Millions visit Benidorm every year – and the Brits are among the largest percentage. Hotels are reporting 95% occupancy over the Christmas period, with many domestic tourists coming from the capital Madrid and other major Spanish cities. But surprisingly many Brits pop over to Benidorm on daytrips from other resorts. One lady who knows this better than others is Cathy Mac – a tour guide based in Torrevieja. Her clientele are mainly Brits, but there are also a number of Spanish, Germans and Russians. Some have second homes and spend the winter season here whilst others are residents. During the summer she comes to Benidorm every day, but at this time of the year it’s three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday plus Friday night.
Cath, originally from Liverpool lives in El Chaparral, down the coast in Torrevieja. She moved here in 1997 - 18 years ago and has absolutely no regrets. A chef by trade she had a go at a few different jobs and then 12 years ago started working for a blanket factory trip on the first bus that operated in Torrevieja. Blanket trips are certainly popular and a number of companies operate here in Benidorm – both in the English and Spanish sector, offering people a free day out in exchange for a short (ish) ‘demonstration’ of some kind of product.
For the last four years she has been with ‘Rosa Tours’ and told me that “it is the best job ever”. With her bubbly personality and typical Scouser charm and charisma, it’s no wonder her buses are always full to bursting. It is known as the fun bus, where she gets everyone singing along or playing pass the parcel and the 90 minute journey to Benidorm flies by. The bus arrives at 10:30am, drops them off and leaves to go back at 5:00pm. The most popular day is Wednesday and Cath told me “People just love the market – don’t ask me why”. The strange thing is, its not as if there isn’t one in Torrevieja… there is a very large one every Sunday but they still love the one in Benidorm.
Friday is an evening trip, with the majority heading to the iconic Benidorm Palace - although most of the young ones go clubbing instead, especially in the summer. The bus leaves at 1am but inevitably the youngsters never get back as they are too busy enjoying the nightlife, so make their own way back – eventually.
The nightlife in Torrevieja is different to that in Benidorm - which is almost like Las Vegas in comparison. If Cath decides to hit the town then she always makes a point of catching the Cabeytu Brothers, the Take That tribute and comedian Gary George. She was here for the British Fancy Dress Day, a favourite and watches in amazement at the thousands, which descend on the resort in an array of costumes.
Over the 18 years she has made a lot of friends here and one that goes back almost to her arrival is Carol from the Wooky. Incredibly she told me a tale how in the 80’s she signed Crissy Rock up as an Avon lady – that was before she became famous… Ding Dong! But fame has not eluded Cath either as 3 years ago she was on our screens, as a contestant May the Best House Win Alicante. She didn’t win but had great fun filming and she told me that even after this many years many on her buses still recognize her, despite the change of hair colour from red to blonde!
She is not at all surprised that Benidorm is so popular as there is so much to do and see here. She has a Top 5 list which she shares with her passengers before disembarking which are: Mundomar, Aqualandia – obviously in the warmer months, Old Town – especially Tapas Alley, Beaches and the market – depending what day it is. Her favourite restaurant is the Pizza Factory on Avd Europa which she always stops off at and highly recommends the apple pie… think I’ll have to pop by and try it myself.