Saturday, 25 February 2012

The Ronda Parador - A Unique Hotel in the heart of Malaga

The first luxury Parador hotel was built in 1926 and created by King Alfonso X111 in a bid to use quality tourism as a guardian of the national and artistic heritage of Spain and to assist regions that had fewer economic resources.

There are around 90 paradors scattered all over Spain and can be found in the most privileged locations such as Castles, Palaces, Fortresses, Convents, Monasteries and other historic buildings.

One of these unique paradors is located in the centre of Ronda, located some 60 kms north west from Marbella on the Costa del Sol. It was formerly the cities Town Hall and is located right next to the Puente Nuevo, one of Southern Spain’s most visited national monuments, and if you visit Ronda you will immediately understand why it is such a popular destination for visitors to the area.
The views out from the hotels are stunning, specially if your room looks directly down to the bottom of the gorge some 120 meters below.

Local cuisine is always on offer et every Parador around Spain and this one is no exception, here you will find quality elaborated dishes such as “ajo blanco” a cold garlic soup, “Conejo a la Rodeña” a rabbit and almond soup, one of my favourites is “ Salmorejo” a thicker type of Gaspacho soup topped off with local olive oil and cured jam.

And for those of you with a sweet tooth you must try "Yemas Rondenas" (sweet egg yolk flans) these are very addictive, "Queso de Almendras" (almonds and cheese) and ), "Tortitas de Miel"
( large honey biscuits ).

If you like exploring every nook and cranny of historic towns on foot, then Ronda is for you. Apart from the Puente Nuevo there is a long list of must visit places around Ronda including the bullring, the Cathedral, the Minaret of San Sebastian, Mondragon Palace, the prehistoric paintings of the Pileta cave, Arabic Baths, Museo Lara and the mercadillo quarter of the town. And for something different why not walk down ( and up again !) the 365 steps of the Mina stairway which was cut by the Christian slaves in the fourteenth century.

The Ronda Parador offers private balconies in each of the 78 rooms available , many offering views of the surrounding mountains.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A perfect Romantic Spanish Retreat

The multi award winning Hacienda de San Rafael is set amongst 35 hectares of farmland and was a former olive farm located halfway between the historic towns of Seville and Jerez. It offers a combination of rustic charm, total quiet and modern luxury.

This beautiful hotel proudly boasts many accolades including the Tryp Adviser Travellers choice 2010, the Tattler award most heavenly hideaway award and many more.

There are 11 deluxe rooms and 3 private casitas, they all ooze romance in a big way with huge beds, double Jacuzzis, private gazebos and a shared infinity pools. Each of the rooms have been individually decorated with antique furniture and paintings from around the world. All rooms have contemporary bathrooms. The vast gardens include 3 swimming pools, a library and paddle tennis court.

The Hacienda’s restaurant offers regional dishes using fresh local products. Dinner is served in either the dining room, courtyard or in one of the gardens. The Hacienda is located close to Cabezas de San Juan. Both Jerez and Seville are about 40 km away. To the east To the East lie the white villages alongside the Sierras of Grazalema and to the West Coto Doñana National Park.

The hotel offers activities including visits to bull-breeding ranches and bodegas, walks in the sierras, horse-riding and golfing.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Blue Flag Beaches in Spain 2011

511 Blue Flags have been awarded to Spain’s beaches for 2011, which means once again Spain has the highest number of blue flag beaches in the world. This is great news for the tourism industry and foreign visitors, around 85% choose coastal areas.

The Blue flags where awarded to beaches located all around Spain’s long coastline and where distributed around the autonomous regions as follows:
Galicia : 130
Valencia : 116
Catalonia: 108
Balearic Islands: 85
Andalucia: 81
Canary Islands: 39
Asturias: 17
Murcia : 12
The Basque Country: 3
Ceuta: 2
Melilla: 1

The Blue Flag is a voluntary eco label awarded to thousands of beaches and marinas in 41 countries across Europe and around the world. It is owned and run by the independent non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).

The Blue Flag works towards sustainable development at beaches/marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and other services. The program also includes environmental education and information for the public, decision makers and tourism operators. Galicia in the to Marbella in the south, Spain really can boast it has some of the most beautiful and best beaches in Spain.

Skiing in Spain - Winter Fun on Ice

Spain is ranked second as the worlds hottest tourist destination and for most visitors its the sun and sand that brings them to the land of passion and not the skiing...until now !!. For the winter sports and skiing enthusiasts

Spain currently offers some 1.000 Kilometres of quality marked trails and slopes situated in over 36 superb ski resorts half of which are proud owners of the Q awards for their quality tourism facilities and services offered. And all this set in a country that is second only to Switzerland with the greatest amount of mountains.
According to Atudem ( The Ski and Mountain Resort tourism Association) some 24.5 Million Euros has been invested at all the major resorts around Spain and will really make a difference to all winter sports enthusiasts in 2012. The main areas of investment have been made on the purchase and installation of new and modern machinery and ski lifts with a much higher capacity in carrying skier numbers up to the pistes.

It will now be possible to transport some 500.000 travelers and hour at the 28 main ski resorts around Spain. There has also been a significant investment in the overall services available at the resorts including better hotels, parking, pistes restaurants and access areas.

The overall investment amount has been disrupted between the following areas.

Aragon - 5.2 Million
Catalonian Pyrenees - 10.5 Million
Cantabria - 2.8 Million
Iberian Range - 150.000 Euros
Central Range - 1.5 Million
Penibetico Range-. 4.1 Million
Navarro - Pyrenees 25.000 Euro

In respect to accommodation offered by Hotels, Hostels, Paradors and other establishments located at or in close proximity to the resorts , there are now around 23,000 beds available with a further 22.000 beds located in the various catchment areas.