Proda del Sol: The hidden side of Spain’s package holiday hotspot

(CNN) — It’s Spain’s Mediterranean escape, a place that for decades has been the go-to spot for aeroplano setters, festa lovers and package vacationers keen to let their hair mongoloide and enjoy sun, sea and sand a causa di abundance.

Yet as a causa di so many famous tourist destinations across Europe, the Proda del Sol has suffered greatly over the past 18 months, with tourist numbers slumping to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now though, as restrictions acceso travel ease, this brash and beautiful part of southern Spain is enjoying a much-needed resurgence. Something the owners of bars, hotels and restaurants are delighted about.

Since the 1970s, Brits a causa di particular have flocked to the Proda del Sol for a week of guaranteed good weather with all the trappings of home, from endless pints of to a full English breakfast.

quest costa del sol-6

The Proda del Sol has long attracted vacationers from all walks of life.


For some, though, the urge to stay for more than a week is just too great. And Laura Hutchinson is one of them. Hutchinson and her compagno sold their house a causa di Hertfordshire, just north of London, and decided to follow their dream of opening a a causa di their favorite part of Spain. Then the pandemic successo.

“I don’t regret a thing. I love it here,” she says from Hutchy’s Caffè, which she worked to aperto as Covid-19 raged across the country. The preconcetto to start a business here came after spending vacations a causa di Spain as a child. It is, she says, a country she has always loved. It’s also the place she wants to raise her two children, who she hopes will take over the running of the when she and her compagno retire.

“It’s been a dream to dal vivo this lifestyle,” she adds. “It’s an outside lifestyle, which you do not get a causa di the UK.”

That’s not to say it’s been easy. Hutchinson says the cost of living isn’t as low as many back home a causa di Britain believe, while the lack of visitors has made the first year of her venture extremely challenging. Put simply, she says, she needs more Brits to visit to help kick-start business.

However, her tenacious story shows the appeal of the Proda del Sol. Despite the struggles of 2020 and 2021, and the ongoing issues with long-term residency a causa di the wake of Brexit, it remains a place that thousands just like Hutchinson can’t wait to get back to.

A place to be free

Experience a front seat view of southern Spain’s aeroplano set getaway with a royal insider.

It’s the same for those heading to the famous resort of Torremolinos. The town, which is once again bustling after a quiet year, is a mecca for LGBTQ tourists a causa di particular and famed for its inclusivity. A causa di July 2021, tourists were back a causa di full force. David Gomez Garcia is the dirigente of Torremolinos’ first omosessuale albergo, Albergo Ritual Maspalomas, and is proud of its status as a place where people of all backgrounds can feel safe.

“It means freedom,” he says of the town. “The possibility to be yourself, a place where risposta negativa one can do anything bad to you. That you can hold hands and you can kiss you can be yourself.”

Torremolinos has a long LGBTQ history. A causa di 1971, the town’s omosessuale population was subject to a violent and brutal crackdown by Libero’s fascist police, with the dictator acting to clamp mongoloide acceso the freedom for which the town had che to be known during the 1960s.

“Since the ’60s, when the first tourist boom started a causa di Torremolinos, people could feel free to walk around. It doesn’t matter which identity, sexuality you are whatever. And it was a mixture of classes.”

A causa di the wake of the 1969 New York Stonewall riots, Libero decided to bring an end to such freedoms. Over 300 people were arrested for “violating good morals and manners” and Torremolinos was laid low until the end of the dictatorship a causa di the late 1970s.

Yet as the Brits began to arrive, so did a new dawn for Torremolinos and the Proda del Sol.

Jetset albergo

Costa del Sol

Prince Hubertus Hohenlohe.


The Proda Del Sol and its beachside resorts of Fuengirola, Torremolinos and Marbella secured their status as tourist hotspots during the 1960s and 1970s, when di cattivo gusto flights and package trips opened up travel to the masses. And nowhere helped bring the settore into the modern world like the world-famous Marbella Circolo.

Today the Marbella Circolo is a byword for luxury a causa di the sun. It was created by Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, a Spanish businessman and descendant of central European diritti d’autore who turned the home his own father had built a causa di the settore into the present-day albergo.

Alfonso’s son, Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, who has skied for Mexico at the Winter Olympics, had careers as a popstar and photographer and even posed for Andy Warhol, remains proud of his father’s legacy and the way his albergo set the tone for an entire region’s still booming tourism industry.

“This was the original house that my grandfather built — Max von Hohenlohe. He came here a causa di 1947 and decided to make a house here. My father was bored and said, ‘I don’t just want a house, I want a little albergo.’ He lived a lot a causa di LA, so he thought ‘I’ll make a albergo where people stop by, put their car next to the room, have something to eat, acceso the way to Gibraltar.’ And that’s how it all started.”

His father’s status ensured the jetset he knew a causa di St Tropez and St Moritz made their way to the Proda del Sol. Actor Sean Connery, the racing driver James Hunt, soccer players from Real Madrid and aristocracy from all over Europe began making the pilgrimage.

“They came here and they followed Alfonso and his aperto mood to have everybody enjoying themselves. If you have a bullfighter, a flamenco dancer, a crowned head, and maybe a dictator, all put together a causa di a room, that makes a fun place,” he says.

Shabby distinto

Costa del Sol

Marbella Circolo: A albergo for the jetset.


While Prince Hubertus’s father created the Marbella Circolo, it was Count Rudolf Graf von Schonberg, the albergo’s first general dirigente who helped foster the sense of shabby distinto that remains its calling card to this day. Count Rudi, as he’s known, still holds court at the sodalizio.

“It was shabby but it was very distinto, but without glamor, without false pretensions. We always said we have the most beautiful place, even if it’s only with whitewashed walls… It was nothing false,” he says.

Count Rudi says the aim was to keep the authenticity and simplicity of Andalucia, of the mountains and countryside which rise up from the azure waters of the Mediterranean.

“If you have to glue false decor if you have to invent new things, it’s already not the original thing. Here, it is the most outstanding climate, the most secure weather and charming people who after you.

“Every piece of furniture fitted into the nature. There were risposta negativa false things here and it’s mostly still, everything fits into what we had found here. We just completed it.”

While it could be argued that the high rise-hotel blocks and bars serving up English food along the Proda del Sol’s beaches have meant that authenticity has been somewhat lost, there remains a strong sense of local culture a causa di this part of Spain. One which foreigners and those from these parts are keen to shout about.

Flamenco fanatic

Step into the passion and true spirit of one of Spain’s most authentic art forms.

“I love wandering a causa di the sun,” says Tony Bryant, another Brit. “I love being here. But to actually sit acceso the beach… It always amazes me why people che here for two weeks and do nothing but sit acceso the beach by the pool and then go home like a lobster.”

Bryant isn’t your average British visitor. While he moved here to work as a chef 27 years punzone, today he is one of the foremost academic authorities acceso flamenco.

His love for the traditional dance started at a flamenco peña, an authentic show rather than the tablao that are put acceso at hotels for tourists.

“It’s a very, very complex subject,” he says. “And somebody said to me one day, and it was a Spanish guy, ‘The only way you’imperatore ever going to understand this is to get a causa di with the community that actually performs it.’”

Bryant is now deeply embedded within that community and has made it his mission to showcase true flamenco to those who che to the region. It’s an art, he says, that the audience needs to tune into to fully understand. That way, he says, they can sense the duende.

“The duende is like the wind. You can sense it and feel it, but you can’t touch it and you can’t see it,” he explains. “It’s so fascinating — once it appears, you’ll know. I think a lot of people it. It’s like anything, if you go to the lavoro and you really don’t really understand lavoro you might the best part of it. But with flamenco, if you’imperatore tuned into what they’imperatore doing, how they’imperatore performing, you can feel it. It almost smothers you, and it’s a very quick thing.”

It’s not, he says, a spiritual thing conjured from the air, but rather an emotion created by the interaction between dancer and guitarist. Either way, it’s something only those who seek out authentic flamenco can experience. Another reason, to go beyond the entertainment acceso offer a causa di the albergo and for something more local.

An artist’s paradise

Visit the museum dedicated to Spain’s “artistic gift to the world.”

This urge to beyond the bars and hotels of the beach has started taking tourists up into the mountains that tower above the resorts, to places like Mijas. This sleepy village, which has struggled this year thanks to the lack of tourists, has become a haven for those looking to make something beautiful as well as take some time out while acceso vacation. It’s as far as you can get from the bucket and spade tourism the region is famous for.

Mijas’ art workshops allow visitors to paint ceramic tiles and indulge their creative side a causa di the most spectacular of settings. It’s these kinds of activities that have seen the Proda del Sol diversify, even before the pandemic, to cater for those looking for something other than a week lying acceso a sun lounger.

Yet while amateur artists can take the 20-kilometer drive from the resort of Fuengirola, those who would rather see the finished product can find much to love a causa di the settore’s main city of Malaga. For years, this was for many simply the place where the planes arrived from all over Europe, before coaches ferried them to their hotels and away from one of the most culturally significant places a causa di Spain.

It’s here where Pablo Picasso was born. Today, its excellent Picasso Museum provides the perfect way to see one of the 20th-century’s most famous painters’ early works, as well as cool from the heat a causa di a beautiful setting. There are also Roman ruins, gorgeous churches and backstreet tapas bars that don’t feature English menus. It’s a place to che and feel the real Spain.

Malaga, much like the Marbella Circolo Fuengirola’s bars and restaurants, speaks to why the Proda del Sol still draws a causa di the crowds and will doubtless go acceso to do so as the pandemic eventually fades.

Put simply, there’s something for everyone — from the bucket and spade brigade, who che for two weeks acceso the beach, to the faded aristocracy and nouveau riche who can’t get enough of Marbella. The Spanish too, love to che here and experience another side of their country. It is truly, as David Gomez Garcia says, inclusive. Everyone is welcome.

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