In 1998, facing enforced early retirement, my workaholic husband was finally persuaded to do something I had wanted for thirty years: run a B&B somewhere sunny, inspired by the many wonderful ones we had visited in France.
So far so good, but however far south you go in France you don't get great winters and the best parts of Italy are prohibitively expensive. This left Spain, of which we had little experience as my languages were French and Italian and I like to be able to communicate with the locals on holiday. Also I was not convinced we would like it, as my Spanish experiences were limited to the crowded bits.
Then we met someone who told us about Mojácar, and it sounded more like what we had in mind. So the beginning of 1999 found us in Almería. We spent a week exploring the coast and inland within a 20km radius of Mojacar and were wowed by the rugged, uncompromising beauty of the landscape. But we always came back to the same place: the charming white village of Bédar in the hills above Mojácar.
Three months later we returned, failed to find our dream house but were smitten by a large piece of land just outside Bédar which seemed the ideal spot for a rural B&B. Of course things are never that simple, and several months of spending large sums on short visits which achieved very little convinced us that the only way forward was to buy an apartment and move here to push things along.
At the time of the move in August 2001, we didn't have building permission, let alone a build underway, and within a month Terry was stir crazy and desperate for a project. So we went shopping for a small house in need of doing up. Well, the best laid plans . two months later we bought a huge house near the Valle del Este golf course. It was in a dreadful state inside and out, but the location was fabulous and it would make an ideal B&B should the house in the hills never happen.
With the time it took to renovate Las Tortugas, it really is well named (tortuga is Spanish for tortoise)! Five years later, we finally welcomed our first B&B guests and are enjoying what we came here to do. We love entertaining and we offer evening meals so that people can have a relaxing dinner without having to drive. Guests have come from as far away as Italy and Russia and we have already had repeat bookings so we must be doing something right.
We have nine years experience of buying, renovating and building which we are happy to share, as well as many useful contacts. My Spanish is now reasonably fluent and I often find myself helping out guests who need some hand-holding.
Las Tortugas is ideally located for inspection/review/completion trips to Mojacar, Vera, Garrucha etc, and staying at a B&B is the ideal way to get the low-down from a local's point of view. It is usually cheaper than a large hotel and more flexible than renting an apartment, as it is hard to get an apartment for less than a week as well as being expensive for only two people. You can find more details at www.lastortugas.net where we will also put the new information when we move to Finca la Serenidad.
EOS members get a special deal even if there is none on offer at the time of booking (e.g. one free dinner per person for stays of 4 nights or more), so don't forget to mention this article.
I am almost sorry that this year the new house will be finished: we have put so much of ourselves into Las Tortugas that it will be hard to leave. However, Terry has waited a long time to devote himself to developing a garden around La Serenidad, so Las Tortugas is presently for sale, although we will be doing B&B here until June, and then will let it in summer as a whole house (see rental section of EOS).