If you're reading this, you know what we usually get up to when we have a tourist season - but you might not be aware that Emma and I tend to be just as busy during the winters. It's not all skiing and cricket (yes, really!), finding new waterfalls, routes and locals to include in our eco-holidays in Montenegro; nor is it all marketing updates or putting our feet up. No, we like to get our hands properly dirty with what we call our "winter projects" at Villa Miela, the base for the multi-activity holidays we host ourselves at Lake Skadar National Park! Transforming this once-ruined stone farmhouse into stylish, eco-friendly accommodation back in 2008 inspired us to make constant improvements our guests will love - and we'll admit it, us too seeing as this is the amazing place we get to live. The Hot Tub Our first ever winter "project", back in the days when we were still starting out. I picked it up from the factory in Kettenacker, Germany (a first, apparently), and towed it back down to Montenegro with a £100 trailer bought off eBay and half a dozen ratchet straps. When we finally arrived back at the villa, only one strap remained. My first kilometre on French soil (where both trailer tyres burst) and our Croatia/Montenegro border crossing experience ("Is it for making wine?") have since become two of my favourite go-to anecdotes...and the tub was a real hit! A HOME FOR YOUR HOSTS After four summers of living in various dilapidated flats in and around Virpazar with our young children, we finally got together the funds and builders to construct a home for ourselves next door to Villa Miela. Respecting the architectural integrity of the centuries-old building was massively important to us, so our idea
If you’re reading this, you know what we usually get up to when we have a tourist season – but you might not be aware that Emma and I tend to be just as busy during the winters. It’s not all skiing and cricket (yes, really!), finding new waterfalls, routes and locals to include in
April is usually an extremely busy time for us at UM. We'd normally be knee-deep in enquiries and bookings, as well as working over-time to get our activity base, Villa Miela, and our equipment ready for our first week of guests. Lake Skadar and the surrounding valleys are looking gorgeous....but this year we won't be sharing the Easter break or our gorgeous grounds with anyone other than ourselves. No, this year we have curfews, partial lockdowns limiting us to the municipality we live in, traffic on the lake has been suspended and Emma still has a week of self-isolation to go following her 14 days in quarantine which means she isn't allowed to leave our property. I can go and walk our dog Coco for an hour a day and pop down to the local supermarket, but that's about it. For the foreseeable future we are more or less limited to the borders of our land. Just as well, then, that we're marooned in a quite stunning spot! We have cherry, plum and quince blossom on our trees, a swimming pool that might soon be warm enough to use (edit, our kids jumped in yesterday!) and with the spring season cancelled and summer looking like it may go the same way, to keep our spirits up we're using this pause to get stuck into some proper sustainable “projects". Almost every off-season since we started living at Lake Skadar a decade ago, we've had some sort of ambitious project going on at Villa Miela as we've attempted to improve the set up for our hosted activity holidays - (I might recount some of them in future blog posts). Why should 2020 be any different, especially as we now appear to have rather more time on our hands than we had anticipated?
April is usually an extremely busy time for us at UM. We’d normally be knee-deep in enquiries and bookings, as well as working over-time to get our activity base, Villa Miela, and our equipment ready for our first week of guests. Lake Skadar and the surrounding valleys are looking gorgeous….but this year we won’t be