Finca De Arrieta our story….
We are often asked by our guests, How did the eco-village Finca De Arrieta come about? I have finally put together our story for you all to read. As you can imagine Tila and I have put our heart and soul into creating this beautiful utopia – that we called home for many years. Enjoy finding out a bit more about our journey. Michelle X
FINCA DE ARRIETA – History
The land at Finca de Arrieta was part of working farmland for many years and we have attempted to preserve original features wherever possible, some of which are still visible as you explore the grounds today. Finca de Arrieta is served by two wells which used to provide water to irrigate the land. The swimming pool was previously a water tank and what is now the Eco Tower was the main windmill that pumped up the water and fed it into the storage tank (which is visible in the wall above the shallow pool where water enters).
The shallow tank would collect any silt and spill over to the larger tank so that the water was clean and ready for irrigation.
The Finca de Arrieta story started when we (the Braddock Family) acquired the site in 2005. Tila’s vision was to purchase the land and ruins, which were owned by several different families, and create a utopia where the family could live “Off-Grid” and in the most sustainable way possible. Being located right next to the beach was a real bonus, especially for our eldest son Joshua, who discovered his passion for surfing.
The initial plan was to build a stone wall around the perimeter of the land. You can see the walls are still not finished at the back of the property… it’s such a big project!
The restoration project began with what is now the Eco-Luxury Villa, which was completed in 2006. This traditional Canarian water tank had solid walls but needed new roofing, doors and windows. A team of hard-working Romanian builders helped to create our dream home. The ample size rooms gave plenty of space for the family to move in along with two dogs and a cat.
As the four children grew, we decided that Monique really needed her own space as opposed to sharing a room with three older brothers. We spent nearly two years living at the Eco-Luxury Villa whilst we prepared a three-bedroom home, what is now the Eco-Luxury Farmhouse.
At this point, the idea was to turn the Eco-Luxury Villa into a holiday let. Our expectations were fairly low as rural tourism was non-existent and all tourists flocked to the three main tourist resorts on Lanzarote (Costa Teguise, Puerto Del Carmen and Playa Blanca). The question was, would any tourists be interested in staying in this part of the island?
The first Lanzarote Retreats webpage was created to advertise the Villa and to see what the demand would be like. The Villa proved hugely popular from the start and we discovered that we’d tapped into a totally new market.
Eventually, one of the guests enquiring about the Eco-Luxury Villa requested a third bedroom. Tila had the idea of installing a yurt. This made a perfect third bedroom for the guests who absolutely loved it. From this, the yurt kitchen and shower room were added along with a fenced garden. Creating the first yurt holiday home at Finca de Arrieta.
Why your holiday home is special to the Braddocks: Our Story
Each of Lanzarote Retreats holiday homes is individual and unique. This is the story of how we created a family business, how the eco-village grew organically, and a little bit about what makes each of our holiday homes special.
Eco Yurt – The first yurt to arrive at Finca De Arrieta, in 2008. Tila had seen yurts for sale and was keen to bring them to the eco-village, Michelle was unsure who they would appeal to. During 2008, a family rented the Eco-Luxury Villa and asked whether there was another bedroom available at Finca De Arrieta. At the time, the Villa was the only holiday home. Tila seized the opportunity and bought and installed a yurt as a third bedroom. This first stay was a complete success and it was then that the kitchen and shower room were added, making the yurt an independent holiday home. On purchasing this yurt the inner felt redlining had been damaged in transit; A large area of fabric was needed and the only large stock available was some pink satin fabric. A brave local seamstress was commissioned to run up a substitute lining. Michelle loves pink and this yurt is her absolute favourite!
Eco Twin Yurt – This was the second yurt to arrive at Finca De Arrieta following the success of the Eco Yurt. The Braddocks wanted to supply a family size holiday yurt where the children could have their own cute yurt bedroom, giving their parents some space. They wanted to keep up the theme of the open-fronted kitchen with a breakfast bar as this was working so well at the Eco Yurt.
In 2016 the dining gazebo was added giving guests an extra place to eat and BBQ.
Eco-Luxury Yurt Suite – The third yurt to arrive at Finca De Arrieta – and being 8 metres in diameter, the largest available at the time. As the yurts were proving so popular, the Braddocks wanted to create a larger and more luxurious yurt where parents and children could all be under one roof but with the possibility of drop-down curtains for a little privacy.
To make this yurt as luxurious as possible, a number of different touches were added: The large plot of land was used to give ample outdoor space, unique furniture was chosen, which included the antique daybed and the wooden tub bath. To make the most of the sea views a large picture window was installed above the kitchen sink, designed to ease the chore of washing up. The dining table was placed on the raised platform under the shaded roof, again making use of the spectacular views.
By now designs were improving with each new project. For example, the outdoor day bed faces north giving maximum shade to relax and read a book. A hammock was added next to the BBQ giving the garden a few extra luxuries.
Eco Chico Yurt – This was the 4th yurt to arrive at Finca de Arrieta. The Braddocks could see a demand for couples’ or small family yurt. When this yurt was originally fitted, it shared a kitchen and shower room with the Eco Chiquitita Yurts. It was then upgraded to having its own kitchen/shower room a couple of years later.
This stunning 4-meter yurt is ideal for a budget stay and has the quirkiest shower room at Finca De Arrieta. On designing this holiday home and planning where the shower room should be, the palm tree seemed to be in the way until Tila had the bright idea of building around it. The tree is a wonderful feature and reminds us that we should live around nature without disturbing it. The south-facing bespoke kitchen next to the yurt was handcrafted by a local Arrecife carpenter.
Eco Chiquitita Yurts – This was the 5th yurt configuration to arrive at Finca De Arrieta, similar in design to the Eco Twin Yurt. Perfect for families with older children who can have their own cute yurt bedroom. The yurts sit side by side and are 6 and 3 meters in size. Great care was taken to ensure wonderful sea views from the kitchen area and shower room. Handpicked traditional Chinese furniture decorates the lavish larger yurt. In 2019 a shaded day bed was added next to the BBQ giving this yurt an additional luxury.
Eco Beach Yurt – The 7th and latest yurt configuration to arrive at Finca De Arrieta. These impressive 6 and 5 meter yurts are great for a family stay or two couples. The yurts are centred around a large Palm Pod with a great history. In 2010 Gerome, the second Braddock son, was in need of some space away from his three siblings to nourish his passion for working with computers. Tila, along with some of Gerome’s friends, designed the Palm Pod as a room where he could have some space to concentrate. The original design was inspired by the logo for Gerome’s favourite electronic music producer, Deadmau5 but had to be altered to allow for the potential for wind damage to the oversized ‘ears’. The new design was based on the Angry Birds green pig instead. The room was presented to Gerome on his 13th birthday. When Gerome left Lanzarote in 2016, the two yurts were added to the Pod along with the kitchen and sea view shower room, making a wonderful holiday home.
Eco Yurt Royale – This 10-metre yurt is the largest at Finca de Arrieta. It was the 6th yurt to arrive and luxury was the keyword when styling its design. Its features include a raised dining gazebo with sea views, a shaded daybed, an outdoor bath, a wet room with W.C, a bespoke kitchen with a breakfast bar and a lounge area. The enormous yurt has centre supports due to its size and had drop-down curtains fitted to create three sleeping areas. Two white elephants adorn the yurt’s entrance which symbolises good luck, strength, honour, stability, dignity, royalty and pride. You may also spot the cheeky monkey volcanic lanterns!
Eco Palm Yurt – This 5-metre yurt is the newst yurt at Finca de Arrieta, it boasts sea views and is closest to the pool area. It’s ideal for a couple or small family and has a quirky shower hut. A stunning, shaded daybed and hammocks in its garden complete a perfect zone for relaxation. The south-facing bespoke kitchen has been handcrafted by a local Arrecife carpenter.
Eco Zen Yurt This lovely yurt was added to the eco-village in 2018 to fulfil Michelle’s passion for yoga. Originally yoga was practised by the pool area but this wonderful space is now available for all Lanzarote Retreats guests to enjoy. At present various additional activities take place such as pilates, massage, meditation and development coaching. The yurt’s central white lantern was chosen by Michelle on a visit to Ubud in Bali, a village renowned for yoga. The lantern was handcrafted specifically for the Eco Zen Yurt by a lovely family who Michelle and Tila met in 2017. (Guests are free to use this yurt at any time, just ask the info hut for the key code.)
Eco Garden Cottage – This building was a total ruin with just a few walls when the Braddocks first lived at Finca De Arrieta. Following its restoration, it was originally used as a playroom for the four Braddock children.
When they moved over to the Eco-Luxury Farmhouse in 2007, the room was no longer needed. A bespoke kitchen was added along with furniture, creating a quaint studio cottage. As it was next to the tropical maturing gardens this seemed the most appropriate name. A second additional room was made available for larger groups of guests who needed two bedrooms in 2018. So you can rent either just the cottage or the cottage with the extra bedroom.
Eco Casita – This was originally part of the Eco-Luxury Farmhouse when it was the Braddocks’ family home. In 2012 the room was divided and a bespoke kitchen made by a local carpenter was added, to make this a stunning studio cottage. Part of the Farmhouse garden was also allocated to the Casita giving a wonderful outdoor space for guests to enjoy.
Eco Tower – This original water well structure was in a ruined state when the Braddocks first moved to Finca de Arrieta. Although the windmill was non-existent, the walls still remained. It was important to preserve the building and clean out the well which had been filled up by farmers over the last 50 years. The original walls and “Cal” render can be seen within the Well room under the Eco Tower.
Tila spent many hours emptying the debris in the 30 metres deep well, he finally discovered water. As there are no natural springs on Lanzarote, water is very precious. The water is a mixture of rainwater and some seawater. Originally this well pumped water to the water tanks which have been converted into the swimming pool. Water flowed into the small pool and then into the large pool, leaving the silt behind. It was historically used to irrigate the farmland. This water is now used to top up the swimming pool and in 2018 a desalination plant was added so that Finca De Arrieta could make its own water and finally become fully sustainable.
In 2009 the stone staircase was added and the top room was converted into a studio holiday home. Tila’s design ensured it boasts 360º views, showing off both the spectacular volcanic mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
Eco Lodge – This quaint Lodge was originally the kitchen/shower room that serviced the Eco Chico Yurt and Eco Chiquitita Yurts. These were upgraded to having their own facilities, allowing the space to be made into its own holiday home. The large terrace gives privacy and space for its sun loungers and hammock.
Eco-Luxury Villa – This particular home was where Finca De Arrieta all began. It was the first restoration project undertaken by Tila and Michelle back in 2006. This was their original family home and is very close to their hearts. Initially, it was the only home at Finca de Arrieta and all four of the Braddock children shared the second bedroom.
Important features were kept such as the original water inlet, which you can see high up in the wall above the bathroom. Stone from the land was used as the main floor along with hardwood to make the bedrooms/lounge more comfortable underfoot.
Family is all-important to the Braddocks. The kitchen bar was ideal for the children to spend time finishing homework at the heart of the house. When Molly the donkey arrived at Finca De Arrieta she had just escaped from the local farm; she hobbled into the kitchen and placed her head directly on the bar as if to say “Oy where is MY dinner”!
Back in 2010, there was a freak tropical storm that passed through Arrieta. In preparation for this, the chickens were placed in the shower room and the cats in the bathroom. The storm passed through overnight and created havoc (and the wind turbines to turn!). The village lost power and all phone communications were down for a week. Finca De Arrieta was the only place with electric power for many days.
Eco Cabin – This stunning holiday home was originally restored as a parking area then later converted to the Cabin in early 2017 ready for its first guests in June. Its windows and furniture were handmade in Indonesia from teak. Michelle and Tila visited the family businesses in Bali to handpick the style and design of materials used. The wooden painted furniture is made from reclaimed wood from boats damaged in tsunamis. The whitewashed teak was supplied by sustainable providers. The Cabin’s masonry is from stones found in the grounds of Finca de Arrieta, which were put together by a skilled team of Colombian builders.
Eco Surf Shack – This was originally two bedrooms attached to the Eco-Luxury Farmhouse. It was styled to have the original stones from the Finca land and a hardwood floor was added for comfort underfoot. In 2012 the rooms were blocked off from the main house and used as storage and staff quarters. In 2018 the Eco Surf shack was fully refurbished and made ready for guests. Handpicked furniture from Indonesia was added and the outdoor terrace and garden competed to finish off this lovely holiday home.
Eco-Luxury Farmhouse – This was the main original building at Finca De Arrieta. This ruin was just a few walls when the Braddocks embarked on designing their second family home at Finca De Arrieta. The aim was to move from the Eco-Luxury Villa with two bedrooms and make this Farmhouse into a three-bedroom home. This family home was lovingly restored and the bespoke kitchen was designed and made by Michelle’s brother Benn (now owner of La Cantina restaurant). Special features were added such as glass roofs to give natural lighting, thick stone walls to keep the house cool in summer and a terrific sea view from the kitchen and lounge.
The main palm (estimated to have been planted in the 1950s) by the private pool was the only vegetation on the land when purchased by the Braddocks in 2005.
When the Braddocks moved to the Farmhouse in December 2007 they welcomed their first guests to the Eco-Luxury Villa – this was the beginning of Lanzarote Retreats. There was no master plan; it was just a case of their old villa now being redundant and therefore seeing if it would attract guests to come and rent it. The farmhouse provided ample space for the Braddock family and they stayed living here until 2012.
Eco Barn – The Eco Barn features stunning views of the sea from both bedrooms and its lounge. The marble flooring is ideal to keep the barn cool in the Canarian warm weather. Its kitchen was handcrafted by a local Arrecife carpenter and its beams were reclaimed telegraph poles. Originally used as a chicken coop/barn it was first inhabited by Joshua and then became a holiday home in 2010. Its stunning shower room features the iconic Cesar Manriques gloss white paint, making the room bright and fresh.