Tempting the British back with good design

Spain was battered by the recession but choose carefully and new-build villas and sports resorts offer value for money.
Whether it is the sun, the beaches, the golf resorts or a combination of all three, Spain has been the British number one go-to holiday and secondhome destination for more than a decade. The serious money heads to Ibiza, Majorca or Malaga but it's the bright lights and much less sophisticated resorts of the Costa Blanca that attract the majority of British buyers.

The Costa Blanca stretches 120 miles from the delightful former fishing village of Dénia towards the more populist Mar Menor in the south. It includes two of Spain's most notorious names, Benidorm and Torrevieja, both overbuilt, high-rise resorts that are often lampooned for the mass tourism they attract. But the coastline is a long one — and there are other choices.

Property portal Kyero reports an average property price on the Costa Blanca of £162,500. "The southern Costa Blanca has been a destination for foreign buyers for 30 or 40 years so along with a wonderful climate, there's a good infrastructure of shops and services, which foreign buyers like," says Spanish property expert Mark Stucklin. "British buyers are coming back to the market across Spain. Around Torrevieja they tend to be looking in the £40,000 to £80,000 price range."

The strong infrastructure includes airports at Alicante, Valencia and Murcia where it's not just British visitor numbers that are rising. Last year, Norwegian arrivals at Alicante airport were up 31 per cent, Danes by 56 per cent and Russians by 54 per cent. And they are buying homes, too. "In 2005 British buyers were 75 per cent of our market throughout Spain," says Marc Pritchard of house builder Taylor Wimpey España. "Today they remain our most important single market, but are only 20 per cent of buyers. The market has become truly international."

Southern Costa Blanca
A few minutes inland from the long, wide sandy beach at Campoamor, Las Colinas Golf and Country Club is attempting an Ibiza design vibe on the southern Costa Blanca. The resort opened in 2010 and has an impressive completed infrastructure of roads and facilities. There is an attractive and expertly maintained Cabell B Robinson-designed golf course, a clubhouse with two good restaurants and 137 built and sold homes.

There are no British owners at Las Colinas — the residents come from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Belgium. However, the resort's owner, Antonio Montoro, points out that the UK has twice as many golfers as any other European country.

Las Colinas was the Montoro family's private estate and they still farm oranges and lemons and own holiday homes there. They manage the 330-hectare sports resort carefully, developing it slowly with good attention to detail. "The main appeal for members is our golf course but the facilities and rural site are also popular," says Antonio. "We have carefully preserved trees and wildlife and we have landscaped using natural stone." Newly for sale are 14 plots and 11 detached villas hidden among the pine forests and overlooking the golf course. These are refreshingly stylish, solidly built homes designed with a contemporary flavour by London architects Woods Bagot. Full-height windows and doors and fabulous high-gloss kitchens and large bathrooms fill the interiors with light.

Prices start at £189,700 for plots and £556,820 for villas from 2,120sq ft, half as much as a comparable property in prime Costa del Sol, says Antonio. Elsewhere on the resort, newly completed two-bedroom 1,185sqft flats are £206,200, with resale homes from £302,700. Facilities include a kids' club, tennis courts and gym with an Ibizastyle beach club 10 minutes away at Campoamor. Rentals are managed on site with a high-season week in a threebedroom house reaching £1,480.

New-build Costa homes
They are building again on the Costa Blanca. "Alicante province finished last year with 2,037 new homes being built, a 362 per cent increase on 2012 levels," says Richard Way of the Overseas Guide Company.

Meanwhile, Taylor Wimpey reported its best sales year since 2006. It has four new-build developments across the coast with an average price of £132,800. Five minutes from the beaches at Calpe with their dramatic rock, Calpesol has three-bedroom homes with a communal pool and gardens priced from £140,830, while three-bedroom townhouses at Las Brisas de Alenda, adjacent to Alenda golf and 15 minutes inland from Alicante, start at £131,700.

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Sporting breaks:
Belgian tennis pro Olivier Rochus bought at Las Colinas

'At this peaceful place, we switch into relax mode' 
Tennis professional Olivier Rochus has travelled the world for more than 15 years in top-level tournaments. The Belgian player chose the Costa Blanca for his perfect holiday home.

In 2012 he stayed with his family at Las Colinas Golf and Country Club and liked it so much he bought an apartment there with his girlfriend, Jessica.

"We usually live at a very fast pace, travelling all the time. But as soon as we turn into the natural gorge at the entrance to Las Colinas, we switch into relax mode," says Rochus, 33.

The couple love the sports facilities and the warm, dry climate that allows them to play golf and tennis or go running on the nature trail.

"The hilly resort and surrounding areas are ideal for cycling, too," says Rochus. "The setting is beautiful and peaceful. It was exactly what we were looking for."

Contacts
Las Colinas: aworldapart.es (00 34 965 32 40 04) Taylor Wimpey: taylorwimpey spain.com (08000 121 020) Overseas Guides: overseasguides company.com ' 

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