Wednesday, 25 October 2023, 11:33
The Balcón de Europa Hotel, located on Nerja’s iconic viewpoint of the same name, is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It was the first major large hotel in the town when it opened its doors on 20 July 1963.
The hotel opened just three years after the Nerja Cave was opened to the public. The discovery of the cave in January 1959 and its subsequent opening to the public in June 1960 heralded the start of mass tourism to the Costa del Sol’s eastern-most town. At that time, Enrique González who was originally from the Basque region but was based in Madrid and his wife Mara Martínez, bought a plot of land next to La Caletilla cove in Nerja.
They built the hotel which was completed in February 1963 and welcomed their first guests in July. Since then, thousands of tourists have stayed in its rooms, which overlook the Mediterranean Sea.
The hotel was extended 10 years later and has since it has seen various modernisations and renovations. It now has nine floors, 108 rooms and a four-star rating. It employs around 80 members of staff.
Millions of guests have passed through the Hotel Balcón de Europa over the last six decades, including the stars of the hit Spanish TV series Verano Azul. During the filming between 1979 and 1980 the hotel was used as the headquarters and both its director, Antonio Mercero, and almost all the cast, including Antonio Ferrandis who played Chanquete, a local fisherman, slept in its rooms. The hotel offices were used by the film crew to store material and the Balcón de Europa featured heavily in the series.
Other illustrious guests include the Argentinean Formula 1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio, who was friends with the hotel’s founders. According to the hotel's communications director, Miguel Colás, the members of the Spanish music group Los del Río, together with their families, also stay here, "thanks to the friendship that united them with Don Enrique and Mara which continues now with the current owner".
Colás added, "A large number of celebrities and famous people have stayed at our hotel, due in part to the friendship with its founder and, of course, because of its privileged location.”
The hotel is owned and managed by Mara and Enrique’s niece Ana María Colás, along with her three children. The hotel’s guests are loyal, with many returning year after year. On average it is 90 per cent full all year round and 100 per cent full during the summer months. Most guests nowadays are foreign, with British and Irish at the head of the list, although it is becoming more and more popular with Scandinavians. In the summer months there are more Spanish guests. The average stay is around four days.
As well as accommodation, which can be room-only, half or full board, the hotel also offers a swimming pool on the fifth floor, a small spa and gym. The Beach Club nautical restaurant, is open to guests and non-guests alike and last year a pedestrian path was created next to the hotel, which connects the promenade under the Balcón de Europa with the Salón beach, through the Chanquete viewpoint, where there is a sculpture of the legendary actor from the Verano Azul series.
The managers point out that they have focused on sustainability in recent years, with a complete renovation of the windows and balconies, as well as the installation of photovoltaic panels and aerothermal solar energy for hot water, heating and air conditioning. All the rooms have also been soundproofed and have a full-speed fibre optic service.
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