By Jon Clarke

IT is entirely appropriate that her local Spanish newspaper described her as being a ‘Gerald Brenan of the 21st century’.

For just like the groundbreaking British author, Lucy Arkwright has been trailblazing her way into the record books, by setting up one of Andalucia’s first entirely carbon-neutral hotels.

Along with husband Angel Millan, she has turned a fantastic Andalucian townhouse into an exciting project for green-minded travellers.

After a year of back-breaking work – and the project going thousands over budget – their hotel Posada San Marcos, in Alajar, is finally on track.

“It has certainly cost a fortune, but it is starting to pay back,” explains Bolton-born Arkwright.

Carefully renovated using the best quality lambs wool and cork insulation, it also counts underground geothermal heating, one of the first buildings in Andalucia to install it.

The ground source energy system has three separate sources of temperature: the four bore holes that take the temperature from the ground, as well as the house and the pool.

It means the hotel is kept at a constant 15 to 17 degrees all year round.

It is especially effective in summer as the cool temperature from the pool is used to cool the house, while the warmth from the house is sent to help produce hot water for the hotel and to heat up the water in the pool.

It is a clever closed system and it is saving them around 75 per cent of their previous electricity bill.

The couple also collect rain in the property’s old well and from there it goes to a tank to be re-used for toilet flushing and garden irrigation.

On top of this the paint is lead-free, the varnish used on the restored chestnut beams is water-based, and all lighting is LED.

More information can be found at http://www.posadasalajar.com/eng/environment-area/