Part 2. Bulding an ecolodge : from the construction work to the lauching
Further to the meeting of the place and thinking of the ecolodge...
Nearly a year's work to rehabilitate a 300-year-old farm - the measures put in place to create an ecolodge
How would we raise awareness about the preservation of such natural environment?
What measures would we put in place to respect both the fauna and flora?
Beyond these initial questions, which immediately spoke to our hearts, quickly came the more technical questions, which, although they spoke less to us, were no less essential:
How could the building best fit into the landscape?
How will we manage waste and waste water?
How will we produce the energy necessary for the life of this place?
If one thing made sense, it was the question of integrating this building into its natural environment, which at the time seemed to have lost its natural beauty. The front platform of the building was entirely paved, with a car park in the front row... so many details that killed the beauty of the place.
But on close inspection, we could quickly see how much all these ecotourism issues were not part of the thinking of our predecessors. Minimal insulation, gas-fired boilers... so many elements that were weighing down the economic balance sheet of the structure while at the same time leaving a large ecological footprint on the Earth.
The rehabilitation will therefore integrate, as many necessities, the ecological insulation of the roof from the inside, based on cellulose wadding that offers optimal performance in an area of high thermal amplitude: a high thermal phase shift time that insulates against the cold in winter time as well as against possible high heat in summer. This insulation will be completed by a double roof with the superimposition of Corrèze slates on the roofing panels of the time (imitation slate) while windows and French windows will all be changed for double glazing. And recently, in the creation of this new room with an XXL view (with a bay window and French window opening onto a private terrace), we have installed solar control glazing, to welcome the light without overheating the room.
In the bathrooms, water flow reducers will naturally be installed before a shredded wood boiler will complement the structure, both for domestic hot water and heating. Using local wood, this boiler will make it possible to reduce each year the CO² emissions responsible for the greenhouse effect by around 29 tonnes while at the same time reducing the amount of wood used for heating, thus contributing to the maintenance and preservation of forest environments and participating in the local development.
After years of not very promising compost because, in the heart of those wild open spaces, the only use of compost was for a small vegetable garden; we will decide for the 10th. anniversary of the ecolodge to install a chicken house. 14 hens will joyfully meet two of our requirements: welcoming our guests at the entrance of the ecolodge, and helping with the management of kitchen waste. A greenhouse combining the age-old intelligence of permaculture and aquaponics and today's artificial intelligence, for a possible remote monitoring of crops via an application, will complete the picture for a sensitive original entrance.
The launch of a place served by TF1 then ELLE magazine
Before the opening of the ecolodge, while our political partners questioned us about the relevance of this name (remember that the ecolodge is not a label to date, which can therefore easily be misused), nothing could invite us to question this. Not even the question: "will an ecolodge speak to the French? ». "Uh, no, not really. If you think about it, it's an Anglo-Saxon concept originally inscribed in Africa as an evolution of the lodges of yesteryear.
However, and whatever the complication, it definitely was an ecolodge. "We would have felt lacking integrity in calling it a hotel, even though it made sense to us, coming from the tourism sector, that its foundations were the hotel business, the luxury hotel business, based on good sleep and quality service. But also restaurant business, the gastronomic restaurant business, for a local cuisine sublimated by creativity and originality. We didn't come to offer one more place to come and savour pounti and truffade (local dish). We did not come to compete with the existing offer, this small family hotel, simple and authentic, which is also part of the charm of these territories so little tourist. We came to offer something radically different. For Auvergne, for France. For Europe, we will soon want to add, as we did miss so much English, German or Spanish languages in daily hospitality.
Then all we needed was probably to welcome a fashion shoot for ELLE magazine: 22 pages by Elizabeth Toll, which will be followed by a page introducing the ecolodge: "an ecolodge above the volcanoes" to halo this place with magic, making you feel all the poetry of it.
Title h3: Instants d’Absolu to better conjure up the dream and invite to experience the beauty of the world.
The poetry of the place, for those who are sensitive and able to let go of all expectations, all projections, is captivating. Facing a 40 acre-lake, the Lac du Pêcher, the ecolodge stands like a jewel set in the heart of the Pinatelle forest (6,000 acres of an enchanted forest mixing pine, fir, beech ... and a remarkable flora for a massif inhabited by deer, fox, ermine, pine marten, a rich diversity of birds, including the crested grebe which has a habit of coming to parade each spring on the lake. At this same period, many butterflies can also be observed.
Autumn is a connoted safari time, an exploratory discovery of the forest at the magic hour of the stag belling. Deer that we are happy to propose to observe in guided excursions, on foot or on horseback, in the respect of the animal (for whom this period is capital but fragile) as well as of the traveller (who will thus, take advantage of this show of nature without disturbing and without taking risks otherwise, in a time when confrontation can be violent).
Beyond the beauty of the place, with the Cantal mountains as a backdrop (from the ecolodge, you can enjoy a view of the Plomb du Cantal, the Puy Mary and the ridges of the ancient Cantal volcano), we have taken to heart the whole offer of the ecolodge, which we have structured to better invite dreams and give you the opportunity to experience rare moments... on the terrace at mealtimes, at the chalet-grill up in the mountain for other evenings. Among the next favourite places: a new terrace facing the lake, which can be enjoyed after a moment of relaxation in the stainless steel bath with underwater music and chromotherapy as at aperitif time. Or even at the time of the last drink... under the starlit sky.
Against a backdrop of hedonistic philosophy, the offer is structured around nature (and naturalist outings to get acquainted with botany, geology, the world of birds or even batrachians) and well-being (in the presence of numerous practitioners and massage therapists aiming to connect to Earth and Sky for optimal well-being). With from time to time, moments apart: this evening talking about happiness around a large table, or these hypnothetic dinners for epicureans, as well as this improvised BON AIR concert facing the lake in the continuity of the shooting of a video-clip ...
La Pinatelle, land of good living, in Cantal Auvergne
If since the first days of the ecolodge, we have had at heart to put the Pinatelle forest in the spotlight, quickly making a map with a number of hikes available from the ecolodge and the promotion of local providers, in 2018, we took a step further. Discussing with Audrey, a sophrologist native of these highlands, on the relevance of promoting good living for both holidaymakers and locals, we agreed on the desire to set up a time to listen and support: "Pinatelle, land of good living" was born, with a weekend in June 2018, a whole week the following year.
And from this dynamic was to emerge new holiday offers such as the "Escale Sève de Vie Emerveillement" (Wonder week) or the "Voyage olfactif" (the Olfactory journey)... enhanced by yoga sessions and guided olfactory meditations.
The Best of Nature, a logical continuation to invite to an inner ecology
Finally, because more than just a slogan, "think global, act local" has become obvious, when you live so far away from everything but so close to the essential, I recently created a collective called : The Best of Nature. A collection of ecolodges as a response to a strong desire to better carry this message throughout the world of a real need to protect nature, to preserve our humanity. Because nature mirrors us back to our own human nature, beautiful, generous, serene and which undoubtedly needs to realign itself in an era where everything moves fast, in places outside the world, outside time.
At Spinguera in Cape Verde, Ibitipoca in Brazil, Wolvedans in the Namib desert as at "instants d’Absolu" Ecolodge & Spa, Travel is a call to to change paradigm: to live ecology and embody it to finally be able to adopt it tomorrow as an art of living daily.
The Best of Nature leads us to (re)discover our sensitiveness so that we shall be able to feel the Elements that govern everything on Earth, including human beings. Breathing the Air and hear inwardly how it can affect us for the better, opening us to gratitude... feeling the Water within us and its power of creativity, its invitation to open us to our inner world...
The Best of Nature also answers a question our guests have been asking for the past 10 years: "Where do you go when you go on holiday?".
And you, in which direction will you be heading for your next holiday?