Donkeys on Hydra, in the Greek islands
Image courtesy of Mosquito Graphic

RESPONSIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

After even a short time of Hydra, you will forget that you ever needed a car. You certainly will notice the unpolluted air and the blue colours of the waters surrounding the island. Drinking water is a prized commodity on the island as apart from a few working wells, where you can only fill small bottles for personal use, there is no natural water resource on the island.

At Hotel Nefeli, we are reputed to be the only hotel on the island that uses its own cistern for collecting rainwater during the winter months. This a valuable resource as Hydra has no water deposits and water has to be brought in from the mainland daily by ship. During the summer months, the town water pressure can drop to almost a trickle. Our independent supply and tank storage means that we can provide water for the guest bathrooms, cleaning and the garden throughout the season.

Waste where possible, is recycled for use as compost. We use low energy bulbs wherever we can and candles at night to light the garden. We take great steps to encourage everyone to use reusable bags for shopping and put an end to the blue plastic bags one normally finds in the eastern Mediterranean. Furniture, such as beds etc., which we have no further use of due to annual repairs and renovations, we offer to locals free of charge and our old blankets and rugs are used as saddle blankets (numnahs) on mules and donkeys.

We use only local labour in the hotel and as maintenance workers. Through our main housekeeper, Despina, we support a home for children and young adults with special needs in Athens, where Despina’s son Alex stays during school times.

We encourage our guests to open windows and allow the evening breezes to cool rooms, rather than use the air-conditioning. We do not use an electric washer dryer and let the bed linen dry naturally in the sun, of which there is normally plenty.

All our food is sourced locally and we buy locally supplied yoghurt, the like of which you will never taste better, as well as locally produced fruit. That is why our breakfast changes seasonally depending on what is on offer, however you can always be assured of freshly baked bread from the local baker and freshly squeezed orange juice every morning. The bed linen and typical island style curtains in the rooms are all local. Our booking process is as paperless as you can get and when we do print we use recycled paper products.

There is still much to do. We would like to install solar power energy, however the strict building regulations on Hydra, which prohibits any type of modern construction in support of local styles and handicraft, means that solar power units are also not allowed. With new technologies now available, we are working with the local municipality and the central building authority in Piraeus to allow unobtrusive solar units and so reduce the reliance on mains power electricity. We feel that whatever do, there is still more to be achieved.

Tourism is the only industry of the island Hydra. Without tourists, the local population would not be able to stay here. From glitzy jewellery shops, selling Greek artisan works, to the green grocers selling cheeses, fruits and meats all from the mainland opposite and the fishing boats at the quay early in the morning selling fresh fish caught that day, all depend on visitors to the island for their survival. As do the famous mules and donkeys of Hydra, which provide the main transport of people, shopping, furniture and building materials needed to support tourism. These are working animals, well looked after by their owners, not here just for postcards and photo opportunities.

Your visit to Hydra will provide valuable support to the local community through ongoing employment in hotels, cafes, tavernas as well as help to maintain our mules and donkeys. Without your visit and you embracing our ‘green’ environment, the last remaining truly car free Greek island will eventually cease to exist.

Please contact us for more information.

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