's a great social life. It's not like other places where you lock yourself away in your room. Here our terrace is for everyone, which is a communal area where people meet. There are lots of guests that travel alone, and they can be alone in their rooms, but if they want to meet other guests they can do it so easily on the terrace and in the communal area. It's something that makes us diferent, that we really look after our guests, and have the personal touch. Our apartments are simple, but they have everything you need, and we provide that friendly treatment that people really value. What's more, we have an organic farm and bring in some of the produce, straight from the earth to the table".
"Here, people can try things from the land. We let them try mangos, potatoes, oranges, tomatoes etc, whatever we have on the farm.”
Their relationship with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism started thanks to Carol, during the first period of accreditation of companies.
"I know someone called me, I don't remember whom, and told me that there was going to be a meeting. They called us because we had a company that offered donkey and horse rides, and that was when La Gomera had no charter or anything. That was the start of all of it. When the first accreditations for CETS companies started, it was only a few months since we started managing Pensión Candelaria, and we decided to enter as a company because we thought it was really interesting. I saw that the Charter totally complimented my style of work and my way of seeing tourism".
One of the parts of Carol's plan that stands out is the tasting of farm products, valuing and conserving native species.
"Here, people can try things from the land. We let them try mangos, potatoes, oranges, tomatoes etc, whatever we have on the farm. At the request of our guests, we've created a corner with a basket, where clients who will check out can leave non-perishable products that they haven't finished, so that other guests can take what they need if they want. And it's working really well. A little oil, salt, coffee, etc. That way things don't get thrown away, and other people can benefit.
“I think that one of the good things about the CETS is becoming aware of how you should manage a company, of relying on quality and having basic organisation and planning. Also, thanks to the better management of the company, we love the change in clientele. Our clients are respectful, friendly, and enjoy the communal spaces. Now, in the summer season, we have lots of mainland Spanish tourists that come to visit the Nationalpark Garajonay and then go on to the other islands, visiting the other National Parks, for example. Tourists that want to see this place and enjoy the tranquillity, nature, and the trails".
"The people that I met through the Charter were really important. That was fundamental for me.. Other business owners, technicians, other people that are involved, etc. It's really important, as is the work in the network. I think that we should keep working so that there's more relationship between the first and second waves of companies that were accredited. As well as doing the annual meeting that we celebrate every year, we should have more meeting spaces. We need to get to know everyone better and take full advantage of this network of companies"
Company: Pensión Candelaria.
Address: C/ Italia, nº 18. Vueltas. Valle Gran Rey. La Gomera.
Company involved with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (La Gomera).
More información: http://gomeraexperience.es/alojamientos/pension-candelaria.html