The topic is inevitable; Since March 3, 1972, forty years and 55 days have passed, and yet it seems like yesterday. That night the guests were unaware that they were witnessing the first voyage of a personal and, as if that were not enough, a family adventure: a Hotel with a different structure, without reference points and in an industrial city that was just beginning to receive tourists of a few hours attracted by the palm grove and its most classic landmark; The Huerto del Cura and its Imperial Palm.
My previous experience of 14 years in the Camping sector had hardened me in the psychology of the tourist and had shown me that the landscape of Elche, the Oasis of the palm grove, dazzled and surprised those who only wanted to spend a forced night on their route to Andalusia . If I was considering a risk stake - a Hotel in a city far from vacation tourism and known only for its Industry and its football - I needed an asset and I had it where I was born and lived, in the Palmeral.
It was not easy to raise the game. My adult brothers were in their professions and the younger ones in their studies and I raised the challenge of risking the family patrimony for a new journey so far removed from their chores and hobbies; in my favor the experience of Camping El Palmeral, profitable but tiny, built by my father, and the support, both moral and financial, of my mother, who, recalling what was her husband's illusion, opted for the project and believed in me .
Thanks to his firmness and his determination, family adherence would come, especially that of Juan and Vicente who at that time formed, together with me, the reliable bastion of the Matriarch. Not remembering the three with emotion would be an unforgivable ingratitude.
Building a hotel that departs from the monolithic multi-bedrooms on the beaches was unheard of in the 1960s and, materializing the idea in a horizontal hotel with rooms scattered around a palm orchard, a challenge. The current Resorts did not exist, nor were the Caribbean Cabin Hotels nor even the tiered hotels of the Golf courses. Everything had to be invented and we did it. The Martinez Blasco Brothers in the structures, Miguel and Chola Duran Loriga in the design and decoration guidelines, with Marisol as artistic supervisor and advisor and Myself as landscaper complete the team.
They were 2 years of suffering and overcoming challenges but at the same time years of learning and enthusiasm that can only be understood when such a disparate team becomes a group of friends who, on their way, unify criteria with a clear vision of where they are going and which one. it is the destiny of his work.
In this case there was not a construction company made up of technicians who gave us their recipes or additions at every step and in the end the modified ones. Although it may seem inconceivable, the Hotel was made by hand with a master builder, Emilio, and four or five bricklayers from the neighborhood.
And we meet objectives. We wanted the landscape to be respected and respected, for the plant species to hide the constructions integrating the Mediterranean white and this was done, and Miguel Duran, an architect and ceramist, imposed his obsession of not competing with the surrounding nature and using only colors outdoors that emanate from the natural environment: yellow-date for ceramic wall tiles, orange for clusters for metals and brown for the trunk for any complementary detail in ceramic or interior wood. And above all, never use any green that would take away the importance of the nature of the palm trees and plants.
On the other hand there was another irrevocable slogan. If the Hotel was born in the 70s, it had to preserve its personality from those years that announced strong changes in society. The furniture, the lamps, the sofas, the paintings (always by living authors) even the beds, had to respect the time when refined and exquisite design, by true artists, strongly derived to make a place for themselves and participate in a more sensitized society that was already advancing towards the 21st century in which design would be fundamental.
And he began to roll and with his walk came worries. Tourists did not leave its beaches and only a visitor to the orchard-garden took a look, had a tea in the cafeteria or requested some sandwiches in the pool to justify the free bath.
I confess my feeling of failure and my immense disappointment, what had failed in the approach?
Over the months the reservations arrived ... and my amazement! I had not counted enough that my city could contribute a significant number of clients and now it was she who was gradually raising our perspective. Reservations arrived and increased by the day, but not from tour operators but from friends, shoemakers, and industrialists in my town.
And the thing is that Elche was taking off, the footwear manufacturers traveled, brought clients, designers, friends and representatives and little by little the hotel drifted towards the business world, which I confess never entered my calculations.
For years the Hotel became a hotbed for interviews, business meetings, friends' meetings, family meals, institutional lunches or closing of operations. This meant that our manufacturers' customers were our best brand propagators. They came from all over the world and they hailed us anywhere. The unplanned marketing operation was perfect.
Many people remind me with melancholy that that Cafeteria, axis, plo of the architecture of the 70s, supposed social gatherings, appointments and initiation of friendships and the beginning of romantic relationships that one day ended in a wedding in the same Hotel.
On the other hand, the Disco attracted the twentysomethings of that time; the young people were enthusiastic about the music in fashion, with the nightly dates and a party or a New Year's Eve was no longer conceivable without the obligatory participation of “El aljibe”.
In summary: Elche considered us its Hotel, part of its heritage, and we learned the lesson that we should and could count on the city as an invaluable partner. For my city the gratitude of my heart remains rickety but with it I want to symbolize my infinite gratitude.
Forty years have passed for everyone and also for the Hotel. They are new times; I retired and new managers, with very different perspectives and criteria, have taken on the responsibilities that one day fell to me. I left with that intimate satisfaction that the conscience of the accomplished duty gives.
At the end of this story, I cannot forget the countless collaborators, managers and workers, who for so many years collaborated shoulder to shoulder by my side. From these lines I send you, wherever you are, live or not, with my gratitude a warm and deep hug. Without them this adventure would never have been possible.
JOSE ORTS SERRANO