This month The Grapevine speaks to Sarah and David Mills the new owners of Finca Los Pinos a holiday retreat just outside Competa. They spent 3 years looking for the right place, the first year spent from England researching via the internet and the following 2 years from a base in la Herradura where they met some great friends. Despite the move inland later these friends are still invaluable to them and they still regularly socialise together in and outside of Competa. Once having found Finca Los Pinos they have integrated more in the community of Competa, keen to use the skills from the local village and spend in the local economy.

Both Sarah and David were born in Africa and are proclaimed outdoors people, England was always a stop gap for them and their idea was to take little bit of Africa and set it up elsewhere. David is an Electrician by trade but had always wanted to work in the hospitality industry. Sarah continues to work for a telecoms company and as luck would have it Telefonica bought her British company's operation and this allowed her to relocate her job to Spain. This meant they arrived in Spain financially sound allowing them to start to create their dream. The first major hurdle was finding the right place. David spent a tremendous amount of time searching the internet and both visited numerous plots, farmhouses and villas in various states of disrepair. As many before them they stumbled across Competa and were shown Finca Los Pinos as a business proposition. With its 3 cabins and 2 villas, a swimming pool, large private living accommodation and lovely grounds they had finally found what they were looking for.

In April 2013 they moved in and started to reform the accommodation more to their style despite it being bought in immaculate condition, a bit of updating and modernisation was required in order to suit them. They added to the already fabulous grounds with relaxation decks, an African style bar area built into the side of the mountain, boule pits and private pathways directly from the visitors accommodation into the national park. Their long term plan will be to place luxury African, safari tents on their land in order to expand their service offering and holiday experience whilst fulfilling their ultimate dream.

Over the last year or so the summer months have taken care of themselves with holiday bookings and they are often hosts to large celebrations like weddings and birthday parties for large groups. Most clients are catered for from either a basic level to a fully catered holiday and incorporate excursions such as wine tasting, horse riding or guided walks. Sarah was keen to explain they want to use the skills and facilities on offer locally to boost the village of Competa's economy.

Over the winter months their holiday bookings slow a little and thus their business model shifts slightly to incorporate a more active type holiday. This meant the creation of Competa Hikes a walking company located on the doorstep of the national park in Andalucía, it makes perfect sense! Their aim is for adventure and exploring using professional guides. The holidays can be totally catered for and can be up to 7 days to include various walks, food and evening entertainment such as flamenco and live music. The Competa Hikes website details the various walks on offer and details their difficulty rating. The walks aren't just open to holiday makers but also locals that want to learn about the history, flora and fauna via some experienced and knowledgeable guides in the area. Large groups can set their own itinerary or small groups and pairs can choose from the standard ones listed on the website. Up to 20 people can be catered for at Finca Los Pinos.

Competa Hikes are also promoting in March a special event, a Triathlon with a difference! In order to promote the diversity of Andalucai and speocifically the Axarquia area, Sarah and David are organising a 3 day event; Day 1 - hike to the top of Mount Maroma, Day 2 -Ski in Sierra Nevada and day 3 scuba dive in La Herradura. Using knowledgeable guides, a professional ski school and well known dive centre they have created a fantastic event for both locals and holiday makers. A great way to see, feel and experience the local area and its diverse nature over 3 days in a fun event with a bit of endurance! For a local the package can be without food or accommodation or holiday makers can again be fully catered for. It is a challenge but a fun event too. All information with regards to kit list, insurance, catering and prices can be found on their website but they also welcome your call should you wish to find out more information or make a booking.

Fina Los pinos and Competa Hikes are a great asset to the area and we wish them luck so if you live here and haven't yet explored what's on your doorstep yet, you really should, so contact David and Sarah now!

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