Cheap holidays to Spain

  • Changes to Mirador al Sur

    Mon 23rd March 2020

     At villa Mirador al Sur during this virus lockdown period the exercise bike is a twice daily essential activity, not forgetting the ping pong table is getting well used too. Daily Pilates is the order of the day with mats provided. The Games room has a router booster, so you can play music or listen to radio if you have your own equipment.

    A new set of dining chairs for the living room and an exterior electric awning was ordered prior to the shutdown, so will just have to wait for delivery and installation.
    New blackout Roman blinds in the salon allow them to be lowered just to the required level to meet the main curtains each side, thus blocking out any unwanted sunlight without losing the view. By drawing the main blackout curtains up to the Roman blinds makes
    The new electric awning is to be positioned on the small upper terrace by the principle entrance. The location is ideal for breakfasts, whereby the sun comes up over the Cumbre del Sol, and lunches too. This is a favoured position off peak as its well protected from any chilly northerly winds, as well as peak periods too. You will now no longer need to use a parasol in this location. A wind detector will detect the wind velocity and wind the awning in, just in case you forget, but we do advise that if it is not in use to close it.

     The new summer kitchen is now equipped with its own superior quality acrylic dinner plate set and cutlery, just to save having to take move items between kitchens.

    The last fridge freezer was icing up and after repeated technician visits, we decided to replace it.
    The new fridge freezer has more space and set to eco.

    The Wifi has 10 mb download speed and good for streaming. In the next few months we understand that fibre optic is being laid, which will give considerably more speed and bandwidth. As soon as we can hook up to this we will.
    We have unplugged the telephone, simply as there are too many scam or telesales. If you want to use then simply plug in again.
    When the WiFi is updated with fibre optic then we will disband with the current Orange network.
    The pool light button by the bar also lights up the palm tree spots for an hour, unless the button is pressed again. Replacement LED lights now shine a better light on the steps descending the stairs from the kitchen.

    The cane fence that separated the parking area from the garden zone blew over during a storm and has been replaced with metal triple gates, thus allowing for the gardener to also pass through now.

    If you have any ideas of how we can further improve the villa, then please let us know.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Avoid this loophole

    Tue 27th March 2018

     It is important to note that when paying for an item or service online that you do so with the individual or firm directly and not pay via  a third party, as you could fall foul of a little known, and less understood, loophole in the  Consumer Credit Act which holds card issuers jointly liable if a trader breaches the contract.

    There must be a direct relationship between the customer/client, the card issuer and the offending merchant, otherwise the protection of section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act is lost.

    Some online companies use specialist payment processing companies like Paypal and Transferwise, and so customers are not necessarily aware of the problem and the implications this means.

    Action Fraud disclosed that nearly 100 people a week in 2017 were scammed by companies that clone legitimate holiday websites, whereby paying with a card via a third party will invalidate your protection.

    If this happen to you and your card issuer refuses to compensate you, then do contact the financial ombudsman to handle your complaint.

    To avoid this use your credit card or debit card and pay the holiday firm directly. Further info on security can be found on our About Us page.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Remember remember the Valencia Fallas in mid March

    Mon 05th March 2018

     I recall the first time I went to the festival of fire some 30 odd years ago and travelled into the city on a motorbike. Not all the way from the UK I hasten to add, but staying with friends outside Valencia was told it was an easy way of getting into the city and fun too. Having not ridden a motorbike since I was a 12 year old (off road), meant having a lesson by a good friend who happens to be a motorbike fan, so a 30 min run around  a disused football area and learning to change gears and lean over on the curve was the lesson. I hour later 2 bikes and a pillion friend on the back of my borrow3ed bike certainly concentrated the mind, especially going along the motorway and between cars in city. A very trusting pillion rider I must say at the time.

    After a great evening out seeing the spectacular displays before they were lit up was most memorable, as well as the return journey  the next day for the central square final day of the big bang, whereby at noon an enormous series of hanging bangers are set off building up to a huge crescendo.

    It was also my first introduction to churros, which are long doughnuts that you can also dip into hot chocolate; fattening, of course, but nonetheless enjoyable.

    Whatever means you use to get into Valencia, you simply get around on foot. Take the map and comfortable walking shoes. When seeing the displays do pick out the one you want to see burn on the final night, should you return for the burning, that is .

    For further info see our Fiestas page and our previous blog

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Guardian highlights cancellation issue

    Mon 05th February 2018

    There is nothing worse than having your holiday cancelled, but this can happen even with the biggest holiday booking companies, as shown in the article in the Guardian, below dated 13/01/18.

    One common problem in this industry is double booking, whereby a holidaymaker books a villa or an apartment or hotel, only to find that it has been cancelled. Ordinarily you should expect a full explanation and alternative accommodation to be given, or a full refund if you prefer it. Certainly not what Booking.Com said to their client repeatedly, who was then forced to write in to the Guardian.

    Apart from our own website listings, you will find us on many portals like Booking.Com, although you will find more information on our website than theirs, as well as more pictures.

    In order to avoid double bookings the system at villaspain removes the villa from being available as soon as credit card details are given, as well as stops the data feeding to other portals.

    In the event you were unfortunate to be subject to a cancellation by any operator, which was not necessarily even a double booking error, but because the villa had a major problem preventing it from being habitable, then an explanation should immediately be given as to what has occurred and suitable alternative accommodation can be offered to you.

    This can be more of a problem if dealing with an individual owner directly, who would not necessarily have access to an alternative suitable quality property.

    It should be said that cancellation is rare in the case a property becomes uninhabitable.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Thomas Cook sun bed battle ends

    Fri 02nd February 2018

     Thomas Cook has reported that the sunbed towel battle could well be at an end in hotels, providing you reserve a sunbed for 25 Euros each.

    We all know that renting a villa, as opposed to a hotel,  avoids the extra costs of a so-called all-inclusive holiday provides, but more importantly it’s having your own private space a villa offers  etal that go to make a great holiday.

    Clearly I am preaching to the converted, as you will have already either considered or have taken a villa holiday in preference to a hotel anyway.  However, when travelling further afield and on long haul,  then perhaps there is little option but to take a hotel .

    I was once in Cuba and travelling around the island, whereby a group of 4 of us found it simpler to book hotels for the short stays involved. However, on the final  week of our stay we pre-booked a villa through an agent who had arranged our hotel itinerary, and whilst not expecting to much in the way of comfort found none at all. In fact, it was so bad, more like a bunker on a concrete pad with an interior that did not match any picture given, we complained and moved to a hotel. The lesson is here, as we tell all our clients, is to choose a villa giving you as much detail as possible, not just 2-3 pictures and some exotic blurb the agent has written up.  

    extract from the Guardian dated 29th January 2018











    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Insiders Info: Using a Booking Portal for holiday

    Thu 18th January 2018

    What you should know if using a Booking Portal for accommodation.

     Whilst it’s very helpful to view listings of numerous accommodation available at hotels and villas within one booking portal, which also allows you to see reviews, ratings and easy to read pricing, it would be wise to dig deeper for more exacting information of what you will really get and the real cost of it. Whether it’s either a short or long holiday planned, it’s worth getting the accommodation right, thus avoiding any disappointment when you arrive to your destination accommodation.

    Most booking portal listings do not readily reveal the extra charges, unless you dig deeper into the fine print. For example, there may be extra charges for local or national taxes, bed linen, fuel use or even cleaning of the villa itself. If you went direct to the advertiser themselves, then you would find such extra charges more clearly shown on their website, or on their booking form. This applies to refundable damage deposits also.

    There is limited space on the results page of booking portals, so what you see is a low price and little in the way of extras. The programming¬† is geared to get a conversion as quickly as possible, so you see short notices that refer to ‚Äėonly one left‚Äô or 3 people looking at the accommodation or 2 people just booked this‚Äô. Do not be fooled into having to make a fast decision and book quickly, but get to the small print of the listing and then copy it, just in case the terms & conditions change or extras are change between your booking and final payment is taken. It has been reported in the media that whilst you see, for example, no cancellation fee is charged on a hotel booking, but then find it was charged when a cancellation was made.

    Helpful advice and saving money;

    1.       Such  multi listing booking portals who offer hotel and villa accommodation tend to be listed in the top 3 of Google advertised search results, so it can pay you to look further down the search result page or pages to see what smaller niche firms can offer, whereby you can then view considerably more details and photos.

    2.       Booking portals tend to charge their hotel or villa client accommodation providers a 15% commission fee, so by doing some research yourself you may well find a Promotional Code that gives you a discount on the very same accommodation, thus saving you money on your booking. Booking direct with the accommodation provider enables you to possibly secure a discount or upgrade, simply as the 15% commission charged does then not have to be expended by the provider. If you simply type in the name of the hotel or villa, with location, which the booking portals show into search bar, you can then locate more readily the same accommodation and  book direct with the provider.

    3.       Some booking portals merely pass your credit card details onto the hotel or villa operator, so it is important to liaise directly with the accommodation provider and ensure you have the reservation number, secured dates, contact details and directions to the accommodation. It is very important to link directly with the provider, not just the booking portal.

    4.       If you are looking for a longer stay at a villa then you can negotiate a better price than that listed, which is not something you can do with the major booking portals.

    5.       You would wish to ensure that your accommodation villa is not substituted because of any double booking, so by going direct to the hotel or villa operator you can be sure that this possibility is avoided.

    6.       Any questions you have about the accommodation are best directed to the accommodation provider, simply as the booking portals do not know the accommodation itself.

    7.       Do not show your booking form to the hotel, as a hotel receptionist can log into your portal account and leave incorrect reviews. Certainly show the booking reference number.

    Helpful advice on your financial security whenever using a debit or credit card here

    Also check out useful FAQ’s here and extras here  and T&C here

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Moraira: destination for beautiful villas/beaches

    Fri 12th January 2018

    Moraira: a destination for beautiful villas and beaches

     Moraira is a small pretty town along the Costa Blanca, midway between Alicante 80 kms to its south and Valencia 108 kms to its north. Barcelona is 438 kms to the north. Moraira remains one of the most unspoilt resorts on the Costa Blanca, with 8km of beautiful coastline backed by mountains and devoid of high rise buildings. There is a high proportion of expats living there from Northern Europe, and the area is very popular with retirees.

    Moraira is known by visitors, not just for its beauty, but for its beautiful villas in the hillsides and restaurant scene, so if you are planning to visit Moraira or any other places along the Costa-Blanca please visit or talk to the team at for a personal villa accommodation service.

    Moraira has developed over the years from a small sleepy fishing port to a quality tourist area. There are plenty of things to do in Moraira, from lazing on the beach to water sports.

    Here are the 5 most essential things to do in Moraira.

     1) Moraira is well known for its beaches, so if you are planning to visit Moraira then you’ll probably visit the principle beach called l’Ampolla, which is located next to the fortress. The second local beach is  El Portet, located on the north side of the marina. Both are Blue Flag beaches and un-crowded at peak times, cleaned daily and are safe places for families and their children. Full details of the beaches locally.
     2) There are plenty of things which we can do in Moraira on holiday, for which activities include go-karting, fishing, golf, tennis, squash, as well as all other water sports including skiing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Full details of what sports are on offer locally.
     3) Moraira and the surrounding areas are well known for great restaurants, for which all also serve local fish and delicious Paellas. Varieties of other cuisines are also available and include English, Italian, Mexican, Greek, Moroccan, Indian, Chinese and Thai. So you’re sure to find something to tempt you. For a flavor and list of restaurants in Moraira >>
     4) The Moors and Christians fiesta in Moraira is the most famous festival and take place on the 3rd weekend of June in each year. The Moors and Christians fiesta celebrates the banishing of the Moors from Valencia by the Christians. Local people dress up in their finest costumes and parade through the streets to the music of local bands.  It is very much a party atmosphere and enjoyed by locals and visitors, capped off by a stunning firework display. For a flavor and list of fiestas in Moraira >>
     5) There are plenty of other places in the area to discover and include Javea old Town, Javea old port, as well as Javea itself. The surrounding towns of Denia, Calpe, Benissa and the Jalon Valley are just a 15 min drive away from Moraira and all have something to offer the visitor. Get to enjoy and explore this beautiful area independently by renting an affordable luxury villa. For a flavor and list of what to do in Moraira and the surrounding areas >>

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Beware of ongoing online payment commitments.

    Mon 12th June 2017

    Lesson learnt from companies whose T&C  only offer ongoing payment  commitments:

    A few years ago I signed up for LOGMEIN, which is a software programme that enables you or a nominated person access to your computer, at a cost of some 60US Dollars, although having only used it on one occasion at the time it was needed for a computer fix I’d unfortunately  forgotten about having set it up altogther. What went unnoticed was that each year a charge is made to your credit card without any warning  each year. Unlike your utility provider, household insurance and the likes of pet insurance, whereby the provider informs you of the amount and due date of the charge in good time, LOGMEIN simply carry on charging regardless.

    The last sum charged was 299 US Dollars which I only recently discovered, and  was simply kicking myself for not having noticed previous charged entries.

    What became apparent is that I ticked their T&C box that allowed LOGMEIN to charge annually and that the fine print allowed them also to charge whatever fee rates applied in the future without stating a figure. According to the T&C you can only cancel by phone or email, so you are dependent upon the company being honourable to ensure the account is not charged again.

    After it was brought to the companies attention that the service was only used the once in the first year, they kindly credited the last payment of 299 US Dollars, but not the previous 2 payments that had gone unnoticed.

    I then took this up with my Natwest credit card provider, who informed me that they get a huge amount of complaints from their clients complaining about this type of ongoing fee commitment, not just because of my loss and stupidity but also because others may be unaware of this bad practice generally.

    Natwest advised they could do nothing about it with the company concerned, although very kindly credited me in full for the previous payments and also for the difference in exchange rate on the last charge.

    I enquired to Natwest if this practice can be outlawed by credit card providers, simply as it appears to me unreasonable & unfair that such practices are employed by some companies, but this suggestion did not gather any traction.

    I do think it is incumbent upon all companies to inform their client/customer that a charge is going to be made in advance and each year, in order the client/customer is given the opportunity to be aware of the cost and to cancel the service if they wish to.

    To reinforce this there should, in my opinion, be a credit card regulation that ensures proof of a client having accepted any new higher charge on an annual basis, in the event of a dispute.

    I was lucky in this case and am now aware more so of such ongoing commitments for online services made.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • EU mobile phone roaming charges dropped

    Thu 08th June 2017

    Free mobile Roaming charges have been a long time in coming about, but thanks to EU rules on roaming charges it has finally come about and starts on the 15th June 2017, whereupon all roaming mobile phone charges will cease when you travel to Spain, or other EEC countries.

    However, it is being pointed out by moneysavingexpert   that if your deal with your provider is a very low tariff one then you could still be affected if you go over certain usage levels, so it’s therefore important to check before you travel what your limits are, if any.

    Also, do note that if you are traveling to the Pyrenees in Andorra then roaming charges will continue to apply. If you’re perhaps taking a beautiful scenic detour to Spain via andorra for a short period of time then it probably hardly matters, but if you intend staying a few weeks then you can consider getting a Sim card to put into your phone: available from the local telephone provider in Andorra la Vella itself, for which the cost is around 15 Euros.

    Useful details for driving down to Spain and approx costs can be found here at driving down

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Fairer exchange rates for everyone

    Wed 23rd November 2016

    Worldpay has announced a new currency card that is worth checking out - details

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • The Post office Worldwide Barometer

    Thu 23rd January 2014

    The latest 2014 Post office Worldwide Barometer places Spain (Costa del Sol research) between Bulgaria and Turkey for value for money on a basket of items.

    View 44 countries on the PO research link.

  • Welcome EU proposal to cap credit card charges

    Tue 24th September 2013

    How much I welcome the recent European Commission's EU credit card cap  proposal to cap in particular credit card fees forced upon retailers that tend to get passed onto the consumer.

    I recently purchased 2 flight tickets from BA to South Africa and paid a 3% surcharge for using my MasterCard, and yes, I do sometimes go somewhere else other than Spain from time to time.  Not only does the airline profit from the sale of the ticket, and yes I paid an extra £140 return for the privilege of choosing  seat numbers, but they make at least a 100% mark-up on the card from the credit card issuers, since they would be paying about 1.5% in interchange fees to their bank . The new regulation will cap charges to 0.3% and discussions are currently underway. No doubt the banks will want to make up such a huge shortfall in income, but where I wonder? With just a 0.3% interchange rate then really no surcharges should apply on any transaction and retailers will have reduced their overhead.

    If you know you're being surcharged unfairly or excessively then do take action and complain after reading this out-law.

    If you use your credit card aboard you'll find that nowadays there's an annoying extra 2.5 to 2.75% charge against every transaction you make, so better to get a Euro card and charge up. Check out pre-paid currency cards from or

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Beware Holiday Rental Cheats

    Wed 08th May 2013


    Recent media coverage by the Guardian Newspaper at about HomeAway, the US major accommodation listing company, reports on holidaymakers losing thousands of pounds because of fictitious listings, with no support or compensation.

    Such unfortunate stories have been reported time and again by the media over the years, which serve to demonstrate that nothing can be done to stop this malicious practice. So how can you protect yourself?

    It may be a bore for those that have read our financial security page about protecting yourself on page , but to repeat the mantra: Paying by credit card is the only safeguard against any type of fraud. By paying a minimum of £100 gives you full protection under section 75 of the 1974 credit card act, for which you then get an immediate refund. Paying by cheque or making a bank transfer to any party offers no protection whatsoever should the advertiser disappear or the advert was found to be fraudulent.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • The Guardian Money article on fraud

    Wed 01st May 2013

    The front page Guardian article 27-4-13 in the Money section at  gives examples of consumers losing money  when paying for accommodation on holiday website portals such as HomeAway.

    To protect yourself only use a credit card. Further information and advice can be found on page

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • All Inclusive holiday is not necessarily the case

    Wed 05th September 2012

     That's the verdict of more than 14 million UK tourists who have forked out tens of millions of pounds for hidden extras on their holidays abroad.

    The Post Office All-Inclusive Holiday ¬Report, released today, shows:
    88% of travellers expected ALL meals to be supplied, but 16% (equivalent to three million people) had paid an estimated total of £76.8million extra for a la carte meals on their last trip.
    Less than 50% said they actually saved money by going all-inclusive.
    Wide variations in exclusions between European and long haul destinations.

    Full article

    We say, get privacy, space and better choice and quality of food in or out when on an independent villa holiday.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Have you experienced your accommodation cancelled?

    Tue 07th August 2012

    Cancelled accommodation more common today and why!

    There has been a marked increase of telephone calls this year from holidaymakers that have been let down on their villa booking.

    Various reasons are given and include suddenly unavailable, illness of owner or the villa is sold and even the odd repossession by the bank.

    What is happening is that with some owners that advertise privately the property they may well be listed for sale too, and in these troubled economic times with villa sales flat in Spain, some owners sell the villa and renege on their letting commitments.

    Booking with an agent ensures that another villa will be available to you if such a situation ever occurred, unlike a private owner advertiser that does not have other villas listed.

    Should you book a weekday arrival and departures then it could be difficult to find alternative accommodation, particularly in summer when villas may be on a Saturday changeover.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Pound/Euro rates hit best in nearly 4 years

    Fri 13th July 2012

    Pound/Euro rates hit ‚ā¨1.27, best in nearly 4 years

    The reasons for the gains were continuing doubts about the currency bloc's ability to activate bailout funds help bailout countries struggling to repay its debts. Investors worldwide have been dumping the single currency in favour of safer havens such as the US Dollar.

    The reason people are shunning the Euro is due to the lack of progress towards solving the bloc's debt crisis. Adding to the overall bearish mood towards the euro, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Tuesday his country could be interested in tapping the euro zone's rescue fund for bond support. This came after Spain announced a further round of austerity measures following their ‚ā¨30bn bailout earlier in the week.

    Will rates fall back away?

    Possibly. We have already seen a decline since hitting a peak earlier this week. The deepening crisis in the euro zone is a huge risk to the UK economy because the region is Britain's largest trading partner. Bank of England governor Mervyn King on Tuesday warned the British economy was showing few signs of recovery and analysts predicted output would prove to have remained sluggish in June due to a double holiday.
    The Government and Bank of England don't want a high GBP/EUR rate - it's hurting our exports and stalling our recovery. There is a good chance of an interest rate cut to try to pull the rate down to make the Pound more attractive.
    Indeed we have seen several times in the last few years the BoE talking the Pound back down, and if this happens the rate may fall away.

    The case for rates climbing further

    Of course rates falling is not a given, and nobody can predict exactly what will happen. Should we see further weakness in the Eurozone then there is every chance rates could pull higher, assuming we don't see the UK powers try to weaken Sterling.
    Many forecasts do suggest rates may climb, however we have seen such forecasts before only to see a drop.

    Extract from information supplied by Foremost Currency Group.

    We say - good to buy some Euros now and secure your spending money. Look at our Blog for currency card and lock in the rate.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Why PayPal users should be aware

    Mon 25th June 2012

    The Observer letters section on 24th June 2012, highlights the lack of consumer protection for PayPal users.
    Consumers are not protected under Section 75 of the 1974 consumer credit card act when using PayPal, unlike when you use a Visa or Mastercard credit card, as a means of payment. Click here

    Does Paypal actually offer extra protection? Click here

    If you pay for an item costing £100 or more using your credit card, you are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. So if the retailer goes bust, fails to deliver the goods or the goods it supplies are not up to scratch, you have the statutory right to compensation from your credit card provider.

    But this statutory right does NOT apply if you pay for something on your credit card via Paypal. In this case, the very safeguard you sought - having a middleman - means you no longer have a direct, legal contract with your credit card provider.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Weekend in Brighton Costs More Than Week in Spain

    Thu 24th May 2012

    A holiday getaway, for say just a weekend trip in Brighton, can cost a lot more than a week in a luxury villa with its own private pool in Spain, even when you include all travel, food and associated costs of an independently-taken holiday, as opposed to the all-inclusive type packages that are available. I know Brighton very well as a great place to live and work, but looking at it from a visitor's perspective it is interesting to see a gaping disparity in the value for money it offers when compared to travelling abroad. This disparity is true of all popular tourist places in the UK.

    The weekend getaway, and even the Staycation phenomenon, for a main holiday has been growing in popularity in the UK for a few years, particularly since the economic downturn in 2007, but what is the true cost of that weekend getaway to Brighton for example when compared to the cost of having your own luxury villa with a private pool in a quality resort such as Moraira or Javea on the Costa Blanca in Spain for say a party or family of 4.

    Compare the costs:
    Take a reasonably priced self catering apartment in Brighton and the cost per week is around £700 and little less for a weekend, or alternatively take a decent guesthouse (B&B) off the seafront with no pool or view for 2 nights and the cost is £150 per night per room including breakfast.
    Taking the car can be a hassle when it comes to parking in Brighton, with the wardens and tow away teams being very active, let alone the cost of £3.50 per hour at the meter or £25 per day in the one of the car parks. Although at a hotel you should be able to obtain a 2.50 per day parking voucher, providing you can find a parking space. The most practical and cost effective route is to take the train at approximately £25 per head return from say London as an example.
    Having a substantial breakfast at the guesthouse will give you the energy to forego any big lunch, so a simple lunch or sandwiches may well suffice until the evening, which will cost between £35 to £50 per head including wine at a local small restaurant such as Sams, or eat for less at pizza type places. Cote restaurant, located by the Dome, does excellent pre theatre meals at under £12 per head excluding wine, so eating early in some places can save money, though may be too early to eat for some.
    Enjoy a drink or two before and after the meal at one of the many pubs or bars and the cost can easily rocket.
    Visit a few interesting sites such as the must see Pavilion costing £8.00 per person or a family ticket can be had for £25.70 for 4 (tour takes 1-2 hours), as well as the big wheel at over £8 each for a 3 minute ride, not to mention the pier amusements and you'll find it's easy to let a few hundred pounds slip through your hands within a few hours.
    A stroll around the North and South Lanes offers more interesting niche product shops and antiques than the regular shopping mall and high street, which is a welcome cost free exercise, providing you can resist the items on display.
    Take the bus tour around Brighton and that is £10 each or £20 for a family ticket, or a sea life aquarium visit at £16.20 or £11.40 for a child each, so for a family of 4 the cost would be £55.20.
    When you are in a B&B everything is extra, so taking that taxi or buying those ice creams add up. Taking an all-day bus pass is great value, providing it is used well.
    Below is an example of costs that can be incurred on a London to Brighton weekend trip for 2 couples or a family of 4 with information from Visit Brighton's website for tourism and links, as well as local information from local guesthouses and self catering accommodation sites.
    London Victoria to Brighton for 4 return £100.
    Accommodation 2 nights inc breakfast in a B&B guesthouse or self catering £600- £700.
    Two evening meals out at £35 each per night £280.
    Sandwiches, snacks for 2 days for 4 £80
    Drinks at £10 per head per night for 4 £80
    Entertainment tickets £50 pp per day total £400
    Total £1,540.

    By comparison the cost shown, below, is an example of taking a week to a luxury villa with private pool and all associated costs in May.
    Take 4 flights in May at £120 inc return each £480, via cheap flight options.
    Travel to Gatwick airport from London and return £108
    Take a villa in May say at £400 inclusive per week.
    Car hire £150 inclusive of fully comprehensive insurance and an allowance of fuel at say £40, to enable you to sightsee and go to beaches, markets, historic towns and places of interest and have enough fuel to return the car to the airport.
    Allow a full day and use all attractions at say Terra Mitica for £102 covering 2 adults and 2 children.
    Kids will always be happy to spend all their time at the poolside, though the great local beaches with warm waters are a major draw and for free.
    Allowing a week's luxury hamper of wine and food to cover breakfasts, lunches, BBQ's and evening meal at say 250 euro's for 4 and the total is £1,500, being £40 less than a weekend in Brighton.

    Travel for 3 nights and the cost is less with those agents that rent villas for less than a week. Go as a larger group and the cost per person reduces more so.
    No doubt, other tourist places in the UK are little different in their charges for accommodation and entertainment than Brighton, so I am just using it as an example to compare costs of a normal UK weekend stay with a week's luxury villa stay.
    Compare the costs of both and take into account those little extra costs in the UK of a taxi, snacks or drinks and you can soon be heading for the ATM a few times.
    We all need that short break to getaway and have some quality time with friends and loved ones, so taking a short haul trip to a luxury villa in wonderful locations such as Moraira , Javea , Denia or Calpe along the Costa Blanca gives you more time for less cost than a weekend in Brighton, which really is a no brainer.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • What's in a villa name and is description honest?

    Wed 28th March 2012

    A villa by the name of Water Music in Moraira happens to be next to a water treatment sewage works.

    Most owners will choose a Spanish villa name to perhaps reflect the view from the villa, or a flower or their family name. Simple, memorable and innocent, but what do you conjure up when you hear the name villa Water Music:  the sound of a nice bubbling brook or water fall perhaps.

    I discovered such a villa in Moraira, that I came across, is privately advertised as Water Music at £1300 pw, although the water music  happens to be the municipal open sewage treatment works immediately next to the villa, and caters for several hundred villas. Yes, you can hear the sound of water from the villa, but you can also smell it too.

    Fine if this is explained in the villa description, but misleading and unfair when it's not advised of, as is the case here.

    A pukka agent would ensure a full and proper description and that disclosure is made of anything untoward, particularly an open sewage treatment plant that is next door.

    Private advertisers, as in this case, can understandably be more biased about their own property: after all, it is their investment, pride and joy. Perhaps the Spanish term 'villa Aguas Residuales' would be appropriate, meaning sewage works, but then in Spanish it would be misleading too if not mentioned in the details.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Who pays for credit card upgrades' added benefits?

    Thu 09th February 2012

    Who pays when the consumer gets a credit card or upgrade with added benefits?

     There is an increasing array of credit cards that now carry a much higher commission charge of over 3% to retailers than the normal personal credit card of 1.2-1.5%, since these premium/business/commerciall/fleet cards give added benefits to the card holder in various ways such as free points, cashback, free insurance, low credit or free credit for a period etc etc.

    In 2010 Tesco converted their Finest Platinum MasterCard to their Finest World MasterCard. Tesco's marketing giveaway of 650 points on the change effectively nearly doubled the commission charge to retailers, so it's really the retailer who actually pays for the added benefits that the card issuer gives.
    A case of give on the one hand and take from another. Tesco credit card FAQ page.

    Cards that carry the higher commission are as follows but not limited to;
    Mastercard or Visa World
    Mastercard Signia
    Mastercard or Visa Corporate, Commercial, Fleet or Business.

    VillaSpain makes no charge for personal credit card use, for which we encourage its use due to the financial protection it gives under the Consumer Credit Card Act of 1974, but we do charge 2% for those credit cards that are premium benefit cards, as displayed on the booking form.
    There is no charge for Electron or debit cards.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Can you really trust the ABTA and ATOL symbol?

    Mon 23rd January 2012

    Can the ABTA, AITO and ATOL symbol be trusted?

    Booking a holiday with any  organisation where you see the ABTA, ATOL and AITO symbol is no guarantee that you're financially secure;

    The Guardian's article End of Travel Protection expels that myth. In addition,  ABTA was forced to withdraw from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Consumer Code of Approval Scheme, as reported by Travel Weekly - ABTA Criticised for Code of Conduct Violation.

    The holidaymaker's financial protection ceased back in 2006, but the holidaymaker still remains mostly unaware, according to last year's Which report which found that travellers were said to have an "unwarranted trust" in the level of protection they were offered from associations such as ABTA, AITO and ATOL.

    They went onto report that more than two thirds (67%) wrongly assumed that if a travel company went into administration, and was a member of one of the associations, their money would be safe.

    Financial protection :

    We all know that sending a cheque or making a bank transfer to an individual or business for your holiday, or for anything else prepaid, offers you no security whatsoever: but when it comes to seeing well known association symbols such as ABTA and ATOL appended to brochures or websites, that have historically suggested financial protection, ones defences can be down.

    There is only one way to have 100% financial protection for your holiday villa, and that comes from using your credit card, provided the sum paid is not less than £100 (not a debit or charge card like Amex or Diners Club).

    Protection and full refund comes from the 1974 Consumer Credit Act (section 75), as advised here at and  by Which consumer magazine here  

    Not only that but you get credited immediately from your card issuer, whilst they make their refund claim against the company. A claim can be brought within 6 years (5 in Scotland), although ideally should be claimed as soon as you are aware of the company going bust.

    Other European countries' banks that issue credit cards also include the same protection for the public, which means protection for all Europeans too.

    Some companies make a charge for credit use, so given the straightened times we are currently in, and the more frauds and cons there are about, it is wise to pay it.

    Debit and Chargeback cards:

    You should also be protected even if you used a Visa debit card or Chargeback card under the Chargeback scheme, which offers similar protection to section 75.

    To make a claim with any card, customers must contact their card issuer, who then contacts the company's payment-processing bank to reclaim the money. This means that even if a company goes into liquidation it is possible to reclaim money, as the claim is made against a bank, not the company.

    Sometimes card issuers misunderstand section 75 and Chargeback rules and refuse a claim. Anyone in this situation should argue their case. If all else fails contact the Financial Ombudsman.

    What about getting compensation for other costs or losses?

    Can you claim for other losses you have incurred as a result of the failure of the company. Yes, under section 75 you must be put back in the same financial position you would have been in if the breach had not occurred. So should an airline go bust and you have to buy replacement flights that cost more than the original ones, you can also claim for the additional cost of those flights.


    Now ATOL you can trust, but one must be aware that it applies to the flight element and not necessarily the rest of the holiday package, so you need to check that all aspects of the package are protected. Also, to be aware that it is not a fictitious company displaying the ATOL symbol fraudulently, so a quick check of the members' ATOL CAA registration number can be done on page for you peace of mind.

    Do note that some holidays, where the flight and accommodation are arranged or sold separately, and that is termed Dynamically Packaged, may not be ATOL protected.

    Note too that booking a flight directly with any airline does not give you ATOL protection. You would think  that the £2.50 per passenger charge that is levied to the tour operator by the Air Travel Trust Fund, and administered by the CAA,  in the event a tour operator goes bust, could be included on your overall flight cost when booked direct, but no it isn't. Such a nominal sum allows you to finish your holiday and get a flight home, assuming you are abroad in the first place.

    Some UK airlines do offer package holidays or flight-plus-accommodation or car hire combinations that include package holiday protection, but do require checking as to what protection you have.

    What about Travel Insurance?

    Some policies cover airline failure, usually by including Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI). However, many policies don't include SAFI and some insurance providers exclude particular airlines, so you need to check what the policy does cover you for.

    All in all, many holidaymakers believe they are financially protected in the event of insolvency, when they are not.

    What to do?

    Use a credit card in all holiday, flight or holiday accommodation cases (min £100), which guarantees that all the money you paid is refunded. Should the travel agent or airline go bust whist you are away the credit card firm will refund you too and are obliged to cover any loss you incur, as the contract has not been fulfilled.

    In addition, do take out travel insurance that includes SAFI, which then covers you for a host of other situations.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Trials and tribulations of making an office move

    Tue 24th May 2011

     During March we relocated to larger premises, within Benissa, of 115 sq mts.

    A simple move from existing premises nearby, though we were completely unprepared for a very long delay on the electrical connection from Iberdrolla (Spain's monopoly utility firm on electric supply).

    The previous owner had allowed his electrical supply to be disconnected, which ultimately meant having to arrange for drawing up a plan of the existing premises by an independent engineer, then submit to the Town Hall for approval of change of use from an ex furniture shop and office to an office with storage: to then submit the Town Hall document and plan to Iberdrolla for approval and connection. Basically, it required 3 documents from three officials, each costing between 300 and 400 Euros, to simply get a connection from an existing meter on a previously existing shop. Has bureaucracy gone too far or is it that certain bodies are in need of some additional fees, or a bit of both, I ask? Attempts to circumvent change of use proved fruitless.

    Throw in a few fiestas over the period, including Easter, and all the wonderful parades going on locally, and you find Iberdrolla is in no particular rush. Ten weeks after taking possession we now have an electricity supply. It could have been longer if it had not been the persistence from our great team in Spain, to chase Iberdrolla. All very odd as the water and telephone utility services were connected on the first day of moving, with no paperwork required.

    Even the solicitor that handled the tenancy agreement could only smile at the services of Iberdrolla, so only makes me think about how lucky we are in the UK not to have to have that anymore.

    Fortunately, the premises are double fronted, with huge plate glass windows giving plenty of natural light, and the supervisors were able to connect to our database for instructions on bookings from their own home computers, so no panic existed.

    Benissa is on the N332 road, being the centre of our servicing area between Calpe and Denia, with just a very short drive into Moraira, so is an excellent location.

    No move planned for at least 5 years, so settling in is now complete!

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Holiday Property Bond and VillaSpain

    Mon 04th April 2011

    Why would a Spanish villa owner and villa agent  also become a member of Holiday Property Bond (HPB)?

    Well, it all happened back in 1991 when an old friend recommended them to me. Attracted by interesting  old  buildings in the UK and abroad that were converted sympathetically into good quality accommodation with amenities was very much appealing, and as an advocate of self catering over hotels myself it made good sense. In fact, on many occasions I will drive and stay at their French establishments and then drive onto Spain.

    Here was a professional company that knew what it was doing and was doing it very well. A wonderfully clever programme that allowed flexible use at any one of its property, regardless of location, size and time period.

    HPB's attention to detail was an act I sought to achieve with VillaSpain when it started in 1994, and continue to do so.

    I have only praise for HPB, though would like to explain some of the key pros and cons to people that may not be so familiar with them and the likes of similar organisations.



    a) You could decide the size of the accommodation on every trip yourself, be it studio, one bed 2 bed 3 bed etc, for which you only paid a user charge and not an annual maintenance fee.

    b) Choose any date you want.

    c) Choice of location.

    Not a package type complex, but well planned accommodation surrounding  spacious grounds that are all well maintained.

    On site amenities, including heated pools and tennis, and in some a  club house with billiard rooms and other games rooms.

    Offers some excellent historic buildings that have been converted.

    You choose whether to socialise with other HPB holders or just do your own thing.


    When you invest in HPB you basically lose 25% of the value of your investment, so it is not a property investment but a holiday entitlement, though in perpetuity and can be on in your will.

    User charges (non profit) are considered high by users, though the level of service at each development is high and the properties well maintained too.

    Trying to juggle your allocated annual points, in order to try to avoid them being placed on a 70 day account or lost altogether if not used by a certain date. Ideal if you have  friends that you can share and swap with.

    Now let's compare a bit with their non profit user charge on  villa pricing when compared to VillaSpains listed property;

    HPB have 2 x 4 bedroom villas in Javea, Spain that have a no profit user charge set at £650 per week, fixed all year around.

    If you compare this with VillaSpain 4 bedroom villas then you can find several stunning villas  at under £600 between 1st October and end of May. Therefore the saving would be to make use of HPB between June and September, though you need to use 16,000 points with HPB (£1 a point cost) for a week's stay in peak period. Compare HPB Villa Margarita  with VillaSpains Villa Nevette at page  . The latter having a higher spec.

    Now when you compare with HPB's tenancy properties (ones that are rented but not directly owned by HPB) the differences work more in favour of VillaSpain . Take Casa Buho (HPB), which is a nice standard  3 bed with pool that will set you back £1350 pw in peak season and £615 to £1,000 pw for all other periods. Compare to Villavista with air/con at at just £900 pw peak or  Mirador al Sur at for £1,395 with air/con, WIFI and spectacular views you will realise there are great savings and far better offerings by being independent.

    Compare this with a front line spectacular villa called Villa Galesa in Javea at just £1,538 peak period, or the outstanding luxurious 400 square metre 4 bedroom Finca Badowa at  under the Montgo at £795 to £1,690 peak then you would see that there are more interesting superior properties with more amenities than with HPB tenancies.  

    Compare also HPB's new development  at El Pueblito de Alfaix in Almeria, whereby a 3 bed villa with pool will cost £699 per week throughout the year and over 18,000 points peak time, against higher specked villas  in the considerably more affluent Northern Costa Blanca that are nearly half that price between 1st October and end of May. The only benefit here would be to book a HPB villa  in July and August. Alfaix is well inland and has no commercial centre, so a drive to the coast or Mojacar takes you over 17-20 mins ( 17 Kms).

    Yes, there is a club house, communal heated pool, tennis, Jacuzzi, sauna and crazy golf.

    In summary you are considerably better off financially to use a VillaSpain villa outside of peak summer than by taking HPB own property. You also get a greater choice of individually styled properties with Villaspain that in many cases offer a much higher spec than HPB,  since air/con, SAT subscription TV and WIFI are more common.

    Holidays are to enjoy and it's good to have the mix, so I will be keeping my HPB points.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Why book your villa with an agent like VillaSpain?

    Sat 05th March 2011

    We're glad you asked.

    Booking a Villa in Spain: Sunday Times Exposes Perils of DIY Portals highlighted the danger of fraud when booking villas directly with owners through DIY booking portals.

    When you choose a reputable agent, you can rest assured that the villa actually exists. But what other benefits are there to having an agent on hand?

    Suitable, safe villa

    Why would you compromise your family's safety? Reputable agents will carry out professional inspections to check overall suitability and safety. They want you to make the right choice. That's why they're keen to point out accessibility issues and give honest appraisals of a villa's child-friendly credentials. Check that your agent insists on up-to-date gas certificates and only represents owners who comply with local and national safety regulations.

     Spotlessly clean villa

    Agents engage professionals for all-important changeover cleaning. You won't find friends of the owner wafting a feather duster about at the start of your holiday. It's also good to know that skilled, local help is a telephone call away in the event of a maintenance issue.

    Safe, clean pool

    Judging from our customer feedback, your pool will be an important feature of your holiday. Don't take chances on its upkeep. Agents use professional pool cleaners, not well-meaning, but ultimately untrained friends.

    Getting pool chemicals right is critical. Get it wrong and at best, your pool will not be clean, at worst, it will have serious ramifications for your health.

    Reliable support, 7 days a week

    Look for agents offering support throughout your stay. You might have queries about your villa, a maintenance issue could arise or you might even need to complain.

    Often, it helps to have the support of an agent, rather than having to approach the owner directly.

    Access to alternative accommodation

    Agents can respond to a crisis. No one wants their holiday blighted by a failure in essential services. So if your villa is plunged into darkness or cut off from the water or gas supply, you can rely on your agent to find you a comparable, alternative villa.

    Equally, if the owner of an adjacent property picks the week of your holiday to start major building works, it's a comfort to know that an agent is on hand to help resolve the issue, and ultimately find you a new home, if required.

    The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

    Owners tend to love their properties, often with good reason. But love can be blind and some owners unwittingly over-egg their descriptions.

    Agents are more inclined to give an unbiased opinion and may use grading for greater transparency - some even evaluate the soft furnishings and quality of the kitchen contents. Look at villa descriptions closely and check that they reflect the photos and virtual tours accurately.

    In addition, credit card bookings are widely accepted by agents, giving crucial protection and peace of mind. And if you thought that all this expert local support costs a premium, you'd be surprised. Check out our forthcoming blog to see price comparisons between agents and direct bookings. Discover deals that deliver all these benefits without costing a penny more than going direct.

    Book your Moraira villa, Calpe apartment or villa in Javea with VillaSpain today. If you're spoilt for choice, call us on 01273 623723 and we'll help you find the safe, clean villa with pool of your dreams. And we'll be on hand throughout your stay.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Why take your family to the Costa Blanca in Easter

    Mon 21st February 2011

    Everyone from tots to teens will enjoy fooling about in the pool, but what else is there to do? Read on to discover perfect family days out Costa Blanca style.

    Costa Blanca family fun: our top ten reasons to go

     Costa Blanca weather - April/ May

    The Costa Blanca has a mild year-round climate, described as one of the best in the world by the World Health Organisation, no less. You're practically guaranteed good weather with an average of 325 days of sunshine each year and temperatures around 20oC/ 68oF in late April and early May. Check this week's weather forecast.


     Looking for clean, well-tended beaches sloping gently into the sea for safe family swimming? Look no further. Spain boasts the highest number of blue flag beaches in the world, picking up 520 awards in 2010. Explore the Javea peninsular for long, sandy expanses and rocky coves. Perfect for family picnics or snorkeling, scuba diving and water-ski-ing attempts.

    Spanish Easter celebrations

     Immerse yourself in Spanish Easter celebrations. Solemn processions and mournful trumpets accompany images of Christ and Virgin Mary being carried through the streets - but it's not all sombre reflection. Each town has its own way to mark the Semana Santa (Holy Week). Pick up information from local tourist offices and find out about parades in Moraira, the Palm Sunday procession in Elche, the artisan craft fair (22-25 April) and even bull running in Javea.

    Walking in Spain

     Whilst family walks at home might be met with groans, get the kids to charge around the Spanish countryside and you might unearth their inner explorer. Navigate your way through well-marked paths in the fragrant Montgo mountainside. Try the circular route in and through the Sierra de Bernia.
    Traverse Calpe Rock or explore wine country in the Jalon Valley.

    Terra Mitica Benidorm

    Terra Mitica Benidorm¬īs theme park serves up thrills, spills and shows in a fascinating journey through five ancient and legendary civilizations: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Iberia and The Islands. Fight side by side with Ulysses, face up to the Minotaur, and see a pirate vessel sinking. Situated on the outskirts of Benidorm, at Finestrat, it's well-signposted.

    Terra Natura Benidorm

    Close by to Terra Mitica, you'll find Terra Natura, a stunning wildlife park with 1,500 animals. Check out their night-time safaris. From late-May, take a dip in the water park, Aqua Natura, where you can plummet down water chutes or swim with sea lions.

    Mundomar Benidorm

    This animal park reopens on 27 February 2011. You'll find flamingos, turtles, sea lions, penguins, parrots, a bat cave and much more. Don't miss the spectacular dolphin shows.

    Safari Aitana

    Near Sella. Safari Park Vergel may have closed its doors, but you can still see animals roaming freely at the Aitana Safari Park near Sella, about 33km inland from Benidorm. Drive through and get the family to spot elephants, lions and tigers. Little ones love the children's zoo and the special nursery where they raise newborn animals. Open all year, every day from 11am.

    Cuevas del Canelobre

    Stun the family with nature's handiwork with a visit to the breathtaking Canelobre caves at Busot near Alicante. Check local information for details about concerts that take full advantage of the acoustics and dramatic lighting at this year-round attraction.

    Lemon Express

    Take the train from Denia to Alicante. Sway and rattle through the countryside on the charming railway meandering down the coast, plunging through tunnels and over bridges. Kick back and tuck into a picnic en route before hitting the shops and sights of one of the coast's most sophisticated cities. Further info

    Keep in mind that under-3s often go free and attractions may offer cheaper entrance after 3pm. Check websites for the most up-to-date information on promotions and offers.

    And remember, this area is chock-full of welcoming restaurants, cobbled towns, idyllic harbours, plentiful play areas and bustling marketplaces - just mooching about can provide endless entertainment for all the family.

    Have you visited the Costa Blanca in Easter before? Where do you go for great family days out near Javea? Will you take a family holiday in Easter 2011? Let us know your top tips - email your photos and give us your top tips

  • Sunday Times picks Spain world's best destination

    Fri 14th January 2011

    Not that any country wants to be regarded as the cheapest, but the Sunday Times article 9th January (Travel section) triple page spread places it above all other countries in the world as their top pick for being best holiday value. Not only that but it places the Costa Blanca top too of all Spain. Go to; 

    If you missed our Newsletter about a villa price comparison of one of our villas against the same one with Europe’s largest rental operator then (click here ). You will then know, having a holiday in one of our villas is the best value by far, leaving you lots more money to enjoy your holiday with. One of my joys is eating out in a lovely restaurant and enjoying some of the great boutique bodega wines of the region, which are modern and unlike the oaky Rioja wines altogether....simply delicious and well priced. 


    If you fancy a night in and do not want to BBQ or cook then a great alternative to home cooking and eating out is to go to the local rotisserie shops, which are located in every town. They sell the most delicious juicy chicken, rabbit, lamb or beef that is all well prepared with fresh herbs, and can be accompanied with cooked side dishes too, so a takeaway feast can be just the perfect inexpensive solution when compared to buying the meats uncooked from the supermarket. 

    I purchased some fresh squid from Mercadona’s (big supermarket chain) fish counter but found when grilling it that it would not singe and brown and released just clouded water content, so clearly impregnated with too much water. Having then on another day repeated the exercise but buying the squid from the local lovely fish market in Morraira it would singe and tasted wholly wonderful, just like they do at Pisces, my favourite fish restaurant.  Going to the local fish market in any town is the best and most interesting option too.When you choose the fish just say Limpia, which means to clean and they clean it for you ready to cook. 2-3 mins on the BBQ or griddle and some oleoil (mayo and garlic) and one is well with the world, along with a nice rose wine  

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Winter rock climbing and walks in the Costa Blanca

    Wed 05th January 2011

    Although the Costa Blanca is best known as a “sun, sand and sangria” resort in the summer, the winter attracts the more energetic holidaymaker. The area has long been considered one of the best destinations anywhere in the world for winter rock climbing and nowadays it attracts visitors from all over the world. Forget the hot, sweaty, crowded, noisy, expensive summer and go for the cheap winter sun. The winter has the mild climate (still t-shirt and shorts weather) and you benefit from cheap flights (can be as little as £55 return from London airports), cheap accommodation (3 Bed villa with private pool from £170pw ) and cheap car hire from £50pw. More and more climbers leave the grey skies at home and head to Costa Blanca for a bit of winter sun and ideal climbing conditions. However it is not just the climate that draws them to the Costa Blanca but the quality climbing the area really excels in. No other winter rock climbing destination in Europe offers the combination of reliable weather in conjunction with the diversity of climbing on offer. This diversity covers virtually all climbers' needs ranging from low grade sport climbs, Via Ferattas and scrambling through to top grade sport climbs and long multi-pitch climbing routes both adjacent to the sea and high in the coastal mountain ranges.

    Read more

  • Take a Short Breaks in Spain

    Fri 19th November 2010

    All I want for Christmas is… a short break in Spain

    Be canny about Christmas gifts for your loved one. Book them a short break on the Costa Blanca – and they might take you too. With VillaSpain, you can rent a villa in Javea, a bolthole in Moraira or an apartment in Calpe for just three days between 1 October and the end of June. Combine it with a city break to max the fun.

    Check out our villas in Javea, Moraira villas and apartments in Calpe.

    Here are our top tips for an Alicante short break:

    What to do in Alicante

    Sample the delights of this vibrant town before heading up the coast. With lush parks, golden beaches and pulse-racing retail therapy, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

    Don’t miss the stunning contemporary art gallery – the Museo de Arte De Siglo XX La Asegurada – for your fix of Picasso, Dali, Bacon and Miro. Hit the mountain-top for a glorious view of the city from the formidable Castillo de Santa Barbara.

    Shop ‘til you drop for butter-soft leather bags, ceramics and wicker baskets. Kick back with cocktails and traditional tapas at city hotspot, the über-cool but relaxed Senzone Rooftop Terrace.

    What to do in Denia

    Had your fill of the fast life? Head up the coast to Denia. Drive by all means, but take the train if you want to up your eco-friendly credentials (and save money!). You’ll be rewarded by breathtaking scenery and a stress-free, leisurely journey.

    Settle into your villa, plunge into the pool and relax. Indulge in watersports – the rocky coves to the south are ideal for scuba-diving – or head up the coast and take your pick from the best beaches on the Costa Blanca. Amble through the rainbow-coloured houses of the Old Quarter and tuck into paella by the port.

    You’ll be surprised how much (or how little!) you can pack into a short break.

    Remember. Book a short break with us in 2011 and get a £50 voucher towards your Summer 2011 holiday. Go on, get away more.

    What are your top tips for short breaks on the Costa Blanca? Where do you go for sightseeing in Alicante? Which is your favourite beach near Denia?
    Email stories and pictures of your favourite way to spend a Spanish long weekend to

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

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