Life— Travel n Tour

Costa del Sol: The hidden side of Spain’s package holiday hotspot

(CNN) — It’s Spain’s Mediterranean escape, a place that for decades has been the go-to spot for jet setters, party lovers, and package vacationers keen to let their hair down and enjoy sun, sea, and sand in abundance.

Yet as in so many famous tourist destinations across Europe, the Costa del Sol has suffered dramatically over the past 18 months, with tourist numbers slumping due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now though, as restrictions on travel ease, this brash and beautiful part of southern Spain is enjoying a much-needed resurgence. Something the owners of bars, hotels, and restaurants are delighted about.

Since the 1970s, Brits, in particular, have flocked to the Costa del Sol for a week of guaranteed good weather with all the trappings of home, from endless pints of lager to a full English breakfast. The Costa del Sol has long attracted vacationers from all walks of life.

For some, though, the urge to stay for more than a week is just too great. And Laura Hutchinson is one of them. Hutchinson and her partner sold their house in Hertfordshire, just north of London, and decided to follow their dream of opening a bar in their favorite part of Spain. Then the pandemic hit.

“I don’t regret a thing. I love it here,” she says from Hutchy’s Bar, which she worked to open as Covid-19 raged across the country. The idea to start a business here came after spending vacations in Spain as a child. It is, she says, a country she has always loved. It’s also the place she wants to raise her two children, who she hopes will take over the bar’s running when she and her partner retired.

“It’s been a dream to live this lifestyle,” she adds. “It’s an outside lifestyle, which you do not get in the UK.”

That’s not to say it’s been easy. Hutchinson says the cost of living isn’t as low as many back homes in Britain belief, while the lack of visitors has made the first year of her venture extremely challenging. Put simply, she says, she needs more Brits to visit to help kick-start business.

However, her tenacious story shows the appeal of the Costa del Sol. Despite the struggles of 2020 and 2021 and the ongoing issues with long-term residency in the wake of Brexit, it remains a place that thousands just like Hutchinson can’t wait to get back to.

A place to be free

Experience a front seat view of southern Spain’s jet-set getaway with a royal insider. It’s the same for those heading to the famous resort of Torremolinos. The town, which is once again bustling after a quiet year, is a mecca for LGBTQ tourists in particular and famed for its inclusivity. In July 2021, tourists were back in full force. David Gomez Garcia is the manager of Torremolinos’ first gay hotel, Hotel Ritual Torremolinos, and is proud of its status as a place where people of all backgrounds can feel safe.

“It means freedom,” he says of the town. “The possibility to be yourself, a place where no one can do anything bad to you. That you can hold hands and you can kiss, or you can be yourself.”

Torremolinos has a long LGBTQ history. In 1971, the town’s gay population was subject to a violent and brutal crackdown by Franco’s fascist police, with the dictator acting to clamp down on the freedom for which the town had come to be known during the 1960s.

“Since the ’60s, when the first tourist boom started in Torremolinos, people could feel free to walk around. It doesn’t matter which identity, sexuality you are, or whatever. And it was a mixture of classes.”

In the wake of the 1969 New York Stonewall riots, Franco decided to end such freedoms. Over 300 people were arrested for “violating good morals and manners,” and Torremolinos was laid low until the end of the dictatorship in the late 1970s. Yet as the Brits arrived, so did new dawn for Torremolinos and the Costa del Sol.

Gemma Broadhurst
Gemma Broadhurst is a 23-year-old computing student who enjoys extreme ironing, hockey and duck herding. She is kind and entertaining, but can also be very standoffish and a bit evil.She is an Australian Christian. She is currently at college. studying computing. She is allergic to milk. She has a severe phobia of chickens

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