An Andalusian ranch provides the perfect setting for a business meeting.
Picture a sprawling Andalusian palace in the country. A vast expanse of land where cattle graze. Manicured gardens where palm trees sway and turtle doves coo. Proud horsemen on prancing steeds. The soothing strum-notes of a Spanish guitar...
This may not sound like your usual venue for a convention, but it is the latest trend in facilities for incentive trips and company gatherings. The relaxed atmosphere of an Andalusian country ranch is just what the doctor ordered for a business meeting among professionals who normally work in colder climes.
El Esparragal is one of several working farm estates near Seville which offer facilities to visiting companies. It is close to the airport, the facilities and buzzing city life of Seville, yet it feels like another world.
El Esparragal is in fact a thriving farm estate devoted to breeding Andalusian horses and to cattle, both dairy cows producing certified milk, and the indigenous Retinta herds, the ancestors of the famed Texas longhorn cattle and a source of especially tasty beef. The estate covers 7,400 acres, of which a third is set aside as a hunting reserve.
The hacienda itself, a converted 15th-century monastery furnished with antiques and decorated with hunting and bullfighting motifs, opened as a temporary country hostelry for the 1992 Universal Exposition in Seville. That proved such a success that the owners of El Esparragal decided to turn the mansion into a fully-fledged country hotel with accommodation in 18 bedrooms.
Rooms of various sizes have been converted into meeting halls for groups of up to 300. For a healthy combination of work and pleasure, hunting, horseback trekking, flamenco performances, dressage displays, bullfights in the ranchs private ring and excursions by four-wheel-drive are among the leisure possibilities on offer.
Cortijo El Esparragal - Crta. Mérida Km 795, 41860 Gerena (Sevilla), Spain. Tel. 34 955 782 702, Fax 34 955 782 783
Nearest airport: Seville (15 miles, 25 km)
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Copyright © 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet - A Freelance Spain production
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Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet