Wedding Season in Spain

It’s now the long hot lazy days of summer down here in southern Spain. Andalucia literally melts with pretty much dawn to dusk sunshine. I suppose really it is still spring and not officially summer yet. There’s an old Spanish saying which translates something like ‘ don’t take off your long sleeves until the 40th May’ which is, 9th June when the weather is more settled and it’s vest and shorts hot morn ’til morn.

Swimming pool and views

Weddings Season in Spain

That also means it’s wedding season for both  locals and those from abroad wishing for a Mediterranean wedding. June is a lovely month, hot but not as hot as July and August and not so busy either. Schools break up around 21st June so earlier in the month is perfect. September is also has great weather for outside weddings.

But with a climate averaging over 300 days of sunshine a year really wedding season is all year round in Spain!

Bridal basket

Hotels in Andalucia for Small, Intimate Weddings

As a portfolio of Boutique Hotels we have several gorgeous ones for small intimate weddings in my area of Andalucia. If you want any help or advice on wedding planners or wedding locations just give me a shout via my Trip Planning page. You can use the form or book a free no-obligation phone call with me. I’ve personally visited all the hotels in Andalucia on Only Spain. As a trip planner I know of a lot more properties and private estates that aren’t hotels and so are not on here, some you may find on my Luxury Spain Travel Blog.

Cortijo Sabila, Boutique Hotel, Malaga, Spain

I can’t think of a better location than Spain, especially Andalucia, for the balmy, Mediterranean wedding of your dreams.

 

 

Cortijos & Haciendas in Hola Magazine

One of our recent blog posts was Spanish Haciendas and Cortijos – What are They? So I was very happy to come across this old post with stunning photos in Hola Magazine – Cortijos y haciendas donde respirar la belleza de Andalucía – Cortijos & Haciendas where you can breathe (or inhale) the beauty of Andalucia.

Of course I had to pour over the list of beautiful hotels in my part of the world and was absolutely delighted to find that we have four out of the eleven beautiful establishments in our portfolio. Which is constantly growing as we travel Spain visiting gorgeous places in which to stay and add to our collection – Haciendas and Cortijos, Fincas and Palacios and just plain Casas too!

These are the list with fabulous photos which you can see via the link above and those with links are the ones on Only Spain Boutique Hotels, clicking the links will take you to each hotels page here on  Only Spain.

 

Haciendas & Cortijos in Andalusia in Hola!

Hacienda San Rafael, Sevilla

Cortijo El Sotillo, Almeria

Cortijo Los Malenos, Almeria

Hacienda de Oran, Sevilla

Cortijo Ramon, Jaen

Finca Cortesin, Malaga

El Carligto, Malaga

Cortijo del Marques, Granada

Finca Buen Vino, Huelva

Finca la Fronda, Huelva

Hacienda El Santiscal, Cadiz

 

Boutique Hotels in Cordoba and Malaga

So it’s May tomorrow, another month has rushed passed and spring is well and truly here in Jaen, inland Andalucia. April saw us visiting two lovely hotels one in my favourite cities – Cordoba and the other a repeat visit to mountainous inland Malaga.

At the beginning of April and with very pleasant weather we visited Cordoba again, at only 1.5 hours from home it’s a common visit but it isn’t very often that we stay overnight, so with a visit to the Hammam Baths and our stay being one of the best hotels in town it was a great trip.

Las Casas de la Juderia

Las Casas de la Juderia

In the historical Jewish Quarter of Cordoba just a minute or two’s stroll from the Mezquita is the fabulous Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia, a collection of five ancient houses combined into one lovely hotel.

Each house is painted a different colour and linked via patios and corridors with original tiles, floors and gorgeous wood work. You’ll have to pop over to Casas de la Juderia to see why having each of the houses painted differently helps.

 

The run up to Easter was bedlam as hubby had been doing renovations on our holiday home and we had guests arriving for the Easter weekend, so days and days of painting and cleaning kept us busy. It’s now ready for the season if you prefer self-catering to hotels and want to explore the olive growing province of Jaen have a look at Casa El Reguelo in the Sierra  Sur de Jaen.

Casa El Reguelo, Fuensanta de Martos, Sierra Sur de Jaen

Casa El Reguelo

After the madness of Holy Week we popped down south into Malaga province to Cortijo Sabila a lovely, antique-filled modern villa in the north of Malaga province surrounded by stunning scenery. This was our second visit and it was great to see the improvements they’d done and the new projects of Yurts going up in the grounds.

Cortijo Sabila

Cortijo Sabila

Then after a few days in Glasgow visiting family we’re back to welcome May in and waiting for the abundance of spring flowers to appear after the spring rains. There is always a beautifully stunning colourful tapestry of wild flowers between the olive trees and on the verges.

So here’s to and cheer’s to May – the best month of the year here in Jaen, Andalucia ( and it’s also my birthday month!)

May Flowers

 

Read about Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia and our Hammam Al Andalus Baths experience in Cordoba on my Luxury Spain Travel blog.

 

Spanish Haciendas and Cortijos – What are They?

Both Haciendas and Cortijos are traditional farmhouse complexes found in arable land in the south of Spain, particularly Andalucia. Both are the descendants of Roman Villas and Muslim farmhouses built between the 16th and 19th centuries.

With mechanisation in the early 20th century the need for so many workers and lots of heaving farming equipment was declining and farm labourers began to live outside the hacienda or cortijo in nearby villages. Farming production began to decrease and many of these elegant and historical haciendas and cortijos fell into disuse and disrepair, dying away as had the farming industry.

Haciendas, mainly in Seville province, were the usually centres for olive farming and Cortijos centres of cereal and cattle farms, but there is no hard and fast rule on that. That is why today there are so many fabulously restored haciendas and cortijos which are now used for holiday rental homes, wedding locations and rural boutique hotels. It’s all in the name. If it’s called Hacienda or Cortijo is has to be (or was) pretty rural.

Hacienda and Cortijo Boutique Hotels on Only Spain

In our portfolio of boutique hotels and B&Bs with have a few haciendas and cortijos scattered throughout the region of Andalucia from Seville to Jaen.

They listed in alphabetical order of the provinces they are in:

Hacienda El Santiscal in Arcos de la Frontera in Cadiz province. A gorgeous, ancient hacienda and Spain’s longest running hotel.

Cortijo del Marques in the plains of Granada. A beautiful, still really rural and excellently restored Cortijo with its own chapel, built for the landlord and workers.

Cortijo de Ramon in the heart of Spain’s largest Natural Park in the province of Jaen. Really rural and surrounded by trees for lovers of pure peace and escapism.

Cortijo del Arte near Pizarra in Malaga. An ancient Arab dairy farm which different buildings for accommodation, bar and excellent restaurant.

Cortijo Sabila near Villanueva del Rosario in Malaga province. A modern build in extensive grounds with stunning views, as it’s called Cortijo I’ve included it in this list.

What is a Wellness Retreat

It’s in the headlines, it’s all the rage but what is wellness and what is a wellness retreat. I’ve seen the same thing being asked by journalists ‘shouting out’ for quotes or expert help.

It seems to be the ‘in’ thing or phrase and has me thinking it’s only the term ‘wellness’ that is new.

The Merriam Webster dictionary says:

the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.
Another says:
“the measure of a patient’s progress toward wellness”

Clear as a bell isn’t it. Is it a state or is it a journey? If it’s a journey then a five-day retreat isn’t going to cut it. Maybe as the beginning of a new routine or lifestyle but if it’s about life changes then surely they should start at home where life happens and not as a break or holiday.

The best thing I’ve read recently that spoke to me is this by Marcus Aurelius:

People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills….

There is nowhere that  a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind…..

So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself’

Casa El Reguelo, Fuensanta de Martos, Sierra Sur de Jaen

Patio View

This suggests its not about where we go or what we do. I’m lucky I know. I can go out onto my patio, under the Andalusian sunshine, listen to the birds singing and inhale the peace and fresh air. I connect with nature, potter in the garden, dehead my flowering plants in their pots, watch my three scatty chickens, stroke my dog and just sit in silence and be mesmerised by the views of unadultered nature – it’s impossible not to relax.

This is my retreat. Peace and the outdoors. I imagine living in a town or city that peace is something that needs to be sought. Something that requires time away from the home and workplace. A retreat from the noise and busyness of life and it there we have the necessity … so constantly give yourself this retreat and renew yourself!

My rambling of the day.

Don’t forget to check out our hotels that are surrounded by nature for your own wellness retreat.

 

The patio photo is actually my holiday rental house Casa El Reguelo, which is even more peaceful than home.

Trips and Trip Planning in Spain

Wow, we’re in March already and I’m desperately trying to catch up with chores and articles. February went so quickly I so hope this month, my favourite one,  doesn’t rush by too much. I’ve planted cherry tomatoes, artichokes and bought broccoli plants that I must get in the garden in our holiday rental house soon.

My trips have been brilliant. If you didn’t read the last post I visited the lovely ancient farmstead Cortijo del Arte and spent a day with the local guide Carolina. I’m saying no more, you’ll have to read the post – A Weekend in Inland Malaga.

Cortijo del Arte

Cortijo del Arte

This last weekend I was invited to a private, exclusive estate in Castilla-La  Mancha. A beautiful amazingly presented luxurious estate with a purpose built ‘hunting lodge’ providing 16 suites and three bedrooms. It isn’t a boutique hotel but a private home that is rentable in its entirety for private functions, weddings and shooting parties with its own private runway, always handy to know as a trip planner! If you want to know more just get in touch via the contact form on the Trip Planning page.

Next weekend I’m off with hubby to another hotel in Cordoba city, one that I’ve wanted to visit for a long time – Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia de Cordoba ( de Cordoba because there is one in Sevilla too.)

Hotel Casas de la Juderia

Hotel Casas de la Juderia

I’m very much looking  forward to that visit and to experiencing the Hammam Al Andalus Baths there too. If you like saunas, massages and Hammams they are a must, especially in Andalucia where Moorish or Arab Baths were so prevalent. Read about the ones in Granada over on Luxury Spain Travel’s Hammam Baths in Granada post.

Hammam Al Andalus Details

Hammam Al Andalus Details

So with some post writing to get done, bag to unpack and pack again, I leave you for now in what is the most spectacular season of the year – March and springtime. The very best for trip planning, visiting Spain and gardening planning too.

A Weekend in Inland Malaga – Where to Stay and A Local Guide for What to See

This weekend I’ve been amazed yet again at the history, culture and beauty of Andalucia. Since moving to Jaen province in the north of Andalucia in 1996 I love nothing more than exploring the region, and the rest of Spain, it is always diverse and fascinating.

Pizarra, Valle de Azahar

Pizarra, Valle de Azahar

My destination was a lovely ancient Cortijo or farmstead, once known as the Casablanca, now it’s called Cortijo del Arte . Arte or art as each bedroom is named after a different Spanish artist. The new owners are going to be changing the name of the rooms. They will be holding art exhibitions (in the onsite municipal museum), then room will be named after the exhibiting artist and host one of their paintings too.

Cortijo del Arte

Cortijo del Arte

On Saturday we spent the day with a local guide, Carolina, on part of her Ruta Sensorial de Valle de Azahar – Sensory Route of Orange Blossom Valley, with other additions, I left the planning completely up to her. It was all fun. This valley, also known as the Valle del Guadalhorce, is covered with citrus plantations. Orange, lemon, kumquat, graperuit, if it’s citrus it grows here, this is a fairly mild climate with not too cold winters (like I get further north) nor too hot (like I get too!)

Citrus Grove, Valle de Azahar, Malaga, Spain

Citrus Grove, Valle de Azahar, Malaga

Carolina at Arkeolife  can design and plan your bespoke visit, their passion is archaeology and preservation while integrating culture with small enterprises. We visited three local businesses. The first a citrus farm with more varieties of oranges and lemons than I knew existed. The owner, known as Juanito Orange, made it an amusing and incredibly informative visit, even my husband who is no gardener was enthralled.

Juanito Orange Finca, Pizarra

Juanito Orange Finca, Pizarra

Then it was to a very small winery with a wide range of wines. We sampled several of Lascas de Pedernal‘s wines before the creme de la creme a wine made from Pomegrantes and one made form strawberries. I wouldn’t have guessed what the pomegrante one  was, but the strawberry one was very obvious, a pure strawberry aroma, and so strong. The flavour was just as delicious. I could imagine pairing it with a delicately flavoured ice cream or even better pouring it over the top.

Bodegas Lascas de Pedernal, Winery, Malaga

Bodegas Lascas de Pedernal

We left a table of empty, used glasses and with a goody bag to bring home, a bottle, 50cl, of Lemon wine and a Pomegranate wine. Such a joy seeing tiny, family businesses producing innovative wines and pretty bottles too!

Bodegas Lascas de Pedernal, winery Malaga

Bodegas Lascas de Pedernal

After several glasses and a long time since breakfast we had a brief, yet again fascinating stop at Aceites Esenciales de Eva. Eva greeted us, guess where? Yep, on her citrus farm. Which is where and how her story began. A necessity to make the most of her father’s struggling citrus  farm has seen her build her own success story producing and selling essential oils, shampoo, deodorant, body creams, sunscreens and if she doesn’t already produce what you want she will work with you to produce it. If you can’t visit her farm and buy them first hand she now has a shop – Aceites Esenciales de Eva.

Essential Oils Producer, Spain, Aceites Esenciales de Eva

Essential Oils, Aceites Esenciales de Eva

After a fairly speedy lunch Alora was our destination. As quite often happens here in Spain – the castle was closed on Saturday afternoon. But the viewpoint looking down the valley held us spellbound and Carolina furnished us with plenty of anecdotes and historical facts and to be honest we really didn’t have time, we’ve saved that for next time.

Carolina, Arkeolife Mirador de Cervantes in Alora

Carolina at Work at Mirador de Cervantes in Alora

We then headed to see an ancient washroom that Carolina had heard of but not yet visited. We were the first. Such history and culture rolled up in the outdoor natural spring fed washing troughs. The place to meet, gossip, sing and commiserate, all women together while doing the chores – sounds like more fun than loading the washing machine. Some still use it today, hence the buckets!

Ancient Washing Place

Ancient Washing Place

Our very last stop was another balcony with a view to rival Ronda’s, the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Flores

Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Flores, Alora

Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Flores, Alora

A busy, fun and informative visit. I have no hesitation recommending Carolina and look forward to doing more of her routes.