Mr Canarelli, a little over 20 years ago, you decided to renovate the stone ruins of the Murtoli Estate, why was this?
I used to go there with my Grandfather to look after his cattle and I have many memories and favourite locations there. These location which may appear banal when you are a child suddenly take a whole new meaning when you reach adulthood. When he died in 1993, the 2,000 hectares estate comprising land, scrubland and rocks had become wild. Renovating this land was a homage to my Grandfather and also ensured the continuity and respect of the work he had undertaken throughout his whole life without ever taking a day’s holiday. When I began to renovate the Murtoli estate, there was no road, water, or electricity, only a wild and natural camp site, cows roaming free, wild boars and ruins. I had the intuitive feeling that in this little corner of paradise, it was important to combine agriculture and a hotel whilst con-serving this exceptional environment. Agriculture is the basis for everything in this sector of Corsica which is an agropastoral area with space and productions which are inherent to the area and recognised for their quality. The Estate located at the foot of the Ortolo Valley has enormous potential from an agricultural perspective which requires promotion. The number of farmhouses and stables in ruins spread across the natural setting allow us to better comprehend the agricultural and farming vocation of this land. It is on the basis of this natural and human potential that I initiated renovation of the Estate.
Through the years, by adding pastoral and agricultural activities to the Estate, you have created a quite unique company in Corsica, which combines agriculture and tourism, what helped you to make this choice?
In reality, I created a “hotel” on my farm, and not the other way round. I also looked at what was happening elsewhere in the luxury agro-tourism sector with concepts existing abroad which could be adapted to the original criteria constituting the identity of Corsica, as well as respecting the constructed heritage and its high quality facets. The agricultural and tourism related factors are inspired by each other. The Estate is a family company handed down through the generations which operates in the professional sectors of hotel management, restauration, agriculture, farming and entertainment whilst also remaining an intact nature reserve, populated by wild boars, hares, partridges and mallards. It meets all of the criteria for luxury hotels and sustainable development. Today it is one of the largest multicultural farming sites in Corsica with 400 goats, over 100 cows, 150 goats, 4,000 olive trees planted and soon the production of olive oil, 18 hectares of eternal flowers, vegetation and hives. With 150 hectares of prairies, the Estate is used for feeding and grazing in autumn, with the remainder being traditional scrubland. The Estate is also a modern cheese production plant with a cellar for maturing cheeses in the basement for goat’s cheese also home to some of the finest spices which can be found in the region, Paris, Lyon, Aix, local lamb’s milk and veal are also sold under the brand name “Murtoli iodine veal”. and which can be enjoyed at some of the finest restaurants on the Estate. The hotel has 17 renovated stables with all the mod cons spread across the entire Estate, the equivalent of 100 beds. In total, there are 55 employees over 9 months of the year, and 35 for the remainder of the year. This is a genuine economy created in the middle of baron land. This is my personal conception of sustainable development.
Murtoli is also renowned for its hunting stays. In Corsica hunting is an ancestral tradition, one more tradition which you continue on the Estate. Could you say that Murtoli is the guardian of ancient traditions and lifestyle?
Murtoli has always been a favoured land for hunting and this has a very important role to play in the island’s rural activities, it is part of a certain way of living with nature and a special relation with the land since the dawn of time. There is no shortage of game, particularly wild board which are hunted in the traditional manner. Hunting in autumn and winter has become a much cherished activity. The holidays booked for hunting activities have optimised occupancy of the estate outside of the summer season and show that the traditions, when retained, can be a real factor promoting development. It is, moreover, thanks to this development that we will save our traditions and island lifestyle so others can learn and appreciate these!
On this land about which you are so passionate, it could be said that you have brought together all of your passions, is this true?
The Golf course has opened in 2014, what are the assets of this unique course, do you play?
It was simply about creating a high quality golf course without affecting the location on the model of the Scottish links courses. The course was designed and created between the ocean and the mountains by Kyle Philips, who is an expert in golf courses in natural settings. He was inspired and guided by nature to establish the greens and fairways. The 12 holes were designed in the heart of olive trees, eternal flowers and lavender so as to retain the agricultural and pastoral vocation of the location. The concept is relatively innovative as there are around a dozen different configurations. This will allow our guests and visitors to play various courses during their stay. I am only a beginner, but already hooked!
What do clients and visitors look for when coming to Murtoli?
Space, nature, peacefulness, authenticity, welcome, lifestyle, and gourmet cuisine. There is something for everyone. Our guests have the impression of being at home in the heart of nature, with high quality services in absolute discretion. The entertainment activities offer a range of services in the outdoors, the golf course, fishing at sea, or in the river, a large white sandy beach, dozens of coves, walks in the exceptional countryside, the vegetable garden, horse riding, hunting, discovery of fauna and flora, as well as archaeology, musical events on the beach, literary meetings, gourmet events with award winning chefs, wine tasting with wine experts from the island and the continent, well being activities with massage beds in nature or balneotherapy with the spa and other material in the rose gardens and beside the sea… as well as private hire of the estate for weddings or parties, with friends or family. Whatever the time of year, the Estate offers the very best it has in terms of products, nature, light and beauty.
Do you have other plans?
Recent years have seen the largest plans with the renovation of new stables, entertainment activities for guests such as the golf course, development of farming and agricultural activities and agro-food production for restaurants on the Estate and for sale. For the time being there are no new plans immediately aside from improving the current offer.
Finally, last year César Filippi told us about his favourite Estate, what is yours?
My favourite is in Tuscany, named “la fattoria lavacchio”, this is a large agricultural estate spanning 400 hectares producing wine, olive oil, flour for bread, all made on the estate for their restaurant. All of the old farm buildings and houses have been renovated and are used as part of the hotel. We met at a trade fair some years ago and realised that our concepts were geographically very close as well as philosophically. Hotel management activities on their Estate has allowed them to pro-mote agricultural production.
Domaine de Murtoli
+33 (0)4 95 71 69 24