Eco-friendly accommodation on Hvar!

Published in Highlights

Ecobnb is an initiative for the 'new' age of growing environmental awareness.

View from the pool at Villa Perka View from the pool at Villa Perka Photo: Vilma Plazonja

Like the better-known Airbnb, it is an international organization which lists rental accommodation. The difference is that Ecobnb only lists properties which have 'eco-friendly' credentials. To qualify, the properties have to satisfy five of ten criteria: organic or local food, 100% renewable energy, car-free accessibility, ecological cleaning products, more than 80% waste recycling, energy saving lights, green building, solar thermal panels for hot water, water flow reducers, recovery & reuse of rainwater. Villa Perka is the first Ecobnb rental property on Hvar. Manager Vilma Plazonja is deeply committed to looking after Hvar's natural environment, and at the same time offering her guests a comfortable eco-friendly base from which to enjoy the surroundings. In the following article, she describes what eco-tourism means to her.

From 'Grandma's tea' to the first eco-accommodation on Hvar

Tourism on our island has a tradition which could well be the envy of many. All of us who have grown up here know full well that renting, even just one little room, has always been a great help in boosting the family budget. Not that renting would bring in lots of money, but it meant a lot because living off the land on an island with sparse dry soil was back-breakingly hard. A huge amount of work and effort went into producing and selling each final product of wine, olive oil, honey and lavender, and trying to earn enough to ensure one's family's survival.

Hvar's stony landscape, beautiful and tough! Photo: Vivian Grisogono

This karst landscape has never yielded much, but by the same token what it does produce is of the highest quality for taste, aroma, and healthy living. The truth is that top-quality never comes in large quantities, and for that reason it can be categorized as exclusive. This holds true for first-class wines, oil, honey, accommodation... and equally so for people. Among those who offer accommodation to guests and the visitors who come to us from all over the world looking for new experiences, emotions and enjoyment, only a small number can be called 'first-class'. Our way of life, our attitude to the natural environment and to the people around us, all the things which seem so small and simple that we often take them for granted, are actually the things our visitors look for and notice. They may even have come from nearby countries where alienation is the social norm, where neighbours don't know or greet each other. So the 'little things' in the customs of our society are an important and valuable part of our image and branding, they form the authentic atmosphere which tourists look for and appreciate.

My father working with bees, 1982

When our family house was built in the 1930s, my family's main occupation was beekeeping. In the early 1960s the first tourist visitors came to stay. Because my family used to travel away from the island with the bees, they got to know large parts of the former Yugoslavia, especially neighbouring Bosnia and Hercegovina. Through working with the bees and spending time in nature, my grandmother gained a deep knowledge of many types of plant, which she used to select to use for herb teas, brandies and liqueurs. She passed her love and knowledge of plants on to me, and I have gradually extended my own knowledge over time, collecting and using types of plants which are rarely, if ever used on the island. In her later years, my grandmother needed more help in preparing her 'grandma's tea', which would be sent to her friends as a welcome and much-prized gift. One of those friends, now nearing 90, used to take grandma's tea to work with him every day, and claims to this day that it cured him of serious kidney problems.

Camomile, one of Hvar's abundant medicinal plants. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

My grandmother often used to quote a well-known herbalist, who commented on a visit to Hvar that there were medicines underfoot wherever one walks! And, truly, Hvar is the richest Dalmatian island in terms of numbers of plants. Its 1163 plant varieties match the number of Ireland or Denmark, which of course cover much bigger areas. They are riches which should be prized, used and promoted, and, above all, treated in a responsible manner with respect and gratitude, but, sadly, this doesn't always happen.

Walking across certain parts of the island, one of the most tragic sights one can come across is 'burnt earth' under olive trees or vines. I find it rather shocking that anyone can treat weeds with poisons. The roots of the olive tree absorb the poison, it gets into the fruit, from the fruit into the oil, from the oil into our bodies. Which gives rise to the questions: isn't it then better not to ingest this oil? Why on earth suppress weeds in this way? when it denatures the earth, ultimately leading to less fruit, less oil, less profit? The weeds can be strimmed, they can even be left, and the olive tree will still deliver its fruit, healthier and happier.

Herbicides in a vineyard, an environmental tragedy. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Nature provides many solutions for preventing or curing problems which arise in agriculture. Some of them are readily to hand on Hvar for organic farmers. For instance, in springtime the island's slopes turn white with the spread of pyrethrum, part of the chrysanthemum family, whose flowers have traditionally been used as a natural insecticide. Indeed, there used to be a factory in Jelsa producing pyrethrum insecticide commercially. Pyrethrum from Hvar, Šolta, Brač and Dubrovnik was once a major export product. Now the plants grow wild, left over from those days of large-scale cultivation. We collect the flowers to use on our fruit trees, vegetables and the flowers on our terrace and balcony. We dry some of the flowerheads for future use. And we are humbly grateful for this natural resource, available freely from the world's best pharmacy. We use such gifts in our everyday lives, conscious of the essential part they play in enhancing our good image and the premium quality and exclusivity of the accommodation we offer our guests.

Pyrethrum flower. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

How to make an insecticide from pyrethrum flowers:

150 - 200g of dried, or 1 kg of fresh flowerheads will make 10 litres of insecticide. The flowerheads are placed in a bowl and covered with the 10 litres of boiling water; they are left to soak overnight, after which the liquid is strained to remove the flowerheads, and then poured into a spray can. We use about 1 litre of the insecticide to treat the potted flowers on our balcony and the plants in our garden against destructive aphids, fruit flies and other pests. The spraying has to be done with fresh solution, and only at dusk, as pyrethrin degrades in daylight - this is also one of the reasons why pyrethrum spray is the least destructive to non-target insects, especially bees, who do not fly when the light fails.

Eco produce from the kitchen garden. Photos: Vilma Plazonja

Racing thoughtlessly to achieve material gain is senseless, we all need to find the right limits and criteria, to avoid being carried away by greed. An architect friend has expressed succinctly his way of making sense of his life's various daily challenges: "I looked for agreement and balance: agreement between modern and traditional, and balance between satisfaction and happiness". Finding the right balance, whether in architecture, tourism, agriculture and everything else is the magic key which opens the door to happiness. The simple, proven recipe for a happy life is to achieve one's aims without causing harm, humiliation or grief to anyone. Nature asks nothing of us, but just gives and gives and gives, always finding more to give, and so is our best example and model. By following Nature's lead, we can become the best exclusive version of ourself, the strongest, most important element in the brand of tourist hosting we offer, which provides our living.

The organic 'u-pick' herb garden. Photo: Vilma Plazonja

The 'eco' way of thought is largely devoid of egoism or greed. It quells any need for self-aggrandisement or asserting superiority over other people or Nature. Eco-practitioners care for the wellbeing not only of themselves, but of those around them, also of their whole community, their environment. Through years of experience we have learned to recognize and prize true values, and to reject negative influences. For this reason, we value our eco-minded guests, who respect the house rules, do not make a noise outside after 11:30 pm, do not do damage to our property, and do remember to close doors and windows when the airconditioning is switched on...

St.John's Wort oil, from the medicinal yellow flower. Photo: Vilma Plazonja

The eco-certificate from Ecobnb is a wonderful asset from our point of view, as it ensures that we attract like-minded people who come in a spirit of respect for the environment and people around them. Our guests appreciate the amount of care and love we have put into preparing their accommodation to provide the highest level of comfort, so that they can enjoy to the full the delights our beautiful island has to offer. We are proud that the Villa Perka is the first holiday villa on Hvar to gain the eco-certificate, and we are delighted that the standards laid down by Ecobnb are set to spread among holiday lets across our beautiful country.


© Vilma Plazonja 2019.
(Article translated by Vivian Grisogono)
You can read more about the Villa Perka and its impressive facilities on the website www.villa-perka.com
You are here: Home highlights Eco-friendly accommodation on Hvar!

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Exclusive: Thinning indicates profound impact of humans and could affect satellites and GPS

    Humanity’s enormous emissions of greenhouse gases are shrinking the stratosphere, a new study has revealed.

    The thickness of the atmospheric layer has contracted by 400 metres since the 1980s, the researchers found, and will thin by about another kilometre by 2080 without major cuts in emissions. The changes have the potential to affect satellite operations, the GPS navigation system and radio communications.

    Continue reading...

  • DuPont and Daikin, manufacturers of ‘short chain’ PFAS, did not inform regulator about the FDA negative results of tests on animals

    Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the dangers of a PFAS compound widely used in food packaging since 2010, but hid them from the public and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), company studies obtained by the Guardian reveal.

    The chemicals, called 6:2 FTOH, are now linked to a range of serious health issues, and Americans are still being exposed to them in greaseproof pizza boxes, carryout containers, fast-food wrappers, and paperboard packaging.

    Continue reading...

  • The New River Gorge in West Virginia offers stunning views, rock climbing and rafting but some worry it is unprepared for an influx of visitors

    The New River has spent millions of years carving a bucolic gorge in West Virginia. It is now home to one of the most biodiverse forests on the continent. And while humans have tracked prey along its jagged cliffs for thousands of years, now most people come to the gorge to find adventure.

    Related:How to plan your 2021 trip to a US national park

    Continue reading...

  • Great Eastern Brood set to emerge in the last two weeks of May and into early June, with hordes of bugs to push up from underground

    Brood X, otherwise known as the great cicada hatching of 2021, is drawing closer as soil temperatures in some parts of America move closer to 64F (18C) – the trigger, according to scientists, for trillions of the insects to push up to the surface and into the trees to mate.

    Related:If we want to save the planet, the future of food is insects

    Continue reading...

  • Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off

    An area of forest the size of France has regrown around the world over the past 20 years, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off, a new analysis has found.

    Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, the research found, providing the potential to soak up and store 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the annual emissions of the entire US.

    Continue reading...

  • For miles around Walleys Quarry in Silverdale, people have reported waking up in the night struggling to breathe

    It may have been labelled the country’s smelliest village but it is much more than a bad stench from the local landfill making life miserable for the residents of Silverdale in Staffordshire, who have now started crowdfunding for potential legal action against the site.

    For miles around Walleys Quarry landfill near Newcastle-under-Lyme, people have reported waking up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe, with itchy eyes and sore throats. Those with asthma have had their medication increased, and some have reported nosebleeds.

    Continue reading...

  • Addressing the climate crisis will be the greatest undertaking in the history of humankind. We have to give it all we have

    Joe Biden wants to cut US emissions in half from their 2005 levels. However, since emissions have been slowly declining since then, this amounts to only a 37% drop from 2020 levels.

    That, in a nutshell, is the issue. Our leaders are adhering to a template that doesn’t meet the urgency of the moment. The US is not even the world’s largest emitter any more, and China – the biggest polluter – seeks to build more coal-fired power plants, failing to reach carbon neutrality until 2060. Unfortunately, that is a perfect illustration of just how disconnected we are from the gravity of the situation.

    Continue reading...

  • Licences given to arms firm Lockheed Martin said to go against government’s stance on exploiting seabed

    Deep-sea mining exploration licences granted by the British government are “riddled with inaccuracies”, and could even be unlawful, according to Greenpeace and Blue Marine Foundation, a conservation charity.

    The licences, granted a decade ago to UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of the US arms multinational Lockheed Martin, have only recently been disclosed by the company.

    Continue reading...

  • Sandy, Bedfordshire: The sedge warblers want to be seen and heard, but the grasshopper warbler cannot be pinned down

    A great tit has crowned the lime trees outside our house for three months or more, with its steady, seesaw song, rendered mnemonically and memorably as “tea-cher, tea-cher”. Over that period the bird has become – to some ears at least – a bare-branched bore.

    In the unfurling of May, its song became more sporadic – but in addition, a new voice had arrived, one that was even more repetitive, yet anything but monotonous. Obsessed and addicted, I hurried down to the riverside meadow, lured to listen for the eighth time within a fortnight.

    Continue reading...

  • They are benevolent vegetarian gods. They watch over, through shielded eyes,the very few animals that have a fringe.

    William Topaz McGonagall, the “worst poet in the history of the English language”, is responsible for some of my mother’s favourite words in the world to say. She delivers them in a decent-enough Scottish accent, and she does so whenever the opportunity presents itself: “On yonder hill there stood a coo / It’s no’ there noo / It must’a shif’ted”. When I hear this rhyme I picture a Scottish highland cow, its coat waving in the icy flaff.

    McGonagall, who has a certain genius for coos, unfortunately also felt moved to capture in rhyme disasters, “calamities” and freak accidents. He chose to pay tribute to the people who died in the 1879 Tay Bridge disaster thus:

    Beautiful railway bridge of the silv’ry Tay
    Alas! I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last sabbath day of 1879
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time.”

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds