Much of what you'll see in Andalusia today, especially the barren landscapes of the countryside, is the same view that greeted the conquering Moors in the early Middle Ages. Otherwise, a new, modern Andalusia of restored cities, such as Seville and Granada, or cutting-edge beach resorts, such as Torremolinos or Marbella, will greet you. Andalusia, which embraces the Costa del Sol, is on the forefront of European tourism. Here are some new developments that might affect your upcoming visit.
Seville Hotels -- In the historic center, Casa Sacristía Santa Ana, Alameda de Hércules 22 (tel. 95-491-57-22), has opened in what was a sacristy in the 1700s. Painstakingly restored, it has all the latest gadgetry yet maintains a country chic.
Seville Attractions -- In the "city of flamenco," it seems appropriate that Museo del Baile Flamenco has opened at Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos 3 (tel. 95-434-03-11). The museum is like an encyclopedia of this mysterious Gypsy art form, with exhibits tracing the history of the dance through multimedia technology.
Granada Hotels -- A first-class modern hotel, San Antón, has risen at San Antón 74 (tel. 95-852-01-00), across the Rio Genil fronting the Palacio de Congresos. Rising eight floors, it is graced with panoramic windows and contains contemporary, well-furnished bedrooms. The upper-floor units have panoramic views of the Alhambra.
A popular chain has taken over one of the plushest of the boutique hotels of Granada. Room Mate Migueletes Hotel, Calle Benelua 11 (tel. 95-821-07-00) is in one of the restored medieval houses of the Albaicín. Some of the rooms are baronial with high ceilings and Andalusian accessories.
Antequera Attractions -- One of the reasons to visit this town is to explore the ruins of its Alcabaza, the fortress where the Moors staged their last defense before falling to Catholic troops in 1410. You might want to check its status with the tourist office before heading here. Reopening is scheduled -- but not at all guaranteed -- for sometime in 2010.
Córdoba Trip Planning -- Getting to this old Moorish city by bus is easier than ever now that Alsina Graells Sur (tel. 95-740-40-40) has taken over many smaller companies and improved service under a new network. Buses now arrive at the city's new bus station behind the train depot on Glorieta de las Tres Culturas. The bus service has been improved to such an extent that many visitors are using it to reach Córdoba from other points within Spain such as Granada, Madrid, or Seville.
Córdoba Hotels -- Near the old Arab quarter, the five-floor, modern Macia Alfaros, Alfaros 18 (tel. 95-749-19-20), has become one of the top-rated hotels of Córdoba. Its most alluring features include a swimming pool in the courtyard and well-designed contemporary guest rooms.
Costa de la Luz Hotels
Outside the town of Ayamonte, Vincci Seleccion Canela Golf Resort, Golf Norte, Carretera de Isla Canela s/n (tel. 95-947-78-30), is still one of the poshest resorts along the Costa de la Luz. New management has not only changed the name but also intends to provide even better service and many improvements to augment the old standards, such as top chefs and the adjacent golf course.
Restaurant Guy Massey, Rotonda de la Luina, Pueblo López (tel. 95-258-51-20), is named for its chef-owner and serves some of the finest cuisine in the area, in an antique house close to the harborfront. Market-fresh ingredients and a skillful fusion of Iberian and English culinary traditions make this a winning choice.
Jerez de la Frontera Hotels
Even though two of the most elegant hotels have come under new chain management, standards are expected to remain the same, if not be improved. One of the great hotels in Andalusia is now the Barceló Montecastillo, Carretera de Arcos (tel. 95-615-12-00), a 10-minute ride from the center. This is a deluxe country club-type place in the rolling hills of sherry country. In another shake-up, the Hipotel Sherry Park, Av. Alcalde Alvaro Domecq 11 bis (tel. 95-631-76-14), has kept most of its staff, but each of its guest rooms was extensively renovated in 2008; today the property is more comfortable and inviting than ever.
Villa Padierna/Thermas de Carratraca Hotel & Spa, Calle Antonio Riobbo 11 (tel. 95-248-95-42), is a former royal villa dating from 1830. Today, it's been restored and opened as a government-rated five-star deluxe enclave. Many of the architectural grace notes of the original construction have been retained, and the place is beautifully furnished. Spa treatments from waters once enjoyed by the ancient Romans are also available.
Marbella Hotels -- The heart of the chic resort of Marbella, the Town House, Plaza Tetuán, Calle Alderete 7 (tel. 95-290-17-91), has opened in a tastefully converted private home. From the roof terrace to the individually designed bedrooms, this is the ideal place for an atmospheric stay in town.
Marbella Restaurants -- Serious foodies are making their way to the Casa de la Era, outside of town at Finca El Chorraero-Carretera de Ojén Km 0.5 (tel. 95-277-06-25), a rustic hacienda-style house that serves some of the most authentic Andalusian specialties. Some of the chef's specialties include mountain goat from the hills above Málaga, or else beefsteak with a sauce made of fresh bay leaves and cloves. In fair weather (which is most of the time), guests dine on a beautiful terrace.
Outside the most picturesque town along the Costa del Sol, Gran Hotel Guadalpin Byblos, Urbanización Mijas Golf (tel. 95-247-30-50), is set amid spectacular gardens overlooking two 18-hole golf courses. Blending Western and Moorish architectural elements, it is a study in Andalusian grace with swaying palms and bubbling fountains. For spa lovers, the resort is the best choice along the coast.
Its upmarket rival, Radisson SAS El Marques Resort Spa, Avenida De Gran Bretana, Mijas Golf (tel. 95-552-01-91), is a challenger in all ways, and is set near five of the best golf courses along the Costa del Sol. Bedrooms are spacious and furnished stylishly, each of them opening onto a large terrace.
With a new name, La Rodeña, José Aparicio 3 (tel. 95-287-34-88), is still one of the best value hotels in this stunning mountain town. It has kept its prices more or less in line in spite of its upgrade by the government from a two-star hotel to a three-star choice. La Rodeña is next to the famous Plaza de Toros, the bullring so beloved by Ernest Hemingway.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.