Photos: Eating at Caserio del Mirador

Caserío del Mirador – The Story So Far…

Johnny and Sarah Robinson found the house that was to become Caserío del Mirador in February 2003. Perched on the side of hill up a steep pot holed track, the house was unfinished, without mains electricity or water, and no telephone lines. The outside was landscaped in some areas and left wild elsewhere and the terraces were overgrown with brambles and gorse. The previous owners had let the project get out of hand and did not have the will to finish. The two saving points were; the incredible position with views down the valleys to the Mediterranean (to this day we have not seen its equal on the East coast of Spain), and second the potential for the building to be an amazing property. This was truly a mammoth project, only someone completely mad or unaware of the task ahead would consider thinking of taking it on.

We bought the house in May and moved here by the end of June. Sarah was pregnant with Charlie, and he was born in August at the Marina Alta hospital in Denia. Much of the rest of 2003 was spent settling in and Johnny worked in Calpe in an architect’s office to make ends meet.

For the 2004 season we placed some advertising and prepared ourselves for our first guests. We traded under the name Casa Les Murtes, the name of our valley well known locally for its murtle plants. Needless to say the first season was challenging and a huge learning curve, and it soon became clear we needed to improve the facilities and the presentation of the property if we wanted any chance of success. In the meantime we bought 2 goats, Polly and Pepe.

In 2005 we built the pool terrace, a difficult and complex project as it was to sit on uncompacted ground 3 meters above the original terrace. We had to design a structure that would be able to withstand significant subsidence and the potential collapse of the dry stone wall below. The final foundation took the shape similar to a Polynesian boat, a spine down the middle with supports either side that ‘floated’ on the unstable ground. We also took on a branding consultant to assist with our marketing. After the pool terrace was completed the mirador was added to give a focal point to the property and to highlight the beautiful view, (mirador means look out point). We came up with the Caserío del Mirador name, he gave us our logo and brand values that helped us focus on the direction the business needed to go. All the apartments were refitted accordingly, and the lawn planted to soften the pool area. Money was getting tighter and it became clear that we needed extra capacity to survive and develop a feasible business. Rosa, our Tabby cat showed up one day and has been our house cat ever since. She has a pink nose, hence the name Rosa.

2006 saw the building and fitting out of apartments Isabel and Fernando, these were previous empty shells used as basement storage. This was the last roll of the dice concerning our finances with debt levels running uncomfortably high and not enough income to cover the costs of the business. The project also included the Isabel and Fernando terrace, another complex structure designed to sit on uncompacted and steep ground. Fortunately, with the added capacity we were able the break even, stem our haemorrhaging finances and Johnny give up the day job in Calpe.

The outside kitchen terrace was built in 2007 to more easily accommodate larger groups of guests wanting to eat together. The terrace has a retractable blind offering a large shaded area in the heat of the day, protection against the wind and is well lit for long balmy evening dinners under the stars in the summer.

2008 was a year of consolidation with some general improvements in the apartment with new beds, sofas, carpets and curtains. Johnny managed to get distracted with a scheme involving motorbike trips to Morocco. Although he had great fun, none of the trips managed to break even and the project folded within the year. One lasting legacy of this is Johnny’s interest in motorbikes.

In 2009 the apartments were updated with new bathrooms, some new art and soft furnishings. Some breathing space was needed to recover financially from the Morocco adventure and consider the consequences of ‘el crisis’. The children got some Angora rabbits, Slippers and Pancakes and by mid summer we had bred 16 rabbits. Polly gave birth to Paco, (seen in the video), and Sarah got Fury, a lively Shetland Pony and later in the year we took on Ruby, a mature Palomino gelding. We built a stable for the horses, a temporary structure to comply with local planning rules. Unfortunately, the first strong winds of the autumn lifted the roof into a mangled heap of steel cladding. The kittens Archie, Benji, and Wila were found by the bins at the end of the road and were adopted and cared for by the children. They became our trusted stable cats, although given the chance they make themselves comfortable in the apartments of unsuspecting guests.

Although we like to encourage guest feedback sometimes their suggestions can be little impractical in our particular circumstances. However the argument for a coffee machine seemed an undeniably good idea. In 2010 we bought a Nespresso machine as it cleverly offered a solution where the mess from coffee grinds could be contained. The problem we faced was that there was no room in the bar to accommodate it, meaning a revamp of the old style bar to coffee lounge style bar with play area for children. The stable saga continued as we decided to build a permanent structure that could withstand the elements, a tricky decision balancing the wellbeing of the horses versus upsetting the town hall. It looks a mess at the moment but when we get the doors, dovecot and clock tower, it will look fab – Promise.

 

 

 

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