My life can be a little hectic, with a busy career that keeps me travelling on a fairly regular basis and a toddler to care for – and whose childhood I have no intention of missing. When our family look for spots to have a holiday, even for a short weekend getaway, we want a space where we can relax for some down time with the option of action-packed activities if we are up for it. And on this last recent trip to Barcelona, that’s exactly what I got. An eco resort with a strong focus on sustainability and environmentally friendly practices, which does not compromise on luxury or culinary standards. Sweet.
About 30 minutes away from the busy centre of Barcelona stands Mas Salagros, an eco resort that serves as a haven for mindfulness. Advertised as the first entirely eco-friendly destination in the Iberian peninsula, the resort meets the standards established in European regulations on sustainability in the hospitality industry. More specifically, every single slice of life in this place is crafted to be as eco-friendly as possible. For example, all furniture is handmade in sustainable materials, including the beds and their mattresses. There is an honest commitment to sustainable living, including following energy efficiency practices and using the most organic waste management system possible. These details were what drew me here, so you can imagine I had very high expectations of a spot like this – and I have to say I was quite satisfied.
Designed to encourage slow living, Mas Salagros was built with relaxation in mind, and the creators were very careful to incorporate that idea into every aspect. First, the peaceful location: in the village of Vallromanes, it’s well within a natural reserve in the Catalan coastal range. The air is always fresh between the mountains and the sea, and the hill views add to the general feeling of well-being. The resort is well positioned, perfect if you’re looking to visit the city, but also remain secluded away enough in its little corner of nature to feel like an oasis. Whilst an inland location, Mas Salagros is also near the sea, and the staff is more than happy to recommend nearby beaches that aren’t too crowded.
In fact, the staff we met were one of the biggest highlights of Mas Salagros, including the dynamic Sabir who shuttled is around with great charisma and warmth. Even if a few more members of staff might have taken the pressure off those working, the remained truly stellar. Besides being friendly and easy to communicate with, I loved how multicultural they were: Catalans and foreigners relax and get in touch with themselves here, getting away from thriving Barcelona. There’s also a real feeling of family between the people working here. At the resort, between the staff and the guests you’ll find people from all walks of life, a really sweet melting pot in the middle of the hills. Near the pool, the layout is very invites social mixing between guests which was truly lovely. We stayed at the garden suite opposite the pool, and going out always felt a little like catching up with the neighbourhood crowd. The knowledge that we’re all in this together, searching for a time of relaxation in the greenest possible way, just added to the sense of community.
Inside the resort, considered details will catch your eye without being abrasive, like the beautiful décor and the subtle art. Every piece of furniture is sustainable, made with a mix of natural materials, recycled details and sustainable wood. Each area is unique, in soft hues and comfortably broad spaces, lit by energy-saving lights or natural lights alone.
But the standout for relaxation here is the resort’s spa, easily the best I’ve visited. The spa is managed by international brand AIRE Ancient Baths, which focuses on creating a bathing experience based on the Roman, Greek and Turkish millenary traditions. As a policy, AIRE baths are always located in restored ancient buildings, to maintain as much authenticity to the process as possible; the Mas Salagros baths specifically are inside a XV century farmhouse. The candlelit environment and the pools at different temperatures all provide an experience that fully transports you to another time. They offer a warm bath pool at 36º Celsius (Tepidarium), a hot one at 40º, and a cold one at 16º (Frigidarium), besides a bath with 1,000 jets (Balneum), a steam room (Laconicum) and finally a salt water bath (Flotarium). To finish, the spa provides a relaxing massage given by an expert therapist, which can last between 15 and 60 minutes depending on your preferences.
The marvellous spa is the star of Mas Salagros, but the rest of the facilities are just as focused on wellness, from an in-house yoga practice to excursions and organic wine tastings.
Another thing I loved about this place is how family-oriented it is: while there are plenty of activities for solo mindfulness, it’s also keenly aware of the role of family life in a person’s all-around well-being. They offer plenty of entertainment for children to enjoy without their parents, like movie nights and a kids’ club for older children to play around and make friends with each other.
You’ll also find fun things for the whole family to enjoy together for some bonding time, like walks and hikes. There’s a place for everyone at Mas Salagros, no matter the age, and that’s a rarity to be treasured. Many parents get turned off by the idea of less-than-traditional hotels, as there’s a fear that there won’t be a space for children to enjoy themselves. Nothing could be further from reality here, and I’d love to take hikes with my son up Catalonia’s hills when he’s a little older.
Food is a very important part of the Mas Salagros experience, so much that offer organic cooking classes for both adults and children. Every single bit of produce is grown locally and in organic farms – in fact, a good portion comes from the resort’s own garden. The focus is on Mediterranean cuisine, and it’s prepared as originally intended centuries ago, using solely fresh and seasonal ingredients. There are two on-site organic restaurants: 1497 and Cibus. 1497 offers a fairly upscale experience, with select dishes from both sides of the Mediterranean Sea, in a sober ambiance facing the nature reserve; it only serves diners over 8 years old, so it’s not very comfortable for guests with small children. Cibus, meanwhile, has a comprehensive kids’ menu, perfect for young children that are perhaps pickier eaters. Both restaurants are very open and beautiful, with lots of windows overlooking nature. The organic food and wine options were delicious (Mas Salagros also has a chill Gastro Wine Bar), although I would have liked to see more vegan options would have been my only ask.
The breathtaking nature, attention to detail, incredible spa and great gastronomic and all-around experience should make all eco travellers, lovers of relaxation and family people feel right at home at Mas Salagros. Visit the official website here.