Help us restore an abandoned property in a beautiful area, Valencia, Spain



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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    Welcome, my name is Gabrielle. I hold a French and an American passport and have lived across 4 continents. In January 2000 I packed yet again a 40 ft container and relocated to Spain only because I spoke the language and like warm climates. My goal was to establish a distinctive Bed and Breakfast, one filled with the eclectic selection of furniture and collectables handed down from family generations or my own travels.

    The spectacular setting of an abandoned 10 hectares property above the alluring waters of Guadalest dam, ticked the box "location, location, location". The super bonus? 360 surround mountain horizons, scattered quaint villages and a glimpse at the Mediterranean Sea...

    Now after 2 decades of building, rebuilding, nonstop dedication with seemingly endless administrative setbacks, we hope to be no more than 2 years from completion. The property is entirely "off grid". Electricity is supplied by solar panels/battery banks/ backup generators. Spring water is piped and stored in various holding tanks. Another solar panel system provides limited quantities of hot water. In winter, a gasoil boiler provides hot water and central heating, used only as top up for the more cost-efficient wood burning stoves.

    I choose to be always home. My Dutch husband Sjon, an engineer, travels abroad at regular intervals for his work. Daughter and her husband, Kim and Pieter, as well as Son EJ visits us from overseas to relax or help us, as do other friends of ours or theirs. Many sports or hobbies can be enjoyed from the valley: hiking, cycling, fresh water swimming, paddle boarding, rock climbing, bird watching, fishing, meditation, yoga... and all related to artistic activities such as photography, sketching and more...

    Both Sjon and I are extremely animal oriented. Over the years we have provided a loving permanent (or temporary) home to many abandoned/abused animals. We currently have 5 adult dogs, 2 large breed puppies, a house cat and a patio aviary filled with parakeets. We have 2 ecological grass cutters: our donkeys Hercules and Valentino. They also supply the eco fertilizer. Being a “no hunting” property, many wild boars choose to take refuge here, something we actually must limit with fencing due to their damage of our grounds.

    With the help of a local forestry/garden worker, our pine forest is gradually cleared of dead wood and overgrowth. We expand the grazing areas of our donkeys and create new pathways. Any removed material is repurposed for donkey and property fencing, preventing water erosion or landslides, and to restock our firewood as well as some art features.

    The abandoned grapevines, citrus, carob, almond and olive trees are giving us hope of renewed vitality for sustainable ecological crops. We aim to increase diversity (avocado and other orchard trees) and have already successfully air grafted our pomegranate trees.

    We currently have mint, hierba luisa, rosemary, thyme, camomile, lavender, calendula with a selection of aloes. With extra hands all of the above and additional culinary, aromatic, medicinal plants could be grown as well as establishing raised vegetable planters.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    General Maintenance
    Animal care
    Art project

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    When I relocate I tend to embrace the unknown, status quo or labels unsettled me. I am high energy, creative, love colour, uniqueness and am passionate about giving old/discarded items a renewed right to glory. I have done "distress paint effects", “shabby chic”, “up cycling” and more, long before all became fashionable trends. I will gladly share my 40 years of techniques working with you so to turn more concepts into reality: indoors and out!
    I am a “people person”, but absolutely need my time alone... with pets! I love good humour, out of the box positive thinking. I never fail to appreciate the beauty and complexity of nature. I could no longer live in a city, and even less in a sterile or grey "futuristic" world.

    Aside from the above, with my 20 years’ experience of working my way through the constantly changing labyrinths of the Spanish administrative systems (property purchase, owner's rights, municipal permits, tourism rules and regulations etc..) I could possibly enlighten anyone with intention to move to Spain, not to mention that if you want to improve your English, French or Spanish language skills I can also help.

    A friend of ours, Harm has recently settled base camp here at las Palmeras between his journeys abroad. Now at 38, he is a life and world explorer and enjoys the opportunity of learning from cultural exchanges. From Dutch army paramedic, with a touch of animal whisperer, he switched to a holistic approach with greater focus on alternative medicine, nutrition, fasting and master-plants.

  • Help


    On our 10 hectare property we need a large variety of outdoor help with our landscape gardens, orchards and forestry maintenance, as well as varied type of fencing for donkey pastures, anti wild boar trespassing and also stone walls. We would like to expand our air grafted permaculture hedges and culinary, aromatic and medicinal plant sections.

    On buildings inside and out, we have painting projects (from standard painting to special effects), wood projects (antique furniture restoration to picture framing), sewing (soft decorative furnishings to upholstery), tiling projects (mosaic or standard), electrical for outdoor lighting and special effects, plumbing for gravity fed irrigation from fresh water springs and garden features.

    If any of the above appeals to your “hands on and do it” personality, we will gladly send you further details of how our joint skills can be used.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English, French, Spanish ..... Dutch

  • Accommodation


    The house has a full length panorama terrace view of the dam/mountains surrounds, comprised of of 4 en suite bedrooms all sharing a spacious open plan kitchen/lounge/dining.
    For Workaway guests we are reserving 2 double bed rooms (single or double occupancy).
    Bed and bathroom linens are supplied with weekly washing facilitated.
    The kitchen has ample fridge/freezer space with 4 plates gas cooker/oven, no dishwasher.
    We have a gas BBQ available as open fire BBQ are legally prohibited from May to November. Due to variety and guests's dietary preferences, meals are on self catering basis with amicable usage of kitchen facilities to be organised between residents.
    We facilitate a weekly grocery restocking to maintain basic condiments, tea/coffee/milk, bread/oats, butter/peanut butter/jam, pasta/rice/potatoes, legumes/eggs and seasonal fruit and veggies. Beverages, meat/fish and extra quantities are guests' responsibility.

    We must insist on the imperative respect to our “off grid “energy usage requirements with sensible electricity, heating and water consumption!
    We request no Smoking/pets inside bedrooms, and specifically no drugs on the property.
    During month of September we aim to have basic wifi in each bedroom,.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Work hours/Days: 5 morning hours per day --- 5 days per week
    Schedule may vary according to tasks and weather but in general community work is during morning hours, leaving afternoon and evening free.

    The property is large. The buildings and grounds have been designed to optimise privacy. The Guest House residents have exclusive use of their terrace to enjoy the stunning views of the dam and surround mountains.
    In and around the main house and its adjacent terraces, we kindly request respect of our privacy, as our dogs consider these areas their “base camp” and "duty to guard".

    From right outside our property gates, you have many activities, be it to partake in the sports available within the valley or to pursue your own creative hobby.
    Hiking: ample selection, long or short trails, with varying levels of challenge or upkeep.
    Cycling: requires strong ability for hill climbing and need for own bicycle.
    Fishing: a fishing license should be obtained for a small fee, never seems to be asked. Year round catch is carp, rumours of black trout.
    Water activities: Experienced swimmers can enjoy our "balsa" a deep garden water holding tank, and/or adventure into open water swimming in the dam at own risk.
    Guadalest swimming pool a 20 min walk away only available in July/August for a daily fee. Its adjacent short basket ball court/soccer area is free and opened year round.
    Rock climbing: 2 marked routes right on public swimming pool road.

    Socialising: the local villages offer cafes&bars, restaurants, markets& shops. They have seasonal hours and activities. Most villages are easily accessible along footpaths (30min minimum walk).

    Transportation: There is very little public transport available within the valley of Guadalest.
    Private taxis can be arranged from Benidorm though tariff is based on driver’s round trip fare.
    Long distance buses are available to Alicante, Valencia, their airports and other destinations. The Alicante airport is an hour away/ Valencia airport 2 hours away with a low cost airport or main city shuttle bus between them and Benidorm main bus depot (with prior notice we will gladly collect you from there).
    The reality of the Guadalest valley is that having your own transportation is best. This allows you to explore further afield be it the interior towns, or the coast with its beaches and better known tourist attractions (Aqualandia, Terra Mitica). Our fenced ample open air parking areas accommodate cars, motorcycles or small campers.

    Nearest medical care is 30 minutes away. We request anyone staying at las Palmeras to carry adequate travel or other medical insurance valid for your stay in Spain.

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

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Host ref number: 283398549563