jueves, 4 de septiembre de 2014

The History of Benidorm and The Hotel Don Pancho

Prior to the 1960s, Benidorm was a small fishing village with less than 3000 inhabitants.  The success of the fishing industry, together with improved local agriculture, helped to fuel a strong local economy. Coastal traffic increased too, bringing more wealth to the region.

In 1952 the Benidorm fishing industry went into decline; a factor that encouraged the town council to approve many new development plans aimed to encourage tourism. In 1956, Mayor Pedro Zaragoza Orts succeeded in getting the town councils approval of Spain’s first General Urban Development Plan which included authorization of vertical construction (high-rise) in lieu horizontal construction typically seen throughout the coasts of Spain.

Vertical construction insured that coastal views would be guaranteed for most of the city instead of just the beachfront buildings.  The council also decided to build large avenues instead of small streets in order to accommodate large influxes of tourists. Pedro Zaragoza Orts is considered as a visionary by many historians and tourism economists for the project he designed for a town that just had its beaches as a tourism resource.

In the mid 1960’s Benidorm changed drastically as Swedish and British tourists arrived seeking good weather and low-priced accommodations. At this time they arrived via Manises airport in Valencia, until 1967, when Alicante Airport (El Altet) was opened.

In 1975 the A-7 highway was opened which allowed for Benidorm to be connected with all of Spain and Europe.  The arrival of tourists from Spain, Sweden, U.K, Holland, France Germany, etc. led to the necessity to build more hotels.  Strangely enough, before 1970, there were only a handful of hotels available in Benidorm yet due to this massive demand over 100 hotels were built between 1970 and 1975.  The Hotel Don Pancho was one of the hotels in Benidorm built during this period of massive growth.

The Name Don Pancho
The Torrubia family is originally for Benidorm, and all of them, are in love with their city.  Their passion for tourism led the Torrubia brothers to launch a long-desired dream; the construction of a landmark upscale hotel.  Thus was born the Hotel Don Pancho, one of the first four star hotels in the city, located just a few meters from the beach, and donned with an exclusive character. They wanted a prestigious hotel that would give a different kind of quality and exclusivity to its guests.

The story that gave the hotel its name is also very important to the family. The great-grandfather of the brothers who founded the hotel was a sailor who traveled the world, and on one of his trips to the Philippines he became infatuated with a woman named Panchita, very different from any woman he had met before. He asked her to return with him to his hometown, Benidorm, and she was delighted.

Panchita had a brilliant personality, lush beauty, and had very pronounced cheekbones and an uncommon magnetism. She always wore white, wielding giant hand-held fans, also white as she was superstitious, and flaunted smoking big cigars. Panchita was unique and very ahead of her time.

What at first was reluctance soon turned into acceptance and she was embraced amongst the population of the city, despite her different customs. Over time everyone adored her and went on to nickname her Grandma Panchita. Even decades after her death, Panchita is still remembered thanks to her great personality.

Due to this, when years later the brothers Torrubia founded the hotel they decided to name it Don Pancho in honor of this charismatic and legendary woman who fell in love with the city of Benidorm.

The Legendary Hotel Don Pancho
On May 13th, 1972 the Hotel Don Pancho opened its doors to its first guests.  The 251 room hotel offered fantastic sea views and an upscale setting to its guests. On the day of the inauguration a rare appearance was made by Spain’s Minister of Tourism, Señor Sanchez Bella. In fact, The Don Pancho is the only hotel in Benidorm which has ever been inaugurated by Spain’s Minister of Tourism.

The Don Pancho has hosted guests including famous bullfighters, actors, singers, and entertainers from around the globe. Some of the most famous people to stay at the Don Pancho are actor Terry Savalas and singer Julio Iglesias.

Hotel Don Pancho
4 Star Hotel in Benidorm