Ten years ago, TUI purchased the nearly abandoned medieval hamlet of Castelfalfi in Italy to transform it into a high-quality tourist resort. The little village with its castle and country estate situated in the triangle between Pisa, Florence and Siena was carefully restored over the past few years. Particular care was taken to maintain its original architectural style and medieval character of the village for an authentic experience. The resort now features the world’s first 5-star hotel of the new TUI Blue brand, high-quality restaurants and numerous luxurious holiday homes. Castelfalfi also proves that the interplay between tourism and sustainable development can create added value for the guests and the region.
Organic wine and olive production
Wine and olives were produced at the 1,000-hectare estate long before TUI became involved. The world’s leading tourism group recognised the potential of these traditional natural products and planted vines on a further 23 hectares in 2012 for organic wine production, excluding the use of any chemical substances. Since then, 35,000 to 40,000 bottles of wine have been produced every year, primarily for Toscana Resort Castelfalfi itself, but also for merchants in Italy and abroad. Apart from four different red wines and one white wine variety, the guests staying at Castelfalfi can also enjoy the taste of the estate’s own olive oil pressed from olives from the resort’s own olive grove with around 10,000 trees. Olive production at Toscana Resort Castelfalfi is also fully organic, producing up to 35,000 litres of extra virgin olive oil per year. The oil is used by local restaurants as an ingredient for their authentic local cuisine, and the guests can buy some bottles of olive oil to extend the experience of visiting Tuscany once they are back home.
The restoration and construction work in the Italian village of Castelfalfi was in line with state-of-the-art standards, largely based on sustainable, locally sourced materials. The new TUI Blue Hotel, for instance, was designed to be energy efficient and was granted Casa Clima – A Class certification. Moreover, a biomass combined heat and power station supplies energy for the heating and cooling systems in the hotel and the entire Castelfalfi village centre. It is run on pellets, which are produced as by-products of local agriculture and forestry operations. For more remote properties, solar panels were installed in order to secure hot water supply based on alternative sources of energy.
Castelfalfi as an employer
In the past few years, Castelfalfi has become the biggest employer in the region with 200 employees. A further 300 people in the region benefit from cooperating with the resort, e.g. laundry services and other service providers. With its offerings for holidaymakers but also regional visitors, Castelfalfi has been revived while maintaining the traditional charm and authenticity of Tuscany.