An idea by two friends, veteran motorhome travellers, has become a prosperous business which is so busy that it has put up the 'No Vacancies' sign during the winter, which is peak season. "We were in Tarifa about two years ago, and it occurred to us that there is nowhere in Malaga for people who have come from Europe and want a high quality park to stay in," says Francisco Jiménez, co-owner of the business.
This is actually a second line of business for both of them, because they also have other jobs. "Every hobby which is done with love and care turns out well," says Francisco, and the motorhome park has already received two top European awards. "We wanted to be different, not just a parking area. We thought about what we would like to have, and that was the concept we worked on".
There are five members of staff , all of whom speak other languages, and upon arrival clients are given maps of Malaga, information about buses, taxis, car hire and recommendations of places to visit. Although it is part of Malaga city, the park is very close to La Cala del Moral.
The result is a small village of about 100 motorhomes, with spaces for normal-sized and 'long body' (over eight metres) vehicles. They have drinking water and electricity, sewage disposal and rubbish recycling bins. There is also an ecological shop selling products from Malaga, a massage area and a bar. The cost is around 10 to 12 euros per vehicle per day. "A lot of people come for a few days or a week, but some stay for a month or two because they fall in love with Malaga," says Francisco. The owners called the park 'Malaga Beach' to highlight the proximity to the city and its attractions. They are already receiving repeat bookings.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 motorhomes use the park during the year, mainly retired couples in the winter and families with children in the summer. The park offers bicycle hire and will soon be introducing scooters as well. High season in this business is from December to April, because that is when retired travellers from all over Europe come for the sunshine in southern Spain. In some cases, they are living in mansions on wheels worth more than 300,000 euros, and the Andalusian coast is on their habitual route, competing with other southern destinations including Portugal and Morocco. When we visited, many of the clients were 'at home' and were relaxing, dressed in tee-shirts and shorts.
About half the clients on the Malaga Beach park are German or French, and the others are mostly Scandinavian, British, Belgian and Dutch. Although it may come as a surprise to many, these visitors have money to spend.
"People think motorhomes are a cheap market, but it absolutely is not. They all eat out at least once a day, they go shopping, hire cars, almost as if they were in a hotel, and it is becoming more popular every year," says Jiménez.
In winter there are queues to get in to the park and they have to turn away up to 20 motorhomes a day because there is no room. However, in summer it is normally only full at weekends and during the August Fair.
Many motorhome travellers bring their pets with them, especially dogs, and the park is beside the only beach in the city where dogs are permitted to run free.
It is clear to see that the world of motorhomes is an increasingly popular form of tourism, but it is also proving to be a profitable business for Malaga and the Costa del Sol.