Spain, being one of the top tourist destinations in the world, had more than 48 million tourists visiting its shores in 2000; and that with only 40 million inhabitants! Tourism is one of the main contributors to its GDP resulting, amongst others, from the excellent cooperation between the private- and public sectors; something from which we can learn a lot.
Climate: The most impressive natural beauty of the area reminds one of the green of Natal. They experience 320 days of sunshine a year. The northern mountain ranges shelter the Costa del Sol to some extent from the cold emanating from the interior. On a clear day the Rock of Gibraltar is visible in the southwest and to the northeast the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevadas.
Culture: The very rich cultural heritage of Spain never fails to amaze. Cultural tourism is most popular as well as “city-tourism” where specific cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and others are visited. Cultural activities abound. In Madrid’s splendid art museums the best of Picasso, Dali, Goya and El Greco. The architectural heritage is equally as amazing. One is taken into the past when travelling through the picturesque fishing villages and inland “pueblos”. The Rock of Gibraltar west of the Costa del Sol is known for its tailless monkeys. A Basic knowledge of Spanish is handy, but the Costa del Sol is not called “London by the sea” for nothing; virtually everyone speaks English and it is very easy for South Africans to get along. There are 4 English language newspapers and even an organization called “South Africans in Spain”! To find people speaking Afrikaans in a Spanish supermarket sets one quite at ease.
Sport / Recreation: Of the 300 odd golf courses in Spain you will find almost 40 on the Costa del Sol, all within 30 minutes driving radius from Marbella. A Further 20 are in the planning stages. About one million golfers visit these courses annually. On the “Costa del Golf” you can play at the likes of Valderrama (best-in-Europe) where the World Championships and Ryder Cup were held. Facilities for tennis, squash, bowls etc. are excellent. Where in the world can you sit on a beach and then after 90 minutes driving ski in the likes of the Sierra Nevadas with ski resorts equal to the best in Europe? There is a rugby club in Marbella.(“The blue tailless monkeys”?)
Security: The low crime statistics as well as the virtual absence of life-threatening crime is a like a breath of fresh air to South Africans. Tension is non existent in late night walks; most relaxing.
Project: After due deliberation by a Socoro Properties team it was decided to involve ourselves on the Costa del Sol close to Marbella in the San-Lameer-type totally self contained golfing resort of “Miraflores” (Meaning: “Look at the flowers”) Consisting of 1000 mostly 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom / sleeping 6 units it is double the size of San Lameer. Where the latter has 2 pools they have 18. Golfing-, tennis-,bowls- and other facilities are to a very high standard. Utilization schedules accommodate the fact that owners are able to ski in the Sierra Nevadas after a 90 minute drive from Miraflores. The 18 hole golf course sports a clubhouse second to none. Shareholders play at lower tariffs. Throw in the golfing academy with pros giving day-, weekend- and week courses and you have golfer’s heaven. No wonder many South African golfers play regularly in Spain. The main clubhouse with restaurants and swimming pools has the ambiance of a luxury hotel. Menu prices are very reasonable and on par with San Lameer. The flowers are something to behold.
Finances and utilization: Considering Spanish and South African holiday seasons a most ideal utilization schedule was compiled; assuming, on average, one 2 week visit per year. 20 contributing shareholders each therefore receive a fortnight annually operating on a moving schedule. One year will be in Spanish high season and the next year in the winter ski season. Weeks not allocated yearly can be swapped around for more convenient times resulting in excellent flexibility.
Miraflores has been sold out but shares come on the market on the odd occasion – do enquire on availability.