Well, 2016 is coming to an end, and what a turbulent year! Famous actors, singers and musicians have been falling like ninepins. Here, half the population is looking forward to independence, and the other half think it's madness. In America, a non-politician has grabbed the highest political office by saying things that no actual politician would dare to say.
So what is in store for 2017? We don't have a crystal ball, but I can confidently predict that the sun will still shine, the sea will still be warm, the sand will still be soft and the beautiful places will still be beautiful. The exchange rate may have slipped a bit, but Spain is still 30% cheaper than the UK, and France is still 0-30% cheaper, depending on where you go.
The ultimate chic, boutique hotel in Marbella is Hotel Claude. Right in the old town just five minutes from the Plaza de Los Naranjos and the beaches, in a former life the house has been the summer residence of Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III), the home of Ferdinand de Lesseps (builder of the Suez Canal) and a bohemian artist's club for hippies. Today the brother-and-sister owners keep on winning awards for their lovely hotel.
Remaining with Marbella, we bring you Casa La Concha. Hidden behind a little gate, this old Andalucian finca opens up like a tardis as the full grandeur is revealed. Little casitas are stacked in higgledy-piggledy fashion around the main house, and the large gardens of Casa La Concha are pure delight. Reflecting again the owner's eye for style, the informality of the garden makes it a riot of banana plants, bougainvillea, lawns and seats and little nooks and crannies.
Not actually a new hotel but a new addition to the acommodation at Sa Galera, Sa Paissa Cottage is set in the grounds of the hotel. It's a spacious 2 bedroom cottage perfect for a family. The location in the south-east corner of Mallorca provides ideal access to the beaches and calas there.
A few people have re-christened the Costa del Sol as the Costa de Golf, and it's true: there are a lot of golf courses there. And right in the middle of four top-class courses is Casa El Aguila. It's an ideal location for golfers of course, but with a score of 9.9 on our "review of reviews", it makes a pretty good holiday spot for anyone wanting a tiny B&B on the Costa del Sol.
Non-Chlorine Swimming Pools
I expect we've all complained about the chlorine in a pool at some time or other. It's not entirely pleasant yet it probably seems like a small price to pay to swim in clean, hygienic water. However there are other ways of keeping pools clean that avoid the downsides of chlorine.
The alternative is usually described as a salt-water swimming pool, yet it's a bit of a misnomer as it's really nothing like swimming in sea water. The concentration of salt is only about a tenth of that in sea water, so there are no stingy eyes and it doesn't taste salty.
The chemical technicalities are beyond the scope of this item but the benefits are clear enough. There’s no smell of chlorine, the sensitivity of some people to chlorine is not a problem and the water is "soft". It's this softness, like you get from a domestic water softener, that is the main advantage in my personal experience. It's something difficult to describe; it just feels much much nicer, though it doesn't seem any softer if you go in with a belly flop!
We have plenty of hotels with chlorine-free swimming pools. To mention just a few, there are:
Finca de Arrieta (Lanzarote)
Casa El Morro (Lanzarote)
Finca Las Longueras (Gran Canaria)
Can Furios (Mallorca)
Ca Na Xica (Ibiza)
Finca La Ramallosa (Extremadura)
Cortijo Valverde (Andalucia)
Molino del Santo (Andalucia)
Cal Mestre (Catalonia)
There are always lots of special offers on Little Hotels. These are all genuine offers from the hotel concerned, with no dodgy comparisons or hiked prices just so they can be reduced again.
Son Amoixa Vell on the east coast of Mallorca offers 7 nights for the price of 6, or 14 nights for the price of 12. This offer is available for stays throughout 2017. Many other hotels have similar offers.
Lots of hotels have a non-refundable tariff that is 5%, 10% or occasionally even 15% cheaper than the standard rate. That's "100% payment on booking, not refundable in the event of cancellation". Just a few examples: Finca Cas Sant, Es Trull, Hotel Claude Marbella, La Fructuosa.
Long-stay discounts don't always mean a stay of a week or more. Sometimes there is a discount for just 3 or 4 days. Take a look at Cas Ferrer Nou Hotelet, Finca Son Jorbo, Can Isabel, La Fuente de La Higuera or Cortijo Valverde.
Hotel Bremon in Cardona offers a special discount for Over-55s. They also have all sorts of special packages such as a Romantic Getaway, Vineyard Visits and a package including all the cultural and historic sights of Cardona.
Chef Clive at Finca Las Encinas is so enthusiastic about his cooking that he can't stop at just providing wonderful gourmet meals for his guests. He runs cookery courses too, so you can combine a lovely holiday with learning new things to cook (and eat the dishes you have created!).
Then there is something quite unique at Los Castanos; a creative writing holiday run by the acclaimed crime writer Anna Smith. the dates are fixed of course, 12-18 May. Or if you want a week of walking in the hills of Andalucia, Los Castanos has pre-planned walking routes taking you through the secret paths around Ronda known only to the local farmers, before returning for a home-cooked dinner and a bottle of local Ronda wine. The walking holidays can be adjusted to add or delete a few days of required.
There's lots more too, and offers change frequently. Watch out for the red Special Offer! labels on our pages.
Something Out of the Ordinary
We love the quaint, the rustic, the palatial and the exotic, but occasionally we fall in love with something entirely different. From the very outset, renowned local designers were invited to contribute to the interior decor of Finca Los Arandinos in La Rioja. The result is a crisply modern hotel that exudes quality and luxury from every pore.
And finally.... You only get one chance to make a first impression.