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Running a donativo albergue - seeking advice on rules & laws

Walking by faith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2014 - Camino Frances
Aug. 2015 - Camino da la Costa, Camino Primitivo
June 2016 - Camino Portuguese Litoral
Hello everyone. It's been a long time since I've been here and posted anything.
Joined this forum back in 2015, after walking my first camino in late 2014.

Like for many members here, the first camino was an unforgettable experience. It changed my life more than I had originally realized...
Came back to Spain many times, learned to speak Spanish on a conversational level, walked other routes, met unforgettable people, received many blessings, suffered some hardships. Helped others and got help when I needed it the most...
The camino magic hasn't disappeared, regardless of how many times I came back to walk one of the routes leading to Santiago.

Fast forward to 2021/2022, and I find myself in a new situation. Things in both my personal and professional life have developed in a way which allows me, and at the same time motivate me, to make some profound change in my life, and perhaps change my role on the camino from pilgrim to hospitalero (or dueno, depending on how you look at it :)).

I plan to buy a property in Spain next year, and start a smaller donativo alberge, either from late 2022 or early 2023. It will help me a lot if anyone here with experience can shed some light on the laws/regulations regarding running such an alberge, and whether these rules change depending on the province of Spain.

Things such as whether I need to register as a business entity in the country, and other legal obligations owner of such an alberge has on a monthly/yearly basis, and of course before they can open the place legally. Please note that I am interested only in donativo concept, that means not really taking money (only donations from pilgrims who can afford to donate something).

Even pointing me to some other websites/resources that explain this (either in English or in Spanish) will help me a lot. Of course, practical experience is the best, so if another owner of donativo alberge is a member of this forum and can share some information with me it would be fantastic.

Please before you mention it (certainly with good intentions :)), don't worry, I know what it entails to run an alberge, including the challenges (volunteered as a "hospitalero" in this type of establishment in Spain and elsewhere, though not on the Camino de Santiago).
Money is also not an issue for me, and the albegre doesn't have to be profitable in any means (it even doesn't have to break even). Just wanted you to know this as well, for the case you wanted to tell me (again certainly with good intentions :)), that running a donativo alberge is not a good idea in 2022 and beyond... My goals related to this project have nothing to do with money...

Thank you in advance for any advice, and wish you all good health & and wonderful camino in 2022.
 
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Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
I get the sense that there are some Albergue owners Associations. That sounds like the people who you want to talk to. A Search on the board didn’t generate any information, but I wonder if member Rebekah Scott and her organization


…might point you to a group. They do or did run a donativo but also seem to organize to help out Albergue’s and do things like trail cleanups.
 
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Excursionista

happiest when walking
Time of past OR future Camino
De VdBierzo (2004)
Pamplona-Sahagún (2021)
I'm sure you are planning to do this anyway, but just a reminder to check with a local lawyer to verify anything you read here, and most importantly, to let us all know where you end up so we can come stay with you on our next camino. :)
 
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Walking by faith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2014 - Camino Frances
Aug. 2015 - Camino da la Costa, Camino Primitivo
June 2016 - Camino Portuguese Litoral
I get the sense that there are some Albergue owners Associations. That sounds like the people who you want to talk to. A Search on the board didn’t generate any information, but I wonder if member Rebekah Scott and her organization


…might point you to a group. They do or did run a donativo but also seem to organize to help out Albergue’s and do things like trail cleanups.
Thanks a lot for your input!
I have checked the work of Rebekah's association and kudos to the initiative, but from what I read on the website of her association I do not get an impression that she can provide me the advice I need here, at least at this point.

Having said that, I definitely do not rule out getting in touch with her later, because I see some intersection in what they do, and what I hope to accomplish with my albergue on the camino :).

Besides Rebekah at Peaceable Kingdom get in touch with Kim at the Stone Boat in Rabanal.
Thank you, checked their website, and if I understand it correctly, they run the place based on donations only. BTW I like it a lot :).
I will definitelly contact them if I cannot get the advice from someone directly here.

I'm sure you are planning to do this anyway, but just a reminder to check with a local lawyer to verify anything you read here, and most importantly, to let us all know where you end up so we can come stay with you on our next camino. :)
Thank you, that's the plan for sure! I will be looking for a lawyer based in Spain to help me with the entire process of buying the property (verifying the contracts etc), and everything that will follow.
But I also think that running a donative albergue isn't a thing lawyers deal with regularly :D, so here I hope to get more of a first-hand advice :).

And for sure I'll let you know where I end up. Have picked three possible locations during my latest caminos this year, plus have a few more on my mind to check in the spring. With more locations the chances are solid I'll find a fitting property on sale in at least one of them.

Seems it can be the guy who can help me, so let's hope he gets notified of your mention :).
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I have checked the work of Rebekah's association and kudos to the initiative, but from what I read on the website of her association I do not get an impression that she can provide me the advice I need here, at least at this point.
Don't rule @Rebekah Scott out. You might also be interested in reading her book A Furnace Full of God. Based on reading the description of the book it sounds like she has experience in doing what you plan.
And please don't wait for one of these forum members to contact you. If you tap/click on their name you will see a pop up window with the option to "start a conversation" with them.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Well I'm a she, not that it matters ;)

My suggestion is to first determine where you plan on buying property as in answer to one of your questions, rules vary according to the autonomous region in which you live. The next step would be to contact the local authorities in the tourism department for details regarding the various albergue categories - there are quite a few! My other advice would be to get a gestor who can give you the best advice about the steps you need to take and help you with all the paperwork needed to settle in Spain. I never used a lawyer and only a gestor on a few occasions but he was very helpful when I did pick his brain. And best to get a local who knows the lay of the land so to speak. I speak/read fluent Spanish so I did most of the leg work myself, this also saved on costs.

Other advice would be to locate to a region where there is a need for an albergue. If you set up shop in a town with several other already existing private albergues, locals may not look too kindly at you offering "rooms for free" (yes, yes, I know that donativo does not mean free).

Just my two cents.

I'll let Reb speak for herself as she has a wealth of knowledge regarding donativo albergues and the running of such for FICS. The Stone Boat is more a B&B than an albergue and therefore a for-profit business, not what you are thinking of setting up.

Good luck with your search!
 

Corned Beef

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP Part 2/2023
You could also check out the Confraternity of St James

They have a couple of what they term hostels so you should check out their site - especially the Annual Reports as it gives an idea of the high, lows and costs of running pilgrim accommodation.

 
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I have checked the work of Rebekah's association and kudos to the initiative, but from what I read on the website of her association I do not get an impression that she can provide me the advice I need here, at least at this point.
Don’t underestimate @Rebekah Scott’s wealth of knowledge and experience! She knows how things are done both as someone who moved from abroad to Spain and as someone who has been living in Spain for many years and is involved in many Camino related projects. As far as I know she ran her home as a kind of donativo albergue initially, is involved in the running of several donativo albergues that are managed, but not owned, by Camino associations, and no doubt has connections to parochial donativo albergues that are owned by the Church or by the parish. Unlike these two categories, you want to establish a donativo albergue as a private individual which, at least that is my impression, is not very common. In fact, Rebekah may be the only active forum member with any first-hand experience in this respect. I hope that she will correct these comments if they are wrong.

Also, as far as I can tell, there are no rules & laws about Camino albergues for Spain as a whole. They largely fall into the remit of the regional governments and/or local administrations. I understand that you have not yet decided where you want to set up your project?
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
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Tincatinker

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
My goals related to this project have nothing to do with money...
Then an explanation of your actual goals might help any potential advisor. I'll skip the old trope: If you want to make a small fortune on the Camino start with a large one ;)

@Rebekah Scott and @LTfit are probably your best sources on this forum for the technicalities and legalities of opening a Donativo or Casa de Acogida. Though the advice also given above which can be parsed as "don't piss-off the locals" is probably the best so far.

Buena Suerte
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Time of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
There is a thread
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/so-you-want-to-run-your-own-albergue.21604/
in the Resources section that talks all about this.

Furthermore:
Rules for opening albergues vary from province to province. There are TONS of things to consider.
1. Does that town need an(other) albergue?
2. Do the people in the town talk to one another? Are they friendly with you?
3. What is the building/town like in winter? Will you stay year-round?
4. Do you have a solid support group to uphold you?
5. Do you know a lot about Spanish taxes/immigration/camino politics/holidays/banking/drains?
6. How do you feel about being ripped-off by nice, friendly people?
7. What happened to the people who ran the place before you? Why did they sell up?
8. Are you an unfailingly generous and saintly person?
9. Who will watch the place when you need to go to town/hospital/holiday/home to see the family?
10. How long do you hope to do this? What happens when you finish?
 

gmag

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
frances 1998, 2000, 2013
Hello, I am the owner of a private albergue on the Camino Francés. I'm going to give you some idea.

Investigate very well the future of donativo albergues, some time ago they began to talk about their disappearance. Consult directly with an association of albergues, or with the Confederation of Albergues on the Camino de Santiago.

The rules are not very complicated, and the advice of LTfit to use the services of a tax advisor and not a lawyer is very very very good.

The advice, also from LTfit, not to interfere with the town's albergues is also very good, we albergues know that a donation albergue can easily earn a minimum average of 8 euros per pilgrim, which means more than a albergue that charges 10 euros but that for being private have to pay taxes and finally earn less than 6 ... or even 5, that's why it is not a bad idea to put it where there are no other albergues. This will make your life more relaxed

Another thing that causes problems in the coexistence between donation albergues and the other albergues is the fact that donation albergues fill easily their places, and of course not only with pilgrims who need a very cheap albergue. This often makes municipal and private albergues become a donation albergue for that person without a place in the donation one, with a difference, as we are not a donation, to that poor pilgrim or with little money who knocks on our door, We do not ask for a single euro. And we know that at that very moment, in the donation of our village there are pilgrims with high economic power. Therefore, a good idea not to interfere with local albergues, you will save problems that will undoubtedly be.

Another real possibility is to make it as a donation and have a "suggested" price that you think is sufficient. I know someone with the legal category of donation and that really costs 10 euros, this is not liked either by the albergues that are privately run municipal (perhaps most of them are like that today) or the truly private ones. In these times with so many economic problems, the struggle with the albergues that pay taxes and other social charges, can be tough.
 
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dick bird

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Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
All sound advice. I'll just throw in one more point - check out the building itself. Renovating or converting a building is not just expensive, it can involve a whole new universe of regulations and permits, especially if it is attached to another building. But good luck whatever you do.
 

CAJohn

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept/Oct 2019
You had mentioned that finances weren’t an issue.

I am not sure how this works at all, but you might also consider becoming an angel investor to an existing donativo this needs the assistance, both economic and on the ground working assistance. This could allow you to get involved in an established donativo to whatever level you desire.
 

Mycroft

Veteran Member
Hello everyone. It's been a long time since I've been here and posted anything.
Joined this forum back in 2015, after walking my first camino in late 2014.

Like for many members here, the first camino was an unforgettable experience. It changed my life more than I had originally realized...
Came back to Spain many times, learned to speak Spanish on a conversational level, walked other routes, met unforgettable people, received many blessings, suffered some hardships. Helped others and got help when I needed it the most...
The camino magic hasn't disappeared, regardless of how many times I came back to walk one of the routes leading to Santiago.

Fast forward to 2021/2022, and I find myself in a new situation. Things in both my personal and professional life have developed in a way which allows me, and at the same time motivate me, to make some profound change in my life, and perhaps change my role on the camino from pilgrim to hospitalero (or dueno, depending on how you look at it :)).

I plan to buy a property in Spain next year, and start a smaller donativo alberge, either from late 2022 or early 2023. It will help me a lot if anyone here with experience can shed some light on the laws/regulations regarding running such an alberge, and whether these rules change depending on the province of Spain.

Things such as whether I need to register as a business entity in the country, and other legal obligations owner of such an alberge has on a monthly/yearly basis, and of course before they can open the place legally. Please note that I am interested only in donativo concept, that means not really taking money (only donations from pilgrims who can afford to donate something).

Even pointing me to some other websites/resources that explain this (either in English or in Spanish) will help me a lot. Of course, practical experience is the best, so if another owner of donativo alberge is a member of this forum and can share some information with me it would be fantastic.

Please before you mention it (certainly with good intentions :)), don't worry, I know what it entails to run an alberge, including the challenges (volunteered as a "hospitalero" in this type of establishment in Spain and elsewhere, though not on the Camino de Santiago).
Money is also not an issue for me, and the albegre doesn't have to be profitable in any means (it even doesn't have to break even). Just wanted you to know this as well, for the case you wanted to tell me (again certainly with good intentions :)), that running a donativo alberge is not a good idea in 2022 and beyond... My goals related to this project have nothing to do with money...

Thank you in advance for any advice, and wish you all good health & and wonderful camino in 2022.
You are blessed, W by F!
Please excuse me if my dyslexia has kept me from seeing this, but what are your goals/ mission statement for this albergue?
Am looking forward to hearing more as this project develops!
 

Walking by faith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2014 - Camino Frances
Aug. 2015 - Camino da la Costa, Camino Primitivo
June 2016 - Camino Portuguese Litoral
Thank from the depth of my heart to everyone here 🙏. I had no idea this community was so active, and you totally flooded me with useful responses. I already see opening this thread was an excellent idea, and I could do nothing better at this point of my project. Responses below:

Don't rule @Rebekah Scott out. You might also be interested in reading her book A Furnace Full of God. Based on reading the description of the book it sounds like she has experience in doing what you plan.
And please don't wait for one of these forum members to contact you. If you tap/click on their name you will see a pop up window with the option to "start a conversation" with them.

Thank you, I will. I just try to initially build a pool of information & people to contact, plus I also think this topic is interesting for many people around here, so why not keep the conversation going :).

Well I'm a she, not that it matters ;)

My suggestion is to first determine where you plan on buying property as in answer to one of your questions, rules vary according to the autonomous region in which you live. The next step would be to contact the local authorities in the tourism department for details regarding the various albergue categories - there are quite a few! My other advice would be to get a gestor who can give you the best advice about the steps you need to take and help you with all the paperwork needed to settle in Spain. I never used a lawyer and only a gestor on a few occasions but he was very helpful when I did pick his brain. And best to get a local who knows the lay of the land so to speak. I speak/read fluent Spanish so I did most of the leg work myself, this also saved on costs.

Other advice would be to locate to a region where there is a need for an albergue. If you set up shop in a town with several other already existing private albergues, locals may not look too kindly at you offering "rooms for free" (yes, yes, I know that donativo does not mean free).

Just my two cents.

I'll let Reb speak for herself as she has a wealth of knowledge regarding donativo albergues and the running of such for FICS. The Stone Boat is more a B&B than an albergue and therefore a for-profit business, not what you are thinking of setting up.

Good luck with your search!
Thank you a lot and sorry for denominating you wrongly :)). You gave a priceless advice. Gestor will be the person I will be looking for then, and I also will also contact the local tourism authorities.

Maybe I will even ask you than in private to share a contact of a gestor you have good experience with--of course if they are still in the business and interested in getting new clients.

And don't worry, one of my main criteria for the fitting location of an alberge is that there isn't any in that place, or there is only a bad one, such as that is a pure business and has nothing to do with the spirit of the pilgrimage.
The last thing I want to do is to "compete" with other good alberges on the way... In my personal experience, there are still places/areas that lack albergues, even on the most popular caminos.

I am here. But I think he already knows what he wants to hear, and I can't add anything to that.
Good luck to you, OP!
Thanks Rebekah and I definitely do not know what I want to hear :). Please bear in mind that I am a novice here, and have no idea about other members on the forum, their skills and experience. Trying to understand that better while seeking information.

You could also check out the Confraternity of St James

They have a couple of what they term hostels so you should check out their site - especially the Annual Reports as it gives an idea of the high, lows and costs of running pilgrim accommodation.

I definitely will check that, thanks a lot!

Don’t underestimate @Rebekah Scott’s wealth of knowledge and experience! She knows how things are done both as someone who moved from abroad to Spain and as someone who has been living in Spain for many years and is involved in many Camino related projects. As far as I know she ran her home as a kind of donativo albergue initially, is involved in the running of several donativo albergues that are managed, but not owned, by Camino associations, and no doubt has connections to parochial donativo albergues that are owned by the Church or by the parish. Unlike these two categories, you want to establish a donativo albergue as a private individual which, at least that is my impression, is not very common. In fact, Rebekah may be the only active forum member with any first-hand experience in this respect. I hope that she will correct these comments if they are wrong.

Also, as far as I can tell, there are no rules & laws about Camino albergues for Spain as a whole. They largely fall into the remit of the regional governments and/or local administrations. I understand that you have not yet decided where you want to set up your project?
Thanks, I am already starting to understand the vast scope of her experience in the caminos. Definitely do not underestimate that now, though I might get a different impression when checking a websites. But website is just a website, and it is much better know understanding the person behind that.

As to the location, as I've written in my earlier reply, I already have 3 locations (understand small towns/villages) that fit my criteria, but I prefer not sharing them at the moment. Two of them are really small places and it may be hard to find any fitting property for sale.
In the spring I hope to travel to Spain again, and as a part of a camino explore some more locations, this time mostly on Via de la Plata.

As @Lfit says, the Stone Boat in Rabanal is a special place for pilgrims but it is set up as a Bed & Breakfast or guesthouse So not what you currently have in mind.They are on Booking.com but don’t take bookings at the moment. https://www.booking.com/hotel/es/the-stone-boat.en-gb.html.
Thanks I got it now. Still may stay there one day, because I like the concept :).

Then an explanation of your actual goals might help any potential advisor. I'll skip the old trope: If you want to make a small fortune on the Camino start with a large one ;)

@Rebekah Scott and @LTfit are probably your best sources on this forum for the technicalities and legalities of opening a Donativo or Casa de Acogida. Though the advice also given above which can be parsed as "don't piss-off the locals" is probably the best so far.

Buena Suerte

Gracias amigo :)

There is a thread
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/so-you-want-to-run-your-own-albergue.21604/
in the Resources section that talks all about this.

Furthermore:
Rules for opening albergues vary from province to province. There are TONS of things to consider.
1. Does that town need an(other) albergue?
2. Do the people in the town talk to one another? Are they friendly with you?
3. What is the building/town like in winter? Will you stay year-round?
4. Do you have a solid support group to uphold you?
5. Do you know a lot about Spanish taxes/immigration/camino politics/holidays/banking/drains?
6. How do you feel about being ripped-off by nice, friendly people?
7. What happened to the people who ran the place before you? Why did they sell up?
8. Are you an unfailingly generous and saintly person?
9. Who will watch the place when you need to go to town/hospital/holiday/home to see the family?
10. How long do you hope to do this? What happens when you finish?
Thank you for not giving up on me Rebekah, after my initial response :). I will check that thread in detail later on.

To your points.
1. As pointed in one of the previous answers, this is definitely one of my main criteria for choosing the place.

2. In my personal experience, this depends also a lot on you. You can bring in harmony to the place that is missing one. On the contrary, if you lack harmony within, you may find it hard getting along with people even in the most friendliest of places.

3. My idea was not to stay year round, but only for the prolonged main season (or seasons, since some ways have 2), depending on the way.

4. Yes

5. I know something, but definitely hope to learn more in the coming months. Have some connections in Spain, and spent there roughly 1 year in total, mostly on the caminos but not only. Still, there's much to learn and I am well aware of it.

6. That's a part of such endeavor, something you have to count with. I live my life following the law of action and reaction. Trying to do good to others without expectations, providing value, and receiving good in return. It has been working well for me so far, judging by the fact that I am in this position to start this albergue. There were some setbacks of course, but for me they are simply part of the process....

7. I do not necessarily plan to buy an existing albergue. From what I've seen on my caminos, any house in a good condition can be turned into an albergue.

8. Definitely not a saintly person :D :D :D. Generous I try to be, but like with everything else in life, it is a sort of a sine wave. You have your principles, but sometimes you are up, and sometimes you are down. There's nothing like an unfailingly generous person. This is something I learned to accept, in regards to both myself and others.

9. Have my idea with the concept of volunteers. Again, from personal experience I know it can work. And of course, some changes may happen again to my personal life in Spain, and suddenly there will be someone looking for the place when I am away... Also, there's something I saw with some albergues I liked as an idea--that they were closed one day in a week, always the same day. It is not an ideal thing, of course, but until something better can be sorted out such a day can serve you well to take care of stuff that needs to be done outside of the albergue.

10. When you build a place around a certain meaningful concept, and this concept is clearly identified, you can always hand it over to someone sharing the same values. Honestly, speaking, I like Spain a lot, I like the caminos, and I can imagine doing this for years on end. But of course anything can happen in life, and it is good when you build a place around a meaningful concept, rather than around your personality. Because when you build it around your personality, once you quit there's not way for the place to continue..

Hello, I am the owner of a private albergue on the Camino Francés. I'm going to give you some idea.

Investigate very well the future of donativo albergues, some time ago they began to talk about their disappearance. Consult directly with an association of albergues, or with the Confederation of Albergues on the Camino de Santiago.

The rules are not very complicated, and the advice of LTfit to use the services of a tax advisor and not a lawyer is very very very good.

The advice, also from LTfit, not to interfere with the town's albergues is also very good, we albergues know that a donation albergue can easily earn a minimum average of 8 euros per pilgrim, which means more than a albergue that charges 10 euros but that for being private have to pay taxes and finally earn less than 6 ... or even 5, that's why it is not a bad idea to put it where there are no other albergues. This will make your life more relaxed

Another thing that causes problems in the coexistence between donation albergues and the other albergues is the fact that donation albergues fill easily their places, and of course not only with pilgrims who need a very cheap albergue. This often makes municipal and private albergues become a donation albergue for that person without a place in the donation one, with a difference, as we are not a donation, to that poor pilgrim or with little money who knocks on our door, We do not ask for a single euro. And we know that at that very moment, in the donation of our village there are pilgrims with high economic power. Therefore, a good idea not to interfere with local albergues, you will save problems that will undoubtedly be.

Another real possibility is to make it as a donation and have a "suggested" price that you think is sufficient. I know someone with the legal category of donation and that really costs 10 euros, this is not liked either by the albergues that are privately run municipal (perhaps most of them are like that today) or the truly private ones. In these times with so many economic problems, the struggle with the albergues that pay taxes and other social charges, can be tough.
Thanks a lot for your first hand experience!
I think I've already touched most subjects in my early replies.

There's definitely won't be anything like a "suggested donation" in my albergue. Of course I saw it in many places (and also other techniques how to ask for a specific amount though the albergue was called donativo), and I fully understand why they do that. But it's not something I plan to do.

Btw, based on what you write, donativo albergues do not have to pay taxes and social securities? Does it mean that, in your experience, at least in the province where you are based, they do not have to be registered as legal entities?


All sound advice. I'll just throw in one more point - check out the building itself. Renovating or converting a building is not just expensive, it can involve a whole new universe of regulations and permits, especially if it is attached to another building. But good luck whatever you do.

That's definitely another of my main criteria. I am not going to buy a ruin :).
Renovating places is not my strength, and I knew that if I went this way, I would not start the albergue in early 2023 bur rather in late 2025 :D. That being said, even if I got all the permits & regulations...

My plan is to buy a property in a very good condition, where the only changes will be done in the interior (for most of those you do not need any permit).

You had mentioned that finances weren’t an issue.

I am not sure how this works at all, but you might also consider becoming an angel investor to an existing donativo this needs the assistance, both economic and on the ground working assistance. This could allow you to get involved in an established donativo to whatever level you desire.

Thanks for pointing this out. It is an option I considered, but I would like to live on the camino, and run the albergue in the way I want to, pursuing the goals I have on my mind... Hence being an angel investor in this case isn't the right way for me.

You are blessed, W by F!
Please excuse me if my dyslexia has kept me from seeing this, but what are your goals/ mission statement for this albergue?
Am looking forward to hearing more as this project develops!

Thank you! I'll share these later on with forum members, considering how incredibly helpful everyone has been to me here, considering I'm almost a stranger here and definitely a newbie forum member...
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
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Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
You may have already thought of this, @Walking by faith, and please forgive me if so.

There are caminos that go through 'España vacia' where villages are tiny and getting smaller - like (off the top of my head) parts of the Madrid, Lana, Castellano-Aragonés. So as I read the various pieces of good advice and your response to them, one idea that comes up is to look caminos in places like this that need albergues where there is an active association of Amigos - what comes to mind is the Olvidado - and ask them where they think an albergue is needed most.
Here's a list of regional associations:

There are other people or groups active in promoting a particular camino (like Ender who's done so much to develop the Olvidado), or have a hands-on overview of many routes (like @rayyrosa and @Joan Fiol (Gronze.com) who you can message here on the forum). In your shoes I'd be picking the brains of the last two folks, to find a place that needs an albergue and also fits Reb's very sensible criteria.

You will obviously have your own geographical preferences, but within those there's probably a lot of scope for exploration.

Good luck, and I hope you let us know how it goes.
 

gmag

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
frances 1998, 2000, 2013
You may have already thought of this, @Walking by faith, and please forgive me if so.

There are caminos that go through 'España vacia' where villages are tiny and getting smaller - like (off the top of my head) parts of the Madrid, Lana, Castellano-Aragonés. So as I read the various pieces of good advice and your response to them, one idea that comes up is to look caminos in places like this that need albergues where there is an active association of Amigos - what comes to mind is the Olvidado - and ask them where they think an albergue is needed most.
Here's a list of regional associations:

There are other people or groups active in promoting a particular camino (like Ender who's done so much to develop the Olvidado), or have a hands-on overview of many routes (like @rayyrosa and @Joan Fiol (Gronze.com) who you can message here on the forum). In your shoes I'd be picking the brains of the last two folks, to find a place that needs an albergue and also fits Reb's very sensible criteria.

You will obviously have your own geographical preferences, but within those there's probably a lot of scope for exploration.

Good luck, and I hope you let us know how it goes.
That is true, there are caminos where albergues are lacking, and this hinders their development.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
An added thought, sparked by @gmag 's post
(I did a facepalm, for not having thought of it):
The Invierno could really use an albergue between A Rua and Quiroga and between Quiroga and Monforte. Montefurado is a place that comes to mind in the A Rua to Quiroga stage. In the Quiroga and Monforte stage, there may be an albergue in A Pobra? I'm not sure of the current status of that. The new albergue in Diomondi will take care of the need for one between Monforte and Chantada, but Chantada could also really use an albergue. It's a town rather than a village.

This route is definitely growing, thanks in part to a new Brierley guide.
 
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Flog

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
An added thought, sparked by @gmag 's post
(I did a facepalm, for not having thought of it):
The Invierno could really use an albergue between A Rua and Quiroga and between Quiroga and Monforte. Montefurado is a place that comes to mind in the A Rua to Quiroga stage. In the Quiroga and Monforte stage, there may be an albergue in A Pobra? I'm not sure of the current status of that. The new albergue in Diomondi will take care of the need for one between Monforte and Chantada, but Chantada could also really use an albergue. It's a town rather than a village.

This route is definitely growing, thanks in part to a new Brierley guide.
I agree about the Camino Invierno in general, having walked it recently. Given it's relatively short length and proximity to Santiago, it's pilgrim infrastructure is pretty thinly spread out. Being a viable alternative to the bottleneck that is the last quarter of the Camino Frances, I feel it's time will come soon and this might be a good time and an exciting opportunity to invest in it's future.

And as an aside.. yes, Chantada was the one town I felt really lacking in pilgrim specific accomodation!

That you want to do it for altruistic rather than for financial reasons is admirable. Good luck with your venture, whatever you decide and wherever you find yourself.
 
Last edited:

Walking by faith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2014 - Camino Frances
Aug. 2015 - Camino da la Costa, Camino Primitivo
June 2016 - Camino Portuguese Litoral
I admire your dream WBF. I hope to stay in your albergue one day!
Thank you Lindsay! One day it will happen :).

You may have already thought of this, @Walking by faith, and please forgive me if so.

There are caminos that go through 'España vacia' where villages are tiny and getting smaller - like (off the top of my head) parts of the Madrid, Lana, Castellano-Aragonés. So as I read the various pieces of good advice and your response to them, one idea that comes up is to look caminos in places like this that need albergues where there is an active association of Amigos - what comes to mind is the Olvidado - and ask them where they think an albergue is needed most.
Here's a list of regional associations:

There are other people or groups active in promoting a particular camino (like Ender who's done so much to develop the Olvidado), or have a hands-on overview of many routes (like @rayyrosa and @Joan Fiol (Gronze.com) who you can message here on the forum). In your shoes I'd be picking the brains of the last two folks, to find a place that needs an albergue and also fits Reb's very sensible criteria.

You will obviously have your own geographical preferences, but within those there's probably a lot of scope for exploration.

Good luck, and I hope you let us know how it goes.
Thank you, I definitely want to explore Camino Olvidado, and it is an option :). I will probably add at least a part of it to my spring trip to Spain.
Honestly speaking though, for me it is really important to experience the places in person, see the albergues, experience the stages and people, get a feeling of everything on the particular way. Haven't walked Olvidado yet so the experience is missing.

Association may help with practical advice and give their opinion on a place where an albergue is missing. And I definitely want to start this albergue in a place that makes sense. But at the same time, it is you (the owner, hospitalero) who'll be there, day in day out, living the life. So it is really important that you pick the place that resonates with you...

That is true, there are caminos where albergues are lacking, and this hinders their development.
Maybe I can help one of them then :).

An added thought, sparked by @gmag 's post
(I did a facepalm, for not having thought of it):
The Invierno could really use an albergue between A Rua and Quiroga and between Quiroga and Monforte. Montefurado is a place that comes to mind in the A Rua to Quiroga stage. In the Quiroga and Monforte stage, there may be an albergue in A Pobra? I'm not sure of the current status of that. The new albergue in Diomondi will take care of the need for one between Monforte and Chantada, but Chantada could also really use an albergue. It's a town rather than a village.

This route is definitely growing, thanks in part to a new Brierley guide.
The thing is just that Galicia isn't my province really. I love Santiago, and some places in Galicia, but only as a visitor :). Not saying it is bad, just it isn't the right match for me to live there :). Hence Invierno is out of a question.

An interesting category!
Well, there are quite a few such :). I could tell you stories... Like charging you 5 euro extra for an old blanket in an unheated room, or claiming to have amazing dinner from a local restaurant for 15 euro each, and than giving you cheap oven-ready food that you saw the other day for 3 euro in the supermarket...
Or sending tired pilgrims away at 3:10pm after they walked 30 km in a heat of a summer, because they explicitly said that all reservations are cancelled at 3pm--which these pilgrims who spoke Spanish badly might simply not understand correctly when explained to them... And there were still free beds!

Camino de Santiago is a unique concept in the world, and something with a power to change not only individual lives. But you should realize it is also a huge business. No doubt the cumulative turnaround of all businesses & bodies involved on the Spanish caminos alone approaches 1 billion euro annually, though there likely aren't any official numbers for this. And when there is money, it will attract all kinds of people.

But I do not want to complain. Definitely better to have such a "business only albergue" in some places than having none :). At the same time however, I do not mind competing with such a place with my donativo albergue...

@Walking by faith

Also try Casa Susi on FB.

She opened an albergue within last five or six years.

Luck to you.

Buen camino.
I am not on Facebook or other social media. But thank you for the recommendation and good wishes :).

I agree about the Camino Invierno in general, having walked it recently. Given it's relatively short length and proximity to Santiago, it's pilgrim infrastructure is pretty thinly spread out. Being a viable alternative to the bottleneck that is the last quarter of the Camino Frances, I feel it's time will come soon and this might be a good time and an exciting opportunity to invest in it's future.

And as an aside.. yes, Chantada was the one town I felt really lacking in pilgrim specific accomodation!

That you want to do it for altruistic rather than for financial reasons is admirable. Good luck with your venture, whatever you decide and wherever you find yourself.
Gracias amigo :).
I won't end up in Galicia, that's for sure. But maybe someone with similar dream will read this thread in the future, and it is great to see the names of the cities here, so they can find inspiration for their own place!

Then after all the action, turn to God in morning meditation. All the right answers will come.
Love
🙏
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Hence Invierno is out of a question
The first part of the Invierno is in L&C, until after Las Medulas. But yes - it would be so important to 'resonate' with a place, and your feelings in this regard are critcal. I love how you need the feel of walking a camino to help guide your choice. Places run by pilgrims are the special ones.

@peregrina2000 may be able to help you (on a PM) with Ender's contact details, because he is the font of all information about the Olvidado.
 
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camino.ninja

RIP 2022
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
Hello everyone. It's been a long time since I've been here and posted anything.
Joined this forum back in 2015, after walking my first camino in late 2014.

Like for many members here, the first camino was an unforgettable experience. It changed my life more than I had originally realized...
Came back to Spain many times, learned to speak Spanish on a conversational level, walked other routes, met unforgettable people, received many blessings, suffered some hardships. Helped others and got help when I needed it the most...
The camino magic hasn't disappeared, regardless of how many times I came back to walk one of the routes leading to Santiago.

Fast forward to 2021/2022, and I find myself in a new situation. Things in both my personal and professional life have developed in a way which allows me, and at the same time motivate me, to make some profound change in my life, and perhaps change my role on the camino from pilgrim to hospitalero (or dueno, depending on how you look at it :)).

I plan to buy a property in Spain next year, and start a smaller donativo alberge, either from late 2022 or early 2023. It will help me a lot if anyone here with experience can shed some light on the laws/regulations regarding running such an alberge, and whether these rules change depending on the province of Spain.

Things such as whether I need to register as a business entity in the country, and other legal obligations owner of such an alberge has on a monthly/yearly basis, and of course before they can open the place legally. Please note that I am interested only in donativo concept, that means not really taking money (only donations from pilgrims who can afford to donate something).

Even pointing me to some other websites/resources that explain this (either in English or in Spanish) will help me a lot. Of course, practical experience is the best, so if another owner of donativo alberge is a member of this forum and can share some information with me it would be fantastic.

Please before you mention it (certainly with good intentions :)), don't worry, I know what it entails to run an alberge, including the challenges (volunteered as a "hospitalero" in this type of establishment in Spain and elsewhere, though not on the Camino de Santiago).
Money is also not an issue for me, and the albegre doesn't have to be profitable in any means (it even doesn't have to break even). Just wanted you to know this as well, for the case you wanted to tell me (again certainly with good intentions :)), that running a donativo alberge is not a good idea in 2022 and beyond... My goals related to this project have nothing to do with money...

Thank you in advance for any advice, and wish you all good health & and wonderful camino in 2022.

I will let everyone else give you advice on how to open and run the albergue. But let me know when you do, as I will support it as much as I can.

Good luck!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
One or more times each year from 2014 - 2022.
Hello everyone. It's been a long time since I've been here and posted anything.
Joined this forum back in 2015, after walking my first camino in late 2014.

Like for many members here, the first camino was an unforgettable experience. It changed my life more than I had originally realized...
Came back to Spain many times, learned to speak Spanish on a conversational level, walked other routes, met unforgettable people, received many blessings, suffered some hardships. Helped others and got help when I needed it the most...
The camino magic hasn't disappeared, regardless of how many times I came back to walk one of the routes leading to Santiago.

Fast forward to 2021/2022, and I find myself in a new situation. Things in both my personal and professional life have developed in a way which allows me, and at the same time motivate me, to make some profound change in my life, and perhaps change my role on the camino from pilgrim to hospitalero (or dueno, depending on how you look at it :)).

I plan to buy a property in Spain next year, and start a smaller donativo alberge, either from late 2022 or early 2023. It will help me a lot if anyone here with experience can shed some light on the laws/regulations regarding running such an alberge, and whether these rules change depending on the province of Spain.

Things such as whether I need to register as a business entity in the country, and other legal obligations owner of such an alberge has on a monthly/yearly basis, and of course before they can open the place legally. Please note that I am interested only in donativo concept, that means not really taking money (only donations from pilgrims who can afford to donate something).

Even pointing me to some other websites/resources that explain this (either in English or in Spanish) will help me a lot. Of course, practical experience is the best, so if another owner of donativo alberge is a member of this forum and can share some information with me it would be fantastic.

Please before you mention it (certainly with good intentions :)), don't worry, I know what it entails to run an alberge, including the challenges (volunteered as a "hospitalero" in this type of establishment in Spain and elsewhere, though not on the Camino de Santiago).
Money is also not an issue for me, and the albegre doesn't have to be profitable in any means (it even doesn't have to break even). Just wanted you to know this as well, for the case you wanted to tell me (again certainly with good intentions :)), that running a donativo alberge is not a good idea in 2022 and beyond... My goals related to this project have nothing to do with money...

Thank you in advance for any advice, and wish you all good health & and wonderful camino in 2022.
Check with Nate and Faith at the Pilgrim House in Santiago. They have been running a not-for-profit facility for about 7 or eight years.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Please before you mention it (certainly with good intentions :)), don't worry, I know what it entails to run an alberge, including the challenges (volunteered as a "hospitalero" in this type of establishment in Spain and elsewhere, though not on the Camino de Santiago).
The thread is quite long, so forgive me if I missed it, but there's one detail I didn't see mentioned. Hotels, Allergies, even AirBNB hosts are required to report every guest to a database maintained by the Guardia Civil. The folks I worked with only learned that when the van load of police showed up to give them a hard time for not doing it. https://hospederias.guardiacivil.es/_pdfs/hospederias_faqs.pdf
 

Walking by faith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2014 - Camino Frances
Aug. 2015 - Camino da la Costa, Camino Primitivo
June 2016 - Camino Portuguese Litoral
I will let everyone else give you advice on how to open and run the albergue. But let me know when you do, as I will support it as much as I can.

Good luck!
I do not know how I deserved this, but thank you for your support 🙏 No doubt I will update the thread here when anything meaningful happens. And it certainly will this year.

Check with Nate and Faith at the Pilgrim House in Santiago. They have been running a not-for-profit facility for about 7 or eight years.
Thank you, another name to my database of useful contacts for information that I gathered from this thread. I already have quite a few people to contact, so hopefully at least some of them reply to me :))

The thread is quite long, so forgive me if I missed it, but there's one detail I didn't see mentioned. Hotels, Allergies, even AirBNB hosts are required to report every guest to a database maintained by the Guardia Civil. The folks I worked with only learned that when the van load of police showed up to give them a hard time for not doing it. https://hospederias.guardiacivil.es/_pdfs/hospederias_faqs.pdf
That is really the last thing I would want to happen. Guardia Civil can be pretty tough. I've experienced it a couple of times, luckily only from a position of a witness :).
Thank you for the link, it seems once we setup this properly the reporting won't take too much time.
 

Walking by faith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2014 - Camino Frances
Aug. 2015 - Camino da la Costa, Camino Primitivo
June 2016 - Camino Portuguese Litoral
Hello everyone.
It's been a while since I posted here, but I haven't given up on my dream of opening an albergue.
I just came from a long trip to Spain, during which (besides other things), I walked Camino Olvidado & Camino Invierno, and met with a couple of local gestors (tax advisors).

So here I am to update you on my news, and perhaps share some information someone else here can benefit from, should they consider opening their own place on the Camino :).

Let me start with describing the situation & opportunities on Olvidado and Invierno.

1. Camino Olvidado
On Olvidado I found about 10 locations that have no pilgrim place, and would certainly benefit from one. Some of them have other places where pilgrim can stay, some have not. Some of the other places are good, with nice owners and attention to pilgrims, some are mediocre, and some really suck, at least in my opinion--too expensive, bad service, you can feel that owners do not like their jobs, etc.

Anyway, the places I found most fitting on Olvidado for opening an albergue, in order as you can find them on the Camino:

1. Guenes (end of stage 1 according to the guide) - Has one hotel, but it's not a pilgrim place at all. Expensive for a typical pilgrim budget as well. The town itself is nice, I can imagine a good life there for both solitary person and a family. The only issue can be the air pollution caused by a nearby factory for biomass, against which many locals campaign, demanding either the closing of the factory, or the change in production processes to eliminate the pollution. I cannot tell from my perspective how serious the issue with pollution really is though.

2. Nava de Ordunte (end of stage 2A), or any of the small aldeas close to the water dam - These are super nice and peaceful locations, but there aren't many houses, and certainly no albergue. Most people following the Olvidado skip this part and head for 2B alternative, going to Villasana de Mena, which is a shame since this water dam surrounded by mountains is definitely one of the highlights of first half of Camino Olvidado.

3. Villasana de Mena (end of stage 2B) - There is just one "hotel", with no pilgrim spirit at all, and very expensive for a typical pilgrim. Good city with all services, a family can live there happily.

4 .Arija (end of stage 5) - Next to the big water dam. It has some accommodation options, but when I was there basically everything was closed, except of a Camping near to the beach. I can imagine the place gets quite busy in summer (can be great for someone who likes party atmosphere in summer) but is super quiet in 10 months out of twelve, and it sort of explains why so many houses are for sale there. The Olvidado app shows an albergue in this place, but in reality this is a big albergue for big groups and when I was there it was closed anyway.

5. One of the small villages between Cervera de Pisuerga and Guardo (stage 9) - This stage is really hard, though the website says it has low difficulty. Well, maybe if it is 20 degrees and cloudy the diffiuclty is low :). But with a typical Spanish weather and minimum shade on this stage, the 40km is really hard. I walked it in one go, but the other two pilgrims that were around took taxi. There are many small villages, some of them super deserted. Lot of cows around as well, which isn't my thing, but someone who's into "ganaderia" may find them attractive. Any village in the middle will do, and I am sure 90% of pilgrims will stay there, instead of attempting the 40 km.

6. Bonar (end of stages 12A or 12B) - The accommodation options in Bonar are really shitty, and I believe the one where I stayed does not even have a license anymore (since the lady in charge asked only for money, didnt' want a DNI, didn't have a stamp, simply nothing). It is a nice city close to mountains, and I can imagine many people living happily in the town. Quite a few houses for sale as well, in good condition!

7. Vegacervera (end of stage 13B) - I followed the more mountainous alternatives from Bonar (stages marked "B" in Camino Olvidado guide), and I must say that in terms of nature, they definitely belonged to the very best I've seen on all my caminos in Spain. However, the infrastructure is lacking. There was no place open in Vegacervera (not counting Casas Rural which you have to book all alone, for prices like 500 euro/night), and the place will benefit a lot from pilgrim albergue.

8. Magdalena (end of stages 14A and 15B) - Has two hotels, both close to the road, really uninspiring location and staff. I didn't like the place at all, but that doesn't mean someone else would not like it, and if they do like it, there's definitely a room for an albergue.

- From Magdalena onward the situation is fine, with good places to stay and albrgues that are really open and functioning (Fasgar, Iguena, Congosto...)


Having walked this way I came to a conclusion that it will always remain a Camino few pilgrims walk--due to the nature of the way, lack of infrastructure, some really hard stages, and also because it is a long Camino...

Doing it without speaking Spanish would be extremely hard as well, hence I do not see many foreigners choosing this way. And this isn't going to change, considering all other Caminos of similar distance pilgrims can choose from.
Now, this isn't a bad thing! I mean, we certainly do not want all Camino's to become as crowded as Frances, do we?

Having said that though, with the goals I hope to pursue with my future albergue & type of life I hope to live in Spain for half of each year, it just isn't a fitting way for me to be on... My idea isn't to host 10-20 pilgrims a month, and have many days with nobody :). Which would certainly be the case on Olvidado, and, at least in my opinion, it will stay that way forever.

I still wanted to post the locations though, because I can envision that for many people exactly this model can be attractive: Living in a house in some nice peaceful location, for example with the family, or as a couple, and from time to time host 1-4 pilgrims in the house :).
So, if anyone of you looks for that, I hope you find my list of fitting locations useful (and feel free to ask here or send me a PM if you want to know more details about any of these locations, I made a lot of notes on the way :)).


2. Camino Invierno

- I originally didn't plan to walk this way, though some people recommended it in the thread here. But a friend of mine I knew from other Camino (who walked almost all ways in Spain) recommended it to me while I was on Olvidado, and I decided to give it a go. At the end of the day, it was also a fitting connection to Olvidado, unless I wanted to follow Frances from Villafranca to reach Santiago.

I must honestly say that this way surprised me positively. From my past Caminos, I always associated the interior of Galicia with many cows--animals you can see and smell everywhere, and if you stop paying attention to the way, you will step into the sh*t very soon :).
Now, I certainly respect this way of living (though I do not drink milk and do not eat meat), but it just isn't my thing, or type of place where I would like to live for any prolonged period of time...

On Camino Invierno though, especially during the firs 5 days, I got to know another face of interior Galicia: forests, rivers, lot of small industry. And I didn't see a single cow in the first 4 days!! (first 5 stages according to Gronze). I certainly liked it, and picked a couple of small locations on this way, adding them to my list of possible localities for the albregue:

1. Between A Rua and Quiroga, due to the nature of stages and distances in between them, this strech will really benefit from having an albergue,

2. Between Monforte and Chantada (a hard stage indeed and nothing in between, again I saw pilgrims taking taxis or staying in the lone Casa Rural along the way).

3. I can imagine also having an albergue in Pobra de Brollon, but talking with the locals I understood the municipality will soon open an albregue in the village (much needed in my view), and hence it makes no sense trying to open another one there.


Following this way, I came to a conclusion that it will grow in popularity. First of all, it has an ideal length for a working person, or basically for anyone who cannot leave their home for a month. Can be done in 2 weeks including flights to and from Spain.

Secondly, Galicia presently invests a lot in promotion of this Camino, it isn't particularly hard, people from Frances can drop there easily from Ponferrada without any detours. And most importantly, there is decent infrastructure in place already (in contrary to Olvidado), and some excellent albergues/hostels along the way with English speaking hosts.

Considering everything, I believe I could run on Invierno the type of albergue I'd love to run for pilgrims, and that's why I will definitely check some properties for sale in this zone once I am in Spain for the purpose of buying the house.


3. Gestors (tax advisors) & running the donativo albergue

Should anyone of you consider doing the same in the future, you may find this interesting. I had a paid consultation with one gestor with great reputation, and met another one by accident while walking the Camino (got a free consultation from him :)).

I discussed many things with the gestors, such as steps of buying a house in Spain as a foreigner (EU citizen), difference of buying it as a company and as a prtivate individual, tax burden & other fees depeding on whether or not I become a tax resident of Spain, the ideal model for me, considering my source of income (so I do not give away 50% of profits to government), etc, etc. So the talk wasn't only about the albergue.

When it came to the running of the albergue itself, both gestors said the same: If it is a real donativo albergue (not donative 10 euo in brackets type), and you do not touch the money, you do not have to do anything.
According to them, it is basically as if you were hosting a family member in your house. So no need to pay any fees, no need for emergency exit signs, no need for any registrations, even not sending guest data to Guardia Civil (I asked about this point specifically).

Having said that, walking the Camino and staying in some donativos, I observed a different reality. Sometimes I had a chance to speak with the owner/host and sometimes I did not, but I realized a few things:

1. It makes a lot of difference whether the donativo (or albergue in general) is privately run, run by a municipality, or "run by the church". Places run by the church seemed to me to not follow any rules really...
I also stayed in some municipals (not donativos) where I am sure if a sanitary control came they'd close the place. Or in one where nobody came, and I could have written any details in the guest registry (or none), and believe the person in charge simply kept the money and said nobody stayed there.

2. It is not true that you do not need to do anything as a donativo, privately run. You still have some obligations (and certainly have to make the guest registry), though it seemed to me the scope of them is not as broad as a typical private albergue has (which charges pilgrims money for their stay). I just wished the person I talked to there were more talkative and shared more details with me, but it wasn't the case...

3. Everything considered, this mystery remains unclear to me :). Once I travel to Spain again in autumn (trying to buy a property), with the help of my Spanish connections (people I know in person) I will try to arrange some face to face meeting with some owner of a donativo place, and perhaps also with someone from one of the Camino associations who also may shed some light on the issue.

But it certainly doesn't discourage me, and I may simply solve the puzzle on the go. Based on what I saw in other private donativo places, it took the people less than a year from buying the house to opening the donativo albergue, so it cannot be that hard :).
Still, I found it a bit puzzling that both gestors I talked to gave me information that didn't really align with the reality I found while staying in the albergues. But it is what it is...


So, that's how things are right now. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. I hope what I shared here will help someone who hopes to start an albergue one day :).

For me, if no catastrophe happens in my life, I plan to travel to Spain again in October. During the trip I will take necessary steps to be eligible to buy a property in the country, visit different houses in my chosen locations (on the Invierno and elsewhere), and hopefully eventually buy one house, and start preparing it for being operational in 2023 season.

Thank you for reading these lines, and I hope you all experience a wonderful Camino this year (if you haven't walked one already).
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Thanks for the interesting and informative report. I have no plans to open an albergue, but will offer some comments as I just walked the Invierno a few weeks ago.

1. Between A Rua and Quiroga, due to the nature of stages and distances in between them, this strech will really benefit from having an albergue
I thought Montefurado would be a good place to establish an albergue. It would ease that 28 km stage. It has the train connection, and it seems to have enough local life as well as some interesting-looking buildings.

2. Between Monforte and Chantada (a hard stage indeed and nothing in between,
The albergue at Diomondi has now opened, with good capacity and attraction.

How about in the early stages, even in or near Las Medulas? It seems to me that people in Ponferrada, looking at the Invierno option, need to see a bit more support right at the start. As it now stands, there is just the Villavieja albergue with no other services, and then somewhat expensive CRs or hotels. Borrenes might be a good choice and it would help people who would enjoy a shorter day so they can look at the sites and even walk on to Puente de Domingo Flores.
 

Ultreia et Suseia!

Camino training yields the best packing list!
Time of past OR future Camino
From O Porto in September.
Things in both my personal and professional life have developed in a way which allows me, and at the same time motivate me, to make some profound change in my life, and perhaps change my role on the camino from pilgrim to hospitalero (or dueno, depending on how you look at it :)).
Bless your soul, what a wonderful thing to do!
 

LavanyaLea

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (May/June 2022)
What a generous idea, I hope your trip in autumn will be a successful one :)

@Richard of York bought a donativo last year, it’s a cafe not albergue, but you might wanna ask him re: rules and regulations etc.

And on a personal note/interest, will you open your place as a pet friendly accommodation?
 

Walking by faith

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept. 2014 - Camino Frances
Aug. 2015 - Camino da la Costa, Camino Primitivo
June 2016 - Camino Portuguese Litoral
The albergue at Diomondi has now opened, with good capacity and attraction.

How about in the early stages, even in or near Las Medulas? It seems to me that people in Ponferrada, looking at the Invierno option, need to see a bit more support right at the start. As it now stands, there is just the Villavieja albergue with no other services, and then somewhat expensive CRs or hotels. Borrenes might be a good choice and it would help people who would enjoy a shorter day so they can look at the sites and even walk on to Puente de Domingo Flores.
You actually have a point with the Medulas. It would probably make sense opening something before (you won't find space to buy in Medulas), so people can perhaps do a short circuit in Medulas during their walk and then and their day in Puente de Domingo Flores.
I will definitely look into that so thanks for your recommendation :).

In regards to Diamondi, you are probably right too, though I didn't like the albergue there very much to be honest.

Bless your soul, what a wonderful thing to do!
Oh thanks, but first of all we should not forget I am very lucky to be in a position to make this happen :).

What a generous idea, I hope your trip in autumn will be a successful one :)

@Richard of York bought a donativo last year, it’s a cafe not albergue, but you might wanna ask him re: rules and regulations etc.

And on a personal note/interest, will you open your place as a pet friendly accommodation?
Thanks!
I think cafe is a bit different than albergue.

My idea now is to have face to face meetings with some people who have the experience (while I am in Spain in autumn), and also to see things in person.

Because after the spring trip (during which I hoped to make things clear, meeting gestors and staying in various types of albergues), I found them only more confusing :).

As I said though, it does not discourage me and I may simply solve things "on the go" as well, if I do not end up with crystal clear information (it is also possible that things aren't crystal clear even for authorities, and there are conflicting laws & regulations in place for donativo albergues, which can easily happen, and it will explain why I got the information I did).

And to your personal interest: Most definitely YES :).
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
September 2022
Hello everyone. It's been a long time since I've been here and posted anything.
Joined this forum back in 2015, after walking my first camino in late 2014.

Like for many members here, the first camino was an unforgettable experience. It changed my life more than I had originally realized...
Came back to Spain many times, learned to speak Spanish on a conversational level, walked other routes, met unforgettable people, received many blessings, suffered some hardships. Helped others and got help when I needed it the most...
The camino magic hasn't disappeared, regardless of how many times I came back to walk one of the routes leading to Santiago.

Fast forward to 2021/2022, and I find myself in a new situation. Things in both my personal and professional life have developed in a way which allows me, and at the same time motivate me, to make some profound change in my life, and perhaps change my role on the camino from pilgrim to hospitalero (or dueno, depending on how you look at it :)).

I plan to buy a property in Spain next year, and start a smaller donativo alberge, either from late 2022 or early 2023. It will help me a lot if anyone here with experience can shed some light on the laws/regulations regarding running such an alberge, and whether these rules change depending on the province of Spain.

Things such as whether I need to register as a business entity in the country, and other legal obligations owner of such an alberge has on a monthly/yearly basis, and of course before they can open the place legally. Please note that I am interested only in donativo concept, that means not really taking money (only donations from pilgrims who can afford to donate something).

Even pointing me to some other websites/resources that explain this (either in English or in Spanish) will help me a lot. Of course, practical experience is the best, so if another owner of donativo alberge is a member of this forum and can share some information with me it would be fantastic.

Please before you mention it (certainly with good intentions :)), don't worry, I know what it entails to run an alberge, including the challenges (volunteered as a "hospitalero" in this type of establishment in Spain and elsewhere, though not on the Camino de Santiago).
Money is also not an issue for me, and the albegre doesn't have to be profitable in any means (it even doesn't have to break even). Just wanted you to know this as well, for the case you wanted to tell me (again certainly with good intentions :)), that running a donativo alberge is not a good idea in 2022 and beyond... My goals related to this project have nothing to do with money...

Thank you in advance for any advice, and wish you all good health & and wonderful camino in 2022.
I am reading this and all of the replies with great interest, as having just returned from the Camino, I feel the same desire and would happily do anything it takes to be a productive part of the Camino. I would gladly be a volunteer or partial investor if you happen to get this going, or already have.
I had the thought also of just getting a food truck and handing out homemade cookies and drinks and snacks just to be able to meet all the wonderful pilgrims and help them in some way. I will look into volunteering and hopefully be able to fulfill this Camino dream!
 

dick bird

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
I am reading this and all of the replies with great interest, as having just returned from the Camino, I feel the same desire and would happily do anything it takes to be a productive part of the Camino. I would gladly be a volunteer or partial investor if you happen to get this going, or already have.
I had the thought also of just getting a food truck and handing out homemade cookies and drinks and snacks just to be able to meet all the wonderful pilgrims and help them in some way. I will look into volunteering and hopefully be able to fulfill this Camino dream!
Handing out free food and drinks might not make you popular with local businesses, or local authorities, I'm sorry to say. But you can volunteer as an hospitalera through the American Friends of the Camino association - they will give you the training you need (takes a weekend) and put you in touch with various organisations (e.g. hosvol) who recruit for albergues. You will find it very worthwhile and rewarding. There is also the pilgrim welcome office in Santiago, or Rebekah Scott's ditch pigs who clean up the litter from caminos. Good luck, whatever you choose.
 

dick bird

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Hello everyone.
It's been a while since I posted here, but I haven't given up on my dream of opening an albergue.
I just came from a long trip to Spain, during which (besides other things), I walked Camino Olvidado & Camino Invierno, and met with a couple of local gestors (tax advisors).

So here I am to update you on my news, and perhaps share some information someone else here can benefit from, should they consider opening their own place on the Camino :).

Let me start with describing the situation & opportunities on Olvidado and Invierno.

1. Camino Olvidado
On Olvidado I found about 10 locations that have no pilgrim place, and would certainly benefit from one. Some of them have other places where pilgrim can stay, some have not. Some of the other places are good, with nice owners and attention to pilgrims, some are mediocre, and some really suck, at least in my opinion--too expensive, bad service, you can feel that owners do not like their jobs, etc.

Anyway, the places I found most fitting on Olvidado for opening an albergue, in order as you can find them on the Camino:

1. Guenes (end of stage 1 according to the guide) - Has one hotel, but it's not a pilgrim place at all. Expensive for a typical pilgrim budget as well. The town itself is nice, I can imagine a good life there for both solitary person and a family. The only issue can be the air pollution caused by a nearby factory for biomass, against which many locals campaign, demanding either the closing of the factory, or the change in production processes to eliminate the pollution. I cannot tell from my perspective how serious the issue with pollution really is though.

2. Nava de Ordunte (end of stage 2A), or any of the small aldeas close to the water dam - These are super nice and peaceful locations, but there aren't many houses, and certainly no albergue. Most people following the Olvidado skip this part and head for 2B alternative, going to Villasana de Mena, which is a shame since this water dam surrounded by mountains is definitely one of the highlights of first half of Camino Olvidado.

3. Villasana de Mena (end of stage 2B) - There is just one "hotel", with no pilgrim spirit at all, and very expensive for a typical pilgrim. Good city with all services, a family can live there happily.

4 .Arija (end of stage 5) - Next to the big water dam. It has some accommodation options, but when I was there basically everything was closed, except of a Camping near to the beach. I can imagine the place gets quite busy in summer (can be great for someone who likes party atmosphere in summer) but is super quiet in 10 months out of twelve, and it sort of explains why so many houses are for sale there. The Olvidado app shows an albergue in this place, but in reality this is a big albergue for big groups and when I was there it was closed anyway.

5. One of the small villages between Cervera de Pisuerga and Guardo (stage 9) - This stage is really hard, though the website says it has low difficulty. Well, maybe if it is 20 degrees and cloudy the diffiuclty is low :). But with a typical Spanish weather and minimum shade on this stage, the 40km is really hard. I walked it in one go, but the other two pilgrims that were around took taxi. There are many small villages, some of them super deserted. Lot of cows around as well, which isn't my thing, but someone who's into "ganaderia" may find them attractive. Any village in the middle will do, and I am sure 90% of pilgrims will stay there, instead of attempting the 40 km.

6. Bonar (end of stages 12A or 12B) - The accommodation options in Bonar are really shitty, and I believe the one where I stayed does not even have a license anymore (since the lady in charge asked only for money, didnt' want a DNI, didn't have a stamp, simply nothing). It is a nice city close to mountains, and I can imagine many people living happily in the town. Quite a few houses for sale as well, in good condition!

7. Vegacervera (end of stage 13B) - I followed the more mountainous alternatives from Bonar (stages marked "B" in Camino Olvidado guide), and I must say that in terms of nature, they definitely belonged to the very best I've seen on all my caminos in Spain. However, the infrastructure is lacking. There was no place open in Vegacervera (not counting Casas Rural which you have to book all alone, for prices like 500 euro/night), and the place will benefit a lot from pilgrim albergue.

8. Magdalena (end of stages 14A and 15B) - Has two hotels, both close to the road, really uninspiring location and staff. I didn't like the place at all, but that doesn't mean someone else would not like it, and if they do like it, there's definitely a room for an albergue.

- From Magdalena onward the situation is fine, with good places to stay and albrgues that are really open and functioning (Fasgar, Iguena, Congosto...)


Having walked this way I came to a conclusion that it will always remain a Camino few pilgrims walk--due to the nature of the way, lack of infrastructure, some really hard stages, and also because it is a long Camino...

Doing it without speaking Spanish would be extremely hard as well, hence I do not see many foreigners choosing this way. And this isn't going to change, considering all other Caminos of similar distance pilgrims can choose from.
Now, this isn't a bad thing! I mean, we certainly do not want all Camino's to become as crowded as Frances, do we?

Having said that though, with the goals I hope to pursue with my future albergue & type of life I hope to live in Spain for half of each year, it just isn't a fitting way for me to be on... My idea isn't to host 10-20 pilgrims a month, and have many days with nobody :). Which would certainly be the case on Olvidado, and, at least in my opinion, it will stay that way forever.

I still wanted to post the locations though, because I can envision that for many people exactly this model can be attractive: Living in a house in some nice peaceful location, for example with the family, or as a couple, and from time to time host 1-4 pilgrims in the house :).
So, if anyone of you looks for that, I hope you find my list of fitting locations useful (and feel free to ask here or send me a PM if you want to know more details about any of these locations, I made a lot of notes on the way :)).


2. Camino Invierno

- I originally didn't plan to walk this way, though some people recommended it in the thread here. But a friend of mine I knew from other Camino (who walked almost all ways in Spain) recommended it to me while I was on Olvidado, and I decided to give it a go. At the end of the day, it was also a fitting connection to Olvidado, unless I wanted to follow Frances from Villafranca to reach Santiago.

I must honestly say that this way surprised me positively. From my past Caminos, I always associated the interior of Galicia with many cows--animals you can see and smell everywhere, and if you stop paying attention to the way, you will step into the sh*t very soon :).
Now, I certainly respect this way of living (though I do not drink milk and do not eat meat), but it just isn't my thing, or type of place where I would like to live for any prolonged period of time...

On Camino Invierno though, especially during the firs 5 days, I got to know another face of interior Galicia: forests, rivers, lot of small industry. And I didn't see a single cow in the first 4 days!! (first 5 stages according to Gronze). I certainly liked it, and picked a couple of small locations on this way, adding them to my list of possible localities for the albregue:

1. Between A Rua and Quiroga, due to the nature of stages and distances in between them, this strech will really benefit from having an albergue,

2. Between Monforte and Chantada (a hard stage indeed and nothing in between, again I saw pilgrims taking taxis or staying in the lone Casa Rural along the way).

3. I can imagine also having an albergue in Pobra de Brollon, but talking with the locals I understood the municipality will soon open an albregue in the village (much needed in my view), and hence it makes no sense trying to open another one there.


Following this way, I came to a conclusion that it will grow in popularity. First of all, it has an ideal length for a working person, or basically for anyone who cannot leave their home for a month. Can be done in 2 weeks including flights to and from Spain.

Secondly, Galicia presently invests a lot in promotion of this Camino, it isn't particularly hard, people from Frances can drop there easily from Ponferrada without any detours. And most importantly, there is decent infrastructure in place already (in contrary to Olvidado), and some excellent albergues/hostels along the way with English speaking hosts.

Considering everything, I believe I could run on Invierno the type of albergue I'd love to run for pilgrims, and that's why I will definitely check some properties for sale in this zone once I am in Spain for the purpose of buying the house.


3. Gestors (tax advisors) & running the donativo albergue

Should anyone of you consider doing the same in the future, you may find this interesting. I had a paid consultation with one gestor with great reputation, and met another one by accident while walking the Camino (got a free consultation from him :)).

I discussed many things with the gestors, such as steps of buying a house in Spain as a foreigner (EU citizen), difference of buying it as a company and as a prtivate individual, tax burden & other fees depeding on whether or not I become a tax resident of Spain, the ideal model for me, considering my source of income (so I do not give away 50% of profits to government), etc, etc. So the talk wasn't only about the albergue.

When it came to the running of the albergue itself, both gestors said the same: If it is a real donativo albergue (not donative 10 euo in brackets type), and you do not touch the money, you do not have to do anything.
According to them, it is basically as if you were hosting a family member in your house. So no need to pay any fees, no need for emergency exit signs, no need for any registrations, even not sending guest data to Guardia Civil (I asked about this point specifically).

Having said that, walking the Camino and staying in some donativos, I observed a different reality. Sometimes I had a chance to speak with the owner/host and sometimes I did not, but I realized a few things:

1. It makes a lot of difference whether the donativo (or albergue in general) is privately run, run by a municipality, or "run by the church". Places run by the church seemed to me to not follow any rules really...
I also stayed in some municipals (not donativos) where I am sure if a sanitary control came they'd close the place. Or in one where nobody came, and I could have written any details in the guest registry (or none), and believe the person in charge simply kept the money and said nobody stayed there.

2. It is not true that you do not need to do anything as a donativo, privately run. You still have some obligations (and certainly have to make the guest registry), though it seemed to me the scope of them is not as broad as a typical private albergue has (which charges pilgrims money for their stay). I just wished the person I talked to there were more talkative and shared more details with me, but it wasn't the case...

3. Everything considered, this mystery remains unclear to me :). Once I travel to Spain again in autumn (trying to buy a property), with the help of my Spanish connections (people I know in person) I will try to arrange some face to face meeting with some owner of a donativo place, and perhaps also with someone from one of the Camino associations who also may shed some light on the issue.

But it certainly doesn't discourage me, and I may simply solve the puzzle on the go. Based on what I saw in other private donativo places, it took the people less than a year from buying the house to opening the donativo albergue, so it cannot be that hard :).
Still, I found it a bit puzzling that both gestors I talked to gave me information that didn't really align with the reality I found while staying in the albergues. But it is what it is...


So, that's how things are right now. Should you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. I hope what I shared here will help someone who hopes to start an albergue one day :).

For me, if no catastrophe happens in my life, I plan to travel to Spain again in October. During the trip I will take necessary steps to be eligible to buy a property in the country, visit different houses in my chosen locations (on the Invierno and elsewhere), and hopefully eventually buy one house, and start preparing it for being operational in 2023 season.

Thank you for reading these lines, and I hope you all experience a wonderful Camino this year (if you haven't walked one already).
Now that's what I call due diligence. If I could add one or two points - great idea to get impartial advice from a gestor who knows all about tax etc as the rules and regulations in Spain are notoriously complex and vary from place to place (not to mention the little issue of enforcement), but I would also get similar advice with regard to building rules and regulations, especially if you buy a heritage listed or older property about what you can, can't or must do. There was one town on the Olvidado where the municipalidad had to shut down their own albergue after being reported for not providing adequate disabled access. The reporter was allegedly the proprietor of a local hotel, which is another issue - how will local people react or be affected? If I were running a bar/cafe and an albergue opened next door, I'd be well-pleased, less so if I were running a hotel. Small communities can be less than enthusiastic about newcomers so a town might be a better bet than a village.

As for location, Guenes sounds good. The first stage on the Olvidado is either long, expensive, or both. People are often put off a camino route if the first stage is difficult. When we passed through in 2018, there was a lovely traditional building being done up and locals assured us it was being converted as an albergue, but that doesn't seem to have happened. In Nava de Ordunte, we stayed as the guests of the wonderful Alfonso, and any resemblance between his garage and a half-built albergue is purely coincidental. The only problem with the Olvidado is that at present it is not a well-trodden path. Some of us are doing our best to rectify that but we were informed in 2018 that they were excited to see that 500 pilgrims were expected for that year, i.e. an average of less than 2 a day. The Invierno, on the other hand, is gaining a bigger profile and could certainly benefit from a few more albergues. Whatever you decide, wishing you the very best of luck.
 
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