Many people still think that Europe’s biggest resort is elbow to elbow Union Jack shorts slung below bulging pink beer bellies. Whilst this may have briefly been the case in the late 70s and early 80s when British tour companies flooded the resort with a fortnight’s cheap holiday, it was a relatively short-lived phenomenon. This image disappeared long ago, and Benidorm a pleasant resort that has something for everyone.
The hotels of Benidorm are based on a high level of service and value, and the city has more hotel stars than the whole of Greece. As much as the seven kilometres of beach (which the local council spends more on keeping clean than most cities do on their streets), and three hundred and odd days of sun each year, this has helped to maintain the resort’s position as the top holiday destination in Europe.
The ring of mountains that form a back-drop to the resort also keep out the chill winds and heavy storms. The micro-climate that this protection provides is one of the major factors that make Benidorm a year-round tourist destination. This means that, unlike many areas, none of the hotels close during the winter months, and most of them offer exceptional deals to maintain high occupancy. Pensioners from northern Europe take advantage of these offers to spend a couple of months or more away from the chill of northern climes.
There are so many myths about Benidorm bandied about that it might be useful to dispel some of them
Benidorm was a fishing village before the tourist boom. This is perhaps the pearl of all duff quotes. Benidorm never was a fishing port – the harbour is too shallow. But the history of the resort has always been linked with the sea. It provided many of the captains and crews of the Spanish Merchant fleet, whose experience of dealing with a wide spectrum of nationalities during their travels worldwide held them in good stead when the world reversed itself and began to arrive on their beach front.
Benidorm is wall-to-wall high-rise apartments. In 1954 Pedro Zaragoza Orts, the then young Mayor of Benidorm, created an urban plan that ensured that every building was surrounded by an area of ‘leisure’ land, guaranteeing a future free of the excesses of cramped construction seen in other areas of Spain. It is the only city in Spain that still adheres to this rigid rule, and if you climb to the top of the Sierra Helada, the promontory at the end of the Rincon de Loix, you get a wonderful view of how green the city it and just how close it is to the mountains.
With its population of ..... Brits, you barely hear a Spanish accent - stick any number you like on the dotted line because you'll hear almost every number between half a million and three million used. Benidorm itself actually has very few permanent expat residents. When the resort began its phenomenal rise during the 60s, 70s and 80s it attracted workers from all over Spain, many of whom set up small regional communities in the city. It is, and always has been, the major resort for internal tourism (in the late 19th century it was known as la playa de Madrid - Madrid’s beach - because of the amount of Madrileños who spent their holidays there, and still do), so far from never hearing a Spanish accent, you can hear virtually every accent, dialect and language of Spain.