When Heidi-Maria Wigmore moved to Lanzarote to work as a tour rep, her plan was to gain a little experience on top of her studies before returning home for a lucrative job in business travel.
That was 15 years ago; but the lure of this sunny Canarian island – and the small matter of having started a family here – proved too irresistible for her to leave.
In 2009, Heidi put her travel trade skills to good use by co-founding Stay Eco Chic, a portfolio of 80 properties across the Canaries, mainly in Lanzarote, with a relaxed ethos of promoting sustainable tourism. This is no hair-shirt holiday, properties are taken under the Stay Eco Chic umbrella on the basis that they are making an effort to promote tourism that respects the environment.
Heidi has drawn up a list of nine criteria – from the use of solar and wind power to proximity to local public transport – and all the hand-picked holiday homes appearing in the collection have to conform to at least one. El Nido meets five of them.
For some, this may seem eco-lite, for others it will be just enough to salve the conscience while enjoying a holiday in the sun. And with prices from €60 to €400 per night, nobody is excluded.
El Nido is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house at the upmarket Puerto Calero marina. The villa was built in 1978 by fans of Lanzarote's favourite son, the artist César Manrique, and Heidi has worked with the current owners to bring out the glory of the Seventies styling. They've buffed up the sparkly polished granite flooring that flows through most of the property (check out the lino in the larder – Orla Kiely would die for this design). The bathrooms may have been necessarily updated for guests' comfort, yet in the living room the wall, clad with multicoloured lava rock from the national park, has been preserved. So, too, has the centrepiece of the property, a bar in "Manrique style", an adobe-like hulk of rough plaster finished in the shiny white paint that the artist manufactured commercially (you can buy it for about €200 a tin on the island). Other Seventies references include rush placemats on the dining table, a suite of wicker chairs, and, the most glorious touch, a table topped in floral orange tiles with a central leg made of rocks from Manrique's birthplace, Famara, in the north-west of the island.
The food and drink
There's a fully equipped kitchen and the welcome hamper should start off self-caterers nicely, plus an honesty bar is laid on that's strong on the island's own delicious wines. There's a small supermarket in Puerto Calero and a larger one along the coast at Puerto del Carmen. Check out Teguise market and the farmer's market in Mancha Blanca on Sundays. Down at the marina, just a few minutes' walk away, you'll find a strip of restaurants. Try La Portena, a new Argentinian steakhouse on the first floor, overlooking the harbour. Here, chef Leonardo creates mouth-watering beef dishes over an open fire. The service is led by his wife, Florencia, who is a knowledgeable, natural-born host.
Last spring, an outdoor salt-water pool with a baby section was added to the landscaped gardens, which are beautifully planted and dusted with the ubiquitous volcanic rock.
The property is all on one level with minimal steps for guests with limited mobility. There are also two walk-in showers in the bathrooms.
From £1,200 per week in the winter season. Return flights to Lanzarote with Monarch (monarch .co.uk) cost from £149.
El Nido, Number 2, Roque Nuble, Puerto Calero, 35510, Lanzarote (00 34 608 906 638; stayecochic.com).