News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 17th May - 23rd May 2007
Pensioners seek cheaper destinations, say experts
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
NO LONGER COMPETITIVE IN TERMS OF PRICE, THE COSTA DEL SOL MUST NOW FOCUS ON SERVICES AND QUALITY OF LIFE IN ORDER TO ATTRACT A NEW KIND OF ‘RESIDENTIAL TOURIST’, ACCORDING TO EXPERTS WHO PARTICIPATED IN A ROUND-TABLE SEMINAR ON THE SUBJECT IN BENALMÁDENA LAST WEEK.
Participants in the seminar, held as part of the inauguration of the new Adorea retirement community, included representatives from the foreign consular corps in Málaga, the Irish-Spanish Economic Association, the regional government’s Tourism Department, Marbella’s Centre for Tourism Initiatives (CIT) and Grupo Sar, the company behind Adorea.
The huge jump in real estate prices in recent years has resulted in “a slowing down of the arrival of pensioners and retirees,” said British Consul Bruce McIntyre, head of the foreign consular corps. While in previous times their UK state pensions may have been sufficient to live comfortably on the Costa, that is no longer the case, he said. Some who were already here have actually begun returning home or seeking other cheaper retirement destinations.
The new trend in residential tourism on the Costa is the arrival of younger and more affluent working people, he said. They are drawn not just by the sun but also by the region’s excellent medical and other services. Pensioners are only likely to arrive if they have some additional source of income, according to Mr McIntyre. “Gone are the days when you could get by here on a pittance,” he said.
Tom McGrath of the Irish-Spanish Economic Association concurred that while the Costa will always be an attractive destination for people seeking quality, many Irish buyers are now choosing other, less expensive destinations, including some Eastern European countries. He cited concerns over corruption as another factor, due to the insecurity it can cause for property buyers. The Irish press is “continually criticising the high prices and the corruption on the Costa,” he said.
According to data released earlier this year by the Málaga Builders and Developers Association (ACP), foreigners spent 800 million euros on 5,500 homes in the Costa del Sol from January to October of last year, a 57 per cent decrease from the same period in 2005.
Security top priority for many urbanisations
Crime fears lead owners to seek private security measures
By David Eade
WHEN HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATIONS MEET TO DISCUSS THE STATE OF THEIR URBANISATIONS, THE CONDITIONS OF THE SWIMMING POOL OR GARDENS NOW OFTEN TAKE A BACK SEAT TO SECURITY, WITH ONE IN THREE URBANISATIONS SAID TO BE INTERESTED IN INSTALLING PRIVATE SECURITY SYSTEMS.
With frequent reports in the local media regarding robberies and vandalism, the urbanisations are looking to ways they can protect themselves. Apart from employing security patrols, the use of video cameras to monitor access to the residential zones and garages is becoming a top priority.
The arrest of organised crime gangs, many with Eastern European links, has become more frequent in the Costa area. Whilst the police and Guardia Civil have achieved notable success in tracking many of these groups down, sophisticated criminals continue to target many wealthy urbanisations, especially in areas such as Marbella and Sotogrande. The criminals often stake out their victims to study their movements, and some robberies are carried out as the residents sleep. There have been cases of people and dogs being drugged and not realising a robbery has been carried out until waking in the morning.
In one current case, the National Police in Granada have attributed 16 new robberies to a 29-year-old alleged ringleader they arrested in April. Twelve people have now been detained in connection with the gang, which specialised in domestic robberies, and police accuse them of 16 break-ins in Málaga, Cádiz, Huelva and Sevilla.
AT WHAT COST?
The cost of safety on a luxury urbanisation does not come cheap. In some cases, suppliers have quoted prices of nearly a million euros for sophisticated systems to deter equally sophisticated criminals. However, cheaper options are available, and high-tech camera systems can be obtained to give coverage of the area surrounding a house and garage for around 5,000 euros.Whilst security systems and especially surveillance cameras are becoming a top priority for many, there are those who argue against them. Opponents say the widening use of cameras to monitor and record every movement is an infringement of peoples’ basic right to privacy.
High-street fashion planned for Benalmar
Cataluña-based buyer of Benalmádena mall to woo H&M, Mango and more
By Oliver McIntyre
A CATALUÑA BUSINESSMAN HAS PURCHASED THE BENALMAR SHOPPING CENTRE IN BENALMÁDENA’S PLAZA SOLYMAR AND ANNOUNCED PLANS TO MODERNISE AND REVAMP IT BY ATTRACTING BIG-NAME HIGH-STREET FASHION SHOPS LIKE MANGO, ZARA AND H&M.
The Swedish chain H&M has already confirmed its intention to open a store in the mall, according to the new owner.
In addition to the mall, Juan Pares bought the 11 retail spaces beneath new Plaza Solymar roundabout, for which he paid 2.5 million euros to the town hall. The 11 premises include a total of 2,000 square metres of commercial space. Sr Pares did not divulge the price he paid for the 12,000-square-metre Benalmar.
“This is an important push and a breath of fresh air for the crucial Plaza Solymar zone, located right at the entrance to the marina,” said the mayor, Enrique Bolín.
Juan Pares owns a number of commercial properties and parking garages in Cataluña. His Benalmádena acquisition also included a 400-space underground garage. The businessman said last week that he bought the Benalmádena properties with a long-term vision, not as real estate speculation. “I haven’t come for quick turnaround, I’ve come to work calmly and enthusiastically, with no rush,” he said. He offered no specific timeline on when new stores may be arriving.
The usual suspect didn’t do it
By Oliver McIntyre
A former career criminal in Cártama who has been living on the straight and narrow for the last four years was the first person picked up after an armed robbery at a local women’s apparel shop last month. But this time, the usual suspect says he didn’t do it – and now the courts have backed him up.
Forty-three-year-old José ‘Pepe’ Linero Suárez, also known as ‘El Polvarea’, has been found innocent of the April 14 robbery, in which a masked man armed with a shotgun made off with just 15 euros.
Whether due to reputation or some similarity in appearance, somebody fingered Sr Linero and two days later Guardia Civil officers called to let him know they would be picking him up. Despite his protestations that he didn’t do it and is now an honest working man, he was arrested and held in prison for 18 days pending trial. It was not his first time behind bars – his past is chequered with robberies and hold-ups – but this time he felt indignant at being locked up for something he didn’t do, he says. “I’ve left that life behind. And besides, having held up banks, I’m going to risk it all by robbing a clothing shop for 15 euros?” At the trial, witnesses corroborated Sr Linero’s alibi, confirming that at the time of the robbery he had been far away in Torremolinos, out dancing with his girlfriend at a local pensioners’ club. Now, he says, he hopes authorities will track down the true robber, so his name can be fully cleared in the minds of the public.
Muñoz gives up hunger strike after six days
By David Eade
Former Marbella mayor Julián Muñoz, who has been held in jail since June of last year for his alleged part in the ‘Malaya’ corruption case, last week ended his hunger strike six days after it began. According to officials at the Jaén II prison where he is being held, he informed them he wished to end his fast and was duly fed a meal of macaroni.
Sr Muñoz has still not publicly stated why he launched the hunger strike, which he started 48 hours after his girlfriend, famous singer Isabel Pantoja, was arrested in the in relation to the Malaya case. It is believed that he was under pressure from his defence lawyers to end the protest.
Sr Muñoz’s actions appear to have cut little ice with the general state prosecutor, Cándido Conde Pumpido. He said the judge in the case was carrying out the investigation with great rigour and dismissed Sr Muñóz’s protest as little more than pure theatre.
Meanwhile, the two women in Sr Muñoz’s life, Sra Pantoja and his former wife Maite Zaldíver, are under the investigators’ spotlight. Sra Pantoja was recently arrested and questioned by Malaya judge Miguel Ángel Torres before being released on 90,000 euros bail. She now has to justify her finances since she first met Sr Muñoz. Now it has emerged that the police believe the alleged mastermind behind the ‘Malaya’ scam, Juan Antonio Roca, purchased properties for both Sra Pantoja and Sra Zaldívar. It is also alleged that Sra Zaldívar made unjustified deposits of 2.8 million euros into her bank account. Two new arrests have been made in the ‘Malaya’ case, bringing the total to 102. Both of the latest detainees are involved in the art world, one as a gallery owner and the other a trader. Frenchman Jean Fournets, a well-known gallery proprietor who has included amongst his clients the Saudi King and Baron Thyssen, is alleged to have served as an art dealer to Juan Antonio Roca. Berto Pedranzo is also claimed to have bought and sold artwork for the former Marbella’s town planning chief.
Nerja explains new Residents Certificate
NEWS Staff Reporter
Nerja town hall has published the following fuller details about the new Residents Certificate for EU citizens which is replacing the existing residence card.
The new Royal Decree 240/2007 of February 16 states that EU citizens must apply for a Resident Certificate after three months living in Spain. The Foreign Residents Department in Nerja says that the new EU Residents Certificate must be applied for at the nearest National Police office, which in Nerja’s case is located at Avenida de Andalucía in Torre del Mar. The documents required are the application form (original and copy), the applicant’s passport (original and copy), a census certificate and two photographs. The application form and census certificate can be obtained from the town hall and a fee of 6.70 euros is payable at the time of applying at the police office. All these documents have to be presented in person by the applicant but the completed certificate, when ready, can be collected by an authorised third party.Nerja town hall adds that anyone who applied for a residence card, which the new certificate replaces, before April 1 has to go to the National Police in Málaga, located at Calle Virgen del Gran Poder, 40, which is also where non-EU residents should apply for their residence cards.
Huge garden centre and mall planned for Alhaurín
By Oliver McIntyre
ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE TOWN HALL HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR A HUGE GARDEN CENTRE AND MALL ON 750,000 SQUARE METRES OF LAND IN THE CORTIJO BLANCO ZONE.
The company behind the project is local plant and garden-supplies powerhouse Viveros Guzmán, which expects to spend some 100 million euros on the venture.
Initial design plans call for the centre to be split into distinct zones, with the south end housing a 30,000-square-metre garden centre surrounded by a large nursery plantation. The north end will include a 15,000-square-foot superstore, a 10,000-square-metre gallery with around 40 shops, plus a 10-screen multiplex and a gym. Plans also call for restaurants at the top of the two towers that anchor the ends of the building and give the complex its name, the Las Torres Garden, Shopping and Entertainment Centre. The site is also to house an airport-support centre providing services to the Málaga airport once its expansion is complete.
The project cannot move forward until the town’s new local development plan (PGOU) is approved, providing the necessary land-use reclassifications. The ruling Partido Popular says it will wholeheartedly support the project assuming the party regains control of the town hall at the May 27 elections. Local officials have also announced plans for two smaller commercial centres, one on an 80,000-square-metre site along the Carretera de los Polígonos and the other on 22,000 square metres in the Tabico zone.
Caleta marina expansion gets final go-ahead
By Dave Jamieson
Enlarged facility will have 810 moorings
THE ONLY MARINA ON MÁLAGA’S EASTERN COAST HAS BEEN GIVEN THE GO-AHEAD FOR EXPANSION.
After months of debate and consultation, the Public Works Department of the Junta de Andalucía last week authorised an 85 million-euro project which will almost treble the number of moorings at La Caleta de Vélez.
The size of the marina will be doubled from 24 to 50 hectares, while the new total of 810 moorings will include an allocation for the fishing fleet, with the remainder available to leisure craft. A new quay will be constructed at the western end of the marina for fishing boats, the dry dock facilities will be expanded, and there will be a new dock area for leisure and sports users which will be linked to a new Paseo Marítimo.
The director of the Andalucía Public Ports Authority, Montserrat Badía, said that work would start immediately on drawing up the terms and conditions of construction contracts, with tenders expected to be invited by the end of the year. The mayor of Vélez-Málaga, the town hall which administers Caleta, said the port’s expansion would be a huge boost to the tourism industry. Antonio Souvirón added that the project would also create jobs, not only in the immediate area, but further afield as well.
The Junta also intends to open a new, long-awaited marina between Nerja and Torrox as part of a 460 million-euro investment along the coast. Announcing the Caleta project last week, the Junta’s Public Works chief, Concepción Gutiérrez, said that by 2015 the number of moorings along the Málaga coast will double. The city of Málaga alone will see its present 4,000 moorings rise to over 9,000, while the entire Andalucían coastline will have about 30,000 moorings.
Sports stars join spectacular launch of The Village
By David Eade
This week saw the glamorous launch of The Village – the Costa’s latest mega-resort – with a whole host of major sporting stars in attendance. The Village, a new sports-oriented property complex within Estepona’s Valle Romano resort, is billed by its developers as the largest and most complete residential development currently under construction in southern Spain.
Close to the beach, The Village comprises 1,100 apartments in a prime location bordering one of Valle Romano’s two PGA Championship-standard, 18-hole golf courses. Geared toward the sports-minded, it offers a wide range of other leisure facilities. But perhaps its most unique feature is that a number of major football clubs are affiliated with the project, including Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Celtic, Newcastle United and West Ham United.
In keeping with the sports theme, The Village this week hosted top model Nell McAndrew, football stars past and present including Paul Robinson, Peter Beardsley, Jose Antonio Reyes, Kenny Samson, Julian Dicks, Aaron Lennon, Jimmy Case, Simon Jordan and Mark Hateley, plus Sky Sports presenters Jeff Stelling, Clare Tomlinson, Kelly Dalglish, and Georgie Thompson.On Tuesday the soccer players joined other celebrities for a golf day, and on Wednesday evening there was the official launch party for The Village at Valle Romano, hosted by Jeff Stelling and Clare Tomlinson. It included a charity auction in aid of Aprona (Association of Disabled People in Estepona), with a range of sought-after items – including football shirts signed by teams, the chance to go behind the scenes at top football television shows and a cricket bat signed by the whole of the Australian team – sold to the highest bidders.
PP to hold Cádiz and PSOE rule Jeréz
Poll fever extends as Spain tries to foresee May 27 election results
By David Eade
A RECENT OPINION POLL HAS STATED THAT TEÓFILA MARTÍNEZ WILL HOLD ABSOLUTE POWER IN CÁDIZ FOR THE PARTIDO POPULAR (PP) WHILE THE SOCIALIST (PSOE) PARTY COULD ACHIEVE AN OVERALL MAJORITY IN JEREZ UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF CURRENT MAYOR PILAR SÁNCHEZ.
In Cádiz little change seems on the cards with all the main parties holding the same number of seats. With 27 up for grabs, Téofila’s PP should again take 18, while both the main opposition party, PSOE, and Izquierda Unida stay at eight and one seats respectively.
A change of voting seems to be underway in Jerez where PSOE governed with the Partido Socialista Andalucista of Pedro Pacheco. However ahead of the elections the mayor of Jerez, Pilar Sánchez broke that pact and could now achieve an overall majority. Again there are 27 seats to be won and her PSOE party could take between 13 and 14 (up from 9). The second party, the Partido Popular, is predicted to win 8 or 9 (currently 8) with the big losers being the PSA down from 9 to 4 with the IU holding its one seat.
Mayor Fernando Gago’s Independientes Portuenses (IP) look set to remain the largest party in El Puerto de Santa María with the PP losing two seats. In San Fernando the Partido Andalucista under mayor Manuel María de Bernardo should again be the largest party on nine or 10 seats. PSOE (15 –16 seats) seems set for another overall majority in Chiclana with the PP (6-7 seats) in second place and the IU benefiting from a drop in support of the PSA and taking 3 seats instead of its current 1. Finally in Puerto Real the Izquierda Unida of José Antonio Barroso should again win nine or ten seats with the PSOE (6), PP (3) and PA (2-3) around the same number as in 2003.
BATTLE FOR ALGECIRAS COULD GO EITHER WAY
The election battle for power in Algeciras could go either way depending on which opinion poll you believe. Both the Partido Popular and PSOE have taken separate soundings of the local voting intentions and perhaps not surprisingly both have given different reading, both favouring the party that commissioned the poll.
18th-century mansion to become four-star hotel
By Oliver McIntyre
The small inland pueblo of Fuente de Piedra is soon to have its own four-star hotel, housed in a restored 18th-century mansion. The restoration and conversion of the colonial-style Casa Palacio Conde del Castillo de Tajo is expected to take 18 months, at a cost of nine million euros. The developer of the hotel, Grupo Aurolar, says the traditional elements of the old mansion will be preserved, complemented by some modern touches. The original water well will remain intact, while in the swimming pool plans call for recreation of the natural rock fountain that gives the town its name.The hotel is to have 93 rooms, including one full suite and five junior suites. There will also be a convention hall for groups of up to 400, as well as a 320-seat gourmet restaurant featuring “Antequera’s exquisite regional cuisine,” according to the company. Another main feature of the hotel will be spa using natural spring water from the zone, which “has been known since Roman times to have medicinal properties.” The company says the hotel will be geared in particular to the ‘rural tourism’ crowd, in particular bird watchers attracted to the town’s famous lagoon and natural reserve, an important habitat and breeding ground for flamingos and other species.
Westwood wins Andalucia Open
Win launches the British golfer into world top 50
By David Eade
BRITISH GOLFER LEE WESTWOOD TRIUMPHED AT THE ANDALUCÍA OPEN HELD OVER THE WEEKEND AT THE ALOHA COURSE IN MARBELLA.
The Briton survived a faltering finish to take his 17th European Tour victory, his first in nearly four years. The winner’s ranking points took Westwood into the world’s top 50, a position he would like to hold as the June US Open field is decided soon.
A closing five-under 67 to total 20-under 268 left the 34-year-old two strokes better than compatriot Phillip Archer (65) and Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson-Hed (66). Westwood appeared to be running away with the event when he cruised five shots ahead of the field with eight holes to go, but then the fragility of his putting resurfaced.
After his triumph Westwood said: “It was very important to win again and win under pressure. It was looking a lot easier than I made it in the end, with two more three-putts, but the pressure comes on your putting stroke. After my first round 72, I could never have believed I would be in this position.”
PAIN FOR SPAIN
However, there was no repeat success for local favourite Fernández-Castaño, who a week ago won the Italian Open. What would have been a rare back-to-back European Tour triumph eluded the Spaniard after a poorer back nine of 38 left him in seventh place, despite having begun the final round only a stroke behind Westwood.