Trends in sun and beach family tourism

Sol and Ole Hotels

Sun and beach tourism is projected to continue without being overtaken and it is the most familiar of all the segments that make up the holiday spectrum in Spain. Besides being the most classic and the most linked to mass tourism, but it has changed the most especially over the last decade, when it was in crisis and it is now being transformed by new technology.

It remains the leader in bringing in the largest number of tourists to Spain. It is what keeps tourists staying longer and it offers more competitive prices. It is therefore the biggest and most familiar and it tends towards practically all-inclusive, with tour operator and agency sales that focus on mature coastal destinations and historically well put together. Sun and beach tourism is a classic … in the process of transformation.

To understand its evolution in recent years, you must put into perspective the whole context of the cost of living crisis in the principal European countries, which coincided with the principal tourist markets for tourism to Spain (United Kingdom, Germany, France…). To this must be added the equaliser of the use of new technologies and the Internet in every middle-class home in Europe, which has given a lot of travelers an easy method to book their flights and hotel rooms directly, plus accommodation, excursions and experiences.

Low cost

The entry into the field of low cost airlines, following the model of Ryanair, suddenly opened up thousands of affordable travel opportunities for many families who previously could only afford to holiday in nearby destinations that could be reached by car, bus or train. The absolute democratization of flights and the possibility of being able to do it yourself, directly online, multiplied not only the number of travelers but also changed the way we travel: and not only do we travel on a specific date each year for our Summer holidays but we have begun to take bank holiday breaks and long weekends.

Summary

The Spanish Sun and Beach holiday is becoming more exclusive, with shorter stays but with a much higher average daily expenditure per traveler.

Cheap flights also opened the door to new destinations. The Canary and Balearic Islands were not just a haven for the upper middle classes but were possible for the working class, who chose very specific areas: on Mallorca were Playa de Palma – Arenal, Magaluf and Palmanova. In the Canary Islands, Maspalomas, Puerto del Rosario, Playa Jandía … where you can find economic hotels for low cost travelers.

So, they began to travel more times a year … But for shorter durations. Instead of the traditional two weeks or the entire month of August, a large proportion of travelers chose to divide up their holidays and take “breaks” more often. This meant an urgent change in the type of accommodation package.

Cheap hotels

Although the concept was thought little of by the hotel sector because it has connotations of poor quality, the fact is that the low cost flights significantly increased searches for cheap hotels in Spain. The most researched hotel stays were for families for a week’s holiday for two adults with a couple of children in any decent destination worth visiting, but this meant spending at least an entire salary. So most opted for all-inclusive hotels, which were more affordable and always oriented towards group or family travel.

To prevent the family sun and beach hotels segment from remaining stuck just as low quality cheap hotels, the hotel sector, driven by the country’s big chains decided to make changes and to modify the hotel formula, optimizing the resources in their hotels, taking full advantage of their locations to provide a better experience of the destination, redesigning rooms, investing in modern decor, bright and natural light and giving guests what they really needed for a marked improvement in their vacation: better rooms, better food, more entertainment choices, different rooms for children and adults…

New hotels for families, even those which were in the mature tourist areas we have mentioned, have managed to turn round. Options such as the Olé Hotels, with hotels in the Canary Islands, Ibiza and Mallorca; and Sol Melia Hotels, and amongst those which stand out for their plans include the Sol Hotels in Mallorca, have served as an example to many others in mainland destinations such as Benidorm, Almeria, Huelva, along the coast of Malaga and Cadiz.

Sol y Playa 3.0

We can say that this is a segment of sun and beach hotels 3.0, with more complete and more specialized accommodation but retaining their privileged locations and nowadays being able to give to their guests a new way to experience those destinations. Prices remain quite affordable, though it is true that when you move up in hotels ratings, prices also rise. However, it should be noted that value for money is very, very competitive.

Trendsetter destinations are the islands, which as mentioned, are pioneers when it comes to developing tourism. But elsewhere in the Peninsula Family vacations have already added these improvements such as: the coast of Barcelona, the Costa Brava and much of the coast of the Spanish Levante. Although there are still basic hotels, the future is in forming a national hotel industry with a solid base of hotels of 3 and 4 stars. A challenge that is gradually getting closer, something that is felt in the fact that more and more hotel companies are already adding the 4 star Superior and luxury to their portfolios.

Changes have been made especially in the 3 star beach resorts, which have risen to 4 or even 5. Many have diversified from being family hotels to ‘Adults Only’ hotels focusing more on sport, gastronomy, nature and ecology, bank holidays or business trips.

For all

Family hotels have specialized in hotels for children, with more services for little ones and areas reserved for the parents to relax. This has been expanded to include entertainment programs and professional monitors including screens in many hotels.

The most interesting offers are usually also linked to the family holiday segment because travel with children is governed by the school calendar and dates can be booked early enough to ensure a certain level of occupancy at the hotel, allowing the standard rate to be lowered.

Online reservations through the official websites of the various hotels and chains also allows savings on intermediaries and ensures the most economical rate for all users, in most cases. They provide personal attention and special guarantees.
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