BARCELONA, Spain One of my fondest parador memories is of a sunset
stroll through the garden at Chinchon. Ripe red pomegranates begged
to be plucked, and so we sat down at a heavy iron table and spent
the twilight hour sucking juice from the bursting seeds and washing
it down with a shot of the local anisette liqueur. And just when we
thought it couldn't get any better, the bells of the adjoining
church clanged out joyfully. It became a moment I will forever
Spain’s government-operated parador system is currently
celebrating its 75th birthday, and your clients are invited to
explore the system’s intriguing properties.
Spread throughout the varied countryside, the paradors operate
inside converted historical buildings that are often in remote,
scenic areas. Accommodations are comfortable and sometimes elegant,
with original museum-quality art on the walls and antiques among
the furnishings, and the house restaurants present dishes
representative of the region’s cuisine. Children are welcome in all
paradors. Considering the quality level, prices are surprisingly
reasonable and are commissionable at 8 percent.
“Paradors are sometimes difficult to get in to because they are
very small and popular,” said Antonio R. Alonso, a company that
acts as a go-between in making reservations with Spain’s paradors.
“We recommend making reservations way ahead of time.”
The three paradors detailed here could easily be visited in a
three-night loop or sandwiched in between stops in Madrid and
62 rooms. Located 104 miles southeast of Madrid. About $133 (109
euros) per night. Reaching the Parador de Cuenca from Madrid
requires driving for a few hours through rural farmland scenery
dotted with vast fields of sunflowers and the occasional castle
ruin. The town of Cuenca sits high atop a cliff in the La Mancha
area. Once a lookout town, it is a natural fortress with rivers
forming a moat on three sides.
An authentically restored 16th-century gothic convent, this
spacious parador features a central cloister garden, a pool, a
sauna, a fitness room and a tennis court. It abuts a bluff on one
side of Huecar Gorge, and houses in the old village hang
precariously on the other side.
Guests can reach the old town by crossing a dizzyingly high
footbridge, then walking a twisting road that passes through an
18th-century gate. After a meal in one of the cliffside restaurants
with a heart-stopping view, clients will appreciate a swig of the
local digestive known as resoli a coffee liqueur flavored with
orange and cinnamon.
79 rooms. Located about 150 miles west of Granada. About $142 (116
euros) per night. Situated high in the mountains of Andalucia, at
2,460 feet, the “white town” of Ronda is the site of another
clifftop parador. Difficult to reach, it sits on a flat-topped mesa
reached from the Costa del Sol via a white-knuckle drive up a
two-lane road full of hairpin curves. It makes a good stopover
between Granada and Seville.
A new property, Parador de Ronda is a stunning remodel of the
former town hall. Some rooms have windows or balconies overlooking
a scenic gorge with an ancient system of waterways that can be
observed still in use.
The contemporary-style parador contains everything a traveler
could desire, and guestrooms feature tall ceilings and spacious
marble bathrooms. An outdoor pool is inviting in summer, and an
elegant restaurant serves Andalucian specialties such as stewed
partridge and almond cheese.
Way up here, the weather seems to change every few minutes, from
pouring rain, to billowy clouds, to clear expanses. The town holds
Spain’s first, and most beautiful, bull ring, and the bridge that
spans a very deep gorge is said to have been mentioned in Ernest
Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
38 rooms. Located about 40 miles south of Madrid, and approximately
60 miles south of the Madrid airport. About $133 (109 euros) per
Since it’s just a half-hour from the Madrid airport, the Parador
de Chinchon makes a good stop on the night before a return flight.
Once a nunnery, it has been charmingly refitted as an inn. Ancient
oil paintings hang on walls in public spaces, floors are lovely
worn terra-cotta tiles and rooms feature undulating ceilings,
effective vintage wooden shutters and heavy painted wood armoires.
Some second-story rooms overlook the treetops to a castle ruin
beyond. The parador even has a pool and a charming subterranean
The hotel is also just a few steps from the town’s small Plaza
Mayor, which is lined with tapas bars. The church here holds a
painting by Goya, and the town plaza is ringed with picturesque
houses with balconies overhanging the street. Many events are held
in the plaza, including bullfights May through October.
For more information:
Reservations available through Marketing Ahead:
|NEW PARADORS ON THE WAY|
Last week, it was announced that Spain’s network of paradors
will be expanding as seven more inns are scheduled to debut in
2005. That is in addition to the three new paradors that opened
earlier this year.
As always, the new paradors are housed in historic buildings,
including former monestaries, a military barracks, a royal summer
palace and even a former women’s prison. Contact Marketing Ahead
and the Tourist Office of Spain for more information.