Sunny Outlook for Spains ’sunshine Coast’

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This year’s World Travel Market at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre in November not only drew record crowds, but one of the most popular stands was that of the Andalucia Tourist Board.

The four day event, which hosted 5402 exhibitors from over 200 regions and countries attracted visitors from every corner of the world, with numbers up by 2 per cent on last year’s event according to WTM Chairman Fiona Jeffery.

One new exhibitor was the city of Cadiz, famous for its dome-silhouetted skyline that doubled as Havana in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die”, and Gibraltar, which recently launched a new tourism marketing campaign, was at Excel after a few years’ absence.

The mood at the Andalucia and Costa del Sol stands was particularly buoyant. The Spanish Tourist Board announced that the British are not only visiting Spain more frequently, they are exploring less commercial areas such as inland Andalucia, or cultural destinations such as Cordoba and Granada. Almost half of visitors said they visit Spain to experience the culture as well as its beaches.

Britons are also spending more per capita while on holiday, music to the ears of the restaurant and hotel owners for whom 2007 turned out to be a bumper year with room occupancy rates up by over 5 per cent compared to 2006.

Resort developers like Club La Costa Resorts & Hotels are forecasting even better figures for 2008. To accommodate the increased demand for Spanish holidays, Club La Costa is expanding its flagship resort, California Beach in Mijas Costa. The company recently announced plans to open a 215-suite deluxe hotel overlooking the beach in 2009. The California Beach Hotel and Residences will offer an exceptional range of facilities, including one of the largest health spas in Spain, an al fresco live entertainment venue, restaurants, cafes, bars and boutiques, landscaped gardens and pools, 24-hr concierge/reception and security and sea and mountain views from every suite.

The location is ideal, just 20 minutes from Malaga airport, 15 minutes from Marbella and just 5 minutes from the new Miramar Shopping Centre nearby where shoppers will find numerous cafes, restaurants, a multi-screen cinema (showing English language films), supermarket, boutiques and home furnishing retailers.

With over 9 top class golf courses including championship course La Cala within a ten minute radius, the hotel is just minutes from Golf Valley which has one of the highest concentrations of courses anywhere on the Costa del Sol. The California Beach Hotel will be near the yacht marinas at Fuengirola and Cabopino, and for racing fans the Hippodrome, which has day and floodlit evening meets, is a short drive away.

Membership of Club La Costa, one of Europe’s leading resort developers since 1984, rose by over 10 per cent during the summer months and Richard Fletcher, Resort Director, expects 2008 to be even busier.

“Spain has always been a popular destination but we’ve had an exceptionally busy summer. As part of our expansion plans we are building a number of new resorts in Europe, including California Golf, in southern Tenerife, and a number of new projects in Spain, the new hotel and holiday homes. We’re also moving into Turkey with an exciting project, the Adonis, near Bodrum which is a special development of modern townhomes with a virgin beach adjacent surrounded by beautiful natural parkland.”

Despite the hotels options the Costa del Sol offers, Britons are moving towards timeshare, recognising it as a holiday “investment” compared to paying for hotel rooms and one of the main reasons is value for money. Club La Costa’s interior-designed apartment suites such as Santa Cruz Suites in Spain sleep up to 6 people. Guests have numerous facilities on their doorstep – including private Jacuzzis – which most private self-catering apartments or hotels don’t have.

Richard Fletcher adds: “Our members like the fact that almost everything is onsite – restaurants, live entertainment, children’s entertainment, fitness facilities, our own medical clinic affiliated to Xanit Hospital – one of the best in Andalucia – concierge service and more. Families can relax in the sun with all the comforts of home – space, luxury and excellent service – at a fraction of the cost of a luxury category hotel room.”

While the Andalucian government’s “2020” plan intends to keep Spain on top of the international tourist destination ratings by offering even more quality leisure facilities, companies in the private sector like Club La Costa are also investing in the Costa del Sol as a long-term, hard to beat tourist favourite. With the UK still Spain’s biggest market, expectations are that the number of visitors to the region will rise by another 5 per cent in 2008, a conservative estimate according to some hoteliers.

The Andalucian Tourist Board’s ad campaign strapline is: “Andalucia te quiere” (Andalucia loves you) and, it seems, the feeling is mutual. The British love affair with the Costa del Sol is back.

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About the Author:
Richard Fletcher has worked for Club La Costa Resorts & Hotels for the past fourteen years as Resorts Management Director, overseeing the running of 22 resorts in the UK, Spain, Austria and Tenerife. He worked in hotel management in England from 1966 until his arrival in Spain in 1984 and operated resorts in Tenerife, Mallorca, Portugal and Marbella prior to joining Club La Costa

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