Finca El Cerrillo is located just outside Canillas de Albaida situated in peaceful countryside with dramatic hill and mountain side scenery. It is an excellent situation for walking and painting holidays or just a great place to enjoy the peace of the pool and gardens. I visited Finca El Cerillo on a dull day in February but despite the weather El Cerillo was still a fabulous place to be. It is relaxed, informal, charming and rustic; a unique restored old farmhouse set amongst olive groves and vineyards.
Sue and Gordon, the owners of the Finca, were a pleasure to meet. Sue showed me round and talked me through their story both with warmth and humour. She explained El Cerillio was originally a working mill until the mid 1960's then an American painter moved into the Finca using it as his home and gallery. It was in 2000 when Sue and Gordon stumbled across the place, found through a friend as it wasn't actually for sale! The couple had been looking for a property in which to base painting and walking holidays from. Their search had originally started in
Ronda but not finding anything appropriate moved further away to the white villages north of Nerja. Friends informed them of the old farmhouse near Canillas de Albaida but were told it wasn't for sale. However, Gordon who was a keen sculpture called the American painter and asked to come and look at his works, artist to artist, by the end of this visit Gordon and Sue had both fallen in love with the place and conversations had been opened to consider the sale of the property!
Eventually a price was agreed, the amount was more to do with the painters retirement fund rather than an actual valuation! The figure was twice the sum Sue and Gordon had planned for, but it didn't matter as they had fallen for the farmhouse and its run down animal houses and overgrown gardens.
It took about a year to finalise the paperwork but eventually they signed in 2002 and then immediately set about the work to renovate the premises. All their assets had been sold to finance the project and a dream of a mortgage
free way of life was not going to be a reality for some time now, however Sue says they have absolutely no regrets.
Over the following two years they renovated the Finca, creating 8 bedrooms, a reception, a lounge and a dining area. Outside they created numerous seating areas whether for formal dining, drinks by the pool or snacks in a shady spot in the grounds. They also spent time putting together various packages for the walker, painter and writer on holiday. They had the foresight to build a website even before they had signed for the building. This proved fruitful as they were contacted by a specialist walking Holiday Company wanting to market their packages. The MD of the company came and stayed with them for a few days however there was only 3 rooms completed. So, Sue and Gordon staged the rest of the place to look like more rooms were nearly finished. The MD was impressed with the Finca so contracts were signed and the company have provided excellent run rate business ever since.
El Cerillo opened in 2004 to guests; meanwhile Sue and Gordon had no living quarters and slept in the bedrooms as they were unoccupied. Gordon was often asking Sue in the early days "what room number are we in tonight and how long for this time!" Eventually they were able to build their own living quarters and a further 4 guest bedrooms bringing their total to 12. All the bedrooms are totally individual and spacious with modern en suite facilities, air conditioning and central heating.
Just over 4 years down the line Sue and Gordon have created an excellent business offering writing, (hosted by Graham Carlise the ex Coronation Street writer)painting, ceramics, walking and Thai Chi holiday packages all flexible depending on numbers and days booked. They also offer a great holiday to the independent traveller with the nearby villages to explore or lazy days round by the pool.
Sue explained they have finally got to a position to be able to leave El Cerillo for a holiday as they have fantastic staff that can take over and this certainly makes life easier for them. They both have worked extremely hard building up the business and are recommended in all the best guides on the area and glossy travel magazines such as "Conde Nast Traveller" (the Vogue of the travel guides!)
For March they are offering a special package
2 Nights Stay and Dine Package 99E per person sharing a double or twin room(Includes Breakfast on both days and dinner on one night)