The Spanish acquisition

We didn’t expect Alicante to enter Red Carpet’s lexicon of airports anytime soon but neither had we experienced the great strides in corporate and leisure hospitality taking shape in south-east Spain.Sat Bal took in the view from InterContinental's 5-star La Torre resort. (20 Oct '09)

On board Monarch’s Airbus 321 it’s a reassuring start as the fresh-off-the-assembly line aircraft pushes back on time and lines up for flight clearance. Monarch’s Vantage Club loyalty scheme made light of the departure experience, whisking Club passengers airside via a (queue-less) priority channel. Legroom in the the nose of the Airbus was business class-generous, particularly with only a two-hour flight in prospect .

Generous too is the natural bounty enjoyed by the Spanish region of Murcia where 300 days of sunshine reigns over the so-called “Garden of Europe”. Coastal Murcia is a landscape fringed by sea and shaped by mountains, fields of lemon and orange trees and artichoke groves. As we discovered these natural assets boost the region’s restaurants on both taste and value fronts.

Murcia's coastline meanders along its two seas, Mar Menor and the Mediterranean mingling long, sandy beaches with unspoilt areas (such as Calblanque) and small coves largely reached by boat.

Inland, the city of Murcia bustles until the early hours against the backdrop of its imposing baroque cathedral. Caravaca de la Cruz, once claimed to be the original home of the Cross, is still acknowledged by Rome as one of the world’s five official Holy Cities.

Business infrastructure is efficient with three international airports serving the area and new road links easing the travel. But it's the advances in business and leisure facilities that are attracting corporate visitors to Murcia.

Leading the charge here is Spanish property developer Polaris World which boasts nine Nicklaus Design golf courses. These comprise the Nicklaus Trail, the largest Jack Nicklaus golfing experience in Europe. Polaris World has changed its business model from purely selling property to offering its luxury properties for holiday rentals.

As Jose Luis Hernandez, president of Polaris World comments, "Research has revealed that many people who are not looking to buy are also attuned to the Polaris World offer. They might be golfers, food and wine connoisseurs or even walkers, divers or cyclists looking for a relaxed base from which to explore Murcia."

The result of this policy is that discerning vistors can now stay at one of the two 5-star InterContinental hotels located at La Torre and Mar Menor resorts or book a stay in one of Polaris World’s luxury apartments.

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