As with most great things, it started with a dream.
El Gran Sueño, which literally translated means ‘the big dream’, has been a labour of love for Dave Haxby and his partner Javier since 2012. It all began in 2003, when the couple first met in Brighton and decided to change the course of their lives. Despite both enjoying successful careers in the UK they decided to leave it all behind to open up their own bed and breakfast in Spain. Today the beautiful house and home has become a thriving business offering guests a haven of calm that perfectly fuses country charm with the elegance of a city boutique hotel. With a strong focus on sustainability too, this stylish retreat has been certified as eco-friendly.
As avid travellers, Dave and Javier had already spent a great deal of time around Spain but when it came to choosing the ideal location for their project, they opted for the place they love the most – Asturias. As part of the Green Coast, a part of Spain considered by many to be the most beautiful, with summers that are more temperate than central and southern parts of the country, Asturias also happens to be home to Javier’s family. So the decision was easy and in 2012 Dave and Javier said goodbye to their lives in the UK and embarked on their dream adventure.
Whilst Asturias offers an abundance of old buildings crying out for rehabilitation it took Dave and Javier over 50 viewings to find their perfect one:
“We set our standards high. The property had to be both the perfect home for us and offer the right balance of location, touristic interest and business potential, as well as meeting our budget.”
From houses that were far too dilapidated to others that were simply beyond the budget, it wasn’t the easiest of missions but it was an adventure they thoroughly enjoyed as they fully immersed themselves into the experience of buying a Spanish property. From taking a crash course in Spanish building technology vocabulary, along with an introduction to renewable energy options, to meeting with the head of Asturias tourism to run their ideas past him (which he loved!), not a moment of the 14 weeks it took between their offer being accepted until completion, was wasted.
From day one it was clear that this was not going to be a traditional home renovation, so it was imperative to find a team that would be on board for their philosophy. The desire was to create something fresh and new. A place that would embrace the cosiness of a traditional bed and breakfast, (cue the most sumptuous home cooked meals and warm hospitality), whilst injecting the chic décor and modern connectivity of a city hotel. Oh and did we mention they wanted to do it all fast – no small feat when you’re in Spain and everyone is on ‘manana’ time. But somehow they pulled it off.
With El Gran Sueño also being Dave and Javier’s home it was only natural for them to create the lifestyle they wanted to live but once guests started to arrive they quickly shifted their focus and discovered a commonality - A stay at El Gran didn’t end there. They were creating memories that would last a lifetime.
For some it might be the stunning views of the Picos de Europe and El Sueve mountains, watching the sun rise and set from their bedroom window. For others having some of the best hiking trails literally on their doorstep could be the magical ingredient, or perhaps it’s the incredible hospitality and outstanding food lovingly prepared for them that would never be forgotten. Either way, it is clear that Dave and Javier go the extra mile:
“We believe luxury should not cost the earth and we are continually working to reduce our impact on the environment. We have a “slow hotel” philosophy. Which for us means taking time to do things as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. Except of course for our WiFi!”
El Gran Sueño also means ‘the big sleep’. And as an adult-only hotel, a good night’s sleep will certainly be on the menu for their guests too.
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