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Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 386
Traveler Since: 2002

October 03, 2013

I did the best I could to compare the Classic Costa del Sol trip I took in January 2009 with what I could expect by contracting directly with the Apartamentos Bajondillo for a similar visit in February 2014. I started with what it cost for the GCT trip and what was included. In 2009, for $5,211, we received air transportation for two from Washington Dulles Airport to Malaga Airport and return. We got 20 nights at the A. B. We got 26 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 26 dinners. We got unlimitted coffee, tea, and soft drinks from 11:00 AM until 11:00 PM. We had availability of motor coach transportation for the included tours of Malaga, Mijas, and Salinas, but we tipped the coach driver. We had the availability of a Program Director for all included tours and for the optional tours. We paid additionally for the optionals and we tipped the PD. So, that was what $5,211 bought us in 2009.

So, how does a 2014 plan compare? For air fare from Washington Dulles to Malaga and back, 20 nights at Apartamentos Bajondillo, 26 breakfasts at the A. B., 2 lunches and 26 dinners at either the hotel or neighborhood restaurants, the cost would be about $4,515. What are we missing from the Classic Costa del Sol tour? Well, the soft drink plan, and I have only a vague notion of how much that might be worth. We miss the the presence of a program director and the included tours. I haven't tried to estimate a cost for those items.

My estimation is that the cost of such a trip in 2014 would be only slightly higher than it was in 2009, maybe even cheaper if five years of inflation were to be considered.

But there is one other consideration. In the towns of Torremolinos and Fuengirola there are dozens of apartment hotels in which the rates are nearly the same as the Bajondillo. And a number of them appear to be more appealing. The apartments are roomier and better furnished. The unknown factor is the compatability with the other "snow birds" who are occupying the hotel. That would not be a serious concern since I would be traveling in a four-person group. And, of course, you can gain only so much knowledge from the Internet, and familiarity with the Bajondillo is a factor in its favor.

I will probably not make a final decision on this "independent" trip until some 30 to 45 days before I would actually go. But, since we had discussed it at some length earlier, I decided to share what I have learned.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 04, 2013

That's very interesting, Captain Larry.  I was there in 2000 (left JFK in the evening of 12/30/1999, arriving in Malaga morning of 12/31/1999 and stayed for three weeks.)  I traveled with a friend, a couple who were friends of both of us, and a fifth person who was a friend of the couple.  She stayed for only two weeks. 

I remember that the room was a studio with a closet fitted out as a kitchenette.  There was a propane stove that we were afraid to use, but the frig came in handy when we got take-out.  The location was good for getting around in the town just by walking.

At this point, I don't remember what we paid.  The flights were a charter, which they don't do anymore.  A little down the street to the left facing the ocean (Esplanade?), there was another apartment hotel that was closed for renovations.  GCT put some groups at a place on the other side of town to the right as you faced the water.  I met someone a few months later who had stayed there, and she told me that the place was very nice but they felt out of things.

If you're going to do any more investigating, please keep us advised.

Pauline

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 386
Traveler Since: 2002

October 04, 2013

Pauline, everything you say applied equally in 2009. Nothing had changed except the chartered aircraft. The fear of the propane hot plate was still prevalent. I strongly suspect that little if any has changed significantly in the past five years.

The Apartamentos Bajondillo was a comfortable and convenient place to spend the three weeks. I have fond memories of the towns of Torremolinos, Carhuela, and Fuengirola. From what I read I would not want to be there in the summertime, but for a "snow birding" site, the Costa del Sol seems nearly perfect. When I was there in 2009 the GCT tour group was the largest but by no means the only tour group in Torremolinos. But most of the others were from the UK, Germany, or Scandinavia. Without GCT I suspect the number of North American visitors would be smaller.

I think I mentioned before on another thread about my contact with the Apartamentos Bajondillo, but the anecdote bears repeating. I sent an email to the A.B. expecting a letter or email response in a few days or weeks. Exactly 20 hours after I sent tbe email I received a telephone call from a concierge at the A.B. She was very friendly and welcoming and willing to answer all of my questions. She strongly encouraged me to deal directly with the hotel and not go through a travel agent. That I took with a grain of salt but I appreciated her openness and her quick response. When I asked if there would be vacancies in February, she laughed heartily. She said they were full in the summer but there are "lots" of vacancies in the winter. I expect that information could be extrapolated to all other hotels in the area. They are almost begging for tennants in the winter.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 04, 2013

We met people who were not part of a tour group, but people who were in the habit of spending the winter months there.  Mostly from places like Wisconsin and Montana.  Warmer than home, but not tropical.

Author: halfpint

Joined: 9/25/2010
Posts: 49
Traveler Since: 1989

October 04, 2013

My husband and I started with the Bajondillo in 1989, going back 7 times and a few times stayed the two months that so many of the folks did.  It was addictive, being part of the Spanish culture, living at the Bajondillo, enjoying Doreen with her entertainment each evening, meeting so many of the folks year after year, from the States plus so many neat european locations.  Arrival day like in February or March was almost like reuinion day.  We even formed a little dance troope called the Blue Bells.  And Holy week, the parades in Malaga, taking the train either there or Torremolinus, felt like natives.  I was sorry to see they discontinued that trip but I can see where the Bajondillo was no longer a money maker for them as many of the long timers got to rent from perhaps a half mile away but would still come into the Bajondillo for entertainment.  And THINGS CHANGE.  I notice the websites on the Bajondillo and of courfse it certainly has never been luxurious and that is what some folks require.  But it was more than adequate  and fun.  Enough meandering.  Would still like to go back but without the Grand Circle affiliation, would not be the same.

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 110
Traveler Since: 2001

October 04, 2013

 Captainlarry, please continue to inform us of your choices ...... we would love to return to Torremolinos and, if GCT won't revive the trip, your guidance may help us go on our own.  

 

Thanks!

 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 386
Traveler Since: 2002

October 05, 2013

One thing I can add right now concerns air transportation. Malaga is not easy to get to or to get home from. When checking flight information, pay close attention to the layover times. You might find something like an 18-hour layover at CDG in Paris, for instance. I don't mind leaving the USA one day and arriving in Europe the next, but I don't relish the idea of the return trip taking more than a full day.

One interesting development I found when researching flights from Washington Dulles Airport to Malaga: the cheapest flight was on Turkish Air. Leaving Washington on January 31 got me to Malaga on February 2. The first plane change was in Istanbul, with a 12-hour layover. the next change was at Charles DeGaulle Airport, with a 10-hour layover. Counting the flight times and the time zone changes the elapsed time from Washington to Malaga was ove 36 hours. The return itinerary did not include Istanbul, but there was an 18-hour layover in Paris and over 30 hours elapsed time. That itinerary was certainly not worth the roughly $400 per person savings.

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 110
Traveler Since: 2001

October 06, 2013

 In fear and trembling I went to Expedia to check out flights from Los Angeles to Malaga.  Coming and going, the time was between 15 and 16 hours, with 1 hour layovers in Paris.  And the price was okay ..... less than $1500.00 per person, coach, on Air France.  

Now .... if I can just find a seaside hotel ..... I may be on my way.

 

Author: halfpint

Joined: 9/25/2010
Posts: 49
Traveler Since: 1989

October 06, 2013

Addressing the flight problem, I remember several of the years they put us through Madrid where the distance between terminals was almost a killer, then they tried an overnite in Casablaca a couple of times but didn't like that.  So no doubt it has always been a problem.  However the Malaga airport was halfway between Malaga and Fuengirola so it was easy to take the train from the airport, right into the center of Fuengirola.  But not a flight trip for the weak.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 06, 2013

That's probably why they used a charter flight between JFK and Malaga, and then bused us to Torremolinos.  The flights were a disaster, in a way.  The morning we arrived in Spain, we couldn't get coffee at breakfast because the coffee maker died during the night.  By the time we got to the hotel, I was a zombie and suffering from caffeine withdrawal. 

Going home, the cabin crew were not enforcing safety regulations.  For instance, there was an elderly man traveling alone who was very confused.  He kept his large suitcase with him and kept putting it in the aisle.  And then when we were landing at JFK, he stood up and started moving to the door.  I was sitting behind him and started yelling for him to sit down.  That got the attention of the crew.

The only good part was that the plane was empty going over.  I moved to an empty middle section, put up all the arm rests, rolled myself in a blanket and slept almost all the way across.  Only time I ever slept comfortably on a plane.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 386
Traveler Since: 2002

October 06, 2013

I have a question for you, Halfpint. When we visited briefly in Fuengirola we sensed that the whole town was geared toward tourists from the UK. Did you find while you were there that the Brits dominated the scene? Was it in any way a problem?

Author: halfpint

Joined: 9/25/2010
Posts: 49
Traveler Since: 1989

October 06, 2013

In answer to the last query about the brits in Fuengirola.  Yes, it was very heavily brits and we made some neat friends there when we would take the train from Torremolinos .  they had a british theater group there who did a few plays each winter and enjoyed My Fair Lady, etc, in Spain with a british troupe (all amateur).  However Torremolinos was not the same, more Spanish.  I just enjoyed it all and miss it.  Now being a simgle traveler, it was so easy with Grand Circle handeling the details.  But to us,l it was the Holy Week with the religious parades in Malaga, WOW!!!  No matter what faith one might be, it was fantastic.  Grand Circle also had a trip to Benidorm years ago (at least I think it was Grand Circle, could have been Saga) and that was VERY heavily brit.  Have a good one.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 06, 2013

I checked flights on the Matrix website.  From Boston to Malaga, any flight would give me a very long layover in Paris.  So I tried JFK to Malaga, and they weren't much better.  Then I looked at Dulles to Malaga, and that was possible.  But none of them were direct.  I'd have to change planes somewhere.  So I would have to go from Boston's Logan airport to either JFK or Dulles and then change somewhere in Europe.  Hardly seems worth it.

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