Set high amongst the wooded hillsides of Castilla-La Mancha, with commending views over thousands of hectares of estate, one finds La Nava del Barranco, probably one of the finest private hunting lodges in Europe, writes Andrew Forbes (@andrewaforbes)
These are some of the most evocative landscapes of Spain – after all this is Don Quixote country, a land of wild beauty and abundant nature at the very heart of the Iberian peninsula.
As a guest of La Nava del Barranco one can enjoy the beauty of wild nature combined with the decadence of contemporary luxury.
Surrounded by verdant forests, valleys, ancient olive groves and organic farmland, this remarkable country lodge is a modern interpretation of the classic country retreat. Served by its own private runway, La Nava promises total privacy, discretion and utmost exclusivity for its guests.
It is the place for memorable, indulgent experiences to share with family and friends – safari lunches in the shade of ancient oak trees; fun and adventures with quads bikes or on horseback; formal candle-lit dinners; and relaxing movie-nights in the private cinema.
This spring just as the hunting season drew to a close, we headed to La Nava del Barranco to be immersed in the estate’s unique environment of exclusive, personalised luxury and tranquil nature.
Events of Excellence
I was a privileged guest of Events of Excellence, a Madrid-based company created by Beatriz Pastrana, that specialises in unique bespoke events at its carefully curated portfolio of properties in Spain. La Nava del Barranco is a favourite destination, and one Beatriz was excited to share with a new audience. This sporting estate is internationally renowned for its driven partridge shoots, held from October through to the end of February. Guests can also hunt wild boar too. In fact, many of the walls of the hunting lodge are decorated with tusks of these wild pigs.
La Nava del Barranco is trying to reach a new audience, and out of the hunting season, the estate wants to become increasingly known as a nature-lovers retreat; a private equestrian resort; as well as a gastronomic destination for families and friends.
It’s a captivating and sophisticated alternative to travelling long-haul for a wilderness lodge vacation. Here I felt embraced by nature and the wildlife of glorious Spain. My stay was without doubt a world-class ‘Out of Africa’ lodge experience on a scale that’s hard to find elsewhere in Europe. As a guest I indulged in local and regional cuisine prepared by the in-house cook, Rosa and her team, who have the same farm-to-table ethos that’s been the tradition here in central Spain for generations.
Hunting Lodge Chic
La Nava del Barranco is a contemporary, chic villa with sun-drenched terraces; a striking infinite pool; charming garden courtyards with trickling fountains, and landscaped grounds that blend into the countryside beyond.
Once inside the house is a welcoming mix of formal and informal spaces. A cosy snug with fireplace; a light-filled breakfast room; and outdoor living spaces that invite you to unwind and relax. Be aware that since this is a hunting lodge, there are lots of trophy heads, antlers, wild boar tusks, stuffed animals and birds. In this context they look appropriate, and the animals are not endangered, but of course it can be disturbing for some.
The elegant, formal drawing room has floor-to-ceiling sliding windows, making it is impossible not to be wowed by the remarkable views. It’s an elegant place for pre-dinner cocktails and canapés.
In fact, gastronomy is a highlight at La Nava del Barranco and the generous dining room certainly rises to the occasional, with stunningly presented formal dinners.
Accommodation includes 15 elegant suites, and an additional 5 guest rooms. The personalised name card on your door, and the gift of estate-bottled extra virgin olive oil set the tone for an elegant, personalised stay.
Interior design is a mix of the classic hunting lodge aesthetic and Cape Town chic. Sophisticated country house antiques combine with trophy heads on the walls and artisan ornaments and original art. Its eclectic, and stylish. There’s a grandeur to the main lodge without doubt, with its upscale, ‘white glove’ hospitality by the dedicated team – and there are bold interior features like the over-sized candle chandeliers lit each evening. Yet the lodge also offers the intimacy of a private home.
Once here, you probably won’t want to leave – and there’s little reason to, since everything can come to you. There’s even an on-site luxury spa, with qualified therapist; and a steam room, sauna, and relaxation area. It’s as if one is in a boutique hotel, yet with the exclusivity, privacy and personalised service of a private villa.
Every detail is taken care of – it’s the kind of family and friends retreat that will create those once-in-a-lifetime experiences and memories.
Despite the temptations to stay at the main house, there is much to enjoy nearby including golf, shopping and also day-trips to some of Spain’s most beautiful cities.
Yet it will be the spectacular estate that calls you – and there are a wealth of ways to enjoy the nature that envelopes the lodge. Think quad-bike adventures; 4×4 safaris; hiking; horse-riding; and shooting.
For me, food is an integral part of the joy of travel – so it was a treat that regional gastronomy is very much part of the experience at La Nava del Barranco. Manchego cuisine, the typical dishes of Castilla-La Mancha, might be familiar to anyone who has read Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote de la Mancha’, probably the most famous Spanish literary work. The stories of this ‘ingenuous gentlemen’ often refer to local dishes – hearty fare that reflects the region’s varied produce from traditional vegetable recipes to game like rabbit or partridge.
La Nava del Barranco celebrates this culinary heritage throughout each day.
From breakfast, which might be tasty migas (breadcrumbs) with eggs…
…to culinary lunches on the terrace or in the wild – a delicious combination of relaxed dining with exquisite service.
Dinner is an opportunity to showcase the refined character of the area’s gastronomy including international influences. The love and care shown in the preparation of the homemade dishes is further enhanced by the elaborate table settings. Throughout your stay you will be wowed with creativity; it feel as if you are dining within a movie set – extravagant and decadent.
The foodie focus goes beyond the indulgent meals and can include artisan food tastings too. Of course, the wine and cheese of Manchego are probably amongst the best-known products internationally – yet La Nava del Barranco will introduce you to local family producers of award-winning wines and superb cheeses that are not found internationally.
This is the opportunity to discover the heart of the region through a shared love of food & wine.
Dining in the Wild
The scale and majesty of the landscape lends itself perfectly to quintessential lodge pursuits such as equestrian or photographic 4×4 safaris; sophisticated countryside lunches and al fresco dinners.
On my first day, we were driven down into one of the nearby valleys. There, set upon a carpet of acorns and oak leaves, dappled by sunlight filtering through the lichen covered branches of the oak trees, was the most beautifully set table. It was dressed in linens, decorated with candles and lined with khaki safari chairs.
The attention to detail, from the wash-basin with butler, to the uniformed waiting staff, was flawless. The menu was rustic yet prepared and served with sophistication. Salmorejo (a chilled tomato soup from nearby Cordoba); chickpeas with lobster; and chocolate fondant cake. It was a magical setting for a lunch; just one of many memorable moments.
The golden hour is a particularly beautiful time of day in Spain, when the landscape is ignited with the warmth of the late afternoon sun. It’s the perfect moment to enjoy a safari. At La Nava del Barranco it is delivered in true African style with specialist 4x4s, and even canapés and cocktails at sundown!
Expect to see deer, partridge, birds of prey and even wild boar. The countryside varies from ancient forests; open grasslands; to verdant valleys; promising different scenes at every turn.
So, there is a flavour of Castilla-La Mancha and the exceptional La Nava del Barranco country estate. These few days have given me lasting memories and a desire to return.
This remarkable property is available for exclusive use – ideal for multi-generational family vacations, nature adventures, unique private meetings and corporate events.
The estate’s private runway is designed for jets up to 50,000 kilos, including long-range aircraft such as the Gulfstream G640, Falcon 8x and Bombardier Global Express, bringing La Nava del Barranco door-to-door within a few hours from European cities; and also convenient for North America.
Chauffeur transfers can be arranged from Madrid and beyond.
For enquiries and reservations, contact Beatriz Pastrana at Events of Excellence.
T: +34 607 22 93 90
For videos and image galleries of La Nava del Barranco, visit the website.