When Manfred and I first visited Andalucia in 1996 we had split the stay into two sections:
- Fly & Drive by TUI: Pick up a car at Jerez de la Frontera and drive through Andalucia – The Route of the White Cities: Ronda, Córdoba, Granada, Seville. Drop the car at Jerez and
- take one week of “beach vacation” in “Sanlúcar de la Barrameda”
We immensly enjoyed part 1 and that is when I fell in love with the South of Spain. I must admit that I was full of prejudice but this trip proved me wrong. This week “Discover the place by car” with pre-booked hotels was the best entrance to a new territory one can think of.
The beach part turned out to be OK after a little detour. When we concluded the “Ride” portion we snatched a ride on one of the busses taking the new arrivers to their respective hotels.
So we drove in north-west direction, eventually hit Rota – which at this point in time we did not pay much attention to – and entered the parking of a really great-looking hotel – hazienda-style – painted white and blue. Unfortunately not the one we had booked.
We entered Chipiona before finally arriving in Sanlúcar. We were about the last passengers left on the bus when it stopped in front of a pretty plain, modern-ish hotel – ours obviously.
When we entered the lobby we knew… this was not what we had in mind. Even though the place was clean it was just not hospitable. It had the charm of a two star IBIS hotel – the “beach” was the estuary of the river Guadalquivir into the Atlantic Ocean- who would want to have a swim in there?
You, dear reader, know by now that food – especially dinner – is of utmost importance to us. Now, the comedor reminded more of a canteen with plastic chairs and tables, the food was mediocre.
The next day we summoned the TUI agent, described our dissatisfaction and asked her whether we could move to the other hotel that we had seen on our way to Sanlúcar. We were very much in luck as there were rooms available.
We rented a car and were out of the current hotel in no time. I must say that was real cool issue handling by TUI back then. We paid no surcharge and the change was really hazzle-free.
So we arrived at our new destination “Hotel Playa de la Luz” still a 3 star hotel back in 1996. The moment we entered its lobby we knew we had arrived.
We did enjoy the place so much that we have been coming back ever since – often twice a year. Some of the people we got to know back then still work there. One of the gardeners only retired last year. We befriended the staff at the reception, the waiters and waitresses in the various restaurants and even the chamber maids having drinks at the various “fiestas” that we went to during our May and June visits.
We have seen the place grow and change but never corrupting itself – keeping its soul intact and offering vacationers just what the Costa de la Luz is about – “alegria” (joy).
The “Hotel Playa de la Luz” celebrated its 50th anniversary this year – owned by Belgium family De Clercq who were all there this year when we visited with M. and B. During our years we witnessed three changes in management – the place has been run since three years by one of the De Clercq daughters: Sofie De Clercq.
Being a privately held hotel – even though being part of a family of 5 hotels andaluz con encanto (HACE group) – makes it special to its staff and its guests. We have seldom experienced such great loyalty in staff towards its management – even though there had been clashes.
I recall one year – the year of the major strikes in Spain: Huelga General, when gaz stations were not delivered with gaz, trucks were blocking roads and hotel staff stopped servicing their guests – but not in the “Hotel Playa de la Luz”. Other than not having gaz in the car we experienced no negative effect in the hotel. Life went on as if nothing happened outside of the hotel.
The family does not seem to just milk the cash cow but seems much more to re-invest their profits into their asset.
- the promotion from 3 to 4 stars,
- the introduction from serviced dinner to buffet and the various changes in diversity and quality,
- the installation of solar panels on the roof tops to make the hotel winner of various awards for envionmental friendliness,
- trash recycling,
- the opening of the Beach Club and the Chill-out bar “April”,
- the rather late installation of decent wireless Internet connection
But some things just do not change – and, quite frankly, do not need to change –
- the friendliness,
- the degree of hospitability,
- the tranquility and
- the spirit
The whole place undergoes a complete overhaul at the end of the year. Each year we are in a freshly painted room and all of installations are in top order. The gardens, the plants, the patios are subject to daily maintenance, footpaths scrubbed daily early in the morning.
The hotel is located in the almost ideal spot on the beach close to “Los Corrales de Rota”, in walkable distance from downtown Rota, close to Supermarkets and restaurants.
As this blog proves it is the ideal vacation spot for excursions and exploration tours as well as beach vacation. It is a launching pad to the discovery of Spanish history in cities such as Sevilla, Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera and Córdoba.
I have assembled some pictures which can be seen at the following link: