We left Gatwick early on a cold Friday morning in February, on a flight destined for Alicante airport.
Not quite sure what to expect weather-wise, and used to the bitter winds and overcast skies of Britain, we’d dressed warmly – winter boots, heavy coats, woolly scarves and hats.
Our plan was to explore the hotels we offer on our Spain holidays and experience exactly what one of Saga’s all-inclusive winter holidays might entail…
The flight was quick and uneventful. It felt like we’d barely had time to open a book before the seatbelt signs came on and we started our descent to Spain’s south-east coast.
As we pulled out of Alicante airport and started the drive towards Benidorm, it became apparent that we wouldn’t need quite as much protection from the elements as we’d anticipated.
The sky overhead was bright blue, with only a few half-hearted clouds hanging around, and the sun shone encouragingly.
Discover more about Spain and her beautiful islands Find out more here.
The Hotel Avenida
The journey passed quickly, and within the hour we were strolling through the streets of Benidorm on our way to our first hotel, the all-inclusive Hotel Avenida, coats slung over our arms as we enjoyed the sunshine on our faces.
At the Hotel Avenida we were welcomed warmly by the resident Saga Rep, a jovial man named Steve who laughed and joked with us and with the guests we met as he showed us around.
The rooftop pool and sunbathing area boasts wonderful views over the sparkling Mediterranean, and the central location puts Benidorm’s charming old town within easy reach.
After lunch we set off for a walk; it had clouded over slightly since the morning but it was hard to believe it was February as we meandered towards the sandy beach.
Stay and relax in the 4-star Hotel Avenida, set in a superb location in the pedestrianised centre of Benidorm Find out more here.
Gran Hotel Delfin
The next hotel on our list was the Gran Hotel Delfin, another all-inclusive hotel located about three kilometres from the centre of Benidorm, over the road from the beautiful Playa de Poniente beach.
Here the bubbly Saga Rep Cath told us how guests love the hotel because it offers the best of both worlds – it was in peaceful location, but a leisurely walk along the café-scattered front or a short bus journey would have us back in Benidorm’s bustling centre in hardly any time at all.
As we were due to spend the night here we left our bags in our rooms, which overlooked the palm-shaded gardens and the Mediterranean beyond, and headed out to explore.
A short walk from the hotel we found secluded Cala Finestrat, a sandy cove separated from the rest of Benidorm by a rocky headland.
We clambered up onto it to watch Benidorm across the bay glow under the last golden rays of sunshine, then headed back to the hotel for dinner.
After our meal we adjourned to the comfortable sofas outside on the terrace to enjoy a glass of wine and the twinkling lights of Benidorm reflected in the waves.
With the sun down it was chilly, but the outside heaters and blankets provided by the hotel made it a thoroughly pleasant way to spend an evening. We moved inside to find guests dancing to energetic live music and clearly having a fabulous time.
We turned in much earlier than any of the guests having the time of their lives on one of our over 50s holidays – they stayed up dancing until the small hours!
Rediscover the essence of the Costa Blanca with a stay at the Gran Hotel Delfin Find out more here.
A day at the Kaktus Albir
We rose early the next morning and, after a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, yoghurts and freshly-made pancakes (a full English was on offer too but I’m always drawn to the lighter breakfasts during my Spanish holidays) we were back on the road, admiring the beautiful mountainous scenery on our way to the Kaktus Albir, an all-inclusive hotel located on the stunning seafront of beachside Albir.
Again we were welcomed by the friendly Saga rep, who showed us round. This hotel has been cleverly designed so every single room has a view of the sea, and like the Hotel Avenida, it boasts a rooftop pool and area for sunbathing.
We stayed for lunch, and I was overjoyed to see a huge seafood paella, one of my favourite dishes and of course, essential eating on anyone’s Spain holidays!
Indulge in the good things in life on an all-inclusive beachside holiday at the Kaktus Albir Find out more here.
After a walk along the seafront we left Albir and headed to the towering Hotel SH Ifach in Calpe, so named for the majestic Peñon de Ifach, a huge rock that juts out into the sea and is said to rival the Rock of Gibraltar.
Having not seen the latter, I can’t compare, but I can tell you the Rock of Ifach was a pretty arresting sight, even viewed from our room on the 14th floor.
Between the Rock, the blue Mediterranean and a salt lake that hosts flocks of flamingos, there’s certainly plenty to see and do in the area.
That evening we spent a bit of time in the comfortable Saga Lounge, hoping to chat to guests, but we’d managed to choose an evening where the live entertainment downstairs had lured everyone away.
Discover the friendly hotel SH Ifach in the heart of Costa Blanca Find out more here.
The next morning for breakfast we enjoyed coffee sweetened with honey (a trick we’d picked up from the Saga Rep at the Gran Hotel Delfin) and tasty pastries that more than filled us until we arrived at our final destination, the Hotel Port Denia in (unsurprisingly) the seaside town of Denia.
Here Brian, the charming Saga Rep, showed us around, making sure to show us the library, which is looked after by a long-term Saga guest, and gave us directions to the marina.
We spent a wonderful hour or so soaking up the sunshine watching yachts come and go, then made our way back to the hotel, where we got chatting to a group of Saga guests.
They invited us to the ever-popular quiz, held that night by the equally popular Saga Rep, Wendy, who is something of a celebrity, due to her bubbly, inclusive nature.
This willingness to chat and include new people – on the part of both the other guests and the Saga Representatives – made me realise why our holidays are so popular with people on singles holidays.
The saying that ‘strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet’ has never seemed so appropriate! So after our evening meal we made our way to the quiz, where I would like to say we gave a good account of ourselves, but that would not be true as we managed to come last.
But the whole experience had such a great atmosphere, filled with laughter and fun, that we didn’t mind losing too much. It was a fantastic end to our three days in the Costa Blanca – and I can see why so many people love our all-inclusive holidays to Spain!
Enjoy a relaxing holiday at a popular club-like hotel in Port Denia Find out more here.