Spain’s Network of Paradores: live like a king

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Spain’s Network of Paradores: live like a king

Castles, convents… historical buildings, carefully restored and comfortable. Functionality, comfort and tradition, are the main features that attract tourists. The origin of the parador dates from 1901 when the government asked the Marquis de la Vega Inclán to create an infrastructure of hotels that would accommodate travellers and at the same time improve the image of Spain (one must remember that there was practically no hotel infrastructure in our country at that time).

Moreover, the Marquis de la Vega Inclán often went hunting and he did not have anywhere to stay, so that is how the Parador de Gredos was founded in 1928. These paradores were established in order to satisfy demand and above all, to create infrastructures that were badly need all over Spain.

In 1926, under the Royal Commission of Tourism, created in 1911, the Marquis de la Vega Inclán fomented an installation project for the first parador in the sierra of Gredos. King Alfonso XIII liked the idea and in 1928 the first hotel was opened and this was the beginning of the network of Spanish Paradores.

A short time later, the Board of Paradores and Inns of the Kindgom was set up and new hotels were opened in Oropesa (Toledo-1930), Úbeda (Jaen-1930), Ciudad Rodrigo (Salamanca-1931) or Mérida (Badajoz-1933).

At present, the Network still conserves its foundation principles, although adapted to the needs of today’s clients. There are a total of 91 hotels, installed in castles, old convents, palaces, country houses, historical areas and modern buildings.

Homage to traditional Spanish gastronomy

Gastronomy is very important for paradores, as they are renowned for the cuisine they offer and for rescuing autochthonous Spanish dishes, thanks to the endeavours of numerous experts who, for many years, have been researching and recovering old recipes from traditional Spanish cuisine. The selection of regional dishes these hotels offer tries to combine with the season and place they are located in; that is why agreements have been signed with autonomous communities and town councils which allow promotion of autochthonous products from each region, as well as holding the usual Gastronomic Conferences.

Currently, events are being held on “Cooking Game, Wild Mushrooms and Chestnuts” in different hotels and “Stews and Viands on the Route of Don Quixote”. Other events will be held during November and December, such as the one “Celtic Pork” at the Santo Estevo parador; the Gastronomic Event “The Nights of Don Juan” at the Alcalá de Henares Inn or the VIII Gastronomic Event on Gastronomy of the Rioja, which will be held at the Santo Domingo Parador.

New offers for 2007

The president of this Network, Antoni Costa, presented the new offer of Paradores for 2007 to the media last October. One of its newest products is “Unique Rooms”, a catalogue of fifty of the best and most striking hotels of the Network, all of them are located in castles, palaces, convents or monasteries. The product includes one night’s accommodation, dinner based on sampling different dishes and a very special breakfast served in your room, as well as a lot of other gifts.

Another new product is the so- alled “Experiences”. The aim of this product is to transform a guest’s stay into a unique experience in which, besides staying in an establishment belonging to the Network offering top quality service, there is also a new programme of active and exciting leisure activities, which the guest will always remember. The three experiences given as an example are “A Walk through the Empire” (Mérida), “A Walk through heaven and earth” (Cañadas del Teide) and “A Walk through the history of monasteries” (Santo Estevo).

Furthermore, now that Christmas is approaching, there are also Paradores that prepare their establishments in order to celebrate a party for New Year’s Eve. The truth is that it is very tempting to ring in the New Year in a wonderful castle or in the middle of an enormous valley.