All you need is this – and a good book

To celebrate the launch of my new Hidden Gems Worldwide blog, readers are being offered 15% off for breaks at this fantastic Andalucian boutique retreat for stays taken during May. Read all about it below.

How lucky am I to represent this truly beautiful hidden gem! When I first arrived at DDG Retreat as a paying guest last Summer I was blown away with the place – not just because of its obvious natural beauty but because the more I delved, the more I found to love about it.

Aesthetically it’s got everything going for it; this bijoux bolt-hole, nestling amongst the trees, is perched high above the Med just outside one of Andalucia’s very pretty white villages with stunning views over to Gibraltar and North Africa. Five individually designed casas, with Asian and African-inspired decor,  have been built to blend perfectly with their environment and the attention to detail, with all the little touches awaiting us, was impressive.

The ambience is truly one of peace and absolute tranquility. I’d defy anyone to stay here for more than an hour or two without getting into the DDG groove and feeling totally relaxed. For good measure I’d booked myself a double whammy of spa treatments just to set me on my way and from glorious start to sad-to-leave finish it was impossible, whilst there, to let any of the stresses and strains of home stand in the way of a full recharge.

This is a place where time really did drift by in a haze of birdsong, pine scent, and a myriad of lounging places – the day beds here and there, our own private plunge pool, the hammocks just perfect for an afternoon siesta , the chill zones that are scattered around the 4-hectare estate, the gorgeous spa cabana in the woods.  No fighting for sun-beds here! Wherever we laid our hats (kindly provided for us by our hosts), literally became our home.

And then there were the other touches that warm the heart. Books to-die-for in the pool pavillion if you enjoy, as I do, glossy books full of images of tempting places. If travel, architecture, design and all things luxe are your bag then there’s more than enough to keep you reading when you’re not too busy snoozing the day away.

And did I mention your personal Nespresso machine in your casa? And the pretty restaurant with beautifully cooked meals using vegetables from the Retreat’s own garden and fresh locally-sourced ingredients?

Beneath all the lovely touches though, what drew me most to DDG Retreat, were the owners Alex, Olga and daughter Daria, who clearly have poured their hearts and souls into creating a place that’s very special to them. Having travelled extensively they’ve set out to incorporate here the very best of  the places they’ve stayed at in more than 60 countries – but what they were most keen to include were elements that reflected their own personal principles of protecting the environment. 

In building the Retreat, for example, they made sure the five casas, the spa, the pool and pavillion, the stunning tennis court and their own villa,  were all positioned in locations that meant no disruption to existing trees – quite a challenge in this woodland setting!  For good measure they planted 100 new ones during the course of construction and from this year will plant a tree for every booking taken.

Sustainable materials have been used where possible, the infinity pool is filled with (naturally blue, quality-certified) water from their own underground well, they use biological tanks for waste water, rainwater is used for plant irrigation. So fantastic as it is for a whole host of reasons,  this is also a place we can all enjoy with a clear conscience.

I could go on and on – but the best way to get a true flavour is to go and see for yourself. I loved the Retreat so much I persuaded Alex and Olga to let me share their story – and I do so with pleasure. I’d now like to share the love and DDG have agreed to offer my readers and Twitter followers 15% off their accommodation and breakfast tariff ( during May breaks, subject to a minimum 3 night stay and excluding flights.

DDG is situated at Casares, about an hour’s drive from Malaga airport. Transfers or car hire can be arranged. Please contact me for further info or to book

Don’t Leave Home Without: It’s a packer’s delight here. Most of what you need is supplied courtesy of the owners. Sarongs, check; Sunhat,check; Bathrobe,check; Toiletries (organic), check. Just bring the suncream, your sunglasses and a travelling partner who wants to unwind as much as you do.


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