Hotels and holiday homes in historic buildings have their own special charm. If they are also modern, sustainable and comfortable, they become a real Green Pearl. In the first part of this newsletter we already took you on a short journey through time to the fascinating origins of some Green Pearls partner hotels. Now join us on the second part of the trip and see what history and stories are hidden within the walls of the modern and sustainably renovated buildings.
Industrial production meets contemporary elegance at ROMANTIC Boutique Hotel & Spa
Let’s start in the middle of the 19th century in Lithuania, in Panevėžys, the fifth largest city in Lithuania, where the first mechanical mill in the country is just being put into operation. Life is very busy here. In its heyday, it is said that over 5 million tonnes of flour were produced here every year! This was then transported onwards by train to Riga, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Warsaw and the port of Liepaja.
Ten years ago, director Dalia Remeikaitė and her daughter Dovilė Šipelienė took over what is now the 4-star ROMANTIC Boutique Hotel & Spa on the banks of the Nevėžis River and renovated it with a strong focus on sustainability. Many of the mill’s original structures such as wooden beams, metal columns and ceiling panels were preserved. The building is currently listed among the historical and cultural monuments of the Republic of Lithuania.
Kasbah du Toubkal – visiting the Moroccan Berbers
We continue into the centuries-old Moroccan hinterland at the foot of the Ibel Toubkal, the highest mountain in North Africa. Above the village of Imlil, in the Moroccan High Atlas Mountains, towers the Kasbah du Toubkal, fortress and summer residence of a local ruler.
When Mike McHugo and his brother Chris discovered the completely dilapidated Kasbah in 1995 and began renovating it into a mountain holiday village, all materials had to be brought in by hand or on the backs of mules – electricity wasn’t available in this remote region until 1997.
The final result is a comfortable and inspiring home in traditional style at 1,820 metres above sea level, with panoramic views of the mountains. The Kasbah du Toubkal is run in close partnership with the local Berber community. A five per cent levy on each guest’s overnight bill goes back to the villagers.
Reverent silence at Le Pavillon in Paris
Next, we travel to Paris, to a small monastery in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. This place of silence, which was a place of devotion and retreat for the monks, is still an oasis of calm in the bustling streets of the French metropolis. Tommy and Barbara Tascijevic, owners of today’s boutique hotel Le Pavillon with 15 rooms, were deeply touched by the atmosphere of the monastery and could sense that it wanted to be brought back to life.
The result is a sustainably renovated gem, the first hotel in France with rooms that are free of electromagnetic radiation. Rural tranquillity in the middle of the city and within walking distance of all the sights.
Walking in the footsteps of an emperor at Wartegg Castle Hotel
The last stop on our journey through the historical origins of our Green Pearls partner hotels is in Switzerland on Lake Constance. Our destination is Schloss Wartegg, majestically situated above the lakeshore. Before we enter the gleaming white castle, we take a stroll through the 130,000 m2 park with its tall linden trees, plane trees and chestnut trees, calming waterways and secluded clearings.
Within minutes, guests feel like they are in the midst of the aristocratic life of past centuries with horses, carriages, flowing robes and busy gardeners. Kaspar Blarer von Wartensee, bailiff in Arbon in the service of the bishopric of Constance, built Wartegg Castle in 1557 on a former estate.
Over the centuries, the castle passed through various hands and served as a diplomatic representation and seat of exile. After the end of the Empire, Empress Zita and her children lived in the beautiful castle grounds for some time. It was not until the middle of the last century that the castle increasingly fell into disrepair. The Mijnssen family acquired the castle building and most of the park in 1994 and renovated the premises into a sustainable modern hotel using sandstone and wood from the region and its own park. Only natural textiles were used for the interior decoration.