Zakynthos is a true paradise for visitors that hides many of nature’s wonders and secrets. Gill Oberli from Tsivouli Park has taken it upon herself to preserve showcase the best of Zakynthos in an eco-friendly light.
Take a cosy, stylish farmhouse, add some great local food and an eco-friendly touch, and you have one of the most gorgeous bed and breakfasts on the island of Zakynthos, founded with love by Hans and Gill Oberli, a Swiss-British couple.
The gorgeously traditional looking farm-like ‘bed and breakfast’ is built with extra-thick stone walls (using material from a nearby quarry). The property fits with nature with its terracing, inconspicuous buildings, and small windows that provide shade, keeping rooms cooler. It espouses a philosophy of bioclimatic architecture and borrows from old island wisdom for building comfortable houses.
Discretely green in numerous ways
While the wooden shutters, solar water heating and use of eco-friendly paint enhances Tsivouli Park’s green profile, it is the details that make Tsivouli green as well: all furniture was built by local blacksmiths and carpenters, the curtains have been crocheted by hand in traditional style, and the wooden ceilings under the ceramic roof tiles have been designed to add local country cosiness.
Other eco-practices include collecting rainwater for showers and toilets, low-energy fridges in rooms, efficient air coolers and ceiling fans, LED lighting, solar lighting and subtle lighting to minimize energy and light pollution, as well as recycling efforts, composting, and natural fertilization. Tsivouli Park has a towel reuse program in place and is proud to use green cleaning products.
The Garden of Eden
Outdoors on the grounds, besides the 160 olive trees that yield amazing olive oil to sample, there are cypress, pomegranate, apricot, almond, fig and walnut trees, not to mention umbrella pines and Aleppo pines. You’ll even find a persimmon tree and an elder tree, as well as a banana plant that has borne fruit in Zante’s temperate climate. Honeysuckle, passion flowers, lavender, jasmine and morning glory dot the gardens, so do vegetable patches whose sun-ripened produce often finds its way to the guests. There’s also an herb garden with oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, coriander, mint, basil, chives, ginger and a bay (laurel) tree, while borage and dill grow in the wild.
Thanks to collaboration with the World Wide Organization for Organic Farms (WWOOF), the property happily receives the many volunteer or WWOOFers that visit during the year to help. The volunteers also get to enjoy the mouth-watering breakfasts that include three types of bread (from local bakeries), homemade jams and jellies, emu and chicken eggs, quail eggs when in season, local honey, Greek strained yoghurt, and nuts. Locally sourced cheese plus some European favourites grace the breakfast table so does fresh fruit salad and mulberry compote when in season.
Activities and outdoor fun
If you’re looking for outdoor activities apart from the stunning beaches in the area, you won’t be disappointed. Tsivouli Park has teamed up with FORA, a local hiking organization that also enjoys pressing wine in summer, the traditional way! Hikes that highlight fauna and flora, bike tours, diving in Lake Keri, and horseback riding in nearby Kalamaki can all be easily arranged. Lastly, don’t miss the chance to learn about the protection and habitat of Zante’s famous loggerhead turtles in Laganas from expert organizations that Gill is in contact with. Tsivouli Park represents one of Zante’s best spots to experience a true eco-friendly stay.