25 Jul, 2011 @ 08:45
2 mins read

An Elephant no more

A new broom is sweeping clean – quite literally – at the soon-to-be-renamed Hotel Montejaque (formerly El Elefante Amarillo), located in the village square of this pretty pueblo blanco in Andalucia.

ON the first Wednesday of every month, the village of Montejaque holds what we foreign residents like to call ‘big basura day’ … when anything broken, worn out or unwanted (apart from our spouses) can be put out for collection.

New co-owner of the hotel, Michael Asher, was keen to get rid of a great deal of the stained and broken furniture, appliances and accessories that he had inherited on taking over the hotel in mid-June. So keen was he, in fact, that he started putting it out at 6:00 p.m. on the Tuesday evening, only to be told by the local policeman that he couldn’t do so until after 8:00 p.m.  – and that he wasn’t to block access to the street where the bins were located.

Michael was therefore somewhat reluctant to put out everything that he and his ‘work-aways’ (students who work at the hotel 25 hours a week for room and board) had discovered in the various store-rooms; he decided to keep some of it back for the following month’s big basura day, and even took some items to another pick-up location, so as not to block the street.

At 8:15 p.m., most of the crooked picture frames and spotted mirrors had been snaffled by the local residents. A young man came into the hotel to confirm that all of the basura was indeed ‘free for the taking’. When this was established, he made a call on his cell ‘phone … and, minutes’ later, a large lorry with a hydraulic lift pulled into the square. Away went the broken washing machine, steel shelving and a number of other unidentifiable large metal objects.

“Quick!” someone hissed. “Show him the broken stove and the tapas fridge, and anything else metal.”

Yes, the scrap metal merchant wanted these, too, as well as a non-functioning cigarette machine. In fact, so much was taken away that the work-aways were then able to put out all the other basura, including stained mattresses, garden furniture and plastic chairs … a lot of which was also snapped up by the bargain-hunting locals.

By 9:30 p.m., Michael was beaming from ear to ear. “I have their ‘phone number,” he said ecstatically (referring to the scrap metal merchant), confident that even more broken appliances would be found in the coming weeks.

Getting rid of the big basura has been only a small step in the renovations being undertaken at the Hotel Montejaque. The swimming pool has been drained, repaired and repainted; the patio surrounding it is flower-filled, and the bleached outdoor furniture painted in blue, terracotta and dark green; all of the bedrooms will be getting a make-over; and the front of the hotel will soon have a fresh coat of paint and new signage.

Most important of all, however, is that the hotel is now open at all hours, seven days a week, for guests, village residents and visitors. Breakfast is available 10-12, tapas dishes (priced from a Euro) from 12 to 8, and a 3-course ‘menu del dia’ (priced at 15 Euros) from 8 to 10 p.m.

“It’s still a learning experience, and we’re taking each day at a time,” says Michael. “But we hope that the Hotel Montejaque will soon meet our goal of offering 3-star boutique accommodation, meals and services that attract not only world-wide visitors but also local and foreign residents.”

It’s great to see that this new broom is sweeping clean.

  •  Contact: Michael Asher – Hotel Montejaque – (34) 952 167 252

Carolyn Emmett

Am an inveterate traveller. Born in the UK and spent teen years in Stratford-upon-Avon. Emigrated to Canada in 1976. Married 33 years, with three children and two grandchildren. Have lived in Jakarta, Indonesia (1997-2001), Botswana (2001-2003) and Johannesburg, South Africa (2003-2010). I'm a perfectionist, very organised, typical Aries; as Purple Ronnie would say: I would be good at being Queen of the World because: I love bossing everyone around and telling them what to do; I am great at making clever plans; I am great fun to be with 'cos I love action and adventure, and I always think up crazy ideas.


  1. A menu del dia priced at 15 euros is way too expensive. I can get a three course and a beer for half that. A cheap but good menu del dia is essential if the owner wants to “attract not only world-wide visitors but also local and foreign residents.”

  2. The menu del dia at Hotel Montejaque is very good value. It is not a venta. The food is excellent and imaginative, the staff are v ery friendly and the standard of service high. Montejaque has been needing a good hotel and restaurant for some time, the new owners are providing this. The locals (Spanish and non Spanish) and tourists are regular patrons. Cheap does not always mean good food, I have had some awful meals at half the price! Good luck to Michael Jonathon and their great team.

  3. Thanks, Fred, for a great idea … the hotel should call it a ‘Menu del Noche’, rather than a menu del dia. I’ve also had the latter (i.e. 3-courses and a beer) for half the price – comprising a salad of lettuce, tuna, shredded (and tinned) carrot, beetroot and sweetcorn; a somewhat greasy pork chop, floppy fries and tinned green beans; and an ice cream out of the freezer for dessert. I have never had,for 15 Euros, a 3-course dinner of the calibre offered by the Hotel Montejaque. Blue-cheese-stuffed mushrooms … lamb with a mustard and lavender crust … home-made pear tart with a ginger and walnut base. And half a litre of red or white house wine for 5 Euros more. For 7.50 Euros, go to the hotel for a tapas lunch; you can have four or five (home-made) dishes for the price of a menu del dia. Cheers!

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