A getaway into another world; an island, Lanzarote, that makes human and natural artefacts flow into each other. A hospitality that leaves you with the feeling that this could be your home away from home. Richard and Tarnya welcome you to Finca Malvasia.
When you land in Lanzarote everything starts to look a little bit different. And it’s not a side effect of visiting an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There’s something more to it, some visual discrepancy on our ordinary habits. Maybe it’s the volcanic rock that covers almost all the surface of the island. Black, overwhelming, and yet not as desert as you would expect, or better still, surprisingly lush and fruitful. But we will get to that.
How to get to the Finca
Finca Malvasia is located in the protected wine growing region of La Geria, a sort of Napa Valley in miniature, covered in vineyards of, ça va sans dire, Malvasia grapes and bodegas (wine cellars) all around the hills.
If you arrive at the Finca in the late afternoon, with the Canarian wind swirling around your car, the idea of diving into another world – another time – will become more and more persistent. The precise, meticulous directions to the Finca that have been sent to you when you booked your stay don’t seem so bizarre anymore. As you pass by small churches, through narrow roundabouts, past abandoned bodegas colored by dust, you wind through a small road that seems to be painted into the black earth. Knowing that you are only 10 minutes or so away from the airport, it’s astounding.
A sharp turn, rustic houses, a dusty track through the vineyards, with the picon pits scattered all over the land to protect the precious grapes, and, finally, the Finca itself. Before the shapes, the colors will strike you. The bright white of the traditional buildings. The clean turquoise of the swimming pool, nestled at their center. The intense fuchsia of a Bougainvillea spilling itself onto the facade. The lushness of the palms trees swaying.
Richard and Tarnya
You can tell at first sight that Tarnya and Richard Norse-Evans have creativity on their side. Both British, both ex designers for their own digital design technology company, they decided to leave the frantic pace of London and recreate their life here in Lanzarote.
“We were looking for a property in the southwest of France, but sadly we could´t find what we were looking for. Then we came to Famara for a surfing vacation, and we basically never left”.
The air is different here.
It pervades objects and nature in a way that makes them look as if they were more consistent, more colorful.
The couple must have felt that, and started redecorating the whole place with a style that would compliment and enhance the environment while keeping a piece of contemporary design within it. A balanced mixture of simple yet stylish rustic design and Cesar Manrique, the true hero of the island, the architect that transformed Lanzarote into a living statement of art.
And so you have four individual apartments nestled around the pool, with the large Manrique style table that speaks of enjoyment and of the pleasure of never having to leave each others company. The stone wall that brings a juncture between inside and outside, between human craft and nature. That reminds us of the power – volcanic, needless to say- of this land. There’s the strange feeling of never wanting to leave and get out, even if out means to explore this unique island right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which boasts a stunning temperate climate.
Ecotourism with an edge
That was precisely what Tarnya wished for Finca Malvasia to be. “A place to disconnect, without leaving behind our small everyday comforts. Where individuals from a diverse range of professions can chill out and reconnect with themselves. We offer a space in which to do this, a small circular Manrique-style yoga room, for yoga practice and massage treatments,. We can recommend cycling and trekking routes, pristine beaches that are perfect for surfing, and those that are idyllic to swim amongst the clear waters of the Atlantic and the fish…The aim is for guests to be able to take a step back from the hectic pace of modern lifestyles and to go out to explore an island that offers so much that you probably didn’t expect.”
Ecotourism with an edge: the swimming pool is solar heated, and its lagoonish style with curved corners would perfectly fit in a 5 star resort. There are two barbecues, a corner of conviviality that alone makes everything less wild. And there’s Wifi, even if maybe not as fast as in London.
“We used to work with online technology full time, and appreciated our high bandwidth connection – says Richard, smiling. – When we first started this project, we were trying to install wifi and internet at the Finca. People started laughing at us: “There’s no line there, you simply can’t have internet”. Thankfully within a year it was possibly but imagine our initial shock.”
Food & wine
Starting a business here wasn’t the easiest thing. Still, Tarnya is able to see the good sides even during the initial start up challenges. “Everything here happens rather slowly. Almost all the bureaucracy is paper based, so don’t expect things to be done quickly. Plus, people here are fond of traditions, and do not intend to eradicate them. But this teaches you to gain a slower pace in life and to appreciate everyday.”
Another challenge derived from something apparently pleasant and – nowadays – trendy: winemaking. “The property came with almost 250000 square meters of vineyard and we had no previous knowledge – says Richard. – We basically started learning from scratch! The vineyard can produce up to 7000 kilos of grapes per year, which are sold to the bodega Vega de Yuco, just on the other side of the hill. We’re proud to be able to contribute to this tradition and to be helping to maintain the integrity of the La Geria wine growing region”
Speaking of gastronomy, the couple has another ace up their sleeve. It’s called Grillen Bar & Grill, and as the name implies it’s a restaurant specialized in freshly grilled meats and fish, with a good reputation for itsGin list and excellent local wines. All the products are grown or sourced locally., and the co-owner is a good friend. “We wanted to bring our love for design to create a stylish, rustic and cozy atmosphere, with dark hues of color, warm wood and plants as the backdrop to serving good, hearty, honest food.
The passion for this land and for its outstanding beauty, where you can have farmers harvesting their onions on one side of the road and Caribbean-like beaches on the other, has led to a new business venture: launching Ashfall, a photo production agency. “This business compliments our original background of design and production – says Richard. – We wanted to offer our knowledge of the island as a service for those agencies and individuals looking to shoot here, from media publications to brands shooting their fashion campaigns. We can recommend locations, source props, styling as well as assisting with the arrangement of accommodation, catering and necessary licenses – this can be challenging given some of the restraints, so inside knowledge is of value to ensure all goes to plan. The result are so rewarding, when you get to share the uniqueness of Lanzarote with others. We’ ve had some very successful fashion brands shoot at Finca Malvasia. They were able to capture the true essence of Lanzarote in this location”
You can tell that this couple have found their roots and are grounded here. “We love this place, that’s why we took the decision to move our lives here – says Tarnya. – We genuinely enjoy sharing our local knowledge and experience with those who come to stay. We offer them all the knowledge so that they get the very best experience during their time on the island.
Tarnya’s Finca Malvasia Welcome guide
And so Tarnya’s Finca Malvasia Welcome guide was born. A handy guide that’s included in all the apartments and details everything worth knowing about the island. It keeps you away from the tourist areas and allows you to experience the island like a local. From hidden coves and beaches, to Artisan basket weavers in Haria, local farmers markets, to talented artists and painters in Teguise, from the best bars to have a chilled Moscatel (local sweet wine) to a Sushi place that serves only tuna fish caught around the island. This guide is written with love and is a treasure that you should take with you all the time as you explore.
As you may have realised, Finca Malvasia isn’t a place where you should expect the usual, unoriginal hospitality of other touristic places. It’s – quite thoroughly – an escape. Even for it’s own owners, who have learnt an important lesson from living here. “We are richer, definitely not financially – laughs Richard, – but definitely time rich. We are grateful for the family time we have gained, quality time we can spend with our son. He was 18months old when we left London. Now he has the habits of an 11 year old, he likes video games and tv, but he’s mainly creating his own design projects, making music and enjoys to be outside , spending entire afternoons in the countryside, talking with his friends with walkie talkies. He´ll eventually go abroad to study, but we hope he will keep on coming here for the holidays, as a lot of boys and girls from Lanzarote do.”
So sit down on your terrace, gaze at the volcanoes and enjoy a selection of the local goats cheese and cold cured meats, everything sourced locally. Appreciate the great respect for what this earth can give, and the extreme variety despite its small surface.
Listen to the wind blowing through the Canarian palm trees. The sounds are softened by thick rocky walls, deeply grounded, protected. Home away from home.
Coming soon: the insider guide to Lanzarote from Tarnya’s handbook. From surfers’ heaven to local food heroes.