Amongst vineyards, quiet times and town things, roar the sustainable airs of Hotel Viura , in which the respect for the environment is presented to tourists who seek a different kind of vacation, bursting with all its might into the list of the most avant-garde ecological hotels in the world.
The hotel is an architectural marvel located in a small Cantabrian village, Villabuena de Álava, in the heart of the Rioja Alavesa, inhabited by only 300 people. The Viura Hotel stands there to complement the landscape, thanks to its owner’s unusual creativity, DesignHouses, who had the idea of combining materials and techniques to compose an avant-garde building, strongly opposing its setting, while endlessly respecting its environment.
Viura Hotel’s biomass boiler is fueled with olive pips, which heat up the hotel’s 33 rooms as well as its other common areas.
The ecological character of the hotel grew as the project developed, says Román Jiménez, hotel director. We noticed that everything was beneficial. A good example of that is our biomass boiler, where olives pips serve as fuel to power the entire building, lowering our CO2 emissions to 0. To get an idea of the energy that an olive pip can generate, we can say the hotel has 33 contemporary designed rooms spread over three floors. They all have great views: either to the village or to Cantabria’s Mountains.
We had set very clear goals: awareness towards environmental protection, offering a philosophy to the customer and, on the other hand, saving costs in several areas. And they did! The Hotel Viura has the highest energy efficiency rating granted by the National Energy Saving and Diversification Institute (IDEA) and the Basque Energy Agency (EVE). It also has underfloor heating throughout the building and landscaped terraces that maintain the hotel’s temperature and achieve thermal and acoustic insulation.
Viura has just installed electric car chargers in its parking lot. In addition, the hotel offers its customers a bicycle service to be able to discover the area and get to know some of the most emblematic wineries of Rioja Denomination of Origin.
The hotel’s lighting only uses LED bulbs. On the other hand, the hotel’s interior designers have used recycled materials for decoration, such as old barrel staves in the corridors and entire barrels in the restaurant, which also provide good acoustics. The winery in which the wines are stored is a natural cove, which helps to maintain the wine’s temperature without requiring the use of a cold room.
Furthermore, the Hotel Viura offers bicycles to its guests so they can see the area and visit some of the most emblematic wineries of the Rioja Denomination of Origin. And its restaurant has a powerful gastronomic proposal, created from market cuisine with excellent raw materials, based on seasonal products found in the surrounding areas, but with a dose of creativity.
Since the beginning it has all been positive, and now the hotel is still on constant alert for more improvements that may arise. For example, the hotel has just installed electric car chargers in the parking, says the hotel director, who assures that eco-tourism brings many things: It brings well-being, it gives the impression that you’re contributing to environmental awareness. In fact, the owners are thinking of going even further and building private homes under these ecological parameters.
Because for Román Jiménez, architecture and ecological design may be a luxury but, above all, it provides well-being. We’ll have to try it!