So where, I wondered, were these ill-mannered Britons?
“Benidorm is a city in two parts,” said Leire Bilbao, director of the local tourist office Visit Benidormaround exceptional seafood paella at Ullia, an elegant sea-view restaurant where diners have included Elon Musk, Amber Heard, Tour de France winner Miguel Induraín and various prime ministers.
She explained that the British contingent in search of nightlife tends to stick around Benidorm’s other beach – Levante, with clubs and bars very concentrated in this part of town, while hotels and developments more upscale focus on the quieter Poniente.
“Over the past decades Benidorm has improved the quality of what we have to offer,” she continued. “It used to be mainly three-star hotels whereas now the majority are four-star. People are looking for quality not only in terms of accommodation but also in terms of food and so the city has evolved according to demand. We see it in the buildings, the apartments that sell.”
real estate paradise
You most certainly can. At the Intempo building – a pair of seemingly stratospheric towers joined at the top like a capital ‘M’ which is the tallest residential building in Spain, an apartment will cost you between €300,000 and €2,400,000 (£250,000 – 2m £) although many of the 257 apartments have already been sold.
As the elevator took me from the lobby to 47e floor in 57 seconds, I could feel my ears jumping, but the panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside from the light-flooded apartments, indoor pool and gym were stunning.
“This area is getting more and more luxurious,” said Anastasia Boronetzka, brokerage manager for Intempo’s developer Uniq Residential. “The quality of restaurants and infrastructure is definitely changing, and it’s walking distance to the beach, so the area attracts people with money and the prices are starting to climb to the level of Marbella which is a very luxury market.
Intempo is not an isolated example. The nearby Delfin Tower, a 20-storey luxury apartment building with a dramatic curved side like a ship’s sail and equally impressive sea views, recently made headlines when a two-bedroom apartment s is selling for €2,840,000 (£2.4million) – one of the highest prices ever paid for an apartment of this size on the Costa Blanca. Buyers apparently include airline CEOs and entrepreneurs looking for exclusivity and easy beach access.
Delfin has also made a selling point of its green credentials (features include parking spaces with electric car chargers), and the notion of sustainability is at the heart of Benidorm, both past and present.
City-wide green measures include intensive recycling of rainwater and there is also an emphasis on accessibility with a fully equipped beach allowing wheelchair users to savor the warmth of the sea.
Towards the skies
Benidorm’s much-maligned original skyscrapers were also part of a progressive experiment in the 1960s and 1970s, inspired by Le Corbusier’s idea of building skyward rather than horizontally, with a view to conserving the landscape rather than to damage it.
The project was dreamed up by the visionary mayor of Benidorm, Pedro Zaragoza, who in the early 1950s transformed the future of this previously sleepy fishing village, heading to Madrid on his Vespa to get a special dispensation from the General Franco for tourists to wear bikinis. the beach. The city never looked back and once Alicante Airport opened in 1967, 100 hotels were built over the next decade.