Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Parador offers old world service, comforts with contemporary flair

"Paradores Spain"  include the lovely Aiguablava which looks out on the Mediterranean.  Steps lead to the sea.
Parador Aiguablava's dining room overlooks the pool and ocean.



OLD WORLD hospitality meets contemporary design and  artful flair in Spain's Parador Aiguablava.
Glass, light, tile and artwork stimulate the senses
at Aiguablava, where hospitality and art reign.

This splendid hotel is a jewel in the crown of Costa Brava, and many natives think the little village is the prettiest of all the competition in a galaxy of eccentric, beautiful east coast villages.
The spirit of Salvador Dali gives an artful personality to the place, and the Aiguablava shows its pride in this son of Catalonia, displaying his art along with that of Miro and other well known artists of the late 20th Century.
PARADOR AIGUABLAVA stands on a majestic corner of land, with mountains and a winding pine-lined road on one side and the cliffs above the Mediterranean on the other.  Called the prettiest of all Mediterranean villages by one fan, Aiguablava's waters are a piercing aqua-blue, a hue of almost hypnotic appeal.
Pretty Parador Aiguablava stands atop a cliff overlooking
the Mediterranean, one of Spain's most beautiful views.
The architecture of the parador expertly and with great subtlety integrates the outdoor beauty with the indoor artwork and furnishing.  The result is a constantly pleasant infusion of relaxation and stimulation -- an enviable means of complement.
OUR FIVE DAYS were not long enough, so quickly did we immerse ourselves in the ocean views, the fabulous food, the hospitality extended with both ease and sincerity.
The parador is a time-honored method of enjoying Spain.  Its history dates from 1926, when the government introduced them to promote tourism.
You can rest your head and dine in castles where art was created, conspiracies hatched and kingdoms won and lost.
THE CONCEPT -- similar to Britain's National Trust -- allows owners to restore but not radically alter castles, monasteries and mansions, thus providing inns in beautiful, natural surroundings. The Aiguablava, our hotel, is near the village of Begur, 50k north of Barcelona and one of the Costa Brava's prettiest medieval towns. It's perched high on a hilltop and is a lovely little town to wander. It is also within a couple hours' drive of the trio of Salvador Dali museums and houses, and within  easy reach of Tamariu Beach, Sant Sebastia Lighthouse, Llafranc Harbour and other attractions.
The interior of the Aiguablava vies for attention with nature's outdoor art.
WHILE AIGUABLAVA is fairly new, many older parador hotels are sprinkled through Spain -- from Galicia in the North to Andalusia in the South, to Spain's Canary Islands as well as in Ceuta and Melilla, Spanish cities in North Africa.
The parador often reflects the heritage of historic Spain.
MODERN HOTELS, such as our treasured Aiguablava, were built in spectacular and romantic locations.
Since the state maintains the buildings, it tries to locate paradors in areas where they don't compete with the private sector. Many, including Aiguablava, are in or near medieval towns and villages first inhabited long ago.
www.reservasaparador.es www.parador.es

Breakfast diners find an array of pate, fruits, cheeses, meats,
juices, hot pastries, eggs to order and four tables of choices.

COMING NEXT:  The Parador Aiguablava takes dining to new heights, with a sumptuous breakfast buffet and gourmet dinners that entice the guest to linger two or three hours for lobster stew, sea urchins and baked snails.  We look at the ritual of Spanish dining -- elevated to an art form -- and check out a paella party.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:  www.whereiscookie.com

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