Mallorca has suffered a beating because of Corona and politics.
More than 30,000 companies in the Balearics have given up. Others are going green.
- We can make Mallorca self-sufficient and create a new kind of tourism, says environmental activist and entrepreneur Christer Söderberg, CEO of Circle Carbon, and Mikael Hall, owner of the luxurious garden hotel Can Bordoy in Palma.
Changing our way of life to harmonize with nature is top of the agenda for both hotelier Mikael Hall and entrepreneur Christer Söderberg.
Among many awards, Mikael Hall’s five star hotel Can Bordoy Grand House and Garden in Palma won Beyond Luxury’s Best Interior Design 2020 category for “its almost cinematic design for dreamy, demanding and romantic travellers,” and triumphed in the Best Hotel Concept 2020 category for “its unique accommodation concept in which design, atmosphere and contact with nature go hand in hand.”
Former Green Europe politician Christer Söderberg received a grant in November of 2020, when the Ministry of the Environment in the Balearics gave his company Circle Carbon 109,000 euros for an excellent initiative that reduces CO2 in the environment. The grant money comes from the eco-tax that tourists pay when they stay in hotels on the island.
- Mallorca is fantastic and really worth investing in, says Christer, who is a true globetrotter with countries such as Thailand, Brazil, Austria, the USA and Sweden behind him.
- Our company Circle Carbon has eight employees who work to prevent climate damage and to turn depleted fields into turbo soil. We are all passionate about what we do!
At Circle Carbon in Bunyola, Christer’s employees are clearing glass from the flower beds under the roof of the greenhouse, after a hailstorm during our visit. Climate change with extreme weather exists on our paradise island too.
- Mallorca currently imports as much as 88 percent of all the fruit and vegetables we need, and we aim to turn it around and make Mallorca 88 percent self-sufficient instead with the help of other organic growers, says Christer.
Turning the economy around
Delicious vegetables such as aubergines, kale, zucchini and other seasonal vegetables are placed on a large table in the greenhouse. The vegetables taste heavenly, especially the tomatoes and the lettuce.
- We hope to get our market days up and running again soon – in the meantime, the queue of home farmers who need our help to grow carbon negative is becoming longer and longer, says Christer Söderberg.
A Mallorca on its way to self-sufficiency in vegetables and fruit is especially welcome now. No one knows how much the final bill after Corona will be, but it is clear that the pandemic has affected the Balearics more than any other region of Spain.
¤ More than 30,000 Balearic companies have been forced to give up so far.
¤ One fifth of the small to mid size businesses are projected to close in 2021.
¤ Air traffic has decreased by 70 percent and foreign tourism fell by 87,4 percent in 2020.
¤ Tourist spending fell from 14,843 million euros in 2019 to 1,837 million in 2020.
¤ Hundreds of thousands are looking for work and over a hundred hotels are for sale.
The Balearic economy declined by over 28 percent in 2020.
- It is serious, says economist Carles Manera, who has been Minister of Finance in Mallorca and who is the Balearic Islands’ representative for the Banco de España, and professor of economics at the university here.
Investing in tomorrow
- We are thankful that there are people with good ideas that can help us turn this around.
Mikael Hall has invested a fortune in his refurbished 16th century palace hotel Can Bordoy Grand House and Garden. His creation is both homey and elegant, modern and historic, and has a unique large garden with a heated pool, luxurious suites and a roof terrace with a pool too. Special features are a butler service and lodgings for your dog, complete with a walking service! The restaurant Botanic offers a lot of healthy food and creative cocktails. Mikael Hall lost millions when tourists were unable to travel here because of Covid-19.
- It’s awful! But the crisis has one a positive element, says Mikael Hall.
- Mallorca’s residents have become more interested in investing in the island’s natural resources and future tourism now.
Mikael Hall likes to invite decision-makers for discussions at Can Bordoy. He has, among other people, talked to Sean Ryan, son of Tony Ryan, Ryan Air, Virgin’s Richard Branson, who runs the hotel Son Bunyola in Mallorca, and clothes magnate Stefan Persson from HM, who has a home in Palma. During our meeting in Hotel Can Bordoy’s unique garden in the middle of Palma, economist Carles Manera and interior designer Christer Söderberg joined the discussion too.
Biochar soil creates miracles
- The most important contradiction now is the one between the economy and the environment, says Carles Manera, who is helping to distribute some of the nearly 140 billion euros Spain has been allocated by the EU.
- Less wear and tear on our natural resources is excellent for the environment but bad for new jobs and for the economy. What we need now are really good proposals, and preferably concrete projects that we can invest in.
Christer Söderberg’s company Circle Carbon has a business model where 600 jobs can be created in 67 municipalities all over the Balearic Islands. Within the framework of that project, 122,940 tonnes of CO2 will be captured and bound in Mallorca’s soil. It slows down climate destruction and creates a green island.
- The project strengthens the soil with biochar and at the same time it produces food while creating even more jobs in agriculture, distribution and trade, Christer Söderberg explains.
Biochar is the name of the super ingredient that has made Circle Carbon’s 7,500 square meter greenhouse flourish in a miraculous way. Several meters high papaya trees with fruit are available, and really thick climbing vines with grapes too.
- We sowed the first seeds a little over two years ago, says Christer Söderberg.
- So far, we have seen up to 200 percent larger vegetables and fruits.
Better than Wall Street
- On Wall Street, analysts think a 25 percent gain is good. Here we get 1000 times more in yield via seeds. The papaya trees come from one single papaya that I bought at Aldi …..
Mikael Hall and Christer Söderberg are keen to create self-sufficient green projects.
- We would like to serve Christer’s fantasti vegetables at our restaurant – and of course we will drive up our compost waste from Can Bordoy to you, says Mikael.
- I am planning to buy one or two finca farms and make agrotourismo hotels with 50 million euros in invested money. I would like us to create gardens of Eden there – and to be self-sufficient in fruit, vegetables and meat too. That could mean another job for you, Christer!
Carles Manera is eager to create new tourism – perhaps with Hall and Söderberg:
- We must create synergies. Balearic hotel owners do not understand that innovative ideas are needed now. They are very careful about change. We need more ideas like yours.
All three of them agree that the number of tourists will be fewer in future, but that they will stay longer in Mallorca after Corona.
- We should rebuild the larger tourist hotels and turn them into apartment hotels for pensioners from northern Europe, Mikael suggests.
- We could invest a lot in education and experiences in a sustainable and circular economy, says Christer. Mallorca should be a living example for the whole world. We could show the world good environmentally sound projects and land regeneration, and projects that involve tourism and culture, and so on, too.
Text: Charlotte von Proschwitz.
Photo: Thomas Engstrom.