Newsletter, December 2020
2020 has been a torrid year for everyone, but most especially for the hotel industry. We have been most impressed by the way our hotels have risen to the challenge: adapting, developing and in some cases using the enforced break for major renovations. We look forward to 2021 with optimism.
Sitting on the hillside above the beautiful village of Competa, Villa Andalucía welcomes you with stunning Mediterranean and mountain views and the warmest welcome in the Axarquia. Owner Helen puts her heart and soul into giving her guests the very best of good times. Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do, it seems that Helen can arrange it!
Whitewashed walls and red pantile roofs blend smoothly with the verdant garden to create a glorious ambience in the sunshine.
Each room has an en-suite bathroom with nice fluffy towels and there's air-conditioning for both cooling and heating. There are private terraces for each room too with sun loungers, a table and chairs, and a south-facing view that wraps around to catch the spectacular sunsets.
Villa Magalean is a luxury boutique hotel with spa in a delightful Spanish Basque house in the historic quarter of Hondarribia. The warmth of a family home combines with top-of-the-range hotel amenities, including 24-hour room service, personalised concierge service, gourmet wine bar and restaurant, spa and wellness centre, terraces and balconies.
Located at the foot of the old town's fortifications, close to the water's edge, Villa Magalean Hotel & Spa was created when one of the neo-Basque beach houses built in the 1950s was renovated and extended. Led by architect Iñaki Biurrun, all the period features were restored and given a contemporary touch: ceilings of carved beams, wrought iron balconies, dressed stone window apertures, parquets floors and Andalusian ceramic tiles.
Corsewall Lighthouse Hotel sits in a very special location, one might almost say unique, perched on a headland that overlooks the North Channel that separates Scotland and Ireland. While it is still a working lighthouse beaming out it's light to protect the ships and ferries coming into Stranraer, it is also a comfortable and friendly hotel with an impressive restaurant.
Walkers can enjoy some of the best trails in Scotland, and the hotel has pre-prepared maps of no less than 16 walks in the local area. Bird watchers will love the area too, and the nearby Galloway Forest Park has international recognition as a Dark Sky location for astronomers.
There are ample suites and they all have outstanding views. The Lighthouse Suite is perched right above the rocky seashore while the North Channel Suite has a huge 30m2 conservatory for soaking up the spectacular scenery that extends to the Isle of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre. The en-suite double rooms also enjoy either sea views or views of the meadowland that surrounds the hotel.
Meet the Locals
One of the joys of travel is the opportunity to encounter birds, animals and plants that you wouldn't normally see at home. Here are a few, not necessarily the rarest, or the commonest, but we are sure they will grab your attention when you meet them.
There are brown bears, Iberian lynxes and wild boar in Spain but they are rare and shy and you're not likely to come across them. There's an exotic bird that is easier to see though, and that's the pink flamingo. Two places we know of where you will often see large flocks are the salinas at Cabo de Gata near Almería and the lake at Arcos de la Frontera near Jerez.
Being so far from the place that most of us call home, it's not surprising that the Caribbean has a lot of unfamiliar bird species. Some may only grab the attention of dedicated twitchers because they are similar to those in many parts of the world. However there are others which will quickly attract our curiosity. I could have chosen humming birds, parrots or a few other species which are distinguished by their bright, vibrant and sometimes iridescent colours, but the one I have chosen here is the pelican, simply because they are so odd. They are ungainly at the best of times, but when the sac beneath their huge bill is filled with fish they become ever more awkward and comical. It's easy to see and watch pelican from many beaches in the Caribbean.
The British Isles are filled with wildlife if you know where to look. With the rise of urban foxes, they are no longer an unusual sight even for city-dwellers, and while deer are always interesting, they're not that rare. I'm turning to the water for a sample of British wildlife at its best. Why would anyone go all the way to Florida to see imprisoned dolphins performing in a concrete tank when you can stay at home and see free dolphins in their natural habitat. They swim with boats because they want to. And I've never met anyone who doesn't burst into a smile at the sight of dolphins playing in the bow wave. You can go on dolphin-watching trips from North Devon and Pembrokeshire. See some dolphins off the Devon coast here.
Harbourside View is a unique bed and breakfast experience floating on the edge of Bembridge harbour on the Isle of Wight. The privileged position offers fantastic sea views across the sheltered bay. Built on an old military stores barge the property is surprisingly large, featuring three en-suite guest rooms and a big lounge/breakfast room/kitchen. During the build of Houseboat Harbourside View many fittings have been salvaged from other ships to enhance the nautical flavour.
On the seaward side the lounge has easy chairs, a television and binoculars mounted on a tripod for watching the activity out on the water. Patio doors lead from the lounge onto a generous deck area with big comfortable outdoor sofas and a table. On the landward side is a pretty little garden filled with flowers and beyond that lies the Bembridge Lagoons and an RSPB nature reserve. As the tide rises the houseboat floats imperceptibly and ducks and swans will probably swim up for some titbits.
The Isle of Wight is small enough that all parts are easily accessible by car to guests staying at Harbourside View, even the Needles at the far end of the island. It's also a place ideal for the keen photographer, dog walker and artist, as it offers total relaxation and a chance to unwind from everyday life.
Do you love to travel?
Of course you do! Who doesn't? About once a month we send out a little email like this with information and news about destinations, hotels and anything we think you may find of interest. Subscribe to our e-newsletter here.
And finally.... Never believe a rumour until it has been officially denied.
31 Dec 2020, 16:48