Andalucia Diary – Seasonal Travel Notes

Molino del Arco – Ronda – 2010 Hotel Review

2015 – UPDATE: Since my visit in 2010, the owner of this propertyis now working with a new manegement firm, improving significantly the experience for guests – my new review will be published in May 2015.

After about ten minutes drive from Ronda, through the valley of ‘la cruz’ you see the sign to the hotel, ‘Molino del Arco’. The narrow lane takes you past ‘La Fuente de las Higuera’, and further into the olive groves. The road deteriorates a little, into a dirt track, and before long, one arrives at the Mill, a large building with walled gardens, and vineyards behind. The journey was easy and not complicated. Old iron bath tubs filled with flowering geraniums line the outside the property.

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The greeting when we entered was a little half-hearted. The receptionist remained facing her PC screen, just moving her eyes up to see us, said hello and then returned to the screen. This was to really set the tone of the hospitality.

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The property though is a real gem; lots of interesting corners, paths, terraces and courtyards, with some charming Andalucían style architecture.

However on our visit in 2010 the place was not that well maintained and this is a great pity. Rustic charm is one thing; lazy upkeep is another. The pool area was disorganised and in need of an update – the pool is in a secluded walled garden, so could be spectacular – but when we used it on a very hot September weekend, the sun loungers were still soaking wet from the irrigation system. When one arrived, one had to find a lounger and drag it over to the pool – it would have taken just a few moments for a staff member that morning to wipe down the beds, position them and instantly the place would have been more welcoming – but the reality is that guests are left to do thing themselves – almost like we’ve rented a villa, not staying in a hotel. The place does have an undeniable charm and I enjoyed photographing the place, but this charm is sadly not reflected in the staff.

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The weekend we were there, all the guests seemed to be left to their own devices. The receptionist lacked personality and warmth; the only time I saw her smile was when she was huddled around the PC screen with a cleaner, laughing at a website.  The hotel has an honesty bar, but its drinks are full price, despite having to prepare them oneself, with old, clumped together ice, no lemon and no snacks and very little choice of mixers – just tonic the weekend we were there.

I ordered a sandwich; the opportunity to showcase the wealth of tasty organic produce from the Ronda was missed. Instead for 5 or 6 euros I was served two pieces of square, factory made unbuttered bread  with a filling of square, processed turkey slices, and iceberg lettuce – no seasoning, no mayo, no butter, no tomato; nada.  Needless to say we dined out in Ronda that night so can’t comment on the service or food in the dining room.

Our room was fine, with access to large shared terrace and it was peaceful – just needed some maintenance and ‘TLC’. The potential here is amazing. The room had a high ceiling, a very comfortable bed, some interesting rustic details, but was tired and not that clean (there is no excuse to leave cobwebs, not descaling the loo, etc.)

Each room is named after a different olive variety, with quirky designed signs.  There are plenty of these details around the property that make it so interesting and unique.

Overall ‘Molino del Arco’ is charming, but without any representation of the owner or management and just one receptionist, the place lacked a welcoming atmosphere. Fellow guests sipped glasses of wine in near silence on the terrace; peaceful yes, but the property lacking atmosphere that could take this property from average to amazing – it seemed empty despite being full of guests. Hard to explain –  ‘soulless’ I think is the word.

The positioning of the hotel on it website is upscale, boutique – this is very misleading – the reality in 2010 is not. However, it could so easily be upscale, boutique. It just needs investment in maintenance and some visible staff that are genuinely happy to have guests sharing this lovely property.

There was a new receptionist at front desk on the morning of check out that invited feedback and asked us to fill in a questionnaire that she assured us was reviewed by the owner. The staff member was very receptive to our constructive comments and invited us to come back again and give it a second chance.

2015 – UPDATE: Since my visit in 2010, the owner of this propertyis now working with a new manegement firm, improving significantly the experience for guests – my new review will be published in May 2015.

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  1. Mhenders
    MhendersSep 24, 2010

    Hi Andrew, thanks for the nice review — keep’ em coming; as we love to spend weekends traveling around Andalucia, tips on restaurants and hotels are much appreciated.
    By the way, my wife and I stayed at the Hotel “Jardin de la Muralla,” in downtown Ronda (near the tajo) one year for the Ronda 101km event, and were really pleased with it.
    Ciao,
    — Matt | http://thisux.com

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Andrew ForbesTravel & Lifestyle Marketing Communications Consultant | Travel Editor Web: www.andrewforbes.com Twitter : @andrewaforbes Instagram @andrewaforbes and @luxurynavigatorView all posts by Andrew Forbes »