Blog contributions are provided exclusively from Luxury Real Estate members throughout the world.
Courtesy of Luxury Homes by Vapf
According to the latest report by BNP Paribas, this year is particularly favourable for real estate investment in Spain. In their recently published “Guide to Investing in Spain”, they point out that numerous factors converge to make investment in Spanish real estate a recipe for success during 2013.
Even though Spain has been the object of much criticism and negative publicity over the last couple of years, it offers many opportunities for investors looking to take advantage of the low price levels that properties are at, in a safe environment, with the legal security the country provides.
The 10 reasons to invest in Spain are listed by BNP Paribas are the following:
- The opportunity to invest in assets with increasing yields over a 3 to 5 year period, as the market starts to recover.
- The legal framework favourable to foreign investors.
- The labour market reforms that are being enforced, with cuts in spending, privatization of industries and improvement of competitiveness.
- The extensive transport infrastructure network which provides Spain with exceptional communication within its boundaries and abroad, promoting trade and tourism.
- The excellent relations between Spain and Latin America, and North Africa, making Spain the gateway to these countries for the rest of Europe.
- The Spanish economy, although badly shaken due to the crisis, still remains the 5th largest in the EU and ranks the 14th in the world, with an income per capita similar to that of Germany and France.
- Spain is one of the world’s main tourist destinations, thanks to the climate, the quality of its gastronomy and its cultural offer, attracting nearly 58 million tourists in 2012.
- The competitiveness of Spanish companies in modern day sectors such as renewable energy, infrastructure and telecommunications and the strength of the Spanish textile groups.
- The professionalism of the workforce, with a vast majority of the working population having completed higher education.
- The high level of entrepreneurial activity, with an interest in undertaking new businesses, especially by young people with education.
Luxury Homes by VAPF is the VAPF Group's division specialized in luxury home sales in the most exclusive locations on the Costa Blanca North. Founded in the sixties, the VAPF Group revolutionized the concept of building and developing that existed at the time on the Costa Blanca, creating neighbourhoods right from the early days with full infrastructure and all services, properties destined for second homes, directed at clients of all nationalities. Nearly half a century of corporate evolutionhas given the VAPF Group valuable international experience and has enabled it to adapt the management system to the mentality and customs of its clients, with more than 80% of the properties having been purchased by customers from all around the world.
Learn more about Luxury Homes by VAPF here.
The Expat Explorer Survey, commissioned by the leading international British bank HSBC and now in its fifth year, is the largest independent global survey of expats which aims to provide a unique insight into how expat life differs across the globe.
The 2012 survey questioned over 5,000 expats based in over 100 countries about life overseas, with surprising results. The survey analyzes on one side the economic situation and finances of the expatriates in the country they are based, and on the other life experience and quality of life.
Although Spain, along with the rest of the Eurozone countries, has been subject to economic uncertainty over the past year, the easy lifestyle and good weather has made it a popular destination for expats. In fact, Spain ranks third worldwide with regards to life experience factors, only surpassed by the teeny Cayman Islands and tropical Thailand. In comparison, the UK ranks 18th and the U.S. 20th. If economic factors are taken into consideration, the overall country ranking for Spain drops to 13th position, but even so it remains the favourite Eurozone country for expats. The only other European country to beat Spain in the overall ranking is Switzerland, a country that doesn't belong to the single currency system.
The great Spanish weather means that 79% of expats in Spain expect better weather against a world average of only 29%. Attendees at the Luxury Real Estate 7th Annual International Symposium in the Spanish city of Valencia, in January, will have been able to see for themselves the fantastic weather we have been enjoying in the midst of winter.
The varied Mediterranean diet also plays an important role as nearly three quarters (71%) of expats have reportedly improved their diet since moving to Spain. There is also a considerable effort to integrate with the locals and 71% of expats try to learn the local language.
Even though the majority of expats in Spain are not happy with current situation of the economy, none are actively looking to leave. Spain provides an ideal balance between working life and family/social life, in addition to vast opportunities for outdoor sports and an extensive entertainment offer, both key factors in deciding to choose to stay in the country and weather out the Eurozone storm.
of change XXXVIX
By Immaculada Amat, January 2013
The year 2012 has ended, having surely been the most intense one in our professional life. So many things have been happening, and all so quickly, that it is difficult to evaluate them. For the time being though, we must be content as a company – another year has passed, and we have maintained the two objectives we have had since the start of the crisis: kepping our staffing levels up and continuing to invest in marketing.
And we should be more content still at having managed to:
- Increase our portfolio of real estate under administration, thanks to the confidence that a large bank has placed in us.
- Increase the number of properties sold in relation to the preceding year, albeit at lower prices.
- Integrate the new Sant Cugat Centre office in record time.
- Continue organizing our Real Estate Sector Dinners…and many more things.
We have achieved this thanks to the dedication of our people, to their capacity for being flexible and adapting to the requirements and demands of the current market. To the effort we have all put into constantly training and preparing ourselves. To the enthusiasm we bring to becoming better day by day. All that has kept us here, exhausted but alive!
Despite all that, it has not all been a bed of roses. We have problems, a great many problems, as does everybody these days.
We have embarked upon the much-feared 2013, and we are feeling nervous. All the news that reaches us is bad news, and all the forecasts worse. We are extremely concerned at the great economic and emotional stress that our society is bearing at the moment. How long can it hold out? We think that a collective effort must be made to retain jobs, for otherwise the country will collapse in the end.
From the Amat viewpoint, the image that is reaching us at the moment in looking at 2013 is the image of a circus – we will have to do balancing acts, work magic, tame wild beasts, make double somersaults, and if necessary, be clowns. There will certainly be tears and laughter, but we hope to reach the end of the year having got through the show and readying ourselves for the next performance.
In homage to Salvador Espriu, whose birth anniversary is being celebrated this year, we quote part of his poem:
“M’han de manta que parli de la meva Europa” (1959)
Que no siqui dece buda la nostre esperanca,
Que no sigui escarnida la nostre confianca;
Aixi molt humilment no demanem.
[“I’ve been asked to speak about my Europe” (1959)
May our hopes not be disappointed,
May our confidence not be ridiculed;
This we very humbly ask.]
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Barcelona Balmes 345 ▪ Sant Cugat Vallès Centre Rb. Can Mora 10 ▪ Valldoreix Pl. Can Cadena 2 ▪ Sant Just Desvern Bonavista 63 central
Mallorca is the largest of Spain's Balaeric Islands, blessed with on average 300 days of sunshine a year, it attracts an international mix of people who live, work and play here. It provides a stable political environment with reputable lawyers, banks and currency exchange specialists who speak most European languages. It has a very reliable legal system, property rights and a long history of increasing property prices and values. There is little risk of overdevelopment of the island in construction terms, because of protected "green zones" and limited land and infrastructure to support mass development. It takes on average just two hours to fly to the capital city Palma from most major European cities and Palma airport is a modern facility which includes a private jet terminal. There arAe 262 beaches to discover and enjoy and with over 20 superb courses, the island is a golfer's paradise. A year round cultural calendar with specific opera and ballet seasons and summer music festivals of different genres, attract international performers. Surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea the island is a fabulous place to enjoy all water sports particularly yachting with its well equipped marinas. Palma is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with well maintained and sympathetically restored historic buildings preserving the city's rich architectural heritage. Popular with the Spanish Royal Family who reside here each August, Mallorca is the perfect choice for a holiday or permanent home.
About Michael Perkins Finest Properties
The team at Michael Perkins Finest Properties understands all aspects of buying, selling or renting property on the beautiful island of Mallorca.
We have particularly strong links with English buyers due to our exclusive association with a select boutique Estate Agent dealing with clients in the Mayfair, Belgravia, Knightsbridge and Kensington & Chelsea areas of Central London.
We have also developed contacts in the specialist fields of Banking and the Spanish Legal System to ensure every aspect of your purchase or sale is dealt with smoothly.
Our membership of LuxuryRealEstate.com ensures that our high value properties are promoted to a world wide market at no additional cost to the seller.
In Property Management we work with an experienced team of professional tradespeople with the skills to maintain your property to the highest standards.
Our team has many years experience in business and understand the need to provide a personal, discrete service to discerning clients, both buyers and sellers. We believe that building and maintaining a close relationship with our clients is the key to success.
Courtesy of Rimontgó
The region around and in particular south of Valencia, all the way to Murcia and beyond, is synonymous with the cultivation of oranges. The most important orange-growing region in Europe, it is also the iconic home of the famous Spanish orange.
Brazil and the US may actually produce more oranges than Spain these days, but within Europe the ubiquitous fruit is still firmly associated with Spain and its sunny climate. Known in many languages as the ‘Spanish apple’, Citrus sinensus is thought to have originated in the tropical climate of South East Asia and to have been in cultivation in China by the third millennium BC.
Developed from the cross-cultivation of the pomelo and the mandarin, the sweet orange is also perfectly suited to the Mediterranean climate, and is thought to have reached these parts in medieval times. The orange tree certainly took root in Iberian soil and before long had become so entrenched that it is now a part of Spanish iconography.
Where the regions of Seville and Huelva became known for their bitter oranges, as used in the making of marmalade, the region of Valencia was to become famous for its sweet oranges and mandarins. The majority of the country’s 80,000 hectares dedicated to the fruit are to be found in this region, where the dark green leaves of endless orange groves line the valleys and stretch far into the distance.
The little town of Nules has even given its name to an important variety of Clementine, while the Valencia orange has its origins in California but was named in deference to the city’s unique association with this foodstuff. Though production soon spread to other parts of the world, Spain was by the 19th century the most important exporter in Europe, eventually developing a huge industry that was centred in Valencia and sent much-needed vitamin C to other countries throughout Europe.
The medicinal importance of the orange was recognised in countries such as Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, with their long, dark winters devoid of sunlight. As a result, oranges and mandarins became an important delicacy for generations of children, a treat enjoyed above all at Christmas. The majority of the fruit consumed in this way in Central and Northern Europe not only came from the eastern region of Spain, but was shipped from Valencia as well as a host of smaller ports along the coast.
As a family business, Rimontgó traces its own roots to the orange-exporting business founded in Jávea at the beginning of the 20th century. With Britain as the principal market, it was to form the basis of a thriving business well beyond the Spanish Civil War, the iconic purple paper into which individual oranges were wrapped proving to be a powerful brand that still resonates with the generations that were growing up then. The link first established by oranges between this region of Spain and Northern Europe would later be revived when foreign tourists began to visit and later settle along the Bay of Jávea – with Rimontgó as a common link throughout.
Courtesy of: Luxury Homes in Spain
A local chef from a town in the Alicante region of Spain is conquering New York without leaving his home town of Denia. The Michelin star's dishes are overstepping the borders to delight the most demanding palates. An article published in the “New York Daily News” chooses the Alicante chef Quique Dacosta as the best European chef according to a consumer interview. The results arise from a blog that the prestigious British gastronomical critic Jay Rayner and the famous chefs Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdai took part in, testing the opinion of the net users.
Dacosta's menus combine local produce with creativity, obtaining Mediterranean flavours, according to the New York press.
The Alicante chef leads the list, followed by other renowned Spanish chefs and these, in turn, are followed by French chefs.
Dacosta's restaurant, that bears his name (Quique Dacosta Restaurant), is located in the region of the North Costa Blanca, an area which is fast becoming a popular destination for luxury tourism and the construction of exclusive homes.
Courtesy of: Doug Lierle, Lierle Public Relations
Another piece of Spain’s high-speed rail network has opened offering a quicker way to travel that will benefit tourists, businesses and the wider community. The new stretch of line links Seville near Andalucía’s Atlantic coast to Valencia on the country’s east coast, but bypasses Madrid so passengers no longer have to change at the capital’s Atocha station.
The journey time on the AVE is just over four hours, less than half that of the broad gauge trains run by Alaris. Passengers from Málaga can catch a high-speed train from the city’s María Zambrano station that leaves at 17.00hrs Monday to Friday. After two stops at Antequera and Puente Genil-Herrera the train arrives at Córdoba Central at 18.00hrs. Here passengers change to join the train arriving from Seville Santa Justa just a few minutes later. It then stops at Puertollano, Ciudad-Real Central and Cuenca Fernando Zobel before arriving in Valencia’s Joaquin Sorolla terminus at 21.12hrs. The return train leaves Valencia at 8.15hrs.
Ticket prices for this AVE route vary from 107€ to 174€, compared to 60€ to 80€ for the slower service. It is certainly the case that travelling on the high-speed train is more expensive per passenger than driving with more than one of you in the car, but it’s important to consider the comfort factor. With an interior that resembles first class on an aeroplane and a speed around 300km per hour, passengers can arrive relaxed and refreshed having enjoyed the myriad views available rather than being cramped inside a car toiling along the highways across the heart of Spain. For business travellers the advantages of being able to work while travelling on the train are obvious, while tourists may enjoy listening to the music and Spanish film channels on offer. Passengers will also appreciate AVE’s commitment to punctuality with far less unpredictability than travelling by road, and less hanging around time than using an airline.
It’s just over 20 years since the first high speed line opened as part of Expo 92 in Seville. Step by step, Spain has built the second longest high-speed network in the world, behind only China. Because of its topography and the long distances involved, each new link in the high-speed chain has to overcome significant physical hurdles at huge cost. For example, more than half the line between Málaga and Antequera runs through tunnels or over viaducts.
Ambitious expansion plans remain in place, with the extension to Granada being worked on now. The eventual goal is to link the high-speed rail network with France, connecting the Spanish system to the rest of Europe and beyond.
To read more about the high-speed rail link, please visit: http://www.renfe.es
Courtesy of: Luxury Homes
Spain achieved 621 Blue Flags in 2012: 538 will fly on its beaches and 83 at marinas in addition to the 174 distinctive “Q” of tourist quality that Spanish beaches have attained.
This is the best result up to now for the beaches and marinas in Spain, with 35 more flags than those obtained in 2011.
With the 538 awards for its beaches, Spain maintains the global leadership, followed far behind by Greece (394), France (358), Turkey (352), Portugal (275), Italy (246) and Denmark (234).
The Blue Flag is an annual award and a system of environmental quality certification developed by the FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) since 1987. It encourages and rewards participation in voluntary environmental initiatives by local authorities, local people and visitors, and tourism officials. The criteria for obtaining the ‘blue flag’ are grouped into four areas: quality of bathing water, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety, services and facilities.
The Blue Flag is awarded by an international jury chaired by the FEE with the participation of United Nations Agencies for Environment and Tourism, amongst the candidates selected by national juries. The Spanish jury is chaired by ADEAC (Association for Environmental Education and the Consumer) and also involves the autonomous coastal regions, the Federation of Municipalities and Provinces and the associated ministries, foundations and universities.
The Moraig beach at the Cumbre del Sol residential estate (pictured), where the VAPF Group has been developing luxury homes since 1963, features in the Best Beaches Guide for the whole of Spain. This spectacular cove has featured in several films over the years and is famed for its turquoise waters and paradise like appearance.
Courtesy of: Michel Cruz, Rimontgo
New scientific tests have revealed that rudimentary cave paintings in some Spanish caves are much older than at first thought and may even date back 40,800 years, the point at which man first moved from Africa into the area that we now know as Europe. The paintings are so old – 15,000 years more ancient than previously thought - that some have proposed that they might have been created by Neanderthals; although this suggestion has sparked a heated debate among experts.
The oldest painting is a red sphere discovered in El Castillo cave in Cantabria, while another 25 handprints in other caves are reckoned to be 37,300 years old. In order to arrive at these conclusions, scientists measured the decay in uranium atoms, rather than employing the more typical process of carbon dating.
Spain’s cave paintings had already gained fame around the world (in 1985 the Altamira caves were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site), but this exciting news means that the country’s prehistoric heritage is thousands of years older even than France’s famous cave art in Lascaux and Chauvet, the latter of which is believed to date back 32,000 to 37,000 years.
These most recent results, published in the internationally respected journal, Science, do raise the question of whether the paintings could have been created by Neanderthals. Previously considered as little more than the knuckle-dragging, only partly evolved ancestors of modern man, Neanderthals have enjoyed something of a renaissance of image recently, with many anthropologists positing that their sophistication has been underestimated.
Certainly, the dates that have been established by means of uranium decay do allow room for debate. If, indeed, the red sphere in El Castillo cave is 40,800 years old, then the possibility exists that it was created by Neanderthal artists. As it is thought that modern humans began to populate Europe 41,000 to 45,000 years ago, the subject of authorship is now being enthusiastically debated.
João Zilhão, an anthropologist at the University of Barcelona, describes the cave paintings as, “one of the most exquisite examples of human symbolic behaviour” and is clearly excited by the hypothesis that these pieces of primitive art could conceivably have been created by Neanderthals.
“There is a strong chance that these results imply Neanderthal authorship, but I will not say we have proved it because we haven’t.”
Courtesy of Antonio Ribes Bas, Rimontgó
Situated a few kilometres inland from Jávea and roughly 70 kilometres North of Alicante, the small town of Benissa is one of the Costa Blanca’s oldest, and its medieval centre has been meticulously maintained. Visitors tend to flock to the attractive Palacio de Torres-Orduña, which now acts as the town’s cultural centre and library.
Benissa is a wonderful place to enjoy a holiday or – as some have done over the years – settle permanently, since it is relatively close to both Alicante and Valencia, and all of their attractions, while also offering plenty of peace and tranquillity to those who wish to avoid big city life.
Visitors flock here during the spring, when the area is covered with a blanket of beautiful wild flowers, but amateur historians - particularly those who enjoy a touch of spectacle – would be well advised to arrive in late June. Like many towns in Spain, Benissa’s past was in large part defined by the battles between the local Christian population and invading Moors, and it is this conflict that is colourfully re-enacted in the annual Moors and Christian festivities. Unlike the original bloody clashes, this lively piece of street theatre is an excuse for the locals to don historical costumes and have a thoroughly good time.
Benissa itself lies inland, but the Mediterranean is close at hand. Those in the know enjoy spending the best days of summer at El Baladrar Cove, a beautiful beach protected from the easterly winds by rocky cliffs and natural vegetation.
One excellent way of exploring the coastline nearest Benissa is by sub-aquatic trekking, an activity that allows participants to explore some of the wonderful sea life that thrives in this part of the Costa Blanca. A total of six routes allow snorkelers to visit the underwater world, spotting and identifying en-route the creatures that they encounter, while also enjoying the fantastic scenery of this part of the world.
These sub-aquatic trekking trips take place from the following sites: Les Bassetes, La Fustera, Els Pinets, La Llobella, L’Advocat and El Baladrar Cove.
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