After leaving the beautiful Austrian mountains on Oreeko.com’s sustainable hotel tour, I returned to Italy, this time heading towards the region of Liguria. This was the first time I got to really explore this part of the country and discover new landscapes, its culture and learn how green living has impacted a small town and its residents.
After a long drive, I arrived in the tiny village of Borgomaro where the beautiful Relais del Maro Eco Hotel is located. It’s a family-run business, and upon arriving I met the lovely owners Elena and her mom who immediately provided a taste of Ligurian hospitality.
Arriving at Borgomaro after sundown is somewhat of a surreal experience. It feels like you’re travelling back in time, to a distant place where people turn on candles and fireplaces to light up their evenings, where the city is illuminated with simple yet quasi-scenic lighting. And yet – you’re there, in the present, entering a little village for which the Relais provides a delightful rhythm – words can’t express how beautiful, quaint and charming this hotel is!
Relais del Maro is an “Albergo Diffuso” – the literal translation being “widespread hotel.
It’s a concept that started in Italy back in the 80s to revive small, historic Italian villages and town centres located off the usual tourist path. It creates different kinds of initiatives, involving local producers, who are considered to be a key component to making the Albergo Diffuso a success. It also brings back to life beautiful towns and villages which are true gems, where – as in the case of Borgomaro – it truly appears as if time has stood still. The Relais del Maro hotel is divided among three different buildings across various locations but all a few minutes away from each other and the main, central house. The environmental impact is low since there is no need to build a new structure but instead rebuilding and refurbishing what already exists.
Elena and her Mum were kind, hospitable and thoughtful beyond words. As soon as I arrived I was delighted with some tea and some sweet delicacies in the dining area. (Which in my opinion, is just the most adorable place ever – artfull and tastfully decorated!).
All bedrooms have been carefully designed with a luxury and elegant shabby chic feel – nothing comes about by chance, so the result is truly astounding. I stayed in the room in the Casa Madre 6 & 7 which is the largest suite measuring over 40 square metres. All the furniture and decor is beautifully produced by artisan craftsmen. The sitting room has an amazing view over the rooftops of Borgomaro and its friendly bell tower and makes it pure pleasure to relax while absorbing the quiet of the outside village. The bathroom is impeccable and has a jacuzzi (a feature of this suite as all rooms are different in layout) as well as a variety of beauty products which are created with safe eco-friendly products.
The bedroom is adjacent to a living area/library with amazing books that guests may leave along as they carry on their journey.
At Borgomaro you’ll find homemade Italian cuisine at it’s very best. Genuine, fresh and delicious food made with love and passion. The first day I had lunch in the Casa Madre’s lovely dining area, which is also where you can have breakfast and afternoon tea.
The following day the sun was shining and the birds were singing and the town of Borgomaro was totally enchanting so I decided to have lunch out in the garden, surrounded by the smell of herbs & spices growing in the impeccably-maintained garden, and right next to the pool. It was like dining over the village of Borgomaro – such a pleasant experience.
WHY ECO AND GREEN
• Green and eco materials were used to renovate the hotel.
• Most of the ingredients used in cooking are obtained by local and organic companies: the majority of produce in the breakfast buffet come from the region of Liguria and lower Piedmont.
• The cleaning detergents used are all eco-friendly and more than 95% is biodegradable
• Eco-compatible technologies and alternative energy sources such as solar-thermal and photovoltaic energy are used across the hotel.
• They promote sustainable and responsible tourism, encouraging the use of a large number of well-thought-out itineraries around Borgomaro and some of its closest towns.
• They involve and invite guests in their ecological choices with simple yet significant strategies during their stay in the hotel to protect our environmental heritage.
• They support initiatives that are directed towards promoting and raising awareness of the traditions, the culture and the history of the region in which they live.
This is one of the most peculiar swimming pools I’ve seen. You get to swim with the village of Borgomaro as a backdrop. It’s ideal to relax, bask in the Sun, read, write – do anything you want really. Pure delight!
There are plenty of activities to take part in around the area, both culture and nature-oriented! Elena has a whole file with specific and mapped itineraries for every kind and taste. From little known beaches, to biking trails created from old traintrack routes, to small mountain villages carved in stone, Elena is full of energy and will happily show you the thousand possibilities you have at your fingertips! (By the way – you’re just one hour away from the French Riviera (Cote d’Azur) – just saying…)
I highly recommend Relais del Maro and was truly enchanted by how this family brought to life this village and gave Oreeko.com the opportunity to stay in their beautiful hotel and experience the peaceful and slow pace of this quaint location.
As you may imagine, bringing back to life an old mansion and annexed properties in a tiny village is not an easy project. “They thought we were crazy” is a sentence that Elena repeated a few times while speaking about bringing the Relais del Maro to life. And yet they succeeded. Most importantly, it’s commendable that they decided to do the extra work and pay attention to sustainability, ecology in their renovation processes and to show that loving care toward their guests by providing an abundance of local and organic ingredients.
This is the type of holiday destination that the Oreeko.com team loves the most: small, genuine, credible, honest, full of charm & personality and green.
TIP: Don’t miss the incredible organic restaurant inside a farm run by Brigitte & Laura (mother & daughter) at the Agriturismo Cà Sottane. They offer delicious organic genuine, fresh dishes with plenty of options for vegans & vegetarians – no chemicals, no pesticides: pure amazing food!
Green Pearls offers a collection of eco-friendly& green hotels, sustainable resorts & spas and zero-emission boutique hotels.
Oreeko stayed as a guest of Relais del Maro. As always, opinions expressed in the review are solely my own.