The couple make holidays accessible to everyone

Adrian and Hannah Stone in front of the Las Piedras Hotel. / J. RHODES

Hannah and Adrian Stone have run Las Piedras in the Axarquía for 20 years, having worked in the care and travel industries

Hannah and Adrian Stone have been running Hotel Las Piedras in Alcaucín, Axarquía, for 20 years. The couple, from South Wales, came up with the idea of ​​running a hotel for wheelchair users and people with intellectual disabilities, after working in the care sector and having experience of taking people with reduced mobility on vacation.

They identified a gap in the holiday market and saw firsthand the lack of easily accessible accommodation and tourist attractions.

The couple recently worked with the team who organized a bus from Nerja to bring back a group of Ukrainian refugees, hosting them for a weekend upon arrival and before they move on to longer-term accommodation.

The couple had also lived abroad – in fact, they met when they were both working at a ski resort in France – so the idea of ​​starting their new business in a foreign country was not a barrier. Even so, although they were “rather nomadic”, as they describe themselves, they did not know the south of Spain at the time.

Hannah’s parents were renting a house in Torrox Pueblo and the couple moved there. It was while they were there that they started looking for possible properties. One day, returning from a ski trip in the Sierra Nevada, they passed an old building on the road to Zafarraya, just outside the village of Alcaucín. The property in question had been Hotel Montecarlo and later Bar Camara but had been abandoned for 15 years.

“Older locals have told us that they remember coming here to dance. We think it was a very common place for neighbors in this area because it’s outside the village,” Hannah explains, 46 years old, and Adrian, 52 years old.

It took the couple a year, along with a host of volunteers, to prepare the place for their first guests. They had their first bookings at Christmas 2003. “We learned to build that year. People were staying in tents and drinking a lot of beer,” the couple said to each other, laughing and marveling at what they managed to achieve. accomplish. “I was so worried I couldn’t sleep,” Adrian says, revealing that this first group was actually the people he had previously worked for in the UK and kept in touch with.

To add to the pressure, they discovered at the same time that Hannah was pregnant with their first child. “We’ve always faced a certain level of challenge,” Hannah says, laughing at the situation. The couple now have two teenage children.

Since then the hotel has gone from strength to strength and the company has been able to offer full package holidays including fully adapted vehicles to pick up guests from the airport and arrange trips to all the tourist attractions in the area, from the Alhambra, to city tours and local beaches. “If there’s an Easter festival or processions, we’ll take people to see them,” says Adrian, adding that accessibility has improved a lot in Spain, as it has in the UK and other parts of the country. world over the years. “The accessible beach of Torre del Mar is fantastic now,” he comments.

Covid-19

Like the rest of the hospitality industry, Covid-19 has hit Las Piedras hard. They went from expecting a good 2020 with lots of bookings to none, overnight. “We had just done a lot of renovations to the place, confident that 2020 was shaping up to be good,” the couple shared. They even had guests staying when Spain went into lockdown and had to help get back to the UK when their flights were canceled and no one knew what was going on.

However, accustomed to the “trials and tribulations” of the industry, the couple quickly adapted to the new situation. Along with another member of staff, Hannah started a catering business, bringing home-cooked meals to people in surrounding villages.

When things started to open up again, they started offering lunch and afternoon tea at the hotel and continued with catering. They have also opened the hotel to the mainstream Spanish market

The couple say they are starting to see bookings increase from their original clientele and hope things will start to get back to normal now that restrictions have been lifted in Spain and the UK.

About George Dailey

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