Our DDG Retreat journey
Perched on a hill with spectacular views and tucked away in a very private woodland estate at the top of a meandering track, it’s not surprising that guests often ask us how we stumbled upon this incredible private hideaway. As we wake to the stunning sunrise with the birds singing, the mists hovering above the unspoilt white village of Casares beneath us and North Africa, the Rock of Gibraltar and Spain beckoning in the distance, we often pinch ourselves and ask each other the same question.
So, our story goes like this …. having been smitten by this part of Andalusia during various holidays we set out to buy a family home here. Lady Luck was on our side as the first property we viewed was this one, not that there was much to see at that point but a run-down casita and swathes of barren scrubland – and it was located in an area that at that time wasn’t particularly geared up for tourists. Nevertheless, gazing out at the panorama, it was love at first sight and we couldn’t resist snapping it up. That was almost 20 years ago – and what began as a personal project just for ourselves, painstakingly rebuilding the house, planting hundreds of trees and putting in pathways and gardens, eventually led us to a point where we felt this place was too special not to share with others.
Keen to invite family and friends to stay, around 12 years ago, we added our first guest house, Casa Pino, and at the same time we built our amazing infinity pool – named as one of the most glamorous in the world by Red magazine. The feedback we had from visitors to our magical place was overwhelmingly positive and soon the concept of DDG Retreat was born. Inspired by our own travels to more than 60 countries, we wanted to create a unique experience for our guests offering the kind of stay we had only ever experienced previously in Asia. From the overall design to the interiors and the landscape gardening, and even to parts of the construction process, we built the Retreat inch by inch ourselves, taking time out to source original artefacts from around the world so that we could create a little slice of paradise with an exotic ambience. Our vision was crystal clear but it was to be a labour of love, with the transformation from family home to boutique hotel being another five years in the making
At last, in 2011, we opened our doors to our first guests. There have been changes along the way as we have sought to continuously improve the guest experience, not least that we have recently reduced the number of casas on our four-hectare site to just three in response to guest feedback that what they valued most of all here was the sense of peace and quiet and the luxury of privacy – and the reaction we have had has been phenomenal.
Recent accolades have included an award for the Most Outstanding Luxury Escape Spain by Lux magazine; the Good Web Guide has named us in their selection of the most romantic boltholes for two and we were included in The Times newspaper’s Top 20 Cool Glamping Guide for Europe. The Sunday Times once described DDG Retreat as an ‘extraordinary bolthole”, Cosmopolitan selected us as one of the Top Ten Most Romantic Places On Earth; we were delighted to be nominated for a World Luxury Hotel Award and to be awarded Trip Advisor Certificates of Excellence. But the reviews we treasure most are those that come from our guests. To date we have attracted glowing 5-star reviews from more than 230 happy couples, as well as a number of solo visitors who also find DDG Retreat the perfect antidote to their busy lives back home.