The Costa del Sol is still a competitive destination even though hotels have raised their peak season prices in recent years: that is the conclusion of a report by the Turismo Costa del Sol organisation, which is part of the provincial government and was formed by a merger between the 'Sopde' Planning and Development company and the Tourist Board.
The report is the result of a comparative study of the Costa del Sol and eight of its rival destinations: the Balearic islands, Costa de la Luz, Costa de Almeria, Costa Blanca, Costa Brava, Canary islands, the Algarve (Portugal) and Antalya (Turkey).
The research showed that the average price for a standard double hotel room on the Malaga coast in June was 145.69 euros, which was the second highest in the nine areas included in the study. The price was only higher in the Balearic islands, where the average was 176.88 euros.
However, in terms of client satisfaction regarding hotel prices, the Costa del Sol topped the list with 8.37 marks out of 10. The Costa Blanca and Costa Brava came second and third: the Costa Blanca was midway in terms of price and the Costa Brava was similar to Malaga. The Balearics scored 8.14.
Looking at different categories of hotel and their prices, the Costa del Sol came second for 5-star establishments, with an average price of 366.93 euros; and fourth in the categories of 4-star (137.99 euros on average), 3-star (90.45 euros), 2-star (67.94 euros) and 1-star (65.12 euros).
With regard to client satisfaction, the 5-star hotels were top with 8.9 marks, followed by the 1-star establishments, with 8.43. Next came those with 2-stars, which scored 8.26, and the 4-star and 3-star hotels were given 8.19 and 8.09 out of ten respectively.
The Costa del Sol was given top marks in each of the aspects looked at by the study, except for location, where it came behind the Costa Brava and the Balearic islands.
The highest score was given for staff (8.76), followed by cleanliness (8.72), location (8.59), comfort (8.25), services (8.13) and quality/price ratio (8.10).
Prices on the increase
This report did not provide information about the way prices had evolved, but others which have been published in recent months say they are continuing to rise.
The 'Barometer of the Spanish hotel sector' from STR and Magma HC for the first half of this year show that Malaga and Marbella were the second and third places in Spain in which prices rose most, after Bilbao.
In Malaga they went up from an average daily price of 87.04 euros to 94.89, and in Marbella from 151.99 to 165.70 euros. Consequently, profits in the hotel sector are looking positive: the RevPar (an indicator which measures the profit per available room) went up by more than 10 per cent in the two main destinations in the province in the first six months, while nationally it dropped. Nor is that all: Marbella was the Spanish town which showed most profit in this survey, at 103.10 euros per room.
For the head of Turismo Costa del Sol, Arturo Bernal, these figures show that prices have not yet reached a ceiling in the destination.
"In Malaga province there has been major investment in order to have a better quality product and the market values that. It also seems reasonable that if we are making this effort, we are looking for better quality clients," he points out.
Is he not worried that the rise in hotel prices will mean tourists have less to spend on other things, such as in restaurants?
"The figures show that this correlation doesn't exist. In fact, normally people spend the same amount on food and leisure activities as they do on their accommodation; in other words, if one goes up, so does the other," he says.