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Guests at the Hotel Olivetum Colina enjoy the pool and the view of the olive grove. Pictures: HO

Swiss family focuses on olive oil tourism

Gregor Waser

With a guesthouse and olive grove, the family Schläpfer has created an impressive retreat and a new kind of tourism in Andalusia.

This dream must have been cherished by many an office clerk under the foggy blanket of the Swiss Plateau. Roger Schläpfer, a banker from eastern Switzerland, made it come true. Eleven years ago, he moved to the warm south with his family and turned his back on everyday office life.

"I was reaching the limit professionally, the workload was getting heavier and heavier". Together with his wife Brigitte, a self-employed in Chinese medicine practitioner, and their three school-age children, they took the plunge and moved to Spain.

Dilapidated olive mill

In Montoro, near Córdoba, they found a rather dilapidated olive mill and converted it into the Olivetum Colina guesthouse. From then on, the three children went to school in Andalusia. The eldest two children have since moved out.

Roger and Brigitte Schläpfer run the hotel with its seven double rooms during the five months of April, May, June, September and October - it is too hot in July and August.

In 2013, the Schläpfers moved from Uzwil SG to Andalusia, from left: Brigitte, Dominic, Lilian, Olivia and Roger.

Building a hotel in the hilly hinterland of Córdoba was not without risk. But the Schläpfers believed in the combination of nature and relaxation in the middle of an olive grove. What's more, Andalusia can be discovered from Montoro in just a few hours in a hire car, be it Córdoba, Seville, Granada, Ronda, Malaga or Cadíz.

This is olive oil tourism

In addition to detours to the fantastic Andalusian towns, guests linger by the pool at the Hotel Olivetum Colina, savour jamón Ibérico and of course olives in the garden or stroll through the endless olive groves.

Thousands of olive trees characterise the hills around Montoro near Córdoba.

In addition to the hotel business, the Schläpfers are also focussing on a hitherto little-known type of tourism - olive oil tourism: The interest in olives - Schläpfers produce organic olive oil with great dedication - is a source of interest and fascination for visitors.

The organic olive oil Olivetum Colina.

"We now offer olive oil tastings and guided olive grove walks," explains Roger Schläpfer. Guests can also help with the care of the olive trees and the harvest. A visit to the olive museum, a tour of the olive mill or the "Cooking with olive oil" workshop are also on offer.

After all, more and more people are health-conscious and good olive oil promises strength, energy and a long life, says Schläpfer. But what is good olive oil?

Roger Schläpfer explains: "The location of the trees affects the content of health-promoting substances, as does the way they are harvested and processed." It also requires a bit of intuition to know when the olives should be harvested. The Schläpfers have already been honoured for their organically produced olive oil.

And of course, the Schläpfers also sell their fine olive oil, as Travelnews was able to discover and taste at Fespo 2024. Roger and Brigitte Schläpfer took part in the Andalusia presentation at the Spanish Tourist Board's stand as their olive oil supplier before returning to their beautiful retreat in Andalusia.