El Almendral De Relleu

Relleu, Spain

Jul 15, 2005
Outside Magazine
El Almendral De Relleu

   Photo: courtesy, El Amendral Relleu

On southeastern Spain's glorious yet built-up Costa Blanca, where hordes of sun-and-surf worshippers go for Dionysian revelry, billing El Almendral de Relleu as a casa rural might be a tough sell. But a drive up the palm-tree-lined gravel path to this 18th-century farmhouse, part of a 3,000-tree almond plantation just 11 miles inland, will quickly reveal the tranquil oasis its owner, Bernard Vassas, has worked so hard to create since opening in 2003. Sitting poolside with plunging views of the valley below—a tapestry of olive groves and pine forests—you'll quickly realize you don't miss the ocean at all.

ROOM & BOARD: El Almendral's seven unpretentious rooms, appointed with fine-touch details such as silky French linens and antiques, are loosely named after the seven deadly sins, with sloth being the common denominator for all the guests. Indulged by Mediterranean nouvelle cuisine, including sea bass drizzled with a red-wine-and-berry sauce followed by homemade almond-nougat ice cream, it's easy to be sinful.

OUT THE BACK DOOR: The surrounding roller-coaster singletrack terrain is a mountain-bike wonderland. British cycling pro Martin Ford runs El Almendral's all-level cycling vacations. For some water play, visit the lively beach city of Alicante, a 40-minute drive away, and sail, dive, or windsurf for the day.

DETAILS: A six-day, all-inclusive mountain-bike package is $730 per person. Doubles from $120, breakfast included; 011-34-659-165-085, www.almendral.com