Stop Press: The hotel has now also been recognised by Booking.com. Quite a year!
“Certificate of Excellence 2013”
ThisIsSpain caught up with Carola Nicklasson one of the owners of Fuengirola’s Hostal Marbella this week. We had read that the Hostal Marbella had again been awarded the prestigious Trip Advisor Award “Certificate of Excellence 2013”. Although very busy, she was happy to give us an update.
Steve: Hi, Carola. You must be very pleased to have received the Trip Advisor Award Certificate of Excellence again. This is three years in a row. Congratulations! Thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions:
There is a lot of competition in Fuengirola as a tourist resort. What sets Hostal Marbella apart from the others?
Carola: Well, I think we try to be international although we are situated in Spain. “A Scandinavian touch in a Spanish environment”. It´s important for me to inspire the staff to get the right feel for the service and to give them responsibility. And, not least, a spotlessly clean hotel.
Steve: Interesting. I can understand that. However, I think you are being a bit modest. With 100+ hotels in the area, it is obviously a 24/7/365 effort. I notice that you have refurbished the reception areas and I know you were looking to refurbish some of the suites too. Is the work finished or is a continuous on-going process
Carola: Yes, we did refurbish almost immediately to make it more individual and, yes, it’s an ongoing process in a hotel. It’s important to always make improvements.
Steve: I am sure. When we spoke last you were telling me that a lot of your clients were Scandinavian. Is that still the case?
Carola: Yes, averaged throughout the year it’s about 50 % Scandinavians and another big percentage from the rest of northern Europe and of course, the UK. In August we attract more Spaniards. In these times, we´re especially happy to welcome the European guests, because Spain seems to have more of a crisis than of northern Europe.
Steve. The Scandinavians have the reputation of being very demanding but also very loyal and excellent guests. Do you get a lot of return visitors?
Carola: Yes, we have about 50% returning guests and that I´m proud of!!!
Steve: That’s a superb figure. Congratulations. Loyal guests who return year after year are the backbone of any hotel’s success. Do all your staff speak the Scandinavian languages?
Carola: Yes, nearly all are fluent. But, in any case, almost every Scandinavian speaks excellent English.
Steve: Yes, I guess you would struggle without English in this town. No hotel will survive in Spanish only! I have to say that the decor is NOT “hostel”. A youth hostel this is most definitely not! No bunk beds, all rooms en-suite and with very elegant common areas? Do you find that people confuse the Spanish word “hostal” and the English “hostel”?
Carola: For the English guests it’s probably confusing but for the Scandinavians it’s recognised as a way of cheaper accommodation than a hotel. In any case, it has had this name for 15 years, so I think we will continue. It seems to work all right!
Steve: I agree. Although “Boutique hotel” is perhaps a better description. That said, I am guessing that you are therefore not looking for Stag Weekends or Hen Parties.
Carola, Well, we don´t look for that market. Our clients appreciate us because we are in a quiet area and yet close to the shopping, dining and beaches. The Party people find more suitable places for themselves.
Steve. You could spoil the whole character of the hotel and, equally, there are other hotels in town probably better suited to 80 guys or girls on a drinking weekend!
I am sure that a lot of your guests fly into Málaga-Costa del Sol airport. This is probably an ideal hotel for them. Train direct from the airport and we now have the new 24/7 shuttle bus. I know a lot of flights are “red-eye” from Málaga. Is your reception open 24 hours? Can you cope with guests leaving at 3 or 4 am? What about the late night arrivals?
Carola: Yes we’re open 24 hours and we have full service whenever the guest wants to arrive or leave. That is also important from a security point of view. We note everybody who enters or leaves the hotel 24/7 and our guests are happy we are here for medical emergencies, early morning calls etc.
Steve: Perfect. It sounds like you have all the facilities/services of a big hotel with the charm of a smaller one! Oh, I remember. You have no restaurant. Is that a plus or a minus?
Carola: It’s definitely a plus. My opinion – and many agree with me – is that that the charm of travel is to experience as much a possible. This includes tasting different cuisines. Fuengirola is ideal for this with, for example, cooking from Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Argentinian and many more. Let’s not forget Spanish traditional food and tapas. So, we are happy not to have a full-service restaurant although we do have, of course, a great breakfast offer for all guests! Fuengirola has, I think, around 1500 bars, restaurants and cafés. That offers a great opportunity to find delicious alternatives on all budgets. It’s much nicer to go to different places to eat and meet people instead of having the meals in the hotel you live.
Steve: So, thanks so much for that update. Congratulations again on your award. I hope to see you next year when it is four on a row! So, how can people book direct with you?
Carola, I hope we get the award too! We work towards it every day! We are on +34 952 664 503 The website is www.hostalmarbella.info and, of course, if they are local they can always visit us at Calle Marbella 34. We are just 100 meters from the main church square in Fuengirola!
Bienvenidos, Welcome and Välkomna. Look in our Guest Book and you’ll see we have learnt “gracias” “thank you” and “tack så mycket” in many other languages too!