A day out at the Aquopolis Waterpark

Looking to enjoy some fun, family-friendly days out on your next Spain holiday? Consider spending some time at the Aquopolis Waterpark. Located close to PortAventura, this theme park is filled with slides, flumes, and lots of other water-based activities, as well as restaurants and shops for the whole family.

What to Do 

There is something for everyone at the Aquopolis Waterpark, so if you’re staying in a family villa in Spain with the kids and the grandparents, this is the perfect place to enjoy a day out. Adrenaline junkies will love the speed of Hurricane, the waves of Surf Waimea, and the mystery of the Black Hole, while those who want something a little more relaxing can enjoy the Magic Oval and the Blue Lagoon. For the very little ones, there are mini parks, adventure turtles, and all sorts of jungle fun in the Funny Jungle.

Eco-Tourism in Catalonia 

Catalonia is fast becoming one of the most well-known parts of Europe in terms of eco-tourism, and the Aquopolis Waterpark is a fine example. If you’re looking to learn more about responsibility and sustainability during your holiday in Spain, then Aquopolis’ on-site dolphinarium is the place to be. The dolphinarium exhibits explain the importance of taking care of the environment so that we can protect local sea life, and how we can all make small, everyday changes to do our part for our planet. 

Where to Stay 

The Aquopolis Waterpark is located in Vila-Seca, so any Costa Dorada holiday rental would be a great choice for a day trip to this water-based amusement park. However, to be really close to all the action, rent a house in Spain in Vila-Seca, Tarragona, Salou, or Cambrils, all of which are very close to the park.


Group holidays in Catalonia: Where to stay

With plenty of attractions for both young and old, beautiful places to relax, and a nightlife that really is second to none, it’s really no surprise that Barcelona is a top choice for group holidays in Spain. Whether you’re taking a vacation and bringing the whole family with you, or planning an energetic getaway with a group of friends, Catalonia is one of your best options.

For group travel, there are a few extra considerations to take into account when choosing your Barcelona accommodation. Here are some things to think about before booking.

Location

Ask yourself why your group is taking a Barcelona holiday: for the beaches? The bars? The city sights? To really make the most of your trip, it’s best to find a villa in Barcelona that is relatively close to what you want to enjoy. You should also consider whether you plan to rent a car or not, as this will help guide your villa selection.

Restrictions

Keep in mind that some Spain vacation rental owners may have restrictions surrounding group travel, especially for hen and stag parties. Always check that your accommodation welcomes large groups and whether there are extra conditions or security deposits for groups of younger people.

 Size

Although you may be excited about spending time with your close friends, remember that being too close can be a little claustrophobic! Make sure that your Barcelona villa has plenty of space for you to enjoy each other’s company but also to acquire some peace and quiet.

 On-Site Facilities

If you’re travelling in a large group, you may not wish to spend every night dining out. If this is the case, consider a Barcelona vacation rental with a full kitchen so that everyone can cook their own dinners and you can save money on your dining budget,

Design & Layout

If your group includes people of all ages, consider the layout of the property. Can you put the kids to bed and socialise in the evening without waking them up? Family villas in Barcelona may be a good choice.

 


Barcelona’s Festival Major de Gràcia

When is the best time to take a holiday in Spain? The country is beautiful all throughout the year, but if you’re planning to visit Barcelona’s city centre in particular, then August is a great time to see the city. Each August, Barcelona hosts the vibrant and colourful Festa Major de Gràcia, promising a lively and energetic atmosphere. It’s Barcelona’s best street festival, and it’s completely free to enjoy! 

What’s On? 

The first things you’ll notice when you head towards the festival are the many street decorations which dominate the skies. Whether it’s brightly-coloured umbrellas or bats made from recycled materials, these decorations, which are suspended in mid-air, help transform the neighbourhood into a completely different place and work to keep the festival magic alive underneath this bold and eye-catching makeshift canopy.

As well as the decorations, there are also floats, parades, live music performances, and more food than you can imagine! In fact, some of the best Barcelona street food comes in the form of mouthwatering flatbreads with all sorts of tasty toppings. Spend hours strolling the streets during the daytime or nighttime during this weeklong festival and take in the ornate designs and artwork around every corner.

Where to Stay

The best location in Barcelona to stay in during the festival is the Gràcia district, which is where all the magic happens. Incorporated into the city as recently as the 19th century, there’s still very much a strong community feel here, and the narrow, winding streets feel a world apart from the increasingly modern locations in Barcelona. Today, there is quite a ‘boho’ atmosphere here, and it’s a place that is particularly popular with young couples who are looking for great nightlife, food, bars, and a lively neighbourhood.


Barcelona’s best spots to see fireworks

Barcelona could be considered to be the ‘Fireworks Capital’ of Catalonia. In fact, it’s almost impossible to take a vacation in Barcelona without seeing the sky light up in a myriad of bright, bold colours. New Year’s Eve, La Merce festival, and the Sant Joan festival host three of the biggest fireworks displays on the Barcelona events calendar, but the big question is, where are the best places to view them from in the city?

Here are a few great options to consider:

Barceloneta Beach

There’s no location in Barcelona quite like Barceloneta Beach, which is why many parties and celebrations are held here throughout the year. The beach is one of the best places to watch the city’s fireworks displays, and there is usually a very lively, colourful atmosphere to enjoy, too.

Your Barcelona Villa

If you’re travelling with young children, or if you don’t really like big crowds, then consider watching the fireworks from your villa in Barcelona. During the bigger holidays, you should have great views from your windows or patio, and you can enjoy the show in a relaxed, quiet, and comfortable environment.

Bunkers de Carmel

If you rent a house in Barcelona near the El Carmel neighbourhood, then the most obvious choice for viewing the fireworks if from the famous Carmel bunkers. From the top of the hill you can enjoy an incredible 360-degree view of the city, putting you in a prime location regardless of where the fireworks take place.

Montjuïc

Like the Carmel bunkers, the beauty of Montjuïc is that the hill looms over the city, so you have a fantastic vantage point. An additional benefit of Montjuïc is that the hill tends to be a little less crowded than locations in the city centre, so you should be able to find plenty of space to set up a tripod.


Smart vacation rental property management with Dawn Buckler of Catalunya & Caribbean Casas

Recently, owner and managing director of Catalunya Casas, Dawn Buckler, was interviewed by Kigo, a vacation property management software company, regarding how vacation rental managers can deliver a great guest experience. Here’s what she shared:

Tell us about Catalunya Casas and Caribbean Casas. What is the mission behind the sites?

Catalunya Casas has been in operation for nine years. Caribbean Casas is two years old and was created out of a need for a winter sun market for our clients. Both offer full-service vacation rental property management. I truly believe that guests feel more confident knowing that there is an agency behind the product – ensuring that service standards will be guaranteed. Privately managed properties with great reviews and testimonials help a lot with guest trust, but this takes years to build up a healthy reputation. As a respected agency, when we contract a new and unproven villa, our clients trust our brand.

What makes Barcelona/Catalonia such a desirable vacation destination? What sets it apart?

Barcelona is now an internationally known vacation destination. It’s very metropolitan, but the surrounding areas still have the laid-back Spanish feel. It offers incredible history, architecture, art, sunshine, gastronomic delicacies and, of course, beaches.

 

What have you found visitors to this region are looking for when it comes to vacation rentals? What are their must-have amenities and features?

What sells in Spain: private pools, large gardens with grass, exterior dining areas, walking distance to amenities and beaches. Match these aspects with a nicely decorated/well-maintained property and competitive prices and you have a winning formula for excellent occupation.

What have you found travelers tend to steer clear of when it comes to vacation rentals? What causes them to pass over a particular property?

Shared pools. We will only contract a property with a shared pool if it is within 1 km of the beach. For Northern European tourists, private swimming pools are rare and a luxury.

How can property owners/managers make their vacation rentals more appealing to travelers? What should they be doing to not only attract new guests but also keep previous ones coming back?

Without a doubt, owners and managers should be looking for direct ways to market their vacation rental websites. With all major listing sites now adding a “booking fee,” guests are looking for the lowest price. If they can find you directly and avoid paying the booking fee, they will do so.

With all of the recent negative hoopla over listing sites adding guest booking fees, I find this a positive and direct advantage to any villa company. Conveniently, for this very reason, listing sites are trying to encourage advertisers to remove their property name from their listings. Do hotels do this? No. And vacation rentals shouldn’t either!

Also, as we are the ones who have the direct contracts with the property, we have an advantage over booking sites. If you look at it in terms of “direct from the manufacturer (villa owner),” we have the lowest prices.

How should property owners approach creating listings for their vacation rentals? What are best practices for making a listing that will increase bookings?

I think it’s a given that great professional photos and descriptions are the number one draw for vacation rentals, but in the end it all comes down to price. Many Spanish property owners overvalue their properties (it’s the same with the property sales market here in Spain). They demand a ridiculously expensive rental price and then complain that they don’t have any bookings.

Yes, the first two weeks of August will always sell regardless of the price but outside of these dates, it’s a competitive market and no matter how wonderful the property is, there are plenty of others just as wonderful with lower rates. A lot of owners do not understand that rates absolutely need to be on a sliding scale depending on the month of the year – and that includes lowering rates in June, July, and September. We are constantly educating our property owners on the concept of “supply and demand.”

 

What doesn’t seem to work as well in property listings? What are the “don’ts”?

Don’t take a “do it yourself” attitude just to avoid management commissions. It’s a lot of work and investment in managing and marketing a property and professional services exist for a reason. We are not here to “take your money.” As an agency, we have no problem sharing calendars and working together in unison to make your property the best it can be. The bottom line is to increase bookings and increase revenue for the owner’s “business.” We are not the competition, rather a collaborator. Doing it together is a win-win situation.

Can you talk about a property or properties that you think have done an exceptional job of attracting vacationers and delivering a “wow” experience? What can we learn from these property owners?

I think client attention is the number one formula for delivering a great experience. Spain has always been a bit behind in areas of customer service. Born and raised in Canada, a country very focused on excellent customer service, I find it difficult to educate many owners on maintenance and cleaning standards. We lose many a property because our requirements are too “demanding.” However, what owners fail to realize is that it’s not us that is demanding – it’s the guests, and rightly so! No, it’s not ok if the electricity trips when it rains, if there is a daily limit on WiFi use, if there is a window handle that does not shut properly, or if there is a “trick” to getting the coffee machine to work. We find that our owners from other countries are much more accepting and understanding of our requirements because they have a longer history of customer service standards.

What trends or innovations are you following in the world of vacation rentals today? Why do they interest you?

Programming rates are the bane of our existence so rate management systems continue to interest me. Unfortunately, I think that many of these programs need a lot more work. They are useful for capital city center apartments but for villas, they need to take into consideration a lot of other aspects including location, seasonal occupation, distances to amenities and transport, individual property features, etc.

Also customizable maintenance and cleaning technology for full-service management agencies. We have a large staff covering property care. It’s very labor intensive to provide an excellent service while maintaining client satisfaction from two sides (owners and guests). We have tried various programs, but keep returning to manual control due to each property having its own very specific set of requirements.

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