Pep Pinya Florit lives in Soller, Mallorca and has been a vacation rental host for 9 months. In his interview with us, he describes his experience as a host so far, how he goes the extra mile for guests and his passion for caring for the planet – emphasizing the importance of incorporating the aspect of sustainability into his vacation rental business.
Throughout his story, it is clear to see how much Pep cares for the planet and how much his emotional attachment to his property informs his decisions as a rental host.
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Fornalutx, Mallorca and surrounded by centuries-old olive groves, Pep fell in love with Finca “Els Abats” as soon as he laid eyes on it.
“To say we saw love, would be the most accurate. We knew it was the place we must live.”
In awe of its beauty, Pep bought this traditional Mallorcan stone house for himself and his family, but as circumstances changed, Pep decided to offer this stunning property as a vacation home and let people from around the world experience the beauty of this special spot.
The Finca is located in a protected area due to the olive groves that surround it. These olive groves remain untouched as an integral part of the ecosystem in the area. Pep delights in the fact that there is so much history related to “Els Abats”, and just 500 meters from his property (not on his own land), there is the oldest olive tree in Spain, which is around 1700 years old.
Pep’s unique offering for guests
Pep’s main purpose as a host is to evoke a feeling of relaxation in his guests. His dream is that after a guest’s stay, they leave feeling rested, that they have recharged their batteries and that they found what they were looking for in their vacation. Additionally, he delights in the notion that guests will share special moments together at his property and make memories that last a lifetime — much as he experienced with his own family.
“There is an emotional charge there. The moments lived there [Els Abats], the sunsets watched together…when the sun rises over the mountain in winter and the sensation of how it feels under the shade of a fig tree in the middle of summer.”
Pep goes on to describe what guests can expect upon arrival to “Els Abats.”
“When guests first arrive, they will be mesmerized by the views. Then as the tranquillity of the surroundings sets in they start to relax, maybe enjoy some wine and relish in the fact that they are far away from the stresses of everyday life.”
Guest reviews are important for any vacation rental business, but even though Pep prefers not to look all the time, he loves it when guests leave a review having “understood” what a stay at “Els Abats” is all about. For Pep, it’s more than just a vacation rental.
“I don’t always look at the reviews, but sometimes when I look I think, have they understood what this is about? You know?…the importance of life and the planet. I mean, it’s surreal, everything we do… in the end – what is the point if we are not taking care of the planet?”
The importance of sustainability and caring for the environment
Pep cares greatly about the planet we live on and he recognizes that more and more guests are also conscious of the issue of sustainability when it comes to choosing their vacation home.
“I remember conversations with people who are very sensitive about the environment. And, especially, that they are very sensitive about the planet that we share and have to take care of”.
“People who choose a place like this [Els Abats] are looking for this aspect [sustainability] in a vacation home. And behind this, behind this search, there is something more sensitive.”
For Pep the idea of owning a vacation home is much more than just renting it out to guests – it comes with a higher purpose.
“…the house metaphorically, which is rented, is part of a bigger house which is the planet….I mean, it’s a special place for me and a place we have put a lot into.”
When it comes to materials used in the upkeep of the house, sustainability, respect for the environment and the old house itself are always at the forefront of his mind.
“…when it comes to materials, for example, the windows, we respected the old structure of the house. Amazingly, inside the old walls of the house, we found a smoking pipe made out of clay with Arabic symbols on it. It was around 600-700 years old, which means someone chose the same place as I to live here all that time ago.”
Sustainable measures Pep has incorporated into his vacation home
With his love for the environment, Pep has made sure to respect the natural surroundings of “Els Abat” and use its sunny location to help make the property self-sufficient by installing photovoltaic panels, which have had an incredibly positive effect on reducing the reliance on fossil fuels for energy consumption.
“We are self-sufficient [at Els Abat]…since we’ve had the panels installed, we are 100% self-sufficient. As of today, 100%. If the electric generator starts up, it only starts automatically when there is an energy deficiency.”
“We haven’t spilt a gram of CO2 into the atmosphere with the generator in the last 11 months.”
Pep describes how he has six photovoltaic panels at “Els Abat”, and by installing these panels he has been able to increase the capacity for energy with the electricity for the house almost solely provided by the sunlight captured – with no negative impact on the beautiful aesthetics of the house.
“…we increased the production capacity, which gave us much more autonomy in times of sunshine… Because there may be a week without [the] sun in May. It is even possible that there are days when it does not work, but we still have something more sustainable in place.”
Pep also has an energy-efficient system for hot water at the house in place.
“Hot water is [produced] through gas and electricity that regulates according to the temperature of the water entering the thermos and according to the outlet temperature how much heat energy is necessary to consume, the gas heater maximizes the gas itself by regulating the flame necessary for the water.”
When it comes to the swimming pool, Pep describes it as ‘traveling to a small desert island’.
“The pool is about 20 meters from the house…but it’s like traveling to a small desert island. No one can see you there from the house, but you see the house in a very different way, and it creates a new ambience.”
Pep takes advantage of the fresh natural spring water available to fill the pool. There is a system whereby every day, a pump recycles the pool water and is used to irrigate the surrounding olive trees, then fresh water is taken from the spring to refill the pool. In order to not disrupt the natural ecosystem, no harsh chemicals are added to the water at any point, only a natural active ingredient to keep the water clean and safe for swimming.
Pep explains the exhilarating feeling of jumping into a pool of fresh, natural water.
“When we jump into the pool…it seems that the water is cold to the bone, but it gives an incredible sensation in the body because it comes directly from a natural source…as if life itself is transmitted, emotionally.”
Going the extra mile for guests
For Pep, a positive guest experience is an integral part of what he offers at Els Abat. He recognizes that when guests come to stay at his home, it is one of the few times in the year that they can take advantage of the opportunity to disconnect.
“The only thing I tell them is to relax. Any problem they have, they can send me a WhatsApp [message] and I will do my best to find a solution as soon as possible so that they disconnect and enjoy the vacation. Take advantage of the moment to disconnect, and I will do my best to help you in that aspect…I also thank them for choosing the house [for their holiday].”
Due to the remote location of the house, if guests have not rented a car, Pep also offers to pick guests up from the airport on request or is there to accompany guests up to the house to help them ease into their relaxing holiday as quickly as possible.
“If I’m available, I like to accompany guests to the house as it is not always easy to find. Also, this way I can speak to guests and see if they need any items from the supermarket [if it’s open], otherwise guests arrive and realise they are in the mountains and have no food to eat.”
Working with Bookiply
Pep had never rented out “Els Abats” as a vacation home before working with Bookiply, and he explains that it was his sister who first introduced him to the Bookiply services.
“My sister used to work with you guys, and I didn’t know how to start…Before Bookiply, I’d never rented the house [out] before. Never…we were like, we have to rent [the house], we have to set up the house, we have the license. What do we do now?”
He describes his experience as a first-time host with Bookiply as very positive.
“It was so simple [to get started with Bookipy], [my sister] she referred me, and I think I called or sent an email and a woman [from Bookiply] came to look at the house and speak with me about my expectations as a host.”
Pep goes on to say how he uses the app to organize himself as a host.
“We got the professional photos back of the house, and from there we got very carried away with you guys [Bookiply]…I get all the bookings through the app, and I follow the app a lot to organize myself week by week as it tells me when there are reservations, scheduled check-ins and check-outs or cancelations.
Tips for other hosts
Pep shares his advice for other hosts and encourages new hosts to take the first year of a vacation rental business as more of a learning experience.
“Be like an apprentice…the first year is an experience. My advice would be to initially forget the financial side and observe the guest experience and your offering.”
When it comes to vacation home maintenance, Pep emphasizes the importance of investment in good materials.
“…sometimes, you end up spending a little more on good materials, but it’s an investment.”
Pep also shared some advice for hosts that may need to carry out some home renovations.
“It’s also all about the planning of construction, too, and looking at the orientation of the house…It is important to know where and on which walls you put windows…The north wall is [like] a compass… It is important to know the orientation because this will help you tilt the winter sun as it enters through the windows to warm the house.”
Investing in more sustainable energy sources for vacation homes can come with higher costs initially but for Pep, he recognizes that the benefits outweigh the initial investment.
“It’s very important and you have a way to finance the investment in solar panels… The biggest investment is the batteries because the [solar] plates today are really very well priced. If they [hosts] allocate 20% of their income to invest in alternative energies, the following year expenses will plummet.”
Pep also explained how guests on vacation often don’t realize their energy consumption because they are not in their own homes, and having more energy-efficient solutions in place can help hosts reduce the costs of running their vacation rental.
“This month, we haven’t had any kind of cost in electricity consumption because we have been self-sufficient…when people go on vacation, they are not always sensitive to consumption and often consume more.”
Future plans for Finca “Els Abats”
Eventually, Pep’s dream would be to never rely on a generator and have “Els Abats” be completely off-grid. Not only for the environment but also to be free of external economic fluctuations.
“I would like to have hot water generated from the solar thermal panels and one or more electrical energy sources to have more autonomy and not to depend on the generators… the installation of the house is ready to connect solar thermal panels, but I have not gotten around to it yet.”
Pep will be delighted to welcome you to his special vacation home. A unique place, where guests can make unforgettable memories, relax in the tranquil surroundings and experience the overall magic of staying at “Els Abats”. Book it for yourself here, and start planning your vacation to paradise.